Information Security Definitions

This glossary explains the meaning of key words and phrases that information technology (IT) and business professionals use when discussing IT security and related software products. You can find additional definitions by visiting WhatIs.com or using the search box below.

Search Definitions
  • I

    International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2

    The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium -- (ISC)2 -- is a non-profit organization that provides security training and certificates.

  • Internet Key Exchange (IKE)

    Internet Key Exchange (IKE) is a standard protocol used to set up a secure and authenticated communication channel between two parties via a virtual private network (VPN).

  • intrusion detection system (IDS)

    An intrusion detection system (IDS) is a system that monitors network traffic for suspicious activity and alerts when such activity is discovered.

  • intrusion prevention system (IPS)

    An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is a network security and threat prevention tool.

  • IP spoofing

    Internet Protocol (IP) spoofing is a type of malicious attack where the threat actor hides the true source of IP packets to make it difficult to know where they came from.

  • IPsec (Internet Protocol Security)

    IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) is a suite of protocols and algorithms for securing data transmitted over the internet or any public network.

  • ISO 27002 (International Organization for Standardization 27002)

    The ISO 27002 standard is a collection of information security guidelines that are intended to help an organization implement, maintain, and improve its information security management.

  • ISO 31000 Risk Management

    The ISO 31000 Risk Management framework is an international standard that provides businesses with guidelines and principles for risk management from the International Organization for Standardization.

  • What is identity and access management? Guide to IAM

    Identity and access management (IAM) is a framework of business processes, policies and technologies that facilitates the management of electronic or digital identities.

  • What is integrated risk management (IRM)?

    Integrated risk management (IRM) is a set of coordinated business practices and supporting software tools that contribute to an organization's ability to understand and manage risk holistically across all departments and third-party dependencies.

  • J

    juice jacking

    Juice jacking is a security exploit in which an infected USB charging station is used to compromise connected devices. The exploit takes advantage of the fact that a mobile device’s power supply passes over the same USB cable the connected device uses to sync data.

  • K

    Kerberos

    Kerberos is a protocol for authenticating service requests between trusted hosts across an untrusted network, such as the internet.

  • key fob

    A key fob is a small, programmable device that provides access to a physical object.

  • keylogger (keystroke logger or system monitor)

    A keylogger, sometimes called a keystroke logger or keyboard capture, is a type of surveillance technology used to monitor and record each keystroke on a specific computer.

  • knowledge-based authentication (KBA)

    In a KBA scheme, the user is asked to answer at least one "secret" question before being allowed to change account settings or reset a password.

  • L

    LEAP (Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol)

    LEAP (Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol) is a Cisco-proprietary version of EAP, the authentication protocol used in wireless networks and Point-to-Point connections. LEAP is designed to provide more secure authentication for 802.11 WLANs (wireless local area networks) that support 802.1X port access control.

  • logic bomb

    A logic bomb is a string of malicious code that is inserted intentionally into a program to harm a network when certain conditions are met.

  • logon (or login)

    In general computer usage, logon is the procedure used to get access to an operating system or application, usually in a remote computer.

  • Luhn algorithm (modulus 10)

    The Luhn algorithm, also called modulus 10 or modulus 10 algorithm, is a simple mathematical formula used to validate a user's identification numbers.

  • NICE Framework

    The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (NICE Framework) is a reference resource that classifies the typical skill requirements and duties of cybersecurity workers.

  • M

    macro virus

    A macro virus is a computer virus written in the same macro language used to create software programs such as Microsoft Excel or Word.

  • mail bomb

    A mail bomb is a form of a denial-of-service (DoS) attack designed to overwhelm an inbox or inhibit a server by sending a massive number of emails to a specific person or system.

  • malware

    Malware, or malicious software, is any program or file that is intentionally harmful to a computer, network or server.

  • man in the browser (MitB)

    Man in the browser (MitB) is a security attack where the perpetrator installs a Trojan horse on the victim's computer that is capable of modifying that user's web transactions.

  • mandatory access control (MAC)

    Mandatory access control (MAC) is a system-controlled policy restricting access to resource objects (such as data files, devices, systems, etc.) based on the level of authorization or clearance of the accessing entity, be it person, process, or device.

  • MD5

    The MD5 (message-digest algorithm) hashing algorithm is a one-way cryptographic function that accepts a message of any length as input and returns as output a fixed-length digest value to be used for authenticating the original message.

  • Melissa virus

    Melissa was a type of email virus that initially become an issue in early 1999.

  • message authentication code (MAC)

    A message authentication code (MAC) is a cryptographic checksum on data that uses a session key to detect both accidental and intentional modifications of the data.

  • messaging security

    Messaging security is a subcategory of unified threat management (UTM) focused on securing and protecting an organization’s communication infrastructure.

  • metamorphic and polymorphic malware

    Metamorphic and polymorphic malware are two types of malicious software (malware) that can change their code as they propagate through a system.

  • MICR (magnetic ink character recognition)

    MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) is a technology invented in the 1950s that's used to verify the legitimacy or originality of checks and other paper documents.

  • micro VM (micro virtual machine)

    A micro VM (micro virtual machine) is a virtual machine program that serves to isolate an untrusted computing operation from a computer's host operating system.

  • Microsoft FIM (Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager)

    Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) is a self-service identity management software suite.

  • Microsoft Schannel (Microsoft Secure Channel)

    The Microsoft Secure Channel or Schannel is a security package that facilitates the use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and/or Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption on Windows platforms.

  • MITRE ATT&CK framework

    The MITRE ATT&CK (pronounced 'miter attack') framework is a free, globally accessible service that provides comprehensive and up-to-date cyberthreat information to organizations looking to strengthen their cybersecurity strategies.

  • mobile authentication

    Mobile authentication is the verification of a user’s identity through the use a mobile device and one or more authentication methods for secure access.

  • mutual authentication

    Mutual authentication, also called two-way authentication, is a process or technology in which both entities in a communications link authenticate each other.

  • What is multifactor authentication and how does it work?

    Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a security technology that requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify a user's identity for a login or other transaction.

  • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

    Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is a Microsoft security solution that is designed to help enterprise-class organizations detect and respond to security threats.

  • N

    national identity card

    A national identity card is a portable document, typically a plasticized card with digitally-embedded information, that someone is required or encouraged to carry as a means of confirming their identity. Since the World Trade Center tragedy of September 11, 2001, many countries have discussed issuing national identity cards as a way to distinguish terrorists from the law-abiding population. (Continued)

  • National Security Agency (NSA)

    The National Security Agency (NSA) is a federal government intelligence agency that is part of the United States Department of Defense and is managed under the authority of the director of national intelligence (DNI).

  • network vulnerability scanning

    A vulnerability scan detects and classifies system weaknesses in computers, networks and communications equipment and predicts the effectiveness of countermeasures.

  • next-generation firewall (NGFW)

    A next-generation firewall (NGFW) is part of the third generation of firewall technology that can be implemented in hardware or software.

  • Nimda

    First appearing on September 18, 2001, Nimda is a computer virus that caused traffic slowdowns as it rippled across the internet.

  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework

    The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF) is a policy framework surrounding IT infrastructure security.

  • nonrepudiation

    Nonrepudiation ensures that no party can deny that it sent or received a message via encryption and/or digital signatures or approved some information.

  • North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC CIP)

    The North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC CIP) plan is a set of standards aimed at regulating, enforcing, monitoring and managing the security of the Bulk Electric System (BES) in North America.

  • O

    obfuscation

    Obfuscation means to make something difficult to understand.

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

    Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal organization (part of the Department of Labor) that ensures safe and healthy working conditions for Americans by enforcing standards and providing workplace safety training.

  • OCSP (Online Certificate Status Protocol)

    OCSP (Online Certificate Status Protocol) is one of two common schemes used to maintain the security of a server and other network resources.

  • one-time pad

    In cryptography, a one-time pad is a system in which a randomly generated private key is used only once to encrypt a message that is then decrypted by the receiver using a matching one-time pad and key.

  • one-time password (OTP)

    A one-time password (OTP) is an automatically generated numeric or alphanumeric string of characters that authenticates the user for a single transaction or login session.

  • one-time password token (OTP token)

    A one-time password token (OTP token) is a security hardware device or software program that is capable of producing a single-use password or PIN passcode.

  • Open Source Hardening Project

    The Open Source Hardening Project is an initiative of the United States Department of Homeland Security, created to improve the security of open source code. Because the infrastructure of the Internet, financial institutions and many other critcal systems in the U.S. run on open source software, the security of these applications is crucial... (Continued)

  • Open System Authentication (OSA)

    Open System Authentication (OSA) is a process by which a computer could gain access to a wireless network that uses the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol.

  • operational risk

    Operational risk is the risk of losses caused by flawed or failed processes, policies, systems or events that disrupt business operations.

  • OPSEC (operations security)

    OPSEC (operations security) is a security and risk management process and strategy that classifies information, then determines what is required to protect sensitive information and prevent it from getting into the wrong hands.

  • orphan account

    An orphan account, also referred to as an orphaned account, is a user account that can provide access to corporate systems, services and applications but does not have a valid owner.

  • out-of-band authentication

    Out-of-band authentication is a type of two-factor authentication that requires a secondary verification method through a separate communication channel along with the typical ID and password. Out-of-band authentication is often used in financial institutions and other organizations with high security requirements.

  • P

    PA-DSS (Payment Application Data Security Standard)

    Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS) is a set of requirements intended to help software vendors develop secure payment applications for credit card transactions.

  • parameter tampering

    Parameter tampering is a type of web-based cyber attack in which certain parameters in a URL are changed without a user's authorization.

  • pass the hash attack

    A pass the hash attack is an exploit in which an attacker steals a hashed user credential and -- without cracking it -- reuses it to trick an authentication system into creating a new authenticated session on the same network.

  • passphrase

    A passphrase is a sentencelike string of words used for authentication that is longer than a traditional password, easy to remember and difficult to crack.

  • password

    A password is a string of characters used to verify the identity of a user during the authentication process.

  • password cracking

    Password cracking is the process of using an application program to identify an unknown or forgotten password to a computer or network resource.

  • password salting

    Password salting is a technique to protect passwords stored in databases by adding a string of 32 or more characters and then hashing them.

  • passwordless authentication

    Passwordless authentication is a verification process that determines whether someone is, in fact, who they say they are without requiring the person to manually enter a string of characters.

  • Patch Tuesday

    Patch Tuesday is the unofficial name of Microsoft's monthly scheduled release of security fixes for the Windows operating system (OS) and other Microsoft software.

  • payload (computing)

    In computing, a payload is the carrying capacity of a packet or other transmission data unit.

  • PCI assessment

    A PCI assessment is an audit of the 12 credit card transaction compliance requirements required by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

  • PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)

    The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a widely accepted set of policies and procedures intended to optimize the security of credit, debit and cash card transactions and protect cardholders against misuse of their personal information.

  • PCI DSS 12 requirements

    PCI DSS 12 requirements is a set of security controls that businesses are required to implement to protect credit card data and comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

  • PCI DSS compliance (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance)

    Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance is adherence to the set of policies and procedures developed to protect credit, debit and cash card transactions and prevent the misuse of cardholders' personal information.

  • PCI DSS merchant levels

    Merchant levels are used by the payment card industry (PCI) to determine risk levels and determine the appropriate level of security for their businesses. Specifically, merchant levels determine the amount of assessment and security validation that is required for the merchant to pass PCI DSS assessment.

  • PCI Security Standards Council

    The PCI Security Standards Council is an organization created by the major credit card companies in an effort to better protect credit card holder data.

  • PEAP (Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol)

    PEAP (Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol) is a version of EAP, the authentication protocol used in wireless networks and Point-to-Point connections. PEAP is designed to provide more secure authentication for 802.11 WLANs (wireless local area networks) that support 802.1X port access control.

  • Pegasus malware

    Pegasus malware is spyware that can hack any iOS or Android device and steal a variety of data from the infected device, including text messages, emails, key logs, audio and information from installed applications, such as Facebook or Instagram.

  • pen testing (penetration testing)

    A penetration test, also called a pen test or ethical hacking, is a cybersecurity technique that organizations use to identify, test and highlight vulnerabilities in their security posture.

  • personally identifiable information (PII)

    Personally identifiable information (PII) is any data that could potentially identify a specific individual.

  • pharming

    Pharming is a scamming practice in which malicious code is installed on a personal computer or server, misdirecting users to fraudulent websites without their knowledge or consent.

  • phishing

    Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication channels.

  • physical security

    Physical security is the protection of personnel, hardware, software, networks and data from physical actions and events that could cause serious loss or damage to an enterprise, agency or institution.

  • PKI (public key infrastructure)

    PKI (public key infrastructure) is the underlying framework that enables entities -- users and servers -- to securely exchange information using digital certificates.

  • plaintext

    In cryptography, plaintext is usually ordinary readable text before it is encrypted into ciphertext or after it is decrypted.

  • Plundervolt

    Plundervolt is a method of hacking that involves depriving an Intel chip of power so that processing errors occur.

  • polymorphic virus

    A polymorphic virus is a harmful, destructive or intrusive type of malware that can change or 'morph,' making it difficult to detect with antimalware programs.

  • possession factor

    The possession factor, in a security context, is a category of user authentication credentials based on items that the user has with them, typically a hardware device such as a security token or a mobile phone used in conjunction with a software token.

  • post-quantum cryptography

    Post-quantum cryptography, also called quantum encryption, is the development of cryptographic systems for classical computers that are able to prevent attacks launched by quantum computers.

  • potentially unwanted program (PUP)

    A potentially unwanted program (PUP) is a program that may be unwanted, despite the possibility that users consented to download it.

  • Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)

    Pretty Good Privacy or PGP was a popular program used to encrypt and decrypt email over the internet, as well as authenticate messages with digital signatures and encrypted stored files.

  • principle of least privilege (POLP)

    The principle of least privilege (POLP) is a concept in computer security that limits users' access rights to only what are strictly required to do their jobs.

  • privacy impact assessment (PIA)

    A privacy impact assessment (PIA) is an analysis of how an individual's or groups of individuals' personally identifiable information is collected, used, shared and maintained by an organization.

  • private CA (private PKI)

    Private CA stands for private certification authority and is an enterprise specific CA that functions like a publicly trusted CA but is exclusively run by or for the enterprise.

  • private key

    A private key, also known as a secret key, is a variable in cryptography that is used with an algorithm to encrypt and decrypt data.

  • privilege creep

    Privilege creep is the gradual accumulation of access rights beyond what an individual needs to do his job. In IT, a privilege is an identified right that a particular end user has to a particular system resource, such as a file folder.

  • privileged access management (PAM)

    Privileged access management (PAM) is the combination of tools and technology used to secure, control and monitor access to an organization's critical information and resources.

  • privileged identity management (PIM)

    Privileged identity management (PIM) is the monitoring and protection of superuser accounts in an organization’s IT environments. Oversight is necessary so that the greater access abilities of super control accounts are not misused or abused. Unmanaged superuser accounts can lead to loss or theft of sensitive corporate information, or malware that can compromise the network.

  • probe

    In telecommunications generally, a probe is an action taken or an object used for the purpose of learning something about the state of the network.

  • promiscuous mode

    In computer networking, promiscuous mode is a mode of operation, as well as a security, monitoring and administration technique.

  • proof of concept (PoC) exploit

    A proof of concept (PoC) exploit is a non-harmful attack against a computer or network. PoC exploits are not meant to cause harm, but to show security weaknesses within software.

Networking
CIO
Enterprise Desktop
Cloud Computing
ComputerWeekly.com
Close