As a father of three children, I have been quick to discover that bed times can be both very rewarding and also very challenging at times. My wife and I do our best to keep the kid’s bed time routines consistent: brushing teeth, read a story, kisses goodnight, etc. My daughter (the youngest), still really enjoys when I draw letters and numbers on her back to guess before she calls it a night. She is now to the point (even though she is only 4 years old) where she likes for me to draw words for her to guess. Keeping things simple and only introducing new words once and while, usually by the time I draw the first letter she has guessed it. For example, if I draw a “D” she very proudly answers “Daddy”.
I imagine that if I would play a similar game with you, also on a basic level, (with the exception of physically drawing on your back) and gave you the first letter of a Computer Security-themed word to guess, you may fair equally well. For example, if I gave you the letter “V”, I bet a majority of you would reply back to me with the word “Virus”. Likewise, if I asked you to supply me with a word that began with “S”, we might agree that the words “Spam” or “Spyware” may result in the top responses. While it is great to have such terms in your vocabulary, the problem with these commonly used computer security terms is that many times they are used incorrectly, interchangeably or in the wrong context. In order to properly arm yourself and combat cybercriminals, it is essential to be familiar with these common terms, but also to fully understand their definition and to stay current with many of the new terminology’s being used today.
Below is a list of some commonly used computer security words and their definitions.
Adware: This term is short for Advertisement Software. If you’ve ever experienced those annoying and many times problematic unwanted advertisements on your machine, you have likely been a victim of adware.
Backdoor: This term is used to describe a program created to obtain unauthorized access to your system.
Keylogger: This term describes the process of recording the key strokes entered on a keyboard by the user. In most cases, these key strokes are recorded without the users consent in an attempt to retrieve confidential information. There are both hardware and software-based keyloggers.
Phishing: This term describes the technique used by cybercriminals to acquire personal information (usernames, passwords, banking information, etc.) from users by masquerading as a legitimate business entity in an email or other form of electronic communication. Many times attackers will spam spoofed emails appearing as a banking institute or Paypal.
Rootkit: This term describes programs that are created to conceal specified processes or other programs (usually malicious) to evade the detection of antivirus software.
Spyware: This term describes a malicious program created to discreetly steal confidential information. Many times the stolen information is relayed to a 3rd party (spammers, hackers).
Trojan Horse: This term describes a program that has been developed to appear safe and harmless, however is malicious.
Virus: This term describes a program that can replicate on its own and does so by attaching itself to another (usually) non-malicious program. When the program is executed, the coded virus routine is carried out.
Worm: This term also describes a program that can replicate on its own; however, instead of attaching itself to a host like a virus, it spreads by using other means of replication, such as attaching itself to an email, using open network shares, copying itself to available external drives and devices, etc.
Congratulations if you scored highly and knew most of those definitions! These terms cover the basics. Now let’s step it up a notch and explore some newer terms that are lesser known but equally important to understand.
Clickjacking: This term describes the technique of tricking an online user into clicking on something different than what the user perceives. The cybercriminal accomplishes this by inserting malicious code into the clickable content within websites. A very similar term is Likejacking. In this case, an attacker posts “must read” or “must see” style posts in Facebook with the intent to trick users into liking and sharing the post further spreading the scam.
Form Grabber: This term describes a malicious program that has been created to steal the web form information of a user before it is submitted online over a (hopefully) secure connection.
Twishing: This term describes a Phishing scam (see above) perpetrated over Twitter.
Vishing: Again, this is a term used to describe a Phishing-like scam. Under this term, the scam is conducted by an attacker using the telephone. Have you ever received one of those calls from “Roger” calling on behalf of Microsoft needing to login remotely to your computer because they were notified that you had Spyware?
Wabbit (aka: fork bomb): This term is used to describe a denial-of-service (DoS) attack that keeps on replicating itself on an infected machine in order to drain the systems available system resources, etc.
I strongly believe that being educated and aware of these terms and their processes aids in prevention of being burned by them. I wish I could say that cybercriminals are lazy and lack creativity, but they are indeed the opposite. Always thinking of new ways to manipulate our information, our machines, us.
If today’s article has whet your whistle for security terms and happenings, check out our webpage (or Facebook?) for the latest virus threats Security Tools. And remember to “Like” Thirtyseven4 on Facebook to get all the latest security news and announcements. I plan to post an update to this article with a complete security term listing on our Facebook page in the near future.
And let’s not forget one final letter and word-clue. “T” refers to Thirtyseven4, a leading provider of Windows, Mac and Android antivirus and security solutions protecting schools, businesses, governmental agencies and home-users across the Country. Thirtyseven4 is an American company built on honesty, trust and value for the customer. If you have us running on your machine/network, you have peace of mind and a little blue “T” in your tray icons. We’ve got your back.