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Definition of Terms

Adware - Software that automatically displays or downloads advertisements (e.g., in pop-up windows or banners) on a computer after the software is installed, often without the user's knowledge or consent, or while the application is being used.

Anti-virus Software - Software that is designed to help protect a computer from viruses and other malicious software, including those that can destroy data, slow a computer's performance, cause a crash, or even allow spammers to send e-mail through a user's account.

Attachment – When referring to e-mail, an attachment is a file that is sent with the e-mail message. An attachment can be a picture, a Word document, a movie, a sound file, an Excel document, or any other special file that requires another program to open it. In addition to the files mentioned above, attachments may also contain computer viruses, Trojan horses, worms or other malware. Unless you were expecting an attachment from the user sending you the e-mail, it is recommended that you do not open the attachment, even if it is a friend sending the e-mail. Viruses and worms can use address books to help spread the virus and make it appear to be a valid e-mail.

Bookmark – A stored web address for specified web sites that can be revisited easily without having to remember or retype the Internet address.

Browser – Software that enables a user to find, view, her or interact with content on the Internet. Popular browsers include Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari.

Cache – A form of computer memory that allows a user to access stored information, such as web addresses recently typed into a browser more quickly. Pronounced "cash."

CAN-SPAM Act – A Federal law that establishes standards for sending out promotional e-mail.

Cookies – A small text file that a website can place on a computer's web browser to authenticate, track or maintain certain information about users of the site.

Cybercriminal – see Hacker.

Domain – A segment of Internet space, denoted by the function or type of information it includes; current domains include ".com" and ".net" for commercial sites, ".gov" for governmental sites, ".edu" for educational and ".org" for non-commercial organizations.

Download – To copy files from one computer to another; "Download" is also used to mean viewing a web site, or material on a web server, with a web browser.

Firewall – Hardware or software that restricts access to a computer or network based on a set of rules defined by the user or company.  Firewalls are used as a line of defense to keep from accessing a computer, application or a company’s computer network.

Hacker – Someone who uses the Internet to access computers without permission.

Hardware – The mechanical parts of a computer system, including the central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, and mouse, as well as other equipment like printers and speakers.

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) – HTTPS is an extension of HTTP and is used for secure communications over the Internet or an organization’s internal computer network.

Identity Theft – When a criminal obtains your personal information to steal money from your accounts, open new credit cards, apply for loans, rent apartments and commit other crimes all using your identity. These acts can damage your credit, leave you with unwanted bills and cause you countless hours and frustration to clear your good name.

Instant Message – Technology that enables users to engage in real-time communications by exchanging text messages.  These platforms may support ‘group chats’ where messages are displayed for all active participants in the group.

IP (Internet Protocol) Address – A unique address that certain electronic devices currently use in order to identify and communicate with each other on a computer network utilizing the Internet Protocol standard (IP) – in simpler terms, a computer address.

Keystroke Logger – Hardware or software that records each keystroke typed on a particular computer.

Malware – A type of software program that has been intentionally designed to change a user's settings without his or her permission, delete a competing software - program, cause a competing software program to stop working and/or leave a computer open to attacks.

Monitoring/Parental Control – Software that allows a parent or caregiver to monitor the web-sites a child visits or e-mail messages he or she reads, without blocking access.

Online Profiling – Compiling information about consumers' preferences and interests by tracking their online movements and actions in order to create targeted ads.

Pharming – A web page that has been created to deceive users into believing that is another company or web page. For example, a user may create a web page that appears to be a bank web page requesting a username and password for login. If the information is entered into the web page, it is captured by the person who created the page and used to gain access to the real page in this example, gain access to the user's bank account. Often these pages are found by links sent in spam phishing e-mails that indicate a user's account has expired or been compromised, need to update information, etc.

Phishing – A fraudulent and criminal attempt, typically carried out through e-mail or instant messaging, to lure a user to fake websites where the user is asked to disclose confidential financial and personal information, like passwords, credit card account numbers or Social Security Numbers. Pronounced "fishing."

Phone-Phishing – See Vishing

Pop-up Messages or Advertisements – Unsolicited advertising that appears as its own browser window.

Pretexting – The act of creating and using an invented scenario (the pretext) to persuade a targeted victim to release information or perform an action and is typically done over the telephone. It is more than a simple lie as it most often involves some prior research or set up and the use of pieces of known information (e.g. for impersonation: date of birth, Social Security Number, last bill amount) to establish legitimacy in the mind of the target.

Social Engineering – the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.  Two primary types include computer based (adware, email attachments, phishing , pharming) and human based (vishing, leaving in a common area or mailing infected USB drives)

Social Networking Sites – Websites that allow users to build online profiles; share information, including personal information, photographs, blog entries and music clips; and connect with other users, whether it be to find friends or land a job.

Software – A computer program. System software – such as Windows or MacOS – operate the machine itself, and applications software such as spreadsheet or word processing programs provide specific functionality.

Spam – Unsolicited commercial e-mail, often sent in bulk quantities.

Spammer – Someone who sends unsolicited commercial e-mail, often in bulk quantities.

Spear phishing – An email spoofing fraud attempt that targets a specific organization, individual, group of individuals (Executives) or department (Human Resources) seeking unauthorized access to credentials or data.  As with email messages used in regular phishing attacks, spear phishing messages appear to come from a trusted source. 

Spyware – Software that may be installed on a computer without the user's consent to monitor use, send pop-up ads, redirect a computer to certain websites or record keystrokes, which could lead to identity theft.

Trojans – Software disguised to perform one legitimate action, but actually performs another often malicious one such as enabling unauthorized people to access the affected computer through a backdoor and sometimes to send spam from it.

Upload – To copy or send files or data from one computer to another.

Virus – A program that is attached to a file or program so it can spread from one computer to another often without the user's knowledge often through an e-mail attachment. Some viruses are programmed to be extremely damaging, while others are programmed to have annoying effects.

Vishing – The equivalent of phishing using telephone communications. These attempt to scam the user into surrendering private or sensitive company information that will be used for cyber-attacks or identity theft.

Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) – WPA2 is a security standard to secure computers connected to a Wi-Fi network.  WPA2 is the security method added to WPA for wireless networks that provides stronger data protection and control over computers accessing the Wi-Fi network.

Wireless Network – A method of connecting a computer to other computers or to the Internet without linking them by cables.

Worm – A program that reproduces itself over a network and can use up a computer's resources and possibly shut a user's system down. Unlike a virus, a worm does not need to attach itself to a file or program.

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