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Security Glossary

Search our glossary to learn more about online security and anti-virus terms.

Security Glossary

Internet security is a very broad term that describes protecting private information exchanged over the Internet, but there are numerous terms under its umbrella that anyone who uses the Internet should know about. Words like malware, phishing or encryption can sound like a foreign language to some, but they’re important terms when it comes to internet safety. Total Defense is dedicated to protecting your devices against harmful threats with our online security software, and part of that is introducing the terms associated with these threats so you’re always one step ahead.

Anti-Virus Software

Antivirus software, or anti-virus software (abbreviated to AV software), also known as anti-malware software, is a computer program employed to prevent, detect, and remove malware from devices. Antivirus software was originally developed to detect and remove computer viruses, hence the name. However, with the proliferation of other kinds of malware, high quality antivirus software has started to provide protection from many other kinds of emerging computer threats.

Adware

A type of software that downloads or displays unwanted ads when a user is online or redirects search requests to certain advertising websites.

Authentication

The procedure of confirming the identity of a user or device in order to give access to a system or network. The authentication process is used to validate that the information a user provides is true. This process is a large part of the digital age to maintain privacy on potentially vulnerable networks.

Backdoor

Method that a third party uses to bypass security systems, such as authentication or encryption. Hackers will install malware to gain access to private data within a program or computer system

Blockchain

Blockchain was created to keep track or support Bitcoin cryptocurrency. It’s the technology that keeps record of transactions made in cryptocurrency processes. Blockchain is a decentralized, public digital ledger that is used to manage the cryptocurrency database

Botnet

Networks of computers infected by malware and controlled remotely by cybercriminals, usually for financial gain or to launch attacks on websites or networks. Many botnets are designed to harvest data, such as passwords, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and other personal information.

Breach

Breach refers to a security incident in which confidential information is compromised by an unauthorized individual or network. Data or security breaches occur when a third party accesses any private information illegally.

Browser

An application used to access and navigate the web. The browser is the vehicle used to locate web pages. Commonly used browsers include Internet Explorer, Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Cloud

A large network of information stored on the internet instead of a computer hard drive. Cloud computing simply refers to pay-for-use storing and sharing data over the internet as opposed to outdated methods such as CDs or flash drives.

Cookie

When you browse the Internet, information about your computer may be collected and stored. This information might be general information about your computer (such as IP address, the domain you used to connect (e.g., .edu, .com, .net), and the type of browser you used). It might also be more specific information about your browsing habits (such as the last time you visited a particular web site or your personal preferences for viewing that site).

Cryptocurrency

Unlike other currencies, cryptocurrency operates independently of a central bank and uses encryption techniques and blockchain technology to secure and verify transactions.

Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking occurs when malicious cyber actors exploit vulnerabilities—in webpages, software, and operating systems—to illicitly install cryptomining software on victim devices and systems. With the cryptomining software installed, the malicious cyber actors effectively hijack the processing power of the victim devices and systems to earn cryptocurrency. Additionally, malicious cyber actors may infect a website with cryptomining JavaScript code, which leverages a visitor’s processing power via their browser to mine cryptocurrency

Cryptomining

Cryptocurrency mining, or cryptomining, is simply the way in which cryptocurrency is earned. Individuals mine cryptocurrency by using cryptomining software to solve complex mathematical problems involved in validating transactions. Each solved equation verifies a transaction and earns a reward paid out in the cryptocurrency. Solving cryptographic calculations to mine cryptocurrency requires a massive amount of processing power.

Cyberattack

A cyberattack is any type of offensive maneuver employed by nation-states, individuals, groups, society or organizations that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks, and/or personal computer devices by various means of malicious acts usually originating from an anonymous source that either steals, alters, or destroys a specified target by hacking into a susceptible system.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying refers to practice of using technology to harass, or bully, someone else. Bullies used to be restricted to methods such as physical intimidation, postal mail, or the telephone. Now, developments in electronic media offer forums such as email, instant messaging, web pages, and digital photos to add to the arsenal. Computers, cell phones, and PDAs are current tools that are being used to conduct an old practice. Forms of cyberbullying can range in severity from cruel or embarrassing rumors to threats, harassment, or stalking. It can affect any age group; however, teenagers and young adults are common victims, and cyberbullying is a growing problem in schools.

Cybercrime

Cybercrimes are crimes committed by way of computers or the internet. Cybercriminals are commonly referred to as hackers. Cybercrime is criminal activity involving identity theft, phishing, cyberstalking, or any illegal action taken to either target computer networks or use computer networks as a means to carry out the crime.

Cybersecurity

It seems that everything relies on computers and the internet now—communication (e.g., email, smartphones), entertainment (e.g., digital cable, mp3s), transportation (e.g., car engine systems, airplane navigation), shopping (e.g., online shopping, credit cards), medicine (e.g., medical equipment, medical records), and the list goes on. How much of your daily life relies on computers? How much of your personal information is stored either on your own computer or on someone else’s system? Cybersecurity involves protecting that information by preventing, detecting, and responding to cyber attacks.

DoS

A denial-of-service (DoS) attack occurs when legitimate users are unable to access information systems, devices, or other network resources due to the actions of a malicious cyber threat actor. Services affected may include email, websites, online accounts (e.g., banking), or other services that rely on the affected computer or network. A denial-of-service is accomplished by flooding the targeted host or network with traffic until the target cannot respond or simply crashes, preventing access for legitimate users. DoS attacks can cost an organization both time and money while their resources and services are inaccessible.

Encryption

In basic terms, encryption is a way to send a message in code. The only person who can decode the message is the person with the correct key; to anyone else, the message looks like a random series of letters, numbers, and characters. Encryption is especially important if you are trying to send sensitive information that other people should not be able to access. Because email messages are sent over the Internet and might be intercepted by an attacker, it’s important to add an additional layer of security to sensitive information.

Malware

Malware, short for “malicious software,” includes any software (such as a virus, Trojan, or spyware) that is installed on your computer or mobile device. The software is then used, usually covertly, to compromise the integrity of your device. Most commonly, malware is designed to give attackers access to your infected computer. That access may allow others to monitor and control your online activity or steal your personal information or other sensitive data.

Phishing

Phishing is a form of social engineering. Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites to solicit personal information by posing as a trustworthy organization. For example, an attacker may send email seemingly from a reputable credit card company or financial institution that requests account information, often suggesting that there is a problem. When users respond with the requested information, attackers can use it to gain access to the accounts.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that infects a computer and restricts access to it until a ransom is paid by the user to unlock it. Even when a victim pays the ransom amount, the stolen files could remain locked or be deleted by the cybercriminal.

Rootkit

Rootkit is a type of malware that opens a permanent “back door” into a computer system. Once installed, a rootkit will allow additional viruses to infect a computer as various hackers find the vulnerable computer exposed and compromise it.

Spyware

Spyware is a type of malware that quietly gathers a user’s sensitive information (including browsing and computing habits) and reports it to unauthorized third parties.

Trojan

A Trojan is a type of malware that disguises itself as a normal file to trick a user into downloading it in order to gain unauthorized access to a computer.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is a method of confirming users’ claimed identities by using a combination of two different factors: 1) something they know, 2) something they have, or 3) something they are. A good example of two-factor authentication is being frequently used on gmail.com. Every fresh login would ask for the password & a system generated one-time password sent on the registered mobile number or email-id.

Virus

Virus is a program that spreads by first infecting files or the system areas of a computer or network router’s hard drive and then making copies of itself. Some viruses are harmless, others may damage data files, and some may destroy files entirely.

Worm

A worm is a type of malware that replicates itself over and over within a computer. Most cybercrime starts with malware. Cybercriminals use it to access your computer or mobile device to steal your personal information like your Social Security number, passwords, credit card information, or bank account information, to commit fraud. Once cybercriminals have your personal information, they use the data for illegal purposes, such as identity theft, credit card fraud, spamming, and spreading malware to other machines.

Zero-day Attack

A zero-day (also known as 0-day) vulnerability is a computer-software vulnerability that is unknown to those who would be interested in mitigating the vulnerability (including the vendor of the target software). Until the vulnerability is mitigated, hackers can exploit it to adversely affect computer programs, data, additional computers or a network. An exploit directed at a zero-day is called a zero-day exploit, or zero-day attack. Even after a fix is developed, the fewer the days since Day Zero, the higher is the probability that an attack against the afflicted software will be successful, because not every user of that software will have applied the fix. Zero-day attacks are a severe threat.

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Internet Security and Safety Center

Helpful tips and articles with practical steps you can follow to improve your online safety

Online Safety


Total Defense Security Tip of the Day

12.17.18

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It's a good idea to have a separate email account just for mailing lists. That way, you lower the risk of getting offers in your inbox that are actually attempts at phishing. Keep one account just for emailing trusted friends, family members and contacts, and another for everything else.


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