In computer security, a threat is a potential negative action or event facilitated by a vulnerability that results in an unwanted impact to a computer system or application.
A threat can be either a negative "intentional" event (i.e. hacking: an individual cracker or a criminal organization) or an "accidental" negative event (e.g. the possibility of a computer malfunctioning, or the possibility of a natural disaster event such as an earthquake, a fire, or a tornado) or otherwise a circumstance, capability, action, or event.
This is differentiated from a threat actor who is an individual or group that can perform the threat action, such as exploiting a vulnerability to actualise a negative impact.
ISO 27005 defines threat as:
A more comprehensive definition, tied to an Information assurance point of view, can be found in "Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 200, Minimum Security Requirements for Federal Information and Information Systems" by NIST of United States of America
National Information Assurance Glossary defines threat as:
ENISA gives a similar definition:
The Open Group defines threat as:
Factor analysis of information risk defines threat as:
National Information Assurance Training and Education Center gives a more articulated definition of threat:
The term "threat" relates to some other basic security terms as shown in the following diagram:
+ - - - - - - - - - - - - + + - - - - + + - - - - - - - - - - -+ | An Attack: | |Counter- | | A System Resource: | | i.e., A Threat Action | | measure | | Target of the Attack | | +----------+ | | | | +-----------------+ | | | Attacker |<==================||<========= | | | | i.e., | Passive | | | | | Vulnerability | | | | A Threat |<=================>||<========> | | | | Agent | or Active | | | | +-------|||-------+ | | +----------+ Attack | | | | VVV | | | | | | Threat Consequences | + - - - - - - - - - - - - + + - - - - + + - - - - - - - - - - -+
A resource (both physical or logical) can have one or more vulnerabilities that can be exploited by a threat agent in a threat action. The result can potentially compromise the confidentiality, integrity or availability properties of resources (potentially different than the vulnerable one) of the organization and others involved parties (customers, suppliers).
The so-called CIA triad is the basis of information security.
The attack can be active when it attempts to alter system resources or affect their operation: so it compromises Integrity or Availability. A " passive attack " attempts to learn or make use of information from the system but does not affect system resources: so it compromises Confidentiality.
OWASP (see figure) depicts the same phenomenon in slightly different terms: a threat agent through an attack vector exploits a weakness (vulnerability) of the system and the related security controls causing a technical impact on an IT resource (asset) connected to a business impact.
A set of policies concerned with information security management, the Information security management systems (ISMS), has been developed to manage, according to risk management principles, the countermeasures in order to accomplish to a security strategy set up following rules and regulations applicable in a country. Countermeasures are also called security controls; when applied to the transmission of information are named security services.
The overall picture represents the risk factors of the risk scenario.
The widespread of computer dependencies and the consequent raising of the consequence of a successful attack, led to a new term cyberwarfare.
Nowadays the many real attacks exploit Psychology at least as much as technology. Phishing and Pretexting and other methods are called social engineering techniques.The Web 2.0 applications, specifically Social network services, can be a mean to get in touch with people in charge of system administration or even system security, inducing them to reveal sensitive information. One famous case is Robin Sage.
The most widespread documentation on computer insecurity is about technical threats such as a computer virus, trojan and other malware, but a serious study to apply cost effective countermeasures can only be conducted following a rigorous IT risk analysis in the framework of an ISMS: a pure technical approach will let out the psychological attacks, that are increasing threats.
Threats can be classified according to their type and origin:
Note that a threat type can have multiple origins.
Microsoft has proposed a threat classification called STRIDE,from the initials of threat categories:
Microsoft previously rated the risk of security threats using five categories in a classification called DREAD: Risk assessment model. The model is considered obsolete by Microsoft. The categories were:
The DREAD name comes from the initials of the five categories listed.
The spread over a network of threats can lead to dangerous situations. In military and civil fields, threat level has been defined: for example INFOCON is a threat level used by the US. Leading antivirus software vendors publish global threat level on their websites.
The term Threat Agent is used to indicate an individual or group that can manifest a threat. It is fundamental to identify who would want to exploit the assets of a company, and how they might use them against the company.
Individuals within a threat population; Practically anyone and anything can, under the right circumstances, be a threat agent – the well-intentioned, but inept, computer operator who trashes a daily batch job by typing the wrong command, the regulator performing an audit, or the squirrel that chews through a data cable.
Threat agents can take one or more of the following actions against an asset:
It is important to recognize that each of these actions affects different assets differently, which drives the degree and nature of loss. For example, the potential for productivity loss resulting from a destroyed or stolen asset depends upon how critical that asset is to the organization's productivity. If a critical asset is simply illicitly accessed, there is no direct productivity loss. Similarly, the destruction of a highly sensitive asset that does not play a critical role in productivity would not directly result in a significant productivity loss. Yet that same asset, if disclosed, can result in significant loss of competitive advantage or reputation, and generate legal costs. The point is that it is the combination of the asset and type of action against the asset that determines the fundamental nature and degree of loss. Which action(s) a threat agent takes will be driven primarily by that agent's motive (e.g., financial gain, revenge, recreation, etc.) and the nature of the asset. For example, a threat agent bent on financial gain is less likely to destroy a critical server than they are to steal an easily pawned asset like a laptop.
It is important to separate the concept of the event that a threat agent get in contact with the asset (even virtually, i.e. through the network) and the event that a threat agent act against the asset.
OWASP collects a list of potential threat agents to prevent system designers, and programmers insert vulnerabilities in the software.
Threat Agent = Capabilities + Intentions + Past Activities
These individuals and groups can be classified as follows:
Threat sources are those who wish a compromise to occur. It is a term used to distinguish them from threat agents/actors who are those who carry out the attack and who may be commissioned or persuaded by the threat source to knowingly or unknowingly carry out the attack.
Threat action is an assault on system security.
A complete security architecture deals with both intentional acts (i.e. attacks) and accidental events.
Various kinds of threat actions are defined as subentries under "threat consequence".
Threat analysis is the analysis of the probability of occurrences and consequences of damaging actions to a system.It is the basis of risk analysis.
Threat consequence is a security violation that results from a threat action.
Includes disclosure, deception, disruption, and usurpation.
The following subentries describe four kinds of threat consequences, and also list and describe the kinds of threat actions that cause each consequence.Threat actions that are accidental events are marked by "*".
A collection of threats in a particular domain or context, with information on identified vulnerable assets, threats, risks, threat actors and observed trends.
Threats should be managed by operating an ISMS, performing all the IT risk management activities foreseen by laws, standards and methodologies.
Very large organizations tend to adopt business continuity management plans in order to protect, maintain and recover business-critical processes and systems. Some of these plans foreseen to set up computer security incident response team (CSIRT) or computer emergency response team (CERT)
There is some kind of verification of the threat management process:
Most organizations perform a subset of these steps, adopting countermeasures based on a non-systematic approach: computer insecurity studies the battlefield of computer security exploits and defences that results.
Information security awareness is a significant market (see category:Computer security companies). There has been a lot of software developed to deal with IT threats, including both open-source software (see category:free security software) and proprietary software (see category:computer security software companies for a partial list).
Threat management involves a wide variety of threats including physical threats like flood and fire. While ISMS risk assessment process does incorporate threat management for cyber threats such as remote buffer overflows the risk assessment process doesn't include processes such as threat intelligence management or response procedures.
Cyber threat management (CTM) is emerging as the best practice for managing cyber threats beyond the basic risk assessment found in ISMS. It enables early identification of threats, data-driven situational awareness, accurate decision-making, and timely threat mitigating actions.
Cyber threat hunting is "the process of proactively and iteratively searching through networks to detect and isolate advanced threats that evade existing security solutions."This is in contrast to traditional threat management measures, such as firewalls intrusion detection systems, and SIEMs, which typically involve an investigation after there has been a warning of a potential threat, or an incident has occurred.
Threat hunting can be a manual process, in which a security analyst sifts through various data information using their knowledge and familiarity with the network to create hypotheses about potential threats. To be even more effective and efficient, however, threat hunting can be partially automated, or machine-assisted, as well. In this case, the analyst utilizes software that harnesses machine learning and user and entity behaviour analytics (UEBA) to inform the analyst of potential risks. The analyst then investigates these potential risks, tracking suspicious behaviour in the network. Thus hunting is an iterative process, meaning that it must be continuously carried out in a loop, beginning with a hypothesis. There are three types of hypotheses:
The analyst researches their hypothesis by going through vast amounts of data about the network. The results are then stored so that they can be used to improve the automated portion of the detection system and to serve as a foundation for future hypotheses.
The SANS Institute has conducted research and surveys on the effectiveness of threat hunting to track and disrupt cyber adversaries as early in their process as possible. According to a survey released in 2016, "adopters of this model reported positive results, with 74 percent citing reduced attack surfaces, 59 percent experiencing faster speed and accuracy of responses, and 52 percent finding previously undetected threats in their networks."
Computer security, cybersecurity or information technology security is the protection of computer systems and networks from the theft of or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data, as well as from the disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.
Information security, sometimes shortened to infosec, is the practice of protecting information by mitigating information risks. It is part of information risk management. It typically involves preventing or at least reducing the probability of unauthorized/inappropriate access to data, or the unlawful use, disclosure, disruption, deletion, corruption, modification, inspection, recording or devaluation of information. It also involves actions intended to reduce the adverse impacts of such incidents. Protected information may take any form, e.g. electronic or physical, tangible or intangible. Information security's primary focus is the balanced protection of the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data while maintaining a focus on efficient policy implementation, all without hampering organization productivity. This is largely achieved through a structured risk management process that involves:
Security is freedom from, or resilience against, potential harm caused by others. Beneficiaries of security may be of persons and social groups, objects and institutions, ecosystems or any other entity or phenomenon vulnerable to unwanted change.
Network security consists of the policies and practices adopted to prevent and monitor unauthorized access, misuse, modification, or denial of a computer network and network-accessible resources. Network security involves the authorization of access to data in a network, which is controlled by the network administrator. Users choose or are assigned an ID and password or other authenticating information that allows them access to information and programs within their authority. Network security covers a variety of computer networks, both public and private, that are used in everyday jobs: conducting transactions and communications among businesses, government agencies and individuals. Networks can be private, such as within a company, and others which might be open to public access. Network security is involved in organizations, enterprises, and other types of institutions. It does as its title explains: it secures the network, as well as protecting and overseeing operations being done. The most common and simple way of protecting a network resource is by assigning it a unique name and a corresponding password.
In computer security, a vulnerability is a weakness which can be exploited by a threat actor, such as an attacker, to perform unauthorized actions within a computer system. To exploit a vulnerability, an attacker must have at least one applicable tool or technique that can connect to a system weakness. In this frame, vulnerabilities are also known as the attack surface.
A penetration test, colloquially known as a pen test, pentest or ethical hacking, is an authorized simulated cyberattack on a computer system, performed to evaluate the security of the system. Not to be confused with a vulnerability assessment. The test is performed to identify both weaknesses, including the potential for unauthorized parties to gain access to the system's features and data, as well as strengths, enabling a full risk assessment to be completed.
Critical infrastructure protection (CIP) is a concept that relates to the preparedness and response to serious incidents that involve the critical infrastructure of a region or nation.
An information assurance vulnerability alert (IAVA) is an announcement of a computer application software or operating system vulnerability notification in the form of alerts, bulletins, and technical advisories identified by US-CERT, https://www.us-cert.gov/ US-CERT is managed by National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), which is part of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). CISA, which includes the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) realigned its organizational structure in 2017, integrating like functions previously performed independently by the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT). These selected vulnerabilities are the mandated baseline, or minimum configuration of all hosts residing on the GIG. US-CERT analyzes each vulnerability and determines if it is necessary or beneficial to the Department of Defense to release it as an IAVA. Implementation of IAVA policy will help ensure that DoD Components take appropriate mitigating actions against vulnerabilities to avoid serious compromises to DoD computer system assets that would potentially degrade mission performance.
Threat modeling is a process by which potential threats, such as structural vulnerabilities or the absence of appropriate safeguards, can be identified, enumerated, and mitigations can be prioritized. The purpose of threat modeling is to provide defenders with a systematic analysis of what controls or defenses need to be included, given the nature of the system, the probable attacker's profile, the most likely attack vectors, and the assets most desired by an attacker. Threat modeling answers questions like “Where am I most vulnerable to attack?”, “What are the most relevant threats?”, and “What do I need to do to safeguard against these threats?”.
Information technology risk, IT risk, IT-related risk, or cyber risk is any risk related to information technology. While information has long been appreciated as a valuable and important asset, the rise of the knowledge economy and the Digital Revolution has led to organizations becoming increasingly dependent on information, information processing and especially IT. Various events or incidents that compromise IT in some way can therefore cause adverse impacts on the organization's business processes or mission, ranging from inconsequential to catastrophic in scale.
A supply chain attack is a cyber-attack that seeks to damage an organization by targeting less-secure elements in the supply network. A supply chain attack can occur in any industry, from the financial sector, oil industry or government sector. Cybercriminals typically tamper with the manufacturing process of a product by installing a rootkit or hardware-based spying components. In an Internet Security Threat Report, powered by Symantec, it is stated that supply chain attacks still continues to be a feature of the threat landscape, with an increase by 78 percent in 2018.
Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR) is a taxonomy of the factors that contribute to risk and how they affect each other. It is primarily concerned with establishing accurate probabilities for the frequency and magnitude of data loss events. It is not a methodology for performing an enterprise risk assessment.
IT Risk Management is the application of risk management methods to information technology in order to manage IT risk, i.e.:
Cyber crime, or computer crime, refers to any crime that involves a computer and a network. The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target. Netcrime refers, more precisely, to criminal exploitation of the Internet. Issues surrounding this type of crime have become high-profile, particularly those surrounding hacking, copyright infringement, identity theft, child pornography, and child grooming. There are also problems of privacy when confidential information is lost or intercepted, lawfully or otherwise.
In computers and computer networks an attack is any attempt to expose, alter, disable, destroy, steal or gain unauthorized access to or make unauthorized use of an asset. A cyberattack is any type of offensive maneuver that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks, or personal computer devices. An attacker is a person or process that attempts to access data, functions or other restricted areas of the system without authorization, potentially with malicious intent. Depending on context, cyberattacks can be part of cyberwarfare or cyberterrorism. A cyberattack can be employed by sovereign states, individuals, groups, society or organizations, and it may originate from an anonymous source. A product that facilitates a cyberattack is sometimes called a cyberweapon.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to computer security:
Cyber-insurance is a specialty lines insurance product intended to protect businesses, and individuals providing services for such businesses, from Internet-based risks, and more generally from risks relating to information technology infrastructure, information privacy, information governance liability, and activities related thereto. Risks of this nature are typically excluded from traditional commercial general liability policies or at least are not specifically defined in traditional insurance products. Coverage provided by cyber-insurance policies may include first-party coverage against losses such as data destruction, extortion, theft, hacking, and denial of service attacks; liability coverage indemnifying companies for losses to others caused, for example, by errors and omissions, failure to safeguard data, or defamation; and other benefits including regular security-audit, post-incident public relations and investigative expenses, and criminal reward funds.
In cybersecurity, cyber self-defense refers to self-defense against cyberattack. While it generally emphasizes active cybersecurity measures by computer users themselves, cyber self-defense is sometimes used to refer to the self-defense of organizations as a whole, such as corporate entities or entire nations. Surveillance self-defense is a variant of cyber self-defense and largely overlaps with it. Active and passive cybersecurity measures provide defenders with higher levels of cybersecurity, intrusion detection, incident handling and remediation capabilities. Various sectors and organizations are legally obligated to adhere to cyber security standards.
This is a list of cybersecurity information technology. Cybersecurity is security as it is applied to information technology. This includes all technology that stores, manipulates, or moves data, such as computers, data networks, and all devices connected to or included in networks, such as routers and switches. All information technology devices and facilities need to be secured against intrusion, unauthorized use, and vandalism. Additionally, the users of information technology should be protected from theft of assets, extortion, identity theft, loss of privacy and confidentiality of personal information, malicious mischief, damage to equipment, business process compromise, and the general activity of cybercriminals. The general public should be protected against acts of cyberterrorism, such as the compromise or loss of the electric power grid.
Defense strategy is a concept and practice used by computer designers, users, and IT personnel to reduce computer security risks.
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