Browse Definitions :
Definition

threat actor

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A threat actor, also called a malicious actor, is an entity that is partially or wholly responsible for an incident that impacts – or has the potential to impact -- an organization's security. 

In threat intelligence, actors are generally categorized as external, internal or partner.  With external threat actors, no trust or privilege previously exists, while with internal or partner actors, some level of trust or privilege has previously existed. The actor may be an individual or an organization; the incident could be intentional or accidental and its purpose malicious or benign. 

External actors are the primary concern of threat intelligence services not only because they are the most common, but also because they tend to be the most severe in terms of negative impact. Such threat actors are sometimes categorized as either being commodity or advanced. A commodity threat actor launches a broad-based attack hoping to hit as many targets as possible, while an advanced threat actor targets an organization, often seeking to implement an advanced persistent threat (APT) in order to gain network access and remain undetected for a long time, stealing data at will.

Another type of external threat actor is the hacktivist. Hacktivist groups such as Anonymous use many of the same tools employed by financially-motivated cybercriminals to detect website vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access or carry out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The motivation of most hacktivists is to gain access to sensitive information that will negatively impact the reputation of an individual, a brand, a company or a government.

Learn more about commodity vs. advanced threat actors:

This was last updated in January 2016

Continue Reading About threat actor

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

FINGER LICKIN GOOD
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • compliance audit

    A compliance audit is a comprehensive review of an organization's adherence to regulatory guidelines.

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

  • Whistleblower Protection Act

    The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a law that protects federal government employees in the United States from ...

SearchSecurity

  • brute force attack

    Brute force (also known as brute force cracking) is a trial and error method used by application programs to decode encrypted ...

  • spyware

    Spyware is software that is installed on a computing device without the user's knowledge. Spyware can be difficult to detect; ...

  • ATM black box attack

    An ATM black box attack, also referred to as jackpotting, is a type of banking-system crime in which the perpetrators bore holes ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • warm site

    A warm site is a type of facility an organization uses to recover its technology infrastructure when its primary data center goes...

  • disaster recovery (DR) test

    A disaster recovery test (DR test) is the examination of each step in a disaster recovery plan as outlined in an organization's ...

SearchStorage

  • disk array

    A disk array, also called a storage array, is a data storage system used for block-based storage, file-based storage or object ...

  • enterprise storage

    Enterprise storage is a centralized repository for business information that provides common data management, protection and data...

  • optical storage

    Optical storage is any storage type in which data is written and read with a laser. Typically, data is written to optical media, ...

Close