Cybersecurity Glossary

Welcome to our glossary of cybersecurity terms! This thread is intended to be a collaborative space where we can share, explain, and discuss various terms related to cybersecurity. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced professional, understanding the terminology is crucial for a deeper understanding of cybersecurity concepts.

Cybersecurity Glossary

Access Control: A security technique that regulates who or what can view or use resources in a computing environment.

Adware: Unwanted software designed to display advertising on a computer, often without the user’s consent.

Advanced Persistent Threat (APT): A prolonged and targeted cyber attack in which an intruder gains access to a network and remains undetected.

Antivirus: Software designed to detect, prevent, and remove malicious software like viruses, trojans, and worms.

Authentication: The process of verifying the identity of a user or system.

Authorization: The process of giving a user permission to access a specific resource or function.

Backdoor: An unauthorized access point to a computer system or application, often created for malicious purposes or troubleshooting.

Black Hat: A hacker who exploits computer systems and networks for malicious purposes or personal gain.

Bot: A software program that operates on the internet and performs repetitive tasks.

Botnet: A collection of internet-connected devices, which may include PCs, servers, mobile devices and internet of things devices that are infected and controlled by a common type of malware.

Brute Force Attack: A trial-and-error method used to discover credentials like passwords or PINs by systematically attempting all possible combinations until the correct one is found.

Bug: A flaw or error in a software program that can cause it to perform in unexpected ways or to crash.

Business Continuity: The ability of an organization to maintain essential functions during, as well as after, a disaster has occurred.

Certificate Authority (CA): A trusted entity that issues digital certificates, used to establish a public key and the identity of the owner.

Cyber Espionage: The act of using computer networks to gain illicit access to confidential information, typically held by a government or other organization.

Cybersecurity: The practice of safeguarding systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks aimed at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information, extorting money, or disrupting normal business processes.

Data Breach: An incident where information is stolen or taken from a system without the knowledge or authorization of the system’s owner.

Data Encryption: The process of converting data into a code to prevent unauthorized access.

Denial of Service (DoS): An attack that aims to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services of a host connected to the Internet.

Digital Certificate: An electronic document used to prove the ownership of a public key, including information about the key, information about its owner’s identity, and the digital signature of an entity that has verified the key’s contents.

Digital Signature: A cryptographic equivalent of a handwritten signature or stamped seal, but much more secure. It provides proof of the origin, identity, and status of an electronic document, transaction or message and acknowledges informed consent by the signer.

Domain Name System (DNS): A hierarchical and decentralized naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet or a private network, translating domain names to IP addresses.

Encryption: The process of converting data into a scrambled code that can only be deciphered by someone who has the correct decryption key.

Firewall: A network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an established set of security rules, blocking unauthorized traffic.

Hacker: An individual who uses technical skills to overcome a problem or limitation in computer systems, with different connotations depending on intent (e.g., malicious intent or for finding vulnerabilities to fix).

Identity Theft: The fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, usually for financial gain.

Intrusion Detection System (IDS): A device or software application that monitors a network or systems for malicious activity or policy violations.

Intrusion Prevention System (IPS): A system that inspects traffic and has the ability to prevent or block damaging traffic from accessing the network.

Keylogger: A type of surveillance technology used to monitor and record each keystroke made on a specific computer’s keyboard, often without the user’s permission or knowledge.

Malware: Malicious software designed to cause damage, disrupt, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems, including viruses, worms, and trojans.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): A security system that requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user’s identity for a login or other transaction.

Network Security: The practice of preventing unauthorized access to, misuse, or modification of a network and its resources.

Password Cracking: The process of recovering passwords from data stored or transmitted by computer systems, often used maliciously to gain unauthorized access.

Patch: A piece of software designed to fix or improve a computer program or its supporting data, including fixing security vulnerabilities and bugs.

Phishing: A type of cyber attack where a malicious actor impersonates a reputable entity or person in email or other communication channels, seeking to steal sensitive data like login credentials.

Ransomware: Malicious software that encrypts files on a victim’s computer or network, demanding payment for the decryption key.

Rootkit: A set of software tools with administrator-level access privileges installed on a computer or network to perform functions like logging keystrokes, gathering system information, or accessing system components, often hiding its own existence or the existence of other software.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL): A standard protocol for securing network communication, not to be confused with transport layer security, its successor.

Security Policy: A set of guidelines and procedures for protecting a network from threats, unauthorized access, and data loss.

Social Engineering: Manipulating individuals into divulging confidential information or performing certain actions to compromise security.

Spam: Unwanted or unsolicited digital communication, often in the form of email, that’s sent in bulk.

Spyware: Software that gathers information about a person or organization without their knowledge, and sends such information to another entity without the consumer’s consent, or that asserts control over a computer without the consumer’s knowledge.

Trojan Horse: A type of malicious software that misleads users about its true intent, typically by masquerading as a legitimate program.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): A security process in which a user provides two different authentication factors to verify their identity, such as something they know (a password) and something they have (a mobile device).

Virtual Private Network (VPN): A technology that creates a safe and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the internet.

Virus: A type of malicious software that, when executed, replicates itself by modifying other computer programs and inserting its own code.

Vulnerability: A weakness in a system or network that could be exploited to cause damage or unauthorized access.

Whitelist: A list of items that are granted access to a certain system or protocol. When a whitelist is used, all entities are denied access, except those included in the whitelist.

Worm: A type of malware that spreads copies of itself from computer to computer, typically without human interaction.

Zero Day: A vulnerability that is known to the software vendor but doesn’t have a patch in place to fix the vulnerability, often exploited by hackers.