When it comes to cyber security and cyber safety, there a lot of terms and it can become confusing. The following list includes some of the most common terminology; it is not intended to be all inclusive.
Adware: software that automatically displays popups or downloads unwanted advertising or marketing materials when a user is online. Depending on how it is designed, adware can collect data and send information back to the company about sites visited by the user. Adware oftentimes is hidden in free downloads so pay close attention to the licensing agreement. Adware can also contain spyware (see below).
Cyberbullying: bullying through the internet or related technologies (e.g., social networking sites, instant messaging, cell phones, etc.). Cyberbullying may involve threats, harassment, and/or posting videos or photos with the intent of embarrassing or humiliating another among other things. When an adult is involved in this behavior, it is called cyber-harassment or cyberstalking.
Cookie: a small data file sent by a website to your computer's web browser to track your usage and browsing history of the website. Cookies allow you to "remember my password" for the site as well as any completed forms such as your address, shopping carts, etc.
Firewall: a software program or a hardware device that protects your computer from attempts made from the internet to access your computer without your permission. Check your computer's operating system to see if it has a built-in firewall and ensure it is turned on.
Hacker: a person who purposefully attempts to gain access to your computer and/or data without your permission or knowledge. Anti-virus software and firewalls can help protect your computer from unauthorized access.
HTTP v HTTPS: HyperText Transport Protocol - or HTTP - is a standard language that allows computers to "talk" across the internet. The S stands for secure; websites beginning https:// have an extra layer of security. Be sure to look for https:// in the web address (ULR) before submitting any personal or sensitive information online.
Malware: short for malicious software; malware is intended to cause damage and/or to illegally access computers or networks. Malware comes in many forms, the most common of which are viruses, spyware, trojans, worms and zombies.
Personal Information/Personally Identifiable Information (PII): any information that can identify you. Examples include your name, address, phone number, credit card information, bank account information, social security number, birth date, place of birth, mother's maiden name, etc. It can also include employment, educational and/or medical information.
Phishing: refers to an email scam to trick the receiver into providing personal or financial information. The email message often times appear to come from legitimate sources (e.g., businesses, banks or even friends) and include official or official-looking logos and links. Be wary of responding to any email message asking you for an update and do not click on any links contained within the message. If in doubt, visit the organization's website and contact them using the information found there; do not use the contact information found in the suspicious email.
Social Media Site: internet applications designed to facilitate communication between users. Examples include email programs, blogs, picture/video sharing sites and social networking sites.
Social Networking Site: an online community where people "meet" and share common interests. Facebook and LinkedIn are examples of common social networking sites.
Spam: unsolicited and unwanted commercial email messages sent to a large number of people. This is also sometimes referred to as 'electronic junk mail." Generally harmless, however, responding to a spam message may result in receiving even more spam.
Spim: spam messages sent to an instant messaging address rather than an email address.
Spoofing: refers to forging an email or instant message address (email header) so that it appears the message is coming from someone other than the true source. Spam distributors often use spoofing in the hopes that the recipient will open and respond to the message. As with all other types of messages, do not click on any embedded links nor respond to the message. If in doubt as to whether the message might be legitimate, contact the sender through information you may already have or that you can obtain from their website; do not use the contact information within the message.
Spyware: software installed on your computer without your knowledge that tracks and stores your online activity and may share that information with another parties such as advertisers without your consent (adware and cookies are forms of spyware). While some programs simply monitor websites you visit, others record your keystrokes and capture personal information. Exercise caution when downloading freeware or clicking on links in pop-up windows as they may potentially include spyware.
Strong Password: passwords are your first line of defense in protecting your computer and information. Strong passwords that are regularly changed make it more difficult for others/programs to guess your password. Create a password that 1) is at least eight characters long; 2) does not include your name, name of a loved one or pet; 3) contains a least one upper case and one lower case letter, one number and one symbol; 4) is not a password you have used in the past; and 5) is not /does not include a complete word. Do not use one password for multiple different accounts.
Trojan Horse: a malicious program that is installed on your computer by being disguised as or embedded with legitimate software. Trojan horses can reconfigure your computer, delete files, access personal information and/or create a backdoor that allows malicious users access to your computer. To protect your computer from Trojans, do not open file attachments you received from unknown senders. Firewalls and anti-virus software will help to secure your computer.
Virus: a software program that attaches itself to a program or file and which is designed to spread from one computer to another. There are many types of viruses and their impact varies from annoying to deleting everything on your hard disk. Viruses are most often spread by attachments in email or instant messages and through downloads from the internet. Do not open attachments from unknown senders and keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.
Worm: a malware computer program designed to replicate itself and spread from computer to computer. Worms eat up system memory and can cause computers to slow down or stop working altogether. Worms may also be designed to allow malicious users to remotely control your computer. To prevent worms, be cautious when opening email messages and attachments from unknown senders and keep your anti-virus program up-to-date.
Zombie: a computer that has been overtaken by a hacker and is used to remotely perform malicious tasks. Prevention is your best protection: install a firewall and keep your anti-virus and spyware applications up-to-date; do not click on unfamiliar web links; don't click on pop-up links offering to check your computer for malware or to download free antivirus software. If you suspect your computer has been overtaken by an outside source, immediately disconnect it from the internet.