A program that downloads on your computer when you install a freeware program, game, or utility. Generally, adware enables sponsored advertisements to appear in a section of your browser window or as a pop-up ad box.
Software that is specifically designed to detect viruses and protect a computer and files from harm.
A program that enables a hacker to take complete control of a computer without the legitimate user’s knowledge or permission.
A backup is a copy of computer files that you can use to replace the originals if they are lost or damaged.
biometric authentication device
A device that uses some unique characteristic of human biology to identify authorized users.
A hacker who uses his knowledge to destroy information or for illegal gain.
Software that destroys data on a computing device if someone continually tries to access information by guessing the password.
A virus that replicates itself into the master boot record of a flash drive or hard drive.
A large group of software applications (called robots or bots) that runs without user intervention on a large number of computers.
A small text file that some Web sites automatically store on a client computer’s hard drive when a user visits the site.
Any criminal action perpetrated primarily through the use of a computer.
An individual who uses computers, networks, and the Internet to perpetrate crime.
Doing anything with a computer that is unrelated to a job (such as playing video games), while one is supposed to be working. Also called cyberslacking.
File that contains stored data.
denial of service (DoS) attack
An attack that occurs when legitimate users are denied access to a computer system because a hacker is repeatedly making requests of that computer system that tie up its resources and deny legitimate users access.
distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack
An automated attack that is launched from more than one zombie computer at the same time.
The use of malicious software to attack your computer by downloading harmful programs onto your computer, without your knowledge, while you are surfing a Web site.
The process of assigning Internet Protocol (IP) addresses when users log on using their Internet service provider (ISP). The computer is assigned an address from an available pool of IP addresses.
A virus transmitted by e-mail that often uses the address book in the victim’s e-mail system to distribute itself.
A malicious program that searches for common data files and compresses them into a file using a complex encryption key, thereby rendering the files unusable.
A software program or hardware device designed to prevent unauthorized access to computers or networks.
Anyone who unlawfully breaks into a computer system (whether an individual computer or a network).
An e-mail message or Web site that contains information that is untrue, and is published with the purpose of deceiving others.
The process by which someone uses personal information about someone else (such as the victim’s name, address, and Social Security number) to assume the victim’s identity for the purpose of defrauding others.
image backup (system backup)
A copy of an entire computer system, created for restoration purposes.
A type of backup that only backs up files that have changed since the last time those files were backed up.
A process used by antivirus software; compares old and current qualities of files to detect viral activity.
Internet Protocol address (IP address)
The means by which all computers connected to the Internet identify each other. It consists of a unique set of four numbers separated by dots such as 220.127.116.11.
A type of spyware program that monitors keystrokes with the intent of stealing passwords, login IDs, or credit card information.
A computer virus that runs when a certain set of conditions is met, such as when specific dates are keyed off the computer’s internal clock.
A virtual communications gateway or path that enables a computer to organize requests for information (such as Web page downloads and e-mail routing) from other networks or computers.
logical port blocking
A condition in which a firewall is configured to ignore all incoming packets that request access to a certain port so that no unwanted requests will get through to the computer.
A virus that is distributed by hiding it inside a macro.
Software that is intended to render a system temporarily or permanently useless or to penetrate a computer system completely for purposes of information gathering. Examples include spyware, viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.
master boot record (MBR)
A small program that runs whenever a computer boots up.
Literally meaning “multipart” virus; a type of computer virus that attempts to infect both the boot sector and executable files at the same time.
network address translation (NAT)
A process that firewalls use to assign internal Internet Protocol (IP) addresses on a network.
packet (data packet)
A small segment of data that is bundled for sending over transmission media. Each packet contains the address of the computer or peripheral device to which it is being sent.
A feature found in firewalls that filters out unwanted data packets sent to specific logical ports.
A program that looks at (sniffs) each data packet as it travels on the Internet.
A firewall specifically designed for home networks.
Planting malicious code on a computer that alters the browser’s ability to find Web addresses and directs users to bogus Web sites.
The process of sending e-mail messages to lure Internet users into revealing personal information such as credit card or Social Security numbers or other sensitive information that could lead to identity theft.
A virus that changes its virus signature (the binary pattern that makes the virus identifiable) every time it infects a new file. This makes it more difficult for antivirus programs to detect the virus.
The act of creating an invented scenario (the pretext) to convince someone to divulge information.
A file that is used in the running of software programs
The placement (by antivirus software) of a computer virus in a secure area on the hard drive so that it won’t spread infection to other files.
A list of commands (mini-programs or macros) that can be executed on a computer without user interaction.
An amateur hacker who lacks sophisticated computer skills. These individuals are typically teenagers, who don’t create programs used to hack into computer systems but instead use tools created by skilled hackers that enable unskilled novices to wreak the same havoc as professional hackers.
Any technique that uses social skills to generate human interaction for the purpose of enticing individuals to reveal sensitive information.
Unwanted or junk e-mail.
An option you can select in your e-mail account that places known or suspected spam messages into a folder other than your inbox.
An unwanted piggyback program that downloads with the software you want to install from the Internet and then runs in the background of your system.
A means of assigning an Internet Protocol (IP) address that never changes and is most likely assigned manually by a network administrator.
A virus that temporarily erases its code from the files where it resides and hides in the active memory of the computer.
A device that protects computers and other electronic devices from power surges.
A virus that is triggered by the passage of time or on a certain date.
A computer program that appears to be something useful or desirable (such as a game or a screen saver), but at the same time does something malicious in the background without the user’s knowledge.
uninterruptible power supply (UPS)
A device designed to power a computer from large batteries for a brief period during a loss of electrical power.
A hoax that becomes so well known that it is accepted by society as true even though it is false. Also known as an urban myth.
A computer program that attaches itself to another computer program (known as the host program) and attempts to spread itself to other computers when files are exchanged.
A portion of the virus code that is unique to a particular computer virus and makes it identifiable by antivirus software.
A hacker who breaks into systems just for the challenge of it (and who doesn’t wish to steal or wreak havoc on the systems). Such hackers tout themselves as experts who are performing a needed service for society by helping companies realize the vulnerabilities that exist in their systems.
whole-house surge protector
A surge protector that is installed on (or near) the breaker panel of a home and protects all electronic devices in the home from power surges.
A program that attempts to travel between systems through network connections to spread infections. Worms can run independently of host file execution and are active in spreading themselves.
A computer that is controlled by a hacker who uses it to launch attacks on other computer systems.