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CPU utilization

CPU utilization

(also CPU usage)

CPU utilization definition

CPU utilization showcases the percentage of a computer’s central processing unit used at any given time. Since the CPU is responsible for executing instructions and running programs on a system, monitoring its utilization is integral to cybersecurity. The amount of CPU that one process uses depends on different factors, such as the amount of data, the complexity of the job, and the number of threads. CPU utilization can help organizations discover if some process or application uses excessive resources and optimize the system’s performance. It is also an indicator of security threats or hardware problems. Monitoring CPU utilization can help organizations identify and mitigate risks to protect their systems and data. Organizations can monitor CPU utilization using various tools, such as task managers and monitoring software.

See also: authentication server, cyberthreat

Security threats that CPU utilization indicates

  • DDoS attacks. If the CPU utilization is high, the system may face a DDoS attack. DDoS attacks can overload the CPU by flooding it with requests, causing the system to slow down or crash.
  • Malware. CPU usage might spike if malware executes instructions and performs other malicious activities in the background.
  • Cryptojacking. Like malware, it hijacks the processing power to mine cryptocurrencies, causing CPU usage to spike.
  • Advanced Persistent Threats. High CPU utilization can signalize an APT or a long, targeted attack that evades detection and compromises a system over time.
  • Insider threats. High CPU utilization can signalize insider threats, such as employees or contractors using company resources for personal needs or engaging in malicious activities.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security