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Cyber Security Threats and Vulnerabilities: A Systematic Mapping Study


There has been a tremendous increase in research in the area of cyber security to support cyber applications and to avoid key security threats faced by these applications. The goal of this study is to identify and analyze the common cyber security vulnerabilities. To achieve this goal, a systematic mapping study was conducted, and in total, 78 primary studies were identified and analyzed. After a detailed analysis of the selected studies, we identified the important security vulnerabilities and their frequency of occurrence. Data were also synthesized and analyzed to present the venue of publication, country of publication, key targeted infrastructures and applications. The results show that the security approaches mentioned so far only target security in general, and the solutions provided in these studies need more empirical validation and real implementation. In addition, our results show that most of the selected studies in this review targeted only a few common security vulnerabilities such as phishing, denial-of-service and malware. However, there is a need, in future research, to identify the key cyber security vulnerabilities, targeted/victimized applications, mitigation techniques and infrastructures, so that researchers and practitioners could get a better insight into it.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the support provided by the Deanship of Scientific Research via the project number IN161024 at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia. In addition, we are grateful to the participants who evaluated the proposed model and recommended improvements.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to NZ Jhanjhi.


Appendix A: Data Extraction Form

Section 1: Paper information
Paper title:
Authors: Year of publication:
Reference type: Journal/Conference Publisher:
Section 2: Quality assessment
The findings and results of study are clearly stated? Yes
The findings of the study are evaluated empirically? Yes
The study has been published in a relevant journal or conference? Very relevant
Not relevant
The study has been cited by other authors? Yes
Section 3: Data extraction
Questions Possible answers
Which application is targeted for cybercrime in the given study? Application name
Which method is used to protect the application for cyber attack? Method name
Which cyber connection is used for committing cybercrime? Connection name
Who are the victims of cybercrimes in the given study? Individual
Which cyber security vulnerability is discussed in the study? Malware
SQL injection attack
Cross-site scripting (XSS)
Denial-of-service (DoS)
Session hijacking and man-in-the-middle attacks
Credential reuse
What is the severity of discussed cyber security vulnerability? Critical
Which technique is used in the study for detecting cyber threats? Technique name
What kind of data is used for validation? Data characteristics Academia
Which empirical validation methods are used in the proposed approach? Case study

Appendix B: Finally Selected Papers

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    Eslahi, Meisam, Habibah Hashim, and Nooritawati Md Tahir. “An efficient false alarm reduction approach in HTTP-based botnet detection.” In 2013 IEEE Symposium on Computers & Informatics (ISCI), pp. 201–205. IEEE, 2013.

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Humayun, M., Niazi, M., Jhanjhi, N. et al. Cyber Security Threats and Vulnerabilities: A Systematic Mapping Study. Arab J Sci Eng 45, 3171–3189 (2020).

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  • Cyber security
  • Threats
  • Vulnerabilities
  • Attack