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Hardware and software and the most common attacks

Digitalisation is transforming our economies globally. Although the amount of benefits that arise with this phenomenon, there are also advancing threats for digital security that affects safety and privacy in our homes, cars, businesses or even networks. This is because we are constantly using digital devices in everyday life, a trend that is increasing steadily.

Therefore, the hardware and software of these devices must be updated, upgraded or replaced frequently due to the existence of serious risks and threats to the overall society.

But let’s start from scratch: What exactly do we refer to when we talk about hardware and software? In the table bellow you can see a detailed definition about hardware and software.


Hardware is any physical component used in or with your device, whereas software is what you have inside of your computer’s hard drive, smartphone and/or tablet. Hardware is the part of your computer or smartphone, whereas software collects and processes data on your computer’s hard drive. Some examples of hardware components are: computer processor (CPU), hard drive, main board, computer monitor, printer or a mouse.

Software is the logical part of your computer or smartphone; it cannot be touched as it is immaterial. Still, all software’s use at least one hardware component to operate. You can imagine software as a set of instructions that tells a device exactly what to do. It can be programmes or data. For example, a video game and Microsoft Outlook.

To make it clearer for you, you will now see the main differences between hardware and software in the following table:






Hardware is a physical part of a physical device that is responsible for processing data/information

Hardware can’t function without any software

Software is a set of instructions that tells a computer exactly what to do

Software is responsible to make the hardware work


Hardware are physical electronic devices that we can see and touch

Hardware can’t be affected by computer viruses

We can see and also use the software but can’t touch it

Software is affected by computer viruses

Life cycle

They can become physically damaged

They can become outdated


They work as soon as the software is installed

They need to be installed in the hardware to work


Pieces can be transferred from one place to another

They can be re-installed and transferred


Mouse, CPU, monitor, printer, hard disk etc

Microsoft Word, Firefox, Skype, Adobe Reader, etc

As we can see in the previous table, hardware and software are interconnected and without software the hardware of a computer would have no function.

Hardware and software protection have become a hot topic for everyone especially nowadays. But why is that the case? In the table below you can see three main purposes of hardware and software protection.

Hardware protection

Software protection

Computer hardware can be very fragile (for example, heat, water, improper use, physical accidents caused by people are the biggest threats to a computer’s physical safety)

Regular updates to software have plenty of advantages such as preventing computer bugs, weakness in software programs or operating systems

Hardware should be properly clean in order to protect them from excessive heat

Software updates helps to deal with security flaws/vulnerabilities

Some incidents such as a robbery, water in your hardware can cause loss/stealing of data, information, damage your system and data files

Software helps to protect your data/ precious information from external malware sources

Therefore, hardware and software security play an important role in ensuring trust, integrity and authenticity. Let’s now get to some examples that make clear why the protection of hardware and software is crucial!


Did you know that in 2011 Sony Pictures suffered an attack from a hacktivists group which released around 1 million user accounts including personal data (passwords, e-mails, home addresses, dates of birth etc) that broke the privacy policy of their service?

In 2017, the giant HBO was attacked and the hacker released the script of an episode of a very popular TV series (Game of Thrones) that hadn’t been broadcasted and also gained access to financial documents, cast and crew contact list and other confidential information.

These types of incidents can be avoided if you have a strong software and hardware protection.

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