A set of straightforward definitions for common cyber security terms.

Term Definition
antivirus software that is designed to detect, stop and remove viruses and other kinds of malicious software.
app Short for Application, typically refers to a software programme for a smartphone or tablet
attacker Malicious actor who seeks to exploit computer systems with the intent to change, destroy, steal or disable their information, and then exploit the outcome
botnet A network of infected devices, connected to the Internet, used to commit coordinated cyber attacks without their owners knowledge
breach An incident in which data, computer systems or networks are accessed or affected in a non-authorised way.
browser A software application which presents information and services from the web
brute force attack Using a computational power to automatically enter a huge number of combination of values, usually in order to discover passwords and gain access
bring your own device (BYOD) An organisation's strategy or policy that allows employees to use their own personal devices for work purposes
certificate A form of digital identity for a computer, user or organisation to allow the authentication and secure exchange of information
cloud Where shared computer and storage resources are accessed as a service (usually online) instead of hosted locally on physical services. Resources can include infrastructure, platform or software services
credentials A user's authentication information used to verify identity - typically one, or more, of password, token, certificate
cyber attack Malicious attempts to damage, disrupt or gain unauthorised access to computer systems, networks or devices, via cyber means
cyber incident A breach of the security rules for a system or service
cyber security The protection of devices, services and networks and the information on them from theft or damage
digital footprint A 'footprint' of digital information that a user's online activity leaves behind
denial of service (DoS) When legitimate users are denied access to computer services
download attack The unintentional installation of malicious software or virus onto a device without the users knowledge or consent. May also known as a drive-by download
encryption A function that protects information by making it unreadable by everyone except those with the key to decode it
end user device Collective term to describe modern smartphones, laptops and tablets that connect to an organisation' s network
firewall Hardware or software which uses a defined ruleset to constrain network traffic to prevent unauthorised access to or from a network
hacker someone with some computer skills who uses them to break into computers, systems and networks
insider risks The potential for damage to be done maliciously or inadvertently by a legitimate user with priviliged access to systems, networks or data
Internet of things (IoT) Refers to the ability of everyday objects (rather than computers and devices) to connect to the Internet. Examples include kettles, fridges and televisions.
macro A small program that can automate tasks in applications (such as Microsoft Office) which attackers can use to gain access to (or harm) a system.
malvertising Using online advertising as a delivery method for malware
malware Malicious software- a term that includes viruses, trojans, worms or any code or content that could have an adverse impact on organisations or individuals
mitigation Steps that organisations and individuals can take to minimise and address risks
network Two or more computers linked in order to share resources
patching Applying updates to firmware or software to improve security and/or enhance functionality
pentest Short for penetration test. An authorised test of a computer network or system designed to look for security weaknesses so that they can be fixed.
pharming An attack on network infrastructure that results in a user being redirected to an illegitimate website despite the user having entered the correct address.
phishing Untargeted, mass emails sent to many people asking for sensitive information (such as bank details) or encouraging them to visit a fake website.
platform The basic hardware (device) and software (operating system) on which applications can be run.
ransomware Malicious software that makes data or systems unusable until the victim makes a payment
router A network device which sends data packets from one network to another based on the destination address. May also be called a gateway
smishing Phishing via SMS: mass text messages sent to users asking for sensitive information (eg bank details) or encouraging them to visit a fake website
social engineering Manipulating people into carrying out specific actions, or divulging information, that's of use to an attacker
spear - phishing A more targeted form of phishing, where the email is designed to look like it's from a person the recipient knows and/or trusts
trojan A type of malware or virus disguised as legitimate software, that is used to hack into the victim's computer
two-factor authentification (2FA) The use of two different components to verify a user's claimed identity. Also known as multi-factor authentication
virus Programs which can self-replicate and are designed to infect legitimate software programs or systems. A form of malware
Virtual Private Network (VPN) An encrypted network often created to allow secure connections for remote users, for example in an organisation with offices in multiple locations
vulnerability A weakness, or flow, in software, a system or process. An attacker may seek to exploit a vulnerability to gain unauthorised access to a system
water-holing Setting up a fake website (or comprimising a real one) in order to exploit visiting users
whaling Highly targeted phishing attacks (masquerading as a legitimate emails) that are amied at senior executives
zero-day Recently discovered vulnerabilities (or bugs), not yet known to vendors or antivirus companies, that hackers can exploit

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