Ontology-based security modeling in ArchiMate

Ítalo Oliveira*, Tiago Prince Sales, João Paulo A. Almeida, Riccardo Baratella, Mattia Fumagalli, Giancarlo Guizzardi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

59 Downloads (Pure)


Enterprise Risk Management involves the process of identification, evaluation, treatment, and communication regarding risks throughout the enterprise. To support the tasks associated with this process, several frameworks and modeling languages have been proposed, such as the Risk and Security Overlay (RSO) of ArchiMate. An ontological investigation of this artifact would reveal its adequacy, capabilities, and limitations w.r.t. the domain of risk and security. Based on that, a language redesign can be proposed as a refinement. Such analysis and redesign have been executed for the risk elements of the RSO grounded in the Common Ontology of Value and Risk. The next step along this line of research is to address the following research problems: What would be the outcome of an ontological analysis of security-related elements of the RSO? That is, can we identify other semantic deficiencies in the RSO through an ontological analysis? Once such an analysis is provided, can we redesign the security elements of the RSO accordingly, in order to produce an improved artifact? Here, with the aid of the Reference Ontology for Security Engineering (ROSE) and the ontological theory of prevention behind it, we address the remaining gap by proceeding with an ontological analysis of the security-related constructs of the RSO. The outcome of this assessment is an ontology-based redesign of the ArchiMate language regarding security modeling. In a nutshell, we report the following contributions: (1) an ontological analysis of the RSO that identifies six limitations concerning security modeling; (2) because of the key role of the notion of prevention in security modeling, the introduction of the ontological theory of prevention in ArchiMate; (3) a well-founded redesign of security elements of ArchiMate; and (4) ontology-based security modeling patterns that are logical consequences of our proposal of redesign due to its underlying ontology of security. As a form of evaluation, we show that our proposal can describe risk treatment options, according to ISO 31000. Finally, besides presenting multiple examples, we proceed with a real-world illustrative application taken from the cybersecurity domain.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSoftware and systems modeling
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 16 Feb 2024


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Enterprise architecture
  • Ontological analysis
  • Ontological patterns
  • Reference ontology for security engineering
  • Security modeling
  • Unified foundational ontology
  • ArchiMate


Dive into the research topics of 'Ontology-based security modeling in ArchiMate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this