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Threat actor

Threat actor

(also a malicious actor)

Threat actor definition

A threat actor is an organization or an individual with malicious intent who wants to take advantage of weaknesses in a computer system to access data, devices, systems, and networks without users’ consent. Additionally, threat actors can negatively impact users because they endanger the authenticity of the information flowing to and from them. Large enterprises are the main targets of threat actors who want to access a company’s financial information, intercept users’ data, or disrupt services and damage the organizations’ reputation. However, threat actors also target small and medium-sized businesses because their security systems may not be as robust as those of large corporations, and accessing data is often easier. Experts categorize threat actors based on their skill set, available resources, or reason for attacking.

See also: hacktivism, anti-phishing service

Types of threat actors

  • Cybercriminals. They use digital technology for malicious activity, usually for monetary benefit. To deceive users into clicking on harmful links or downloading malware, they use strategies like phishing. to manipulate users into sending money. Alternatively, cybercriminals may steal a person’s data.
  • Nation-state actors. Nation-state actors endanger the networks of other governments with malicious activity like espionage and cyberattacks. These groups are challenging to detect because of their diverse range of resources. They secretly target user networks to steal or corrupt sensitive data and assets and interfere with essential infrastructure.
  • Terrorist groups. This group of threat actors damages and destroys companies like government agencies and essential infrastructure or services. A terrorist’s goals are to spread chaos and fear by taking certain actions.
  • Thrill seekers. Thrill seekers conduct attacks for entertainment purposes. They want to test their ability to steal sensitive data and test how particular computer networks and systems work. However, they can disrupt computer networks and systems or take advantage of vulnerabilities.
  • Insider threats. These are usually dissatisfied employees who attack the business and its sensitive data because they can access internal network security parameters.
  • Hacktivists. Hacktivists engage in online threat activities using tools they can access with a bit of technical knowledge. Although they usually harm the targets’ reputations, hacktivists can occasionally cause financial damage.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security