From Honeypots to Zombies: A Guide to Decoding Cybersecurity Buzzwords



Cybersecurity is possible, but it’s difficult to know what protection you need when you don’t understand all the terminology!

We’ve found a great guide to the most important cybersecurity buzzwords to help you stay on top of your cybersecurity. This “jargon buster” defines the words and phrases of evolving cyber threats and will help you make decisions about your business security.


Cybersecurity Glossary

Backup: Ensuring all important data is stored in a secure location to protect it from being lost if a computer is hacked. For example, via a USB flash drive or cloud storage.

Black Hat Hacker: A person who uses programming skills to cause damage to a computer system, steal data and conduct illegal cyber activities.

Botnet: A grouping of computer systems that have been infected by a malicious piece of software. This software allows them to be networked together by the hacker (or bot-herder), giving them full control of all the “bots” in the network to conduct malicious tasks, including DDoS.

Breach: The moment a hacker successfully exploits a vulnerability in a computer or device and gains access to its files and network.

Brute Force Attack: A technique hackers can use to break into a computer system. They do this by trying to “guess” its password (either manually or with a computer application).

Cloud: A technology that allows us to access our files through the internet from anywhere in the world. More technically, it is a collection of computers with large storage capabilities that remotely serve customer file requests.

Command-and-Control Server: An application that controls all bots in a botnet. The hacker will send a command through this server, which then relays it to all compromised computers in the network.

DDoS: Distributed denial of service – a cyber-attack method that makes a service such as a website unusable by “flooding” it with malicious traffic or data from multiple sources.

Domain: A domain is a group of computers, printers and devices that are interconnected and governed as a whole. Your computer is usually part of a domain at your workplace.

Encryption: An algorithmic technique that takes a file and changes its contents into something unreadable to those outside the chain of communication.

Exploit: A malicious application or script that can be used to take advantage of a computer’s vulnerability.

Firewall: A defensive technology focused on keeping the bad guys out. A “wall” or filter is created that judges each attempted interaction with a user’s computer and internet connection to determine “should this be allowed entry or not?”. Firewalls put a filter between you and the internet.

Honeypot: A defensive cybersecurity technique. This technology is essentially a computer (server) that is set up to look like a legitimate and high-value target on a network. The aim is to entice hackers to focus on this computer and not on actual high-value computers or data. The bonus is that administrators can watch hackers in the act and learn to protect against their techniques.

HTTP & HTTPS: HTTP, Defined as Hypertext Transfer Protocol, its most popular use is online to help internet browsers communicate. For example, to send web pages to you from the associated computer hosting the website you’re visiting. HTTPS adds security and encrypts data by creating a secure tunnel between you and the website you’re visiting.

IP Address: An internet version of a home address for your computer, which identifies it when it’s connected to the internet.

Patch or Update: Most software requires thousands of lines of programming language to create, so it’s difficult to ensure all possible vulnerabilities are covered. When entry points are discovered by hackers or the developer, software vendors will often release a software patch or update as a fix.

Phishing: A technique used by hackers to obtain sensitive information, including passwords, bank accounts or credit cards. Often an unexpected email is received disguised as being from a legitimate source. In many cases, the hacker will attempt to trick you into either replying with the information they seek or tempt you to click a malicious link or run an attachment.

Malware: An umbrella term that describes all forms of malicious software designed to cause havoc on a computer. Typical forms include viruses, trojans, worms and ransomware.

Ransomware: A form of malware that deliberately prevents you from accessing files on your computer. If a computer is infected by malware designed for this purpose, it will typically encrypt files and request that a ransom is paid to have them decrypted.

Spoofing: A technique hackers use to hide their identity, pretend to be someone else or simply try to fool you over the internet. There are many spoofing methods, such as making a hack look like it’s coming from another source, sending emails that appear to come from a different person, and website spoofing, where hackers set up a fake website to trick users into entering sensitive information.

Trojan Horse: A piece of malware that often allows a hacker to gain remote access to a computer. The system will be infected by a virus that sets up an entry point for the perpetrator to download files or watch the user’s keystrokes.

Virus: A type of malware for personal computers, dating back to the days of floppy disks. Viruses typically aim to corrupt, erase or modify information on a computer before spreading to others. However, in more recent years, viruses like Stuxnet have caused physical damage.

Vulnerability: A weakness in computer software. If you fail to install updates, your system could exhibit vulnerabilities which can be attacked by hackers as security safeguards are out of date.

Worm: A piece of malware that can replicate itself to spread the infection to other connected computers. It will actively hunt out weak systems in the network to exploit and spread.

White Hat Hacker: A person who uses their hacking skills for an ethical purpose. Businesses will often hire these individuals to test their cybersecurity capabilities.

Zombie: A computer system that has been infected by malware and is now part of a hacker’s botnet.


This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.