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.

  • U

    user authentication

    User authentication verifies the identity of a user attempting to gain access to a network or computing resource by authorizing a human-to-machine transfer of credentials during interactions on a network to confirm a user's authenticity.

  • user behavior analytics (UBA)

    User behavior analytics (UBA) is the tracking, collecting and assessing of user data and activities using monitoring systems.

  • V

    virtual firewall

    A virtual firewall is a firewall device or service that provides network traffic filtering and monitoring for virtual machines (VMs) in a virtualized environment.

  • virtual local area network hopping (VLAN hopping)

    Virtual local area network hopping (VLAN hopping) is a method of attacking the network resources of a VLAN by sending packets to a port not usually accessible from an end system.

  • virus (computer virus)

    A computer virus is a type of malware that attaches itself to a program or file. A virus can replicate and spread across an infected system and it often propagates to other systems, much like a biological virus spreads from host to host.

  • virus hoax

    A virus hoax is a false warning about a computer virus.

  • voice squatting

    Voice squatting is an attack vector for voice user interfaces, or VUIs, that exploits homonyms -- words that sound the same, but are spelled differently -- and input errors -- words that are mispronounced.

  • vulnerability assessment

    A vulnerability assessment is the process of defining, identifying, classifying and prioritizing vulnerabilities in computer systems, applications and network infrastructures.

  • vulnerability disclosure

    Vulnerability disclosure is the practice of reporting security flaws in computer software or hardware.

  • vulnerability management

    Vulnerability management is the process of identifying, assessing, remediating and mitigating security vulnerabilities in software and computer systems.

  • W

    walled garden

    On the internet, a walled garden is an environment that controls the user's access to network-based content and services.

  • WannaCry ransomware

    WannaCry ransomware is a cyber attack that spreads by exploiting vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system.

  • watering hole attack

    A watering hole attack is a security exploit in which the attacker seeks to compromise a specific group of end users by infecting websites that members of the group are known to visit.

  • Web application firewall (WAF)

    A web application firewall (WAF) is a firewall that monitors, filters and blocks Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) traffic as it travels to and from a website or web application.

  • WebAuthn API

    The Web Authentication API (WebAuthn API) is a credential management application program interface (API) that lets web applications authenticate users without storing their passwords on servers.

  • whaling attack (whaling phishing)

    A whaling attack, also known as whaling phishing or a whaling phishing attack, is a specific type of phishing attack that targets high-profile employees, such as the CEO or CFO, in order to steal sensitive information from a company.

  • white hat hacker

    A white hat hacker -- or ethical hacker -- is an individual who uses hacking skills to identify security vulnerabilities in hardware, software or networks.

  • Wi-Fi Pineapple

    A Wi-Fi Pineapple is a wireless auditing platform from Hak5 that allows network security administrators to conduct penetration tests.

  • wildcard certificate

    A wildcard certificate is a digital certificate that is applied to a domain and all its subdomains.

  • Windows Defender Exploit Guard

    Microsoft Windows Defender Exploit Guard is antimalware software that provides intrusion protection for Windows 10 OS users.

  • Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)

    Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is a security protocol, specified in the IEEE Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) standard, 802.11b.

  • WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI)

    WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI) is a wireless local area network security standard officially supported by the Chinese government.

  • WPA3

    WPA3, also known as Wi-Fi Protected Access 3, is the third iteration of a security certification standard developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

  • X

    X.509 certificate

    An X.509 certificate is a digital certificate that uses the widely accepted international X.509 public key infrastructure (PKI) standard to verify that a public key belongs to the user, computer or service identity contained within the certificate.

  • Y

    YubiKey

    YubiKey is a security token that enables users to add a second authentication factor to online services from tier 1 vendor partners, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce.

  • Z

    What is the zero-trust security model?

    The zero-trust security model is a cybersecurity approach that denies access to an enterprise's digital resources by default and grants authenticated users and devices tailored, siloed access to only the applications, data, services and systems they need to do their jobs.

  • zero-day (computer)

    A zero-day is a security flaw in software, hardware or firmware that is unknown to the party or parties responsible for patching or otherwise fixing the flaw.

  • Zoombombing

    Zoombombing is a type of cyber-harassment in which an unwanted and uninvited user or group of such users interrupts online meetings on the Zoom video conference app.

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