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Computer Jargon

Below you will find a few key terms explained:

Adware: Unwanted software that bombards users with unwanted adverts. Those pushing the adverts get paid for every computer that they manage to get the software installed onto. This can be very hard to remove.

Blackhat: A hacker that uses his skills for malicious or criminal reasons. For example, for writing destructive viruses or for software that knocks websites offline or even for stealing credit card numbers or other identity information.

Bot: An individual computer in a large botnet which is usually just someone's home computer running Microsoft Windows. This is always under the bot writer's control.

Botnet: A large number of hijacked computers under the remote control of someone over the Internet. These computers are often recruited via a virus or trojan horse. The botnet can have as many as a hundred thousand hijacked PCs in them and are usually used to send out spam email, bring websites down of even hosts illegal websites.

Drive-by Download: Malicious software that automatically installs itself when a victim visits a booby-trapped website. It's usually Internet Explorer which is vulnerable to these and they can install keyloggers which will steal login and password information as well as credit card numbers and online banking credentials. Quite often they will install toolbars, reset the home page and adware.

Exploit: A vulnerability or bug in software that enables malicious hackers to compromise a computer.

Firewall: Software or hardware to protect computers against hackers. This sits between a computer and the Internet and filters both incoming and outbound traffic.

Hacker: A person who engages in illegal system access and circumventing computer security systems for malicious purposes. Honeypot: An individual computer or group of computers to appear as an unprotected computer but which will record every attempt to compromise it. Hackers are now tuning their viruses to spot a honeypot and leave without taking it over.

IP Address: A series of four (or six) numbers separated by dots that every computer attached to the Internet must have in order to communicate. It's a bit like a telephone number, every one is unique.

Keylogging: Software/hardware used to steal keystrokes on a computer to gather passwords, credit card numbers, etc.

Malware: Term for all malicious software and unwanted programs.

Pharming: When fraudsters redirect net users from legitimate to fake sites, usually via an email message.

Phishing: Fraudulent e-mails and pop-ups to fool you into revealing personal information for criminal gain. They will often direct people to a fake website that looks just like the original bank or financial institution that the email claims to come from. Anyone typing in their details is immediately at risk from having their accounts emptied.

Rogue dialler: Software that installs itself on computers and changes settings to dial a premium rate number instead of usual dial-up account causing huge phone bills.

Script Kiddie: A novice hacker who downloads ready-made code, techniques and attack methods from others on the Internet.

Spam: Unsolicited e-mails, often offering products or services in which you have no interest.

Spyware: Small programs that secretly monitor sites visited, potentially violating privacy and slowing computers.

Trojan: Malicious software disguised as harmless or benign program. A lot of the attachments on virus-bearing emails carry trojans.

Virus: Malicious program designed to damage data; usually spread via infected e-mail attachments.

Whitehat: A hacker that uses his skills for good. Many whitehat security professionals uses their time looking for and closing the bugs in code.

Zombie: A hijacked computer that is part of a botnet.



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