Researching target recognition methods for 3D computed tomography (CT) images is important for improving the reliability and stability of the security inspection quality in advanced security CT scanning equipment. This article systematically reviews the latest research progress and developmental trends in target recognition of CT images for security purposes. Not only representative academic research achievements of recent years in this field are summarized and reviewed, but also relevant industrial patents are included for the first time. For literature classification, in addition to two common taxonomies, a new taxonomy is proposed, and the retrieved representative literature is classified with multiple labels. In summarizing and analyzing the research achievements in this field, three important characteristics were identified, and the origins were analyzed. Finally, some suggestions are put forward for future research directions in this field.