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A threat is an undesired event or a potential occurrence, often best described as an effect that might damage or compromise an asset or objective. It may or may not be malicious in nature. When building software, your software may face the threat of various software attacks.

The categories below organize common potential software attacks and undesirable events that can threaten your software security (e.g. the "threat of" a brute force attack ... the "threat of" network eavesdropping ... etc.) The threats listed here are technical vs. business threats, although they can certainly have a business impact. Technical threats are useful for assessing potential attacks and potential negative occurences based on vulnerabilities.

Auditing and Logging

  • User denies performing an operation
  • Attackers exploit an application without leaving a trace
  • Attackers cover their tracks


  • Network eavesdropping
  • Brute force attacks
  • Dictionary attacks
  • Cookie replay attacks
  • Credential theft


  • Elevation of privilege
  • Disclosure of confidential data
  • Data tampering
  • Luring attacks

Configuration Management

  • Unauthorized access to administration interfaces
  • Unauthorized access to configuration stores
  • Retrieval of plaintext configuration secrets
  • Lack of individual accountability
  • Over-privileged process and service accounts


  • Poor key generation or key management
  • Weak or custom encryption
  • Checksum spoofing

Exception Management

  • Attacker reveals implementation details
  • Denial of service
  • Sensitive Data
  • Access to sensitive data in storage
  • Network eavesdropping
  • Data tampering

Input/Data Validation

  • Buffer overflows
  • Cross-site scripting
  • SQL injection
  • Canonicalization
  • Query string manipulation
  • Form field manipulation
  • Cookie manipulation
  • HTTP header manipulation

Session Management

  • Session hijacking
  • Session replay
  • Man in the middle
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