Difference between Threat and Attack

Accidents & DisastersSafe & SecurityNatural Calamities

From a security standpoint, threats and attacks are two critical occurrences. From the perspective of network security, it is critical to grasp the differences between the two.

  • A threat in the realm of information security is the presence of a persistent hazard to information integrity. This might take the shape of a human, a computer virus or malware, or something else.

  • An attack, on the other hand, is the actual act of exploiting the information security system's weaknesses.

There are a number of network security dangers and attacks to be aware of, such as Information theft and fraud, putting a halt to routine business activities, viruses, cracking the passwords, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, eavesdropping, hacking of e-mail, attempts at intrusion, spoofing a network, social engineering, etc.

What is a Threat?

A Threat is a possible security risk that might exploit the vulnerability of a system or asset. The origin of the threat may be accidental or environmental, human negligence, or human failure. There are various types of security threats such as Interruption, Interception, Fabrication, and Modification.

A threat is something that can gain access to, harm, or eliminate an asset by exploiting a vulnerability, whether purposefully or unintentionally. Threats can be divided into three categories −

  • Floods, storms, and tornadoes are examples of natural disasters.

  • Unintentional threats, such as an employee accessing incorrect information.

  • Spyware, virus, adware companies, or the activities of a rogue employee are all examples of intentional dangers.

Bugs and malware are classified as dangers because they can hurt your firm if you are exposed to a computerized attack rather than one carried out by humans.

Many firms do cyber threat assessments to determine where they should focus their monitoring, protection, and remediation efforts. So, if an asset is something you're attempting to protect, a threat is something you're trying to avoid.

What is an Attack?

An Attack is an intentional unauthorized action on a system. Attacks can be grouped into two categories −

  • Active Attacks − An active attack is an attempt to change system resources or influence their operation.

  • Passive Attacks − A passive attack is an attempt to understand or retrieve sensitive data from a system without influencing the system resources.

An attack always has a motivation to misuse system and generally wait for an opportunity to occur.

Difference between Threat and Attack

The following table highlights the major differences between a Threat and an Attack −

IntentionalThreats can be intentional like human negligence or unintentional like natural disasters.The attack is a deliberate action. An attacker have a motive and plan the attack accordingly.
MaliciousA Threat may or may not malicious.An Attack is always malicious.
DefinitionA Threat by definition is a condition/circumstance which can cause damage to the system/asset.An Attack by definition is an intended action to cause damage to system/asset.
Chance for DamageChance to damage or information alteration varies from low to very high.The chance to damage or information alternation is very high.
DetectionA threat is difficult to detect.An attack is comparatively easy to detect.
PreventionA threat can be prevented by controlling the vulnerabilities.An attack cannot be prevented by merely controlling the vulnerabilities. Other measures like backup, detect and act, etc., are required to handle a cyber-attack.
InitiationIt might be started by the system or by an outsider.It is always started by an outsider (system or user)


A Threat is a possible security risk that might exploit the vulnerability of a system or asset. An attack, on the other hand, is the actual act of exploiting the information security system's weaknesses.

Threats and Attacks that might jeopardize information security can be prevented in a variety of ways. Soft and physical firewalls, up-to-date antiviruses and antimalware, and other methods of protection should be used to design and administer the IT system.

Updated on 03-Jun-2022 11:24:05