Terms like cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and risks are often confused between them. Some can even say it’s difficult to expect those outside the cybersecurity industry to understand the differences.
Yet, most of the time, many in our environment misuse these terms. Although you can think it’s a healthy mistake, the truth is that it has dangerous connotations.
A cyber threat, vulnerability, and risk are not the same.
Understanding the difference will not only help you better understand your security; It will also help you to choose the tools and software that best suit your needs.
This article aims to define each term, highlight how they differ, and show how they relate to each other. This way, you and your team will better face any problem they encounter. Be it a cyber threat, a vulnerability, or a risk.
What is a cyber threat?
A cyber threat is an attack on our digital devices through cyberspace. While many cyberattacks can be annoying and go nowhere, some can be quite serious. They could even threaten human life.
Usually, we use the term “threat actor” to refer to those who carry out these attacks. The most common threat actors include several types:
- Financially motivated criminals or cybercriminals
- Politically motivated activists or hacktivists
- Neglected employees or disgruntled employees
- State and nation attackers
Cyber threats can also become dangerous if threat actors exploit vulnerabilities. This could allow them to gain access to a system, often including a company’s operating system.
Some common examples of cyber threats include:
- Social engineering or phishing attack (which leads an attacker to install a Trojan and steal private information).
- DDoS attacks on political activists on their websites.
- Administrators who accidentally leave unprotected data on a system, causing a data breach.
Why should you protect yourself from cyber threats?
Cyber threats are a big problem today. They can cause everything from power outages, equipment failures, and confidential file breaches. They can also disrupt telephone and computer networks, paralyzing entire systems.
Threats are also becoming more serious. A recent Gartner study explains that cybersecurity risks can permeate all organizations. Plus, you can’t always count on direct IT control to protect yourself from them.
Many business leaders are moving forward with business initiatives that require risky decisions. The increase in cyber risk is real, but so are data security solutions.
Vulnerabilities are weaknesses that can be exploited by a cyberattack. Because these weaknesses make the execution of threats possible, they are very dangerous.
From allowing the execution of malicious code to accessing the memory of a system; from installing malware and stealing to destroying or modifying sensitive data. Thus, everything is possible through a vulnerability.
Complete system exploitation can occur through a single vulnerability. Because let’s say an SQL injection attack is in progress; this could give the attacker full control over your company’s confidential data.
An attacker could also chain many exploits together. Thus, they can take advantage of more than one vulnerability to gain full control of any system.
The most common vulnerabilities are:
- SQL injections
- Cross-site scripting
- Incorrect server settings
- Confidential data transmitted in plain text
What is vulnerability management?
Vulnerability management is the practice of identifying, classifying, repairing, and mitigating security vulnerabilities. Therefore, the essential elements of vulnerability management include detecting, evaluating, and correcting security flaws.
The most common detection method is the Vulnerability Scan. Through this specialized software, you can evaluate computers, networks or applications for vulnerabilities
Also, this software can detect vulnerabilities derived from incorrect configurations or faulty programming. Then, they carry out explorations that allow finding the exact point of vulnerability.
A cybersecurity risk refers to a combination of threat probability and loss/impact on a system. Generally, we measure this loss/impact in monetary terms, but it’s not a written rule.
Risks are often mistaken for threats. However, their difference is that the impact of risk is more measurable.
Risks are scenarios you can avoid although it is easy to fall into them. A hypothetical example of how risks can get out of hand could be the following:
- An SQL injection is a vulnerability that steals sensitive data.
- This data theft is a major threat, perpetrated by financially motivated actors.
- The impact of theft of confidential data will have a significant financial cost for the company
- The probability of an SQL injection is high as it is an easily accessible vulnerability.
- Therefore, the SQL injection vulnerability in this scenario is a high-risk vulnerability.
Confusion creates more security flaws
The difference between a vulnerability and a cyber threat, and between vulnerability and risk is easy to understand. However, the difference between a threat and a risk can be more blurred.
Understanding this difference allows for clearer communication between security teams. It also provides a better understanding of how threats influence risk. This, in turn, can help prevent and mitigate security breaches.
A clear understanding is also needed for effective risk assessment and management. This way, you can design efficient security solutions based on threat intelligence. You can also build an effective security policy and a solid cybersecurity strategy.
An effective tool against cyber threat, vulnerability, and risk
As we have mentioned, each of these types of threats works differently. Thus, they require different strategies. Currently, no tool can cover all fronts of a company; but vulnerability management tools offer the broadest answer.
These management tools are vital to protect your company. Currently, SecurityCenter CV offers the most integrated management platform for threats and compliance vulnerabilities.
Furthermore, SecurityCenter CV offers a superior continuous monitoring platform on the market. This not only eliminates risks, but it also identifies failures in security processes.
If you want to know more about SecrityCenter CV, contact us. GB Advisors experts will provide you with all the information you need. Our team is here to advise you and provide you with a more efficient IT environment.