Threat actor

Updated: 03/12/2022 by Computer Hope
Computer threat actor

With cybersecurity, an actor, malicious actor, or threat actor is anyone capable of affecting your computer or network security.

Types of threat actors

When describing a threat actor, they'll fall into one of the following four categories.


A cybercriminal is an individual or group who participates in a computer crime against a person or company for financial reasons. For example, a cybercriminal may attack a company, infect its software with ransomware, and hold their data hostage until a certain sum is paid.


An insider threat is a person employed by a company or who was employed by a company that they attack. For example, an insider may steal and distribute company-sensitive information to a competitor, which could include security-related information.


An insider isn't specific to only a company. If you share your computer, smartphone, or other devices with a spouse, child, or anyone else, they can also intentionally or unintentionally be an insider threat.


A hacktivist participating in hacktivism is another type of threat actor. For example, a hacktivist may not agree with your political views and perform a DoS attack against your home or work computer.


A nation-state is a country that targets its own or other nations' citizens or institutions to spy on them, steal data, or damage the economy. For example, a nation-state may install malware on a journalist's smartphone to spy on them or find out about informants.

Black hat, Computer crime, Hacker, Security terms, Threat