The Dummies Guide to Cyber Security Terminology
The A-Z guide on Cyber Security Terminology brought to you by MetaCompliance.
Adware – Adware refers to any piece of software or application that displays advertisements on your computer.
Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) – An advanced persistent threat is an attack in which an unauthorised user gains access to a system or network without being detected.
Anti-Virus Software – Anti-virus software is a computer program used to prevent, detect, and remove malware.
Artificial Intelligence – Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions.
Attachment – An attachment is a computer file sent with an email message.
Authentication – Authentication is a process that ensures and confirms a user’s identity.
Back door – A backdoor is used to describe a hidden method of bypassing security to gain access to a restricted part of a computer system.
Backup – To make a copy of data stored on a computer or server to reduce the potential impact of failure or loss.
Baiting – Online baiting involves enticing a victim with an incentive.
Bluetooth – Bluetooth is a wireless technology for exchanging data over short distances.
Blackhat – Black hat hacker refers to a hacker that violates computer security for personal gain or malice.
Botnet – A botnet is a collection of internet-connected devices, which may include PCs, servers and mobile devices that are infected and controlled by a common type of malware.
Broadband – High-speed data transmission system where the communications circuit is shared between multiple users.
Browser – A browser is software that is used to access the internet. The most popular web browsers are Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Edge.
Brute Force Attack – Brute force attack is an activity which involves repetitive successive attempts of trying various password combinations to break into any website.
Bug – A bug refers to an error, fault or flaw in a computer program that may cause it to unexpectedly quit or behave in an unintended manner.
BYOD – Bring your own device (BYOD) refers to employees using personal devices to connect to their organisational networks.
Clickjacking – Clickjacking, also known as a UI redress attack, is a common hacking technique in which an attacker creates an invisible page or an HTML element that overlays the legitimate page.
Cloud Computing – The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.
Cookie – Cookies are small files which are stored on a user’s computer. Cookies provide a way for the website to recognize you and keep track of your preferences.
Critical Update – A fix for a specific problem that addresses a critical, non-security-related bug in computer software.
Cyber Warfare – Cyber warfare typically refers to cyber-attacks perpetrated by one nation-state against another.
Data Breach – A data breach is a confirmed incident where information has been stolen or taken from a system without the knowledge or authorization of the system’s owner.
Data Server – Data server is the phrase used to describe computer software and hardware that delivers database services.
DDoS Attack – A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic.
Deepfake – Deepfake refers to any video in which faces have been either swapped or digitally altered, with the help of AI.
Domain name – The part of a network address which identifies it as belonging to a particular domain.
Domain Name Server – A server that converts recognisable domain names into their unique IP address
Download – To copy (data) from one computer system to another, typically over the Internet.
Exploit – A malicious application or script that can be used to take advantage of a computer’s vulnerability.
Firewall – A firewall is a software program or piece of hardware that helps screen out hackers, viruses, and worms that try to reach your computer over the Internet.
Hacking – Hacking refers to an unauthorised intrusion into a computer or a network.
Honeypot – A decoy system or network that serves to attract potential attackers.
HTML – Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the standard markup language for creating web pages and web applications.
Identity theft – Identity theft is a crime in which someone uses personally identifiable information in order to impersonate someone else.
Incident Response Plan – An incident response policy is a plan outlying organisation’s response to an information security incident.
Internet of things (IoT) – The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data.
IP Address – An IP address is an identifying number for a piece of network hardware. Having an IP address allows a device to communicate with other devices over an IP-based network like the internet.
IOS – An operating system used for mobile devices manufactured by Apple.
Keystroke logger – A keystroke logger is software that tracks or logs the keys struck on your keyboard, typically in a covert manner so that you are unaware actions are being monitored.
Malware – Malware is shorthand for malicious software and is designed to cause damage to a computer, server, or computer network.
Malvertising – The use of online advertising to deliver malware.
Memory stick – A memory stick is a small device that connects to a computer and allows you to store and copy information.
MP3 – MP3 is a means of compressing a sound sequence into a very small file, to enable digital storage and transmission.
Multi-Factor Authentication – Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) provides a method to verify a user’s identity by requiring them to provide more than one piece of identifying information.
Packet Sniffer – Software designed to monitor and record network traffic.
Padlock – A padlock icon displayed in a web browser indicates a secure mode where communications between browser and web server are encrypted.
Patch – A patch is a piece of software code that can be applied after the software program has been installed to correct an issue with that program.
Penetration testing – Penetration testing (also called pen testing) is the practice of testing a computer system, network or Web application to find vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit.
Phishing – Phishing is a method of trying to gather personal information using deceptive e-mails and websites.
Policy Management – Policy Management is the process of creating, communicating, and maintaining policies and procedures within an organisation.
Proxy Server – A proxy server is another computer system which serves as a hub through which internet requests are processed.
Pre-texting – Pre-texting is the act of creating a fictional narrative or pretext to manipulate a victim into disclosing sensitive information.
Ransomware – A type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.
Rootkit – Rootkits are a type of malware designed to remain hidden on your computer.
Router – A router is a piece of network hardware that allows communication between your local home network and the Internet.
Scam – A scam is a term used to describe any fraudulent business or scheme that takes money or other goods from an unsuspecting person.
Scareware – Scareware is a type of malware designed to trick victims into purchasing and downloading potentially dangerous software.
Security Awareness Training – Security awareness training is a training program aimed at heightening security awareness within an organisation.
Security Operations Centre (SOC) – A SOC monitors an organisation’s security operations to prevent, detect and respond to any potential threats.
Server – A server is a computer program that provides a service to another computer programs (and its user).
Smishing – Smishing is any kind of phishing that involves a text message.
Spam – Spam is slang commonly used to describe junk e-mail on the Internet.
Social Engineering – Social engineering is the art of manipulating people, so they disclose confidential information.
Software – Software is the name given to the programs you will use to perform tasks with your computer.
Spear Phishing – Spear phishing is an email-spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to sensitive information.
Spyware – Spyware is a type of software that installs itself on a device and secretly monitors a victim’s online activity.
Tailgating – Tailgating involves someone who lacks the proper authentication following an employee into a restricted area.
Tablet – A tablet is a wireless, portable personal computer with a touchscreen interface.
Traffic – Web traffic is the amount of data sent and received by visitors to a website.
Trojan – A Trojan is also known as Trojan horse. It is a type of malicious software developed by hackers to disguise as legitimate software to gain access to target users’ systems.
Two-Factor Authentication – Two-factor authentication (2FA), often referred to as two-step verification, is a security process in which the user provides two authentication factors to verify they are who they say they are.
USB – USB (Universal Serial Bus) is the most popular connection used to connect a computer to devices such as digital cameras, printers, scanners, and external hard drives.
Username – A username is a name that uniquely identifies someone on a computer system.
Virus – A computer virus is a malicious software program loaded onto a user’s computer without the user’s knowledge and performs malicious actions.
VPN (Virtual Private Network) – A virtual private network gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public Internet connection. VPNs mask your Internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable.
Vulnerability – A vulnerability refers to a flaw in a system that can leave it open to attack.
Vishing – Vishing is the telephone equivalent of phishing. It is an attempt to scam someone over the phone into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.
Whaling – Whaling is a specific form of phishing that’s targeted at high-profile business executives and managers.
Whitehat – White hat hackers perform penetration testing, test in-place security systems and perform vulnerability assessments for companies.
Worm – A computer worm is a malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers.
Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi is a facility that allows computers, smartphones, or other devices to connect to the Internet or communicate with one another wirelessly within a particular area.
Zero-Day – Zero-Day refers to a recently discovered vulnerability that hackers can use to attack systems.