As the world has moved further into the realm of computing, we hear more news every day regarding “cyber security” and “data breaches.” Unfortunately, many of these issues are explained in a way that has you contacting the I.T. department just to tell you what is going on. Even if you have a basic grasp on technology, some of the terms can be confusing. We have put together a brief list of terms that you have probably already heard, but may not have understood.

 – Bot  –  A type of software application or script that performs tasks on command, allowing an attacker to take complete control of an affected computer remotely. A collection of these infected computers is known as a botnet and is controlled by the hacker.

 – Breach  –  When a hacker successfully exploits a vulnerability in a computer or device, and gains access to its files and network.

BYOD  –  Bring Your Own Device – When a computer allows their employees to bring personal devices (i.e. cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc.) to be used in business. A BYOD policy sets limitations and restrictions on whether or not a personal phone or laptop can be connected over the corporate network.

Click-jacking  –  A hacking attack that tricks victims into clicking on an unintended link or button, usually disguised as a harmless element.

 – Cloud  –  A technology that allows access to files and services through the internet from anywhere in the world. It is actually a collection of computers with large storage capabilities that are accessible remotely.

DDoS  – An acronym that stands for distributed denial of service, which is a form of cyber attack. This attack aims to make a service, such as a website, unusable by flooding it with malicious traffic or data from multiple sources.

Domain  – 1. A group of computers, printers, and other devices that are interconnected and governed as a whole. For example, your computer is usually part of a domain at your workplace. 2. The registered name used as identification, most commonly through internet browsers and e-mail, of an internet presence. For example, is the domain that NortheastTel uses as our internet presence. 

–  Encryption  –  The process of encoding data to prevent theft by ensuring the data can only be accessed with a key.

 – Exploit  –  A malicious application or script that can be used to take advantage of a computer’s vulnerability.

 – Firewall  –  A defensive technology designed to keep malicious traffic out of a computer network. Firewalls can be hardware or software based.

 – IP Address  –  An internet version of a street address for your computer, which is identified when it communicates over a network or the internet.

 – Malware  –  A term that describes all forms of malicious software designed to wreak havoc on a computer. Common forms of malware include viruses, trojans, worms, and ransomware.

 – Pen-testing  –  Short for penetration testing, this practice is a means of evaluating security using hacker tools and techniques with the aim of discovering vulnerabilities and evaluating security flaws.

Phishing  –  A technique used by hackers to obtain sensitive information. For example, using an email message designed to trick people into divulging personal or confidential information such as passwords and bank account information.

Ransomware  – A form of malware that deliberately prevents access to files on your computer or domain, in effect, holding your data hostage. It will typically encrypt files and request that a ransom be paid in order to have them decrypted or recovered.

Software  –  A set of programs that tell a computer to perform a task. These instructions are compiled into a package that users can install and use.

Spyware  –  Software that enables a hacker to obtain covert information about your computer activities by transmitting data covertly from your hard drive.

 – Trojan Horse  –  A piece of malware that often allows a hacker to gain remote access to a computer through a back door.

VPN – A Virtual Private Network is a tool that allows the user to use encryption to provide secure access to a remote computer over the internet.

Virus  – A type of malware aimed to corrupt, erase, or modify information on a computer before spreading to others.

Worm  –  A piece of malware that can replicate itself in order to spread the infection to other connected computers.