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Subject: How Can It Be Secured in Cyberspace?

Subject: How Can It Be Secured in Cyberspace?

 By Charles Joseph | Cybersecurity Researcher
 Published on August 1st, 2023
This post was updated on November 25th, 2023

A subject, in cybersecurity, is an active entity, typically a person, process, or device, that interacts with a system. This interaction can involve accessing, creating, managing, or sharing resources. It’s a term used to define any component that causes information to flow among objects or changes the system state. Think of it as the originator of a request to use resources within a system.

Subject Examples

1. IT Administrator Example

In an organizational setting, an excellent example of a ‘subject’ in action is an IT administrator using their account. In this situation, the person we’re focusing on is John. He’s an IT administrator of a company who manages the employees’ network access.

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One of his regular tasks is to adjust or modify the user permissions as needed throughout the network. This could be granting access to certain software or restricting access to sensitive files within the system. The moment John logs into his account and begins to interact with the network, he becomes the ‘subject’.

As the ‘subject’, John is the one initiating changes and causing information or permissions to flow from one point to another within the system. This shows how pivotal the concept of a ‘subject’ is in understanding processes and permissions within a system’s security structure.

2. Automated Email System Example

An automated email system provides another clear example of a ‘subject’ in a digital environment. This system is typically used to send out notifications, updates, or reminders to a group of users or an entire organization.

For instance, when a company has a new policy update, the automated email system can be programmed to send notifications to all employees. Here, this system becomes the ‘subject’ because it initiates the flow of information.

Without any human intervention, the automated email program carries out its task, directing information to the right places or right individuals. In this way, it represents the power of automated ‘subjects’ in cybersecurity, driving tasks and communication efficiently within systems.

3. Security Scanner Example

A security scanner that’s scheduled to perform security checks provides yet another case of how the concept of a ‘subject’ works in cybersecurity. These security scanners are vital tools for organizations in maintaining system integrity and protecting against potential threats.

Suppose a scanner is set up to perform a complete system scan for vulnerabilities every day at a certain time. When the time comes, this scanner initiates and executes the scanning process automatically. In this scenario, the ‘subject’ is the security scanner.

Despite not being a live user or person, the scanner is a real-time example of a ‘subject’ because it initiates a process—namely, the system scan. It illustrates how the term ‘subject’ not just applies to people, but also to automated processes or software that can trigger actions or cause a state change in a system.


In the field of cybersecurity, understanding the concept of ‘subject’ moves beyond just humans—it includes any active entity that initiates a process or causes a change in the system. Being aware of these ‘subjects’ helps in better managing system processes, safeguarding information, and bolstering overall cybersecurity.

Key Takeaways

  • A ‘subject’ in cybersecurity is an entity that initiates a process or causes a change in the system.
  • This entity can be a human user, a device, or an automated process.
  • With an understanding of the ‘subject’, system processes can be better managed, and security can be enhanced.
  • The term ‘subject’ is universal and not just limited to people. Software or system processes that initiate actions are also termed ‘subjects’.
  • Examples of ‘subjects’ include an IT administrator modifying system settings, an automated email system disseminating information, or a security scanner initiating a system sweep for vulnerabilities.

Related Questions

1. How does identifying the ‘subject’ improve system security?

Identifying the ‘subject’ helps in tracing who or what initiated a process or made changes to a system. This aids in accountability, helps track system activity, and can assist in discovering potential security breaches.

2. Can a device or a program be a ‘subject’?

Yes, a device or a program can indeed be a ‘subject’. For example, an automated email program or a security scanner initiating a system check are examples of devices or programs acting as ‘subjects’.

3. Are ‘subjects’ always linked with permissions or access?

Not always, while often ‘subjects’ are associated with initiating actions that require permissions, actions can also be mundane tasks or processes that don’t necessarily involve access permissions.

4. Can there be multiple ‘subjects’ active within a system simultaneously?

Yes, there can be multiple ‘subjects’ active at the same time. Multiple users or processes can simultaneously initiate actions or tasks within a system, each acting as a separate ‘subject’.

5. Is understanding the concept of ‘subject’ important to system administrators?

Absolutely, understanding the concept of ‘subject’ is crucial for system administrators. It helps them monitor system activity, manage permissions, and maintain system security more efficiently.

"Amateurs hack systems, professionals hack people."
-- Bruce Schneier, a renown computer security professional
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