This is a device or software that adds extra functionality to another device or program. Consider, for example, browser extensions or plug-ins, which are software packages that get added to the browser to give users extra options.
An address bar usually refers to the text box in your browser that shows the URL location a browser tab or window is currently on or viewing. A user can manually fill in the URL he wants to visit from here. Or he/she can visit a site in another way (e.g. by clicking a link) and the address bar will show the resulting URL.
Sometimes, the address bar refers to a path that is shown in a file explorer utility.
Note that under some circumstances, the address bar also functions as a search bar if the text that is entered is not recognized as a valid URL.
Is a type of fraud that lets advertisers pay for advertisements even though the number of impressions (the times that the advertisement has been seen) is enormously exaggerated. You can read more about adfraud in the blog post, Adfraud vs. Adware.
Adware is a form of malicious software which displays unwanted advertising on your computer. For more information, see this blog post.
In the context of internet connections, this expression means that the connection is always accessible. Nothing needs to be turned on, and there is no need to dial in. DSL and cable are prime examples of always-on connections.
In computing, analog is usually used as the opposite of digital. Analog signals are continuous and can reach any value between two given extremes. Consider this analogy: If digital can be black or white, then analog can also be any of the gray shades in between.
In computing and technology, android can mean one of the following:
- A robot that appears human
- The Android Operating system that was developed by the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) and that can mainly be found on smart-phones and tablets. But it can also be found in televisions, smart-watches, cars, and many other electronic devices. The operating system (OS) is based on Linux, but has been customized for usability on touchscreen devices as outlined by Google (one of the founders of the OHA).
Is a program that was designed for the Android OS. Android apps can be downloaded from various app stores. Be sure to pick the ones you decide to trust wisely. Even the app stores that do have a good vetting system, sometimes miss adware or malware.
In computing, this is a piece of software that repeats an annoying task. Most commonly used to describe IRC bots that send out unsolicited messages to participants.
Is also known as nagware or begware. It’s software that keeps reminding a user to perform a certain action like registering or buying software by showing pop-ups or other messages.
Is the action, or attempt to, disable the ability to track back information or actions to a certain user. There are a few main types:
Usually refers to an anonymous proxy. Anonymizers are tools that minimize the amount of tracking done during surfing in an attempt to hide the true identity of the user. Besides tacking prevention they hide your IP address and sometimes encrypt your traffic.
Are the countermeasures taken to secure an application. This starts during the design and development of the application but broadens to the host and network the application is deployed on. This has to be done to defend against threats and attacks from the outside that will attempt to exploit the application.
Stands for Advanced Persistent Threat, which is a prolonged, aimed attack on a specific target with the intention of compromising their system and gaining information from or about the target. For more information, see this blog post.
Stands for Address Resolution Protocol, which is used to find a physical address that belongs to an IP address.
The normal procedure is to send an ARP request over the network and the machine that has the requested IP will answer with an ARP reply. This procedure then associates a physical machine with an IP address. Attackers can abuse this protocol by ARP spoofing, broadcasting an IP address so that the traffic meant for that IP address can be intercepted by the attacker.
Is sometimes shortened to AI. It describes the science that works on intelligence in machinery (computers/robots). The first discussion being what we define as intelligence and whether we can describe human intelligence close enough to reproduce and recognize it in machines. The main pillars are defined as the abilities to learn, reason, and self-correct. There are several disputed tests that are used to determine intelligence in machines, important ones are those by Turing and Hintze.
Is short for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. ASCII tables represent a seven-bit encoding standard for text files. Later, a 8-bit encoding was introduced called the extended ASCII (EASCII), which included the original 128 characters plus additional characters.
Is the masking of initiatives by corporations, governments, or political parties to make the campaign appear to be spontaneous or initiated by civilian groups. Sometimes masking the origin makes the campaign more effective or less controversial.
Is the technique used to obtain unauthorized access to a system or network. It is an important part of vulnerability research to know which attack vector is or might be used. Examples of attack vectors are:
Is sometimes shortened as AR. Augmented reality is a cross between the physical world and virtual reality. It adds images, sounds, motion sense, and even smell to the physical reality.
In computing, it is the process of verifying the identity of a user or process. Usually this is done to check whether the user or process has sufficient rights for access or to make modifications. You can find more information in these blog posts:
Typically a type of Trojan malware that allows its creator or proponent to gain access to a system by bypassing its security. The term “backdoor” can also refer to the method of gaining access to user systems undetected; should not be mistaken for exploits.
Other form/s: backdooring
In the context of computer malware, behavior refers to the actions malware performs on an affected system once executed.
Is a numerical system with only two different values: 0 and 1, or True and False. Compare the decimal system which uses 10 different values (or numerals): o to 9. Binary is popular in electronics and therefore in computing because 0 can be regarded as OFF and 1 as ON.
Is the measurement and statistical analysis of people’s physical and behavioral characteristics. In biometrics authentication, this means personally identifiable and unique features are stored in order to give the holder access to certain resources. Consider for example a fingerprint reader to log on to a computer.
Is a cryptocurrency, a payment medium that relies on cryptography rather than on banks or governments. It is very popular among internet criminals as it’s readily exchangeable for other physical currencies and is practically untraceable.
In computing, it usually refers to a list of domains and/or IP adresses. Blacklists are long lists of known or suspected malicious servers and/or domains. These lists are used to protect users from receiving mail from these servers or from browsing to sites that are on these domains/IP addresses.
Is a wireless technology mainly used for short distance connections between devices. Communication is done at a band around 2.45 GHz. To avoid interference between devices, they use a low power signal, which is what makes it a short range connection, but it does not need a line of sight to establish a connection.
In computing, to boot a system is to turn the device or machine on and load the operating system into random access memory. The boot-up process is made up out of different stages, depending on the setup of the system and the operating system that has to be loaded. For most cases, these stages are important parts of them:
- The BIOS or UEFI are powered up and do the Power-On Self Test (POST)
- The bootloader loads the operating system
- Once all the operating systems files have been loaded, control is given to the OS.
Is a part of a physical information carrier (usually a hard drive) that contains the code that has to be loaded in a systems RAM memory first, to start the actual boot process and load the operating system. The boot sector is created when a volume is formatted.
Boot sector virus
Is malware that infects the boot sector of a drive or other storage device. During a boot, this sector is automatically located and loaded into memory. This makes boot sector viruses harder to remove as they will load before normal removal software.
A derivative of the word “robot.” It usually pertains to (1) one or more compromised machines controlled by a bot master or herder for the purpose of spamming or launching DDoS attacks, and (2) an automated program coded with certain instructions to follow, which includes interacting with websites and humans via the use of Web interfaces (e.g. IMs). A collective of bots is called a botnet.
Synonym: zombie machine
A collection of bots. The term also refers to the malware run on a connected device to turn it into a bot.
A bundler is a group of programs that are bunched up together to be installed with a main program, which is usually what users desire to install onto their systems. These additional programs are other unwanted software, such as adware and toolbars.
Stands for command and control, which may pertain to a a centralized server or computer that online criminals use to issue commands to control malware and bots and to receive reports from them.
Other forms: command & control, C2
DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. It is a network attack that involves attackers forcing numerous systems (usually infected with malware) to send network communication requests to one specific web server. The result is the receiving server being overloaded by nonsense requests and either crashing the server and/or distracting the server enough that normal users are unable to create a connection between their system and the server. This attack has been popularized in many “Hacktivism” attacks by numerous hacker groups as well as state-sponsored attacks conducted by governments against each other.
DNS stands for Domain Name Service. It is an internet protocol that allows user systems to use domain names/URLs to identify a web server rather than inputting the actual IP address of the server. For example, the IP address for Malwarebytes.com is 220.127.116.11, but rather than typing that into your browser, you just type ‘malwarebytes.com’ and your system reaches out to a ‘DNS Server’ which has a list of all domain names and their corresponding IP address, delivering that upon request to the user system. Unfortunately, if a popular DNS server is taken down or in some way disrupted, many users are unable to reach their favorite websites because without the IP address of the web server, your system cannot find the site.
In computer security related terminology domain refers to either:
or Trojan-Downloader is malware with the sole intention to download other programs, usually more malware, to the infected system as soon as an internet connection is available.
Pertains to (1) the unintended download of one or more files, malicious or not, onto the user’s system without their consent or knowledge. This usually happens when a user visits a website or views an email on HTML format. It may also describe the download and installation of files bundled with a program that users didn’t sign up for. These files can be adware, spyware, or PUPs; (2) the general term used for files that were downloaded unintentionally; i.e. “drive-by downloads.”
Pertains to (1) a type of malware programmed to take advantage of a software bug or vulnerability on a system in order to compromise it and allow the exploit’s creator or proponent to take control of it; (2) the act of successfully taking over a system by taking advantage of certain software vulnerabilities installed on it. A collection of exploits is called an “exploit kit.”
A collection of exploits which are packaged up for use by criminal gangs in spreading malware.
Stands for Graphical User Interface. This is a type of interaction that helps a system user to control and manipulate software. The alternative are command line programs that are usually perceived as hard to understand and hard to learn, where a well-designed GUI can make or break the success of programs.
Is a person that has a very deep understanding of certain systems or processes. His knowledge enables him to use those subjects for other goals than they were designed for. This is done by finding flaws or loopholes in them. There is a distinction between white hackers that report the flaws they find without abusing them and grey/black hackers that use the flaws they find, for personal gain at the expense of others.
Is a state of inactivity to save energy. In computing this expression is used for powering down a computer while preserving the state it is in. The content of the RAM (Random Access Memory) is saved to a drive (usually the main hard disk of the system) and will be restored in RAM as soon as the system is brought back out of hibernation. Not to be confused with sleep mode, which is another energy saving method that uses a little energy to keep the data in RAM. The advantage of sleep mode is that the system is ready for use almost instantaneously where waking from hibernation takes some time.
Stands for Host Intrusion Prevention System, which describes a software package that monitors for suspicious activities occurring within a host machine. This helps keeps a system secure, without depending on a specific threat to be added to a detection update. For more information, see the article HIPS.
A hoax is the term we use to generally describe a fake or false warning. Hoaxes did start out as emails, but nowadays they are most active on social media, especially on Facebook. This has considerably increased the speed with which they spread. For more information, see the article hoax.
Is by definition a word of the same written form as another but of different meaning and usually origin, whether pronounced the same way or not. But in cyber-security this is expanded to include words that look the same. This can be achieved by using numbers that looks the same as a letter or characters from another characterset that look the same to humans, but computers see the difference. For example the letter Omicron from the Greek alphabet looks exactly the same as the “Latin” O, but they have a different code in the Unicode table.
Is short for Input/Output, the expression is used to describe any information exchange between a computer system and the outside, in both directions. Usually this expression is used, but not limited to for the traffic between the system and peripheral devices.
Refers to creations of the mind, whether they are inventions, art, designs, names, or commercial images. Laws on intellectual property differ from one country to the other, but they usually protect the rights of the person or company that first successfully claims coming up with the creation.
Is a (large) network with restricted access. Usually set up by or for a company or other organization and with access limited to the staff or members of the organization.
In computing IOC stands for indicator of compromise. These indicators can be found after a system intrusion and tell the investigators something about the sort of attack or security breach. These indicators can be IP addresses, domains, hashes of malware files, virus signatures, and similar artifacts. They can lead the investigators to the vulnerabilities that may have been used, possible prevention methods, and sometimes even help in attribution.
Stands for Internet of Things. It represents a host of internet connected devices that do not require direct human input. You can think of refrigerators, cars, security camera’s, but also pacemakers and other biochip transponders. The device has to have a unique identifier and the ability to connect to a network to qualify as a part of the IoT. Many concerns have surfaced about some of these devices due to the weak or complete lack of implemented security in these connected devices.
An IP address is a number assigned to each system that is participating in a network using the Internet Protocol, such as the World Wide Web.
There are two standards in use: IPv4 and IPv6, but every computer that has an IP address has at least an IPv4 address. An IPv4 address consist of 4 elements each ranging from 0 to 255. A well-known example is the IP-address 127.0.0.1, which points back at the computer that sends the query.
Is short for Intrusion Prevention System. These systems monitor network traffic to determine whether a security breach or malware infection has taken place. When applicable they can intervene in such cases as pre-determined by the network administrator to avoid further damage. In general, a complete Intrusion Prevention System can include components like firewalls and anti-virus software.
Is short for Information Technology. Describes the study or the use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information. Often used to describe the department that focuses on the success of computer operations and other information technologies needs, within an organization.
In the context of malware, a keylogger is a type of Trojan spyware that is capable of stealing or recording user keystrokes.
Other forms: key logger, keylogging
Synonyms: keystroke logger, system monitor
Is one stroke of any key on a machine operated by a keyboard, as a typewriter, computer terminal, and so on. Sometimes keystrokes per hour (KSPH) or keystrokes per minute (KSPM) are used as a standard of typing speed. And the efficiency of programs is sometimes measured by how little keystrokes it takes to get a job done.
Stands for Local Area Network. It is a network of computers and other devices spread over a relatively small space, f.e. a building or group of buildings. Usually these devices all connect to a server or group of servers by ethernet or wifi. Sometimes they are connected to other LANs and together they form a WAN (Wide Area Network).
On any given system localhost refers to “this computer”, the one . It uses the IP address 127.0.0.1 to use the loopback function in order to reach the resources stored on the system itself.
Stands for Layered Service Provider. A Layered Service Provider is a file (.dll) using the Winsock API to insert itself into the TCP/IP stack. There it can intercept, filter, and even modify all the traffic between the internet and a system’s applications. More detailed information can be found in the blogpost Changes in the LSP stack. An example of an LSP hijacker can be found in the blogpost Fake Adblocker Bylekh is an LSP Hijacker.
Malware which is delivered by email messages. For more information, see https://blog.malwarebytes.com/threats/malspam/
Or malicious advertising, is the use of on-line advertising to distribute malware with little to no user interaction required. More information can be found in our blogposts: What is malvertising? and Truth in malvertising: How to beat bad ads.
The shortened version of “malicious software.” Malware is the generic or umbrella term to refer to any malicious programs or code that are harmful to systems.
Stands for Master Boot Record. Typically, the MBR is the first sector on a startup drive (or other partitioned media). It contains the boot loader, which basically is a piece of executable code that starts the loading of the Operating System, or the boot-loader on a system that has more than one operating system installed. More information can be found in the blogpost Meet the Master Boot Record.
A memory dump is the content of the systems RAM (Random Access Memory) created at a specific point in time. Usually this is done at the moment of a program crash or system failure and used to diagnose the problem. But they can also be made manually, for the purpose of memory forensics like the investigation of advanced (e.g. fileless) malware.
Are basically data about data. Metadata gives background information about data that gives the user of the data information about the origin, the relevance and the creation. Examples are geotags in photographs (where was the photograph taken) and the file information of documents ( who created it, when was the last change, size, etc.).
Stands for Multi-factor authentication. The most well-known version of MFA is 2FA (Two factor authentication). Both represent the combination of more than one method of getting access to a resource (logging in). For more information see this blog-post Understanding the basics of Two-Factor Authentication.
Is short for Multimedia Messaging Service. This service is an enhancement of the Short Message Service (SMS) and allows the user to send longer messages (SMS is limited to 160 characters), accompanied with pictures, short videos, and audio over a cellular network.
Or cross-platform, is an expression to describe software that has been developed to work on multiple operating systems.
In computing the definition of a network is a group of two or more computers systems linked together. Consider for example your home network or a LAN (Local Area Network). A prime property of networks is their topology. The main topologies are:
In computing this stands for Operating System. The most well-known operating systems are Microsoft Windows, Linux, Apple’s MacOS, Android, and Google’s Chrome OS. Most of these can be divided in more specific operating systems (e.g. Windows 8.1) or grouped into more general clusters of operating systems (e.g. Chrome OS is based on the Linux kernel)
Is short for Open Systems Interconnection. This is a model that defines a networking framework to implement protocols in seven layers:
- Data Link
This model was designed by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) as a design template for building network systems. The lower layers deal with electrical signals, chunks of binary data, and routing of these data across networks. Higher levels cover network requests and responses, representation of data, and network protocols as seen from a user’s point of view.
Is essentially a short and simple password. Consider for example the 4 digit numerical code to unlock a smartphone.
Is essentially a complex password made up of a sequence of words. The differences with a regular password are the presence of spaces and the length that makes a passphrase more complex.
Is a method of authentication that has become popular due to its ease of use. The growing need for complex and longer passwords has diminished that ease of use a bit. More information can be found in our blogpost The Password and You.
Penetration Testing (or “pen testing”) is the practice of running controlled attacks on a computer system (network, application, Web app, etc.) in an attempt to find unpatched vulnerabilities or flaws. By performing pen tests, an organization can find ways to harden their systems against possible future real attacks, and thus to make them less exploitable.
An attempt to fraudulently obtain credentials without permission, often done by email but also appears on social networks, in fake programs asking for login details, and over the phone.
Is a term to describe hacking anything to do with telephone systems. The term is a contraction of the words phone and freaks and goes back to the time when the telephone structure was still gaining popularity and was by far not as secure as it is now. At the time phreaking was more driven by curiosity than pursuing illegal activity.
Is short for Personally Identifiable Information. This phrase is used for data that could be tracked back to one specific user. You will see it used in Privacy Policies and other privacy statements. Examples of PII are names, social security numbers, biometrics, and other data that, in combination with other data, could be enough to identify a user.
In computer science this describes the ability to use a variable or function in more than one way. The applied use depends on the context in the program. The easiest example is the use of “+” (which is in fact a very basic function). In most programming languages, when used with numbers it will calculate the sum, but when a string variable is involved, it will join the strings together.
In computer science is a user that uses a system or software with more than average skills, knowledge, and demands. Often they will use a system that is equipped for special tasks the Power User often needs it to perform. People can easily be Power Users in one field and be regular users in others.
Stands for “potentially unwanted program.” A program (or bundle of programs) which may be included with software the person downloading it wants. The PUP component may include unnecessary offers, add-ons, deals, adverts, toolbars, and pop-ups, all of which may be entirely unrelated to the functionality of the sole wanted program.
Is a 2-dimensional barcode. They are squares filled with black and white blocks invented to keep track of cars during manufacturing. Because of the speed with which they can be read and the amount of data they can store, they are rapidly becoming popular in a growing range of fields.
Is by origin a medical term which means keeping infected persons or animals away from healthy ones, to minimize the chances of spreading a contagious disease. This term was picked up by the AV-industry, that uses the term for files they have moved to a safe location on a system, because they were identified as malware. In quarantine the files can no longer be executed, but the user can restore them if he feels the detection was false.
A type of software which locks users out of their computer and/or encrypts their files, offering to unlock on the condition that the victim pays a ransom. The ransom may involve Bitcoin or more traditional forms of payment. Ransomware ranges from crude to highly sophisticated, and only a few types are able to have their encryption successfully decrypted.
Is controlling a computer system from another location. There are many programs that enable this method of working. Very convenient if you want to work on your office computer from home. Unfortunately, it is also a tool of choice for Tech Support Scammers.
Are also referred to as anti-anti-virus viruses. Which means that it tries to attack and disable any anti-virus, or other protective software, on the system they are trying to infect, so it won’t get detected.
Is software, generally classified as malware, that provides the attacker with administrator privileges on the infected system and actively hides from the normal computer user. They also hide from other software on the system, often even from the operating system.
A common technique malware uses: running the original executable, suspending it, unmapping from the memory, mapping the payload on its place, and running it again.
It’s a boot option that loads only the most basic drivers needed for Windows to run. There are different sets of drivers that can be loaded, depending on the kind of “Safe Mode” the user selects. For more information, see the article safe mode.
In computer security related terminology a seed is one of the factors used to create (a series of) seemingly random numbers or strings. Consider for example Domain Generating Algorithms or encryption keys that are created on the fly. In the combination of factors, the seed is the constant that is the same for one set of random items. For example, the seed for the file encryption used on one victim, can be unique for that victim and for all his files. The seed for one series of generated domains is generally the same until the author switches to a new variant of the malware using the domains.
Is a form of blackmail in which the victim is forced to perform sexual favors for the blackmailer. This is often done by threatening to make embarrassing pictures public that were obtained under false pretenses over the internet.
Stands for Security information and event management. SIEM systems are designed to provide SOCs or other security managers with information about the entire system’s infrastructure to support detection and help with incident response and prevention.
Stands for Security Operations Center and is a centralized unit of personnel, processes and technology that guard the security and investigate security breaches for a bigger entity, usually a company or a network. A SOC does not necessarily have to be part of an organization, they can be hired externally.
In cyber-security social engineering is the description of methods that attackers use to get the victims to breach security protocol or give up private information. There are many tactics that lead to this goal, relying on basic human nature. Like seducing the victims by playing on their greed, vanity, or their willingness to help someone.
Is undesired electronic junk mail that is sent out in bulk. Because of it’s nature it is a waste of time and resources, and you will find that many organizations have some kind of filtering in place so that only (hopefully) a small portion of it ever reaches the end-user.
Is a method of deceiving users with any sort of on-line messages, but usually email, into giving up important data. Spearphishing attacks are phishing attacks that are targeted at a particular user or group of users (e.g. employees of one company). The intended victim(s) will be asked to fill out data or lured into installing data gathering malware on his system. Learn more about phishing in our blogpost Phishing 101: Part 1.
It is a kind of malware that is installed on the target’s computer with the intention of gathering and sending information to a third-party actor or organization that normally doesn’t have privileged access to such information. In earlier years, this term is also used for adware and cookies.
Is the science of hiding information. In cyber-security this usually comes down to hiding the malicious information behind seemingly harmless messages. Consider for example malvertising where the code is hidden in images. Or malware where the threat actors used Twitter as their C&C infrastructure.
This type of software combines some or all of the below functionalities:
- Registry cleaner
- Driver Updater
- Temp file cleaner
- Disk optimizer (disk defragmenter)
- Report system errors
Since all these functionalities are offered by free tools built into the Windows operating system, many system optimizers are considered Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs), especially if they exaggerate the seriousness of possible improvements that can be made on user system.
In cyber-security is a group or person behind a malicious incident. As it is sometimes unclear whether an attack was done by one person or whether there is a group or organization involved, we use this as a general term to describe the responsible entity.
Is short for Top Level Domain. This is the right hand part of a domain name. Examples are .com, .gov, and . info. In the hierarchical structure of the DNS system these are at the highest level, hence the name. A complete list of valid TLDs can be found at the ICANN.org site.
A program which claims to perform one function but actually does another, typically malicious. Trojans can take the form of attachments, downloads, and fake videos/programs. Once on board a PC, the Trojan may do a number of things including steal sensitive data, monitor webcams, upload files to a third-party server, or just play pranks on the system owner by opening the CD tray, switching off the screen, or redirecting them to shock sites and other unwanted content.
Is a systematical approach to finding the cause of a malfunction or other problem. With computers this usually starts with studying logs, some of which may have been created specifically for the problem at hand, others may be error logs or even memory dumps.
Typosquatting is the practice of deliberately registering a domain name which is similar to an existing popular name, in the hope of getting traffic by people who mis-type the URL of the popular domain. For more information, see the article typosquatting.
Stands for Uniform Resource Locator and is a method to find resources located on the World Wide Web. A URL consists of (at least) a protocol (i.e. HTTP) and either a domain or an IP address. They can also include a path on the server to point to a particular file or site.
Is a memory management technique in use by the Windows operating system to enlarge the address space. It uses a part of the hard drive to store pages and copy them into the RAM memory when they are needed. This method is slower then using RAM only, but it enables the user to run programs even if his RAM memory is already all in use.
A virus is malware attached to another program (such as a document) which can replicate and spread after an initial execution on a target system where human interaction is required. Many viruses are harmful and can destroy data, slow down system resources, and log keystrokes.
Is short for Virtual Local Access Network. It describes a network of systems that are simulating to be on the same network. They are bound at OSI Layer 2 (the datalink layer) which means they can communicate as if connected by wire while they can in fact be on different LAN‘s and be physically far apart. VLAN’s are often used to divide LANs into subsets that are allowed to share certain information and devices. Or to create a group of systems around the world that belong to a certain group in the same organization.
Is short for Virtual Reality. It’s a computer generated simulation of an environment, using images, sound, and sometimes other sensations like for example “force feedback” to give the users the illusion that they are in that environment and can interact with the objects in that environment. VR is primarily used in medicine, military training and video games.
A worm is much the same as a virus, with the key difference being it does not need to be attached to another program to spread.