The threat actor is the term used in cybersecurity to describe this ‘enemy.’ A threat actor is a person, group, or entity that initiates or participates in an event with the intent of compromising an organization’s security.

A threat actor might be a single person who commits a security breach, a group, an organization, or even a country that is participating in a cyberattack.

Knowing the many sorts of threat actors isn’t enough, though. You must also be aware of their motivations to establish a secure cybersecurity plan.


1.         Cyber Terrorists

Cyber terrorists are a new incarnation of a long-standing worldwide problem that has afflicted nearly every country for decades. These threat actors are generally focused on inflicting harm and disrupting key services.

The main goal is to create pain and devastation to advance their agenda.

Cyber terrorists can attack companies, government apparatus, and essential systems to wreak maximum havoc, disruption, and ruin.

2.         Actors who are backed by the government or the state

Nation-state fund, direct, or sponsor these threat actors. To aid their nation’s espionage purposes, they’ve been known to steal and exfiltrate intellectual property, sensitive information, and even finances.

Goal: Espionage, theft, or any other behavior that furthers the interests of a certain nation or set of nations is the main goal.

Typical Targets: Businesses and government-run organizations are common targets.

3.         Cybercriminals/Organized Crime

There is crime everywhere, and the internet is no exception. There are criminals out there that seek to steal sensitive data, money, and personal information. However, because they’re pursuing money, the information they collect often ends up on the underground market or is sold to the highest bidder. These criminals have also been known to employ ransomware to extort company owners directly.

The primary objective is to make a profit.

Cash- and/or data-rich organizations and businesses are common targets.

4.         Hacktivists

The goal of hacktivists is to raise awareness. Almost all of the material released by Wikileaks, for example, was the product of hacktivists seeking to reveal the truth. Ideological activity is frequently the driving force behind them.

The main goal is to expose secrets and disrupt services/organizations that are seen to be bad.

Typical Targets: There are no restrictions on the sort of organization or business that can be targeted.

5.         Insiders

You don’t always have to look far to locate infiltrators. Some threat actors will go so far as to infiltrate your staff or sway an insider to their cause or aim. Because of the level of access they’d have operating from within, insiders are a particularly dangerous threat to any organization’s cybersecurity.

Working from within a company to get past its cybersecurity framework is the main goal.

Typical Targets: There is no restriction on the sort of organization that can be targeted.

6.         Kiddies with Scripts

Some attackers aren’t competent or advanced enough to create their own penetration tools. To get into a network or system, Script Kiddies employ tools created by other attackers.

Attacking computer systems and networks, vandalizing them, and causing as much damage as possible is the main goal.

Typical Targets: Systems that are simple to break into and are vulnerable to well-known attacks.

7.         Errors Caused by Internal Users

Threat actors aren’t all malevolent. However, the harm they do inflict can be significant. Because of their enhanced rights inside an organization’s systems and networks, even basic user mistakes might result in disaster.

The main goal isn’t malevolent; rather, it’s typically unintentional.

Typical Targets: Any institution, no matter how secure, can be harmed.


Agendas in Politics, Economics, Technology, and Military Affairs: Such motives are shared by threat actors such as hacktivists and government-backed actors. When they begin preparing for an attack, they are concentrated and have a specific goal in mind. Furthermore, this information is rarely encountered for sale on the black market. The lack of data obtained in the Equifax Hack, for example, has many people questioning if the attack was coordinated or backed by another government.

Financial Gain: One of the most common reasons used by cybercriminals is profit. These threat actors aren’t generally interested in breaking into a specific company or organization. Furthermore, they will not be concerned with the crime’s discoverability since they are primarily interested in taking assets that they can turn into money as quickly as possible.

Notoriety: Some threat actors are driven by their reputation and need for attention and may deliberately seek targets that will assist them to achieve this. Agents seeking recognition will frequently overlook opportunities to assault non-visible assets/targets that will not attract notice.

Revenge: Getting even with someone is a universal human instinct, and it’s also a typical incentive for threat actors. Employees or ex-employees are the most likely dangerous actors planning a retaliatory strike. Providing them with an in-depth understanding of an organization’s systems, networks, and defenses.

Motivational Overlap: A threat actor may be driven by more than one incentive. for example, have a vengeance mentality as well as a political goal.

Understanding threat actors and their motives is an important part of the cyber security process. It will assist you in mapping out your defenses and may enable you to outmaneuver attackers effectively.


The low-hanging fruit is maintaining proper cyber hygiene. Even so, it is insufficient on its own. Use a sophisticated antivirus solution to secure your home computer, which will protect all of your data as well as your computer from malicious threats.

UK Cyber Security Ltd is here to help

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If you would like to know more, do get in touch as we are happy to answer any questions. Looking to improve your cybersecurity but not sure where to start? Begin by getting certified in Cyber Essentials, the UK government’s scheme that covers all the technical controls that will provide the protection that you need to help guard against criminal attacks. Or just get in touch by clicking contact us

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