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How Cyber Threats Work

Posted October 09th, 2019 in cyber security

Have you wondered how cyber threats work? In this blog post, we will answer all of your questions. 

how cyber threats work


As you may already know, October is Cyber Security Awareness Month. This campaign is internationally recognized and was created to inform the public about the importance of cyber security. This month of blogs is revolved around the themes that the Government of Canada is focusing on. The themes are focused on helping Canadians to be more secure online, be informed and know steps to protect themselves, families, work, and devices. 

The first theme that the Government of Canada has put together is how cyber threats work. 


It's important to stay cyber safe all year. Click here to read how you can do this. 


The internet is becoming a bigger part of our daily lives. Because of this, Canada is more connected than ever. This also means that there is a greater risk of being a victim of cyber threats. 

A cyber threat is an activity that is intended to compromise the security of an information system - a computer, network, website, social media page, smart devices - by altering the availability, integrity, or confidentiality of a system or the information that is encompassed. These activities take place online. 


Cyber threat actors are individuals or organizations that have different motivations, skill sets or proficiencies, but the end result is often the same. These cyber threat actors seek to demonstrate their proficiencies, cause harm to individuals, organizations, and/or governments, or profit from these activities. They also aim to take advantage of vulnerabilities, low cyber security awareness, and tech developments to gain unapproved access to systems in order to enter or affect a victims' data, device, systems, or network. 

Sometimes these actors use less sophisticated and readily available tools and techniques because these tools meet their needs and require little effort for their part in cyber threats. 


A Few Stats:

How many Canadians do you think have been a victim of a cyber-attack? 32% of Canadians say they have. That is a lot of people!

Also, 85% of Canadians are worried about having their private information stolen and used without their permission. 

2 in 3 Canadians think they could be affected by an online threat.

Are you worried about malware?  80% of Canadian internet users are concerned about malware.


Motivations and Techniques:

Threat actors have different motivations. For example:

  • Cyber criminals = Profit
  • Thrill seekers = Satisfaction
  • Hacktivists = Ideological
  • Insider threats = Discontent
  • Nation-states = Geopolitical
  • Terrorist groups = Ideological violence

These actors could have low or high computer skills. But each one is after information. 


There are a variety of techniques that cyber threat actors may use. These include: 

  • Phishing
    • Fraudulent texts or emails that appear to come from a source that is reputable
  • Malware
    • Malicious software. This could be adware, spyware, or ransomware
  • Ransomware
    • Malware designed to block access to a device until the victim pays a cyber criminal
  • Hacking
    • Obtain unauthorized access to a computer
  • Denial of Service (DoS)
    • Disrupting a website or a network by overwhelming it with traffic
  • Botnets
    • Connected devices that are controlled by a threat actor to perform a specific task
  • Pharming
    • Re-routing traffic from a legitimate website to a malicious one


Understanding how these cyber threats work is the first step to protect yourself and the workplace from these activities. 

We hope that you have learned more about how cyber threats work. If you have any questions, use the section below. 


Looking to make sure you are even more safe online? Download this free Security Awareness Kit. 

Security Awareness Kit



Government of Canada. (2019). October 2019 Themes for Cyber Security Awareness Month. Retrieved October 3, 2019 from,

Government of Canada. (2019). Cyber Security Awareness Month How cyber threats work. Retrieved October 3, 2019 from,