Are you confident about the cybersecurity of your business? Do you know about the threats, vulnerabilities and risks to the data you hold?

Threats, vulnerabilities and risks to your organisation’s security

It doesn’t bear thinking of the consequences if you suffer a data security breach and loss of organisational and customer information; reputational risks alone are damaging to your business even before any financial penalties.

If you need to focus on your organisation’s security, here are the common threats, vulnerabilities and risks to your organisation you need to know about and may want to consider addressing to enable you to get an effective risk management strategy in place.

Threats, vulnerabilities and risks

These three terms are often used interchangeably when talking about IT and cybersecurity, but they are actually quite different. It helps to understand what each of these are and the different impacts they might have on your business.


A threat is an incident, or potential incident, that could harm your business. Threats are not always malicious. Natural disasters are classed as threats, such as a flood or fire. And unintentional threats can also occur, such as an employee accidentally leaving company files or devices off premises.

It’s the intentional threats we are concerned about here and they include, viruses, malware, spyware and hacking attempts. These threats are many and constantly changing. To combat threats as effectively as possible you need to:

  • Keep employees up to date with what to be aware of when it comes to malicious contact and how to spot malware and phishing attempts 
  • Conduct penetration testing, which imitates real threats to see how secure your system is 
  • Carry out regular threat testing


A vulnerability is a weakness in your business operation, for instance if you haven’t run updates, your data isn’t backed up securely, or your antivirus is out of date.

By taking care of all of the above you can ensure you limit the number of vulnerabilities in your system that can be taken advantage of by hackers.

To find out exactly where you are vulnerable, you could carry out regular vulnerability testing to ensure you plug the gaps and stay as secure as possible.


Risks are actually the sum of threats x vulnerabilities. Risk is the likelihood of an incident; and if you face zero threats and have zero vulnerabilities then you should be risk-free. In reality this is of course very unlikely.

By understanding how risks arise, through threats and vulnerabilities, and what those might be and where they come from, will enable you to put the right risk management strategy in place, with the policies and procedures to build risk management into your day-to-day.

Involve stakeholders in your risk management strategy, consider all angles of operation and what to be aware of that could go wrong. Designate employees to take care of certain aspects of the operative where risk is identified. And regular review your risks collaboratively so that the appropriate action can be taken.

In the even of a threat or vulnerability arising, you will be much better placed to deal with it and minimise disruption to your business. 

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