Security Glossary

Listed below are some common security terms and their definitions.

Anti-Spyware Software

A program used to protect your computer from spyware.

Anti-Virus Software

A program used to protect your computer from viruses.

Browser

Short for Web browser, it is a software application used to locate and display Web pages. Two popular browsers are Netscape® Navigator and Microsoft® Internet Explorer.

CERT® Coordination Center

The CERT/CC is a major reporting center for Internet security problems. Staff members provide technical advice and coordinate responses to security compromises, identify trends in intruder activity, work with other security experts to identify solutions to security problems, and disseminate information to the community at large. The CERT/CC also analyzes product vulnerabilities, publishes technical documents, and presents training courses. They are located at Carnegie Mellon University.

Firewall

Software or hardware designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets.

Identity Theft

The act of stealing personal information about you, such as your Social Security Number, date of birth, credit card numbers, etc. and using that information to impersonate you. The identity thief will generally obtain credit using your name and other identifiers.

Intranet

A network belonging to an organization, usually a corporation, accessible only by the organization's members, employees or others with authorization. An intranet Website looks and acts just like any other Website, but the firewall surrounding an intranet fends off unauthorized access.

Masking (account numbers)

Altering an account number so that the whole number cannot be seen (e.g. xxxxx6789).

Pharming

Pharming is when someone changes the Internet lookup system to redirect your browser to a fake site to obtain personal or private information. Your browser will show you a fake Website that appears to look like the real Website, which makes pharming a bit more serious and difficult to detect.

Phishing

The act of impersonating a legitimate enterprise in an attempt to have you surrender private information that may be used for either identity theft or to conduct unauthorized transactions on your account. Typically, you are directed to a website where you're asked to update personal information such as passwords, credit card information, social security numbers and bank account information. Thieves may use any personal information you update to steal your identity. Remember, a legitimate organization would not ask you to update your personal information online.

Spam/Spammers

Electronic junk mail. Spam is generally e-mail advertising for some product sent to a mailing list.

Spyware

Any software that covertly gathers your information through the Internet connection without your knowledge or consent, usually for advertising purposes. Spyware is typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programs that are downloaded from the Internet. Once installed, spyware monitors your activity on the Internet and transmits that information in the background to someone else. Spyware can also gather information about e-mail addresses, passwords and credit card numbers.

Virus

Viruses are software programs that are deliberately designed to damage files or interfere with your computer's operation while it spreads throughout your computer.

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