Differentiating Between Security Risks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities

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The terms risk, threat, and vulnerability are often thrown around, and it’s common to mistake them as interchangeable. However, each one refers to a different aspect of the security threat landscape. Let’s explore the difference between security risks, threats and vulnerabilities and how it affects you.

What is a Security Risk?

Risk refers to the potential loss you could incur as the result of an attack. It may include physical loss, financial, reputational, data and other digital assets, people, and more. To put it another way, how much do you have to lose if you were attacked?

Risk is also about how well-protected you are against threats. Although you may have a lot of valuable assets that could be lost, you might also have robust security in place and are well protected. Remember, though, no one is 100% protected against all threats.

What is a Security Threat?

A threat refers to anything that could disrupt or damage. Some threats include malware, social engineering, theft, data breaches, ransomware, and dozens of other techniques that bad actors use to break into your secure assets, steal them, sell them, destroy them, or disrupt your operations. The aim of a threat is to steal or cause harm to you in some way. Usually, thieves are motivated by financial gains.

Our modern world contains many threats, and you must prepare for any contingency. Even the best security protections in the world could potentially be breached.

Some threats are intentional, but some are not. For example, many data breaches result from human error and mistakes. No one intends to leave the door open, but it happens, and hackers get in. Threats can also include natural disasters like floods, fires, storms, earthquakes, and other damage due to weather or unforeseen circumstances.

What is a Security Vulnerability?

A vulnerability is a weak spot in your network or security protocol that allows someone to break in. It could refer to hardware, software, or a weakness in your security plan or process.

Many hackers look for known vulnerabilities in older hardware and software and exploit them to gain access to corporate networks to steal data or hold information for ransom. Small-medium sized (SMBs) companies are most at risk because they do not typically have the IT staff on hand to update outdated hardware/software and keep vulnerabilities to a minimum.

Your Risk Factor

To determine your risk factor, you must first educate yourself on all the possible threats and take a complete inventory of your security practices to detect any vulnerabilities.

The formula to determine your risk factor is:

Threats + Vulnerability = Risk

Determining your risk factor can help you create a more solid security plan and implement the necessary changes to reduce your risk and protect what’s yours.

If you want to learn more about how to secure your organization, contact DMAC Security today. We have been in the security business for more than 30 years, and we can help.

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