NCSC glossary

Created:  23 Nov 2016
Updated:  23 Nov 2016
This glossary will be constantly updated. Check back for more updates or follow @NCSC on Twitter.

A

antivirus

Software that is designed to detect, stop and remove viruses and other kinds of malicious software.

B

botnet

A network of infected devices, connected to the Internet, used to commit coordinated cyber attacks without their owner's knowledge.

bring your own device (BYOD)

An organisation's strategy or policy that allows employees to use their own personal devices for work purposes.

C

cloud

Where shared compute 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.

cyber attack

Malicious attempts to damage, disrupt or gain unauthorised access to computer systems, networks or devices, via cyber means.

cyber security

The protection of devices, services and networks — and the information on them — from theft or damage.

D

denial of service (DoS)

When legitimate users are denied access to computer services (or resources), usually by overloading the service with requests.

digital footprint

A 'footprint' of digital information that a user's online activity leaves behind.

E

encryption

A mathematical function that protects information by making it unreadable by everyone except those with the key to decode it.

end user device (EUD)

Collective term to describe modern smartphones, laptops and tablets that connect to an organisation's network.

F

firewall

Hardware or software which uses a defined rule set to constrain network traffic to prevent unauthorised access to or from a network.

G

 

H

 

I

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.

J

 

K

 

L

 

M

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.

N

 

O

 

P

patching

Applying updates to firmware or software to improve security and/or enhance functionality.

phishing

Untargeted, mass emails sent to many people asking for sensitive information (such as bank details) or encouraging them to visit a fake website.

Q

 

U

 

R

[glossary-term:ransomware]

S

software as a service (SaaS)

Describes a business model where consumers access centrally-hosted software applications over the Internet.

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.

T

trojan

A type of malware or virus disguised as legitimate software, that is used to hack into the victim's computer.

two-factor authentication (2FA)

The use of two different components to verify a user's claimed identity. Also known as multi-factor authentication.

U

 

V

 

W

water-holing (watering hole attack)

Setting up a fake website (or compromising a real one) in order to exploit visiting users.

whaling

Highly targeted phishing attacks (masquerading as a legitimate emails) that are aimed at senior executives.

whitelisting

Authorising approved applications for use within organisations in order to protect systems from potentially harmful applications.

X

 

Y

 

Z

zero-day

Recently discovered vulnerabilities (or bugs), not yet known to vendors or antivirus companies, that hackers can exploit.

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