Difference Between Threat and Vulnerability

Main Difference – Threat vs Vulnerability 

The two terms threat and vulnerability are related to harm, damage and danger. Both of them refer to a risk to the security. Threat refers to a person or thing that could cause trouble or harm. Vulnerability is the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. This is the main difference between threat and vulnerability.Difference Between Threat and Vulnerability - infographic

What is a Threat

The Oxford dictionary defines threat as “a person or thing likely to cause damage or danger” and Merriam-Webster defines it as “someone or something that could cause trouble, harm, etc.” According to these definitions, a threat is a living being or nonliving thing that can cause trouble, damage or harm. Group of terrorists, murderer, gang of thieves, contagious diseases, a virus, natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tsunami, etc. can be all described as threats – threats to your life, threats to your security. Entities like malware, spyware, worms, and viruses are threat to your computer. Although these kinds of threats are not life-threatening, they can cause trouble.

The control of a threat is often not in your hands. In other words, threats cannot be controlled. But it is always better to identify threats that can harm you. A threat can cause harm to you when there is vulnerability, and you can take precaution to avoid or reduce the damage.

Difference Between Threat and Vulnerability

What is a Vulnerability

Vulnerability is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally”. Merriam-Webster gives a far simpler definition: being open to attack or damage. Vulnerability is some weakness in us that leave us open to harm or damage. It is a flaw that a malicious attacker could use to cause damage. It is only when there is a vulnerability that a there is a threat to our security. For example, imagine that the lock in your door is not working properly; a burglar could use this flaw to his advantage and enter your house.

Therefore, flaws and weaknesses in security should be identified and proactive measures have to be taken to correct these identified vulnerabilities.

Main Difference - Threat vs Vulnerability

Difference Between Threat and Vulnerability 


Threat is a person or thing likely to cause damage or danger.

Vulnerability refers to being open to attack or damage.

Interior vs Exterior

Threat is danger by someone else.

Vulnerability is a flaw or weakness in us.


Threat cannot be controlled.

Vulnerability can be remedied.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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