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Security Glossary

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Glossaries

Term Definition
Password attack
An attempt to obtain or decrypt a user's password for illegal use. Hackers can use cracking programs, dictionary attacks, and password sniffers in password attacks. Defense against password attacks is rather limited but usually consists of a password policy including a minimum length, unrecognizable words, and frequent changes.
Password cracker
Software designed to enable a user or administrator to recover lost or forgotten passwords from accounts or data files. In the hands of an attacker, these tools offer access to confidential information and are a security and privacy threat.
Password sniffing
The use of a sniffer (software or a device that monitors a network and makes a copy of data sent over a network) to capture passwords as they cross a network. The network could be a local area network, or the Internet itself.
Password stealer (PWS)
Malware specifically used to transmit personal information, such as usernames and passwords.
Payload
The cargo code in a virus rather than the portions used to avoid detection or replicate. The payload code can display text or graphics on the screen, or it may corrupt or erase data. Not all viruses contain a deliberate payload. However, these codes affect CPU usage, hard disk space, and the time it takes to clean viruses. Payload can also refer to the data or packets sent during an attack.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) networking
A distributed system of file sharing in which any computer on the network can see any other computer on the network. Users can access each others' hard drives to download files. This type of file sharing is valuable, but it brings up copyright issues for music, movies, and other shared-media files. Users are also vulnerable to viruses, Trojans, and spyware hiding in files.
Personally identifiable information (PII)
Any information that, by itself or when combined with other information, can identify an individual.
Pharming
The process of redirecting traffic to a fake website, often through the use of malware or spyware. A hacker sets up a fraudulent website that looks like a legitimate website in order to capture confidential information from users.
Phishing
A form of criminal activity using social engineering techniques through email or instant messaging. Phishers attempt to fraudulently acquire other people's personal information, such as passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business in an apparently official electronic communication. Typically, phishing emails request that recipients click on the link in the email to verify or update contact details or credit card information. Like spam, phishing emails are sent to a large number of email addresses, with the expectation that someone will act on the information in the email and disclose their personal information. Phishing can also happen via text messaging or phone.
Piggyback
The practice of gaining unauthorized access to a system by exploiting an authorized user's legitimate connection without their explicit permission or knowledge.
Potentially unwanted program (PUP)
Often legitimate software (nonmalware) that may alter the security state or the privacy of the system on which they are installed. This software can, but not necessarily, include spyware, adware, keyloggers, password crackers, hacker tools, and dialer applications and could be downloaded in conjunction with a program that the user wants.