Could this Help?

Tech Terms

Below are some definitions to some commonly used terms on this site

Jump to: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


adware Adware- Similar to spyware, adware is installed on users' systems without their knowledge and is used to deliver pop-up advertisements to the user's desktop

Antivirus- Software that is used to detect and destroy computer viruses.


Backdoor Trojan- A software program that gives an attacker unauthorized access to a machine and the means for remotely controlling the machine without the user's knowledge.

Black Hat- A term used to describe a hacker who breaks into a computer system with malicious intent.

Brute force- Refers to the relatively unsophisticated method of breaking or attacking one’s computer encryption by bombarding the program with tons of possibilities until one works.

BSOD- Stands for Blue Screen of Death. Named in honor of the error's dreaded display image of white text on a blue background, the BSOD is generated by the operating system when it has suddenly terminated with an error. The system locks up and must be rebooted. The screen in Windows Vista is known as the PSOD (Purple Screen of Death); Mac calls it the SPOD (Spinning Ball of Death)


CAPTCHA- Stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart". It is distorted image of letters and numbers used to prevent automated use of websites; anything that a human must do to prove that they are not a computer.

Cookie- Cookies are small files placed on your computer by websites and now e-mail that identify you and your computer for the purpose of tracking or identifying your internet / e-mail habits. Cookies can make your internet browsing easier and faster as good websites will remember who you are and show information that interests you. However, cookies can be used by sites that do not always have the best of intentions.

back to the top ↑


DDoS- Stands for Distributed Denial of Service – The intentional paralyzing of a computer network by flooding it with data sent simultaneously from many individual computers

Deceptive- A program is deceptive if it makes deceptive and/or fraudulent claims about files, registry entries, and/or other items in the computer.

Disinfect- To remove malware or potentially unwanted software from a computer

Downloader- Downloads and installs unsolicited files or programs, often without notifying the user or requesting permission. Downloader programs are especially dangerous because they allow any type of file, including worms and viruses, to be downloaded onto the user’s computer.

Drive-by download- The act of stealthily and automatically installing software on a user's computer when they simply visit a particular web page. Spyware and adware programs are frequently installed on a computer by way of drive-by downloading.

Dropper- A dropper is a type of malware program designed to install some sort of malware or virus to a target system. The malware code can either be contained within the dropper (which is single-stage) in such a way as to avoid detection by virus scanners or the dropper may download the malware to the target machine once activated (two stage).

back to the top ↑



Encryption-Encryption is the method of transforming plain text data into unreadable data for the purposes of secrecy. Once encrypted, such data cannot be interpreted (either by humans or machines) until it is decrypted.


Firewall- A part of a computer system or network that is designed to block unauthorized access while permitting outward communication

Freeware- Software that is distributed for free.

back to the top ↑


Hijacking- A vulnerability in which a communication channel is taken over by an attacker; an example is when an attacker gains access to the user's browsing session.

Hoax- Usually an email that gets mailed in chain letter fashion describing some devastating, highly unlikely type of virus.

Hosts file- A Hosts file is a file that maps host names to IP addresses. It is used by a computer to resolve what IP address to go to when a user attempts to go to a certain URL. Sometimes malware edits the Hosts file so that when a user attempts to access a legitimate website, the browser is instead redirected to a malware site.

back to the top ↑


Infection- The presence of a virus in, or its introduction into, a computer system.


Joke program- Software that is designed to mimic the actions of a virus but is not malicious and does not harm the machine.


Keylogger- Tracking Software that records keyboard and/or mouse activity and will typically either store the recorded keystrokes for later retrieval or they transmit them to the remote process or person employing the keylogger.

back to the top ↑


Macro virus- A type of virus written as a macro for an application (such as Microsoft Word or Excel). A macro virus infects a file by replicating itself as a macro for that file, ensuring that when the file is opened, the virus is run.

Malware- Software which intentionally performs actions which can damage data or disrupt systems.

Malware creation tool- A malware creation tool is a program that is used by attackers to generate malware. Such programs may be able to automatically produce malware files according to specifications provided by the attacker.

Man-in-the-browser (MITB) attack- A type of web-based threat in which a malicious program has the ability to modify webpages and transactions, or insert additional transactions, all without the user's and host's knowledge.

Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack- A form of eavesdropping in which the attacker positions herself figuratively in the middle of two parties. These parties are under the assumption that they are communicating with each other over a private connection when in fact the attacker is relaying messages from one party to another without their knowledge, controlling the whole situation. This gives the attacker an opportunity to manipulate or gather the messages as she sees fit.

Monitoring tool- A program that monitors activity such as keystrokes, or captures screen images.

back to the top ↑


Password stealer- A password stealer (PWS) is malware that is specifically used to transmit personal information, such as user names and passwords. A PWS often works in conjunction with a keylogger, which collects and sends key strokes and/or screenshots to an attacker.

Phishing- A method of identity theft that tricks Internet users into revealing personal or financial information online. Phishers use phony websites or deceptive email messages that mimic trusted businesses and brands to steal personally identifiable information such as user names, passwords, credit card numbers, and identification numbers.

Polymorphic- A virus that changes their structures each time it infects in order to avoid detection.

Pop-Up Ads-A Pop-Up is a window that appears on top of the internet browser or program window. These windows usually contain advertisements and can capture e-mail and cookie information, but clicking on them can install Malware.

back to the top ↑


Ransomware- Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents use of a computer or access to the data that it contains until the user pays a certain amount to a remote attacker (the "ransom"). Computers that have ransomware installed usually display a screen containing information on how to pay the "ransom". A user cannot usually access anything on the computer beyond the screen.

Redirect- When malware redirects or points you to a different location. Often this is a fake website made to look like the original.

Reinfection- When a computer becomes infected after having previously been cleaned or disinfected. Reinfection typically occurs when a user repeats usage patterns without completely updating the computer's antimalware protection during the disinfection process.

Remote control software- A program that provides access to a computer from a remote location. These programs are often installed by the computer owner or administrator, and are only a risk if unexpected.

Resident- Malware is resident if it continuously runs in the computer. Malware may make itself, or a copy of itself, resident by making computer changes that automatically set it to run when the computer starts up.

Rogue security software- A form of Internet fraud using computer malware (malicious software) that deceives or misleads users into paying money for fake or simulated removal of malware or claims to get rid of malware, but instead introduces malware to the computer

Rootkit- A stealthy type of software, often times malicious, designed to hide the existence of certain processes or programs from normal methods of detection and enable continued privileged access to a computer.

back to the top ↑


spam malware trojan Script (malware)- A type of malware that is written using a scripting language. Common forms of scripting language include JavaScript, HTML, and Visual Basic.

Security bypass- A vulnerability in which a user is able to bypass security measures of an application.

Settings modifier- A program that changes computer settings with or without the user's knowledge.

Social engineering- The art of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. It is typically trickery or deception for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or computer system access.

Spam- Bulk unsolicited email. Malware authors may use spam to distribute malware, either by attaching the malware to the message, or by sending a message containing a link to the malware. Malware may also harvest email addresses for spamming from compromised computers, or may use compromised computers to send spam from.

Spyware- A type of malware installed on computers that collects information about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user and can be difficult to detect.

back to the top ↑


Trojan- A type of malware that masquerades as a legitimate file or helpful program but whose real purpose is to grant a hacker unauthorized access to a computer.

Trojan downloader- This type of Trojan secretly downloads malicious files from a remote server, then installs and executes the files.

back to the top ↑


Virtual machine- A virtual machine (VM) is a software implementation of a machine (i.e. a computer) that executes instructions (not programs) like a physical machine.

Virus- A software program capable of reproducing itself and usually capable of causing great harm to files or other programs on the same computer

Vishing- This is similar to phishing, however it’s conducted over the phone rather than via email. In this case a person receives a phone call claiming to be from someone from a bank or other company asking for personal information.

VoIP- An abbreviation for Voice over Internet Protocol. A technology for making telephone calls over computer networks like the internet. VoIP converts analog voice signals into digital data packets, supporting real time two-way transmission of conversions using internet protocol.

Vulnerability- A flaw, error, or poor coding in a program that may allow an attacker to use it for a malicious purpose.

back to the top ↑


Worm- A worm is a self-replicating virus that does not alter files but resides in active memory and duplicates itself. Worms use parts of an operating system that are automatic and usually invisible to the user. It is common for worms to be noticed only when their uncontrolled replication consumes system resources, slowing or halting other tasks.

back to the top ↑