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Cyber Security Threats and Vulnerabilities: A Systematic Mapping Study

  • Research Article - Computer Engineering and Computer Science
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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.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to NZ Jhanjhi.


Appendix A: Data Extraction Form

Section 1: Paper information

Paper title:


Year of publication:

Reference type: Journal/Conference




Section 2: Quality assessment

The findings and results of study are clearly stated?



The findings of the study are evaluated empirically?



The study has been published in a relevant journal or conference?

Very relevant


Not relevant

The study has been cited by other authors?




Section 3: Data extraction


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?



Which cyber security vulnerability is discussed in the study?



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?





Which technique is used in the study for detecting cyber threats?

Technique name

What kind of data is used for validation? Data characteristics





Which empirical validation methods are used in the proposed approach?

Case study




Appendix B: Finally Selected Papers

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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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