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Cyber-security glossary

 Published: December 6, 2019  Created: November 18, 2019

By Aly McDevitt

For those unfamiliar with the vernacular involved with cyber-security and the methods by which bad actors attempt to access restricted data, we present this glossary of common terms:

Backdoor: A malware type that allows unauthorized users to discreetly bypass normal authentication procedures to gain access to a computer system. By design, the perpetrator can issue system commands, steal personal and financial data, and update malware, all remotely.

Cloud-data leakage: A breach that occurs when an employee deliberately or inadvertently uploads sensitive company information to cloud services; data leaks can occur through hacks via connections on unsecured networks, through human error, or both.

Emotet: A banking Trojan malware strain that steals financial information by injecting computer code into the networking stack of an infected host computer, allowing sensitive data to be stolen via transmission. Emotet is typically distributed as a URL within the body of an email or as a PDF attachment.

Malware: A portmanteau of “malicious software,” it is any piece of software designed to intentionally damage or disable devices, steal data, and/or cause disruption on computer systems, networks, tablets and mobile devices, often by remotely usurping control of the device’s operations.

Mobile malware: Malicious software that specifically targets the operating system on mobile devices, allowing hackers to steal data on the device.

Phishing: A cyber-attack that uses social engineering to steal user data. It occurs when an attacker, impersonating a trusted entity or individual, deceives a victim into opening an email, instant message, or text message and often induces the victim to reveal personal information.

Ransomware: A strain of malware that, once loaded onto a computer system, blocks access to it and/or threatens to publish a victim’s data in perpetuity until a ransom is paid.

Skimming: The theft of payment card data through the use of malware, which is injected onto the payment page of an e-commerce Website to steal payment information. Skimming also occurs directly from compromised payment card machines.

Spyware: Malware that enables an attacker to gather private information and assert control over a device without the consumer or entity’s knowledge or consent.

SQL injection: An attack method that executes malicious code on a database server, allowing a hacker to bypass normal security measures in order to steal, modify, or delete data stored there.

Supply-chain hack: An attack that targets less-secure elements in a supply network with the goal of damaging or stealing data from the larger organization.

Targeted attack: A class of malware that uses a variety of hacking methods to methodically attack a predetermined user or organization to capture sensitive information.

Trojan: A type of malware that looks legitimate but is designed to take control of your computer. It seeks to dupe the victim into loading and executing the malware on a device. Once installed, it can steal data and damage or disable the network.

Virus: A type of malware that replicates itself and becomes part of another program, allowing it to propagate and spread infection. Unlike a worm, a virus requires a user to execute it, as it is not active or able to be spread until a user opens a malicious host file or program.

Worm: A type of stand-alone malware that replicates itself and becomes part of another program, allowing it to propagate and spread infection. Unlike a virus, a worm does not require a host program or human to execute it.

Zero-day attack: An attack that targets software vulnerabilities, or security holes, in a program or operating system, which a software vendor may or may not be aware of, and which has yet to be patched.

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