A countermeasure is an action, process, device, or system that can prevent, or mitigate the effects of, threats to a computer, server or network. In this context, a threat is a potential or actual adverse event that may be malicious or incidental, and that can compromise the assets of an enterprise or the integrity of a computer or network.

Countermeasures can take the form of software, hardware and modes of behavior. Software countermeasures include:

The most common hardware countermeasure is a router that can prevent the IP address of an individual computer from being directly visible on the Internet. Other hardware countermeasures include:
  • biometric authentication systems
  • physical restriction of access to computers and peripherals
  • intrusion detectors
  • alarms.
Behavioral countermeasures include:
  • frequent deletion of stored cookies and temporary files from Web browsers
  • regular scanning for viruses and other malware
  • regular installation of updates and patches for operating systems
  • refusing to click on links that appear within e-mail messages
  • refraining from opening e-mail messages and attachments from unknown senders
  • staying away from questionable Web sites
  • regularly backing up data on external media.

In military applications, a countermeasure is a system or strategy intended to prevent an enemy from compromising a target. This can be done by shielding, concealing or moving the target, creating decoys or otherwise confusing the enemy.

This was last updated in June 2006

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