Information Security from A-Z

Understanding online security terminology will enable you to better grasp new identity theft prevention tactics as they emerge. Scroll through this brief glossary of information security terms to learn some of the basic language.

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Online Security Terms From A to Z


Authentication: A security measure designed to verify the identity of a transmission, user, user device, entity, or data.

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Back Door: Hidden software or hardware mechanism used to get around security controls.

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Card skimmers: A means of electronically capturing information from credit or debit card readers, such as ATMs

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Data Driven Attack: Malicious code that is embedded in seemingly safe data to break through firewalls

Dictionary Attack: A decryption method that successively tries all similar words in a lengthy list

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Firewall: Hardware or software that permits only authorized users to enter, and logs attempted intrusions

Flooding: Insertion of a large volume of data that results in service denial

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Hacker: An individual who attempts to gain unauthorized access to an information system 

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Malicious Code: Any type of software capable of performing an unauthorized process on an information system

Mobile Code: Software modules obtained from remote systems, transferred across a network, then downloaded and executed on a local system without the recipient's knowledge 

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Packet: A data block that transmits the identities of the sending and receiving stations, error-control information, and message

Pharming: A practice in which malicious code, such as a virus or other form of malware, redirects users from a legitimate website to a fraudulent one without their knowledge

Phishing: Impersonating a legitimate entity to illegally acquire information via email, phone calls, voice-mail, or text messaging

Proxy: Software agent that performs a function on behalf of another application or system while hiding the details involved

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Replicator: Program that acts to produce copies of itself, such as a worm or virus

Retro-virus: Virus that waits until all backup media is infected to prevent system from restoring 

Rootkit: Trojan Horse software that captures passwords and message traffic to and from a computer

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Smurfing: Software that sends a large amount of repetitive information to your computer with the purpose of shutting down a home or business network 

Spoofing: Impersonating another person or computer, usually by providing a false email name, URL, domain name server, or IP address

Spyware: Software that collects information without the user's informed consent 

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Virus: Self-replicating, malicious code that attaches itself to an application program or other executable system component and leaves no obvious signs of its presence

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Worm: An independent program that replicates across network connections, clogging networks as it spreads

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