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Cybersecurity Glossary

Agent — A program that performs some information gathering or processing task in the background. Typically, an agent is given a very small and well-defined task.

ARPANET — The precursor to the Internet, ARPANET was a large wide-area network created by the United States Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA). UC Santa Barbara was one of the first nodes on the network.

Authentication — Verifying the identity of a user, process, or device, often as a prerequisite to allowing access to resources in an information system.

Cyberattack — An attack, via cyberspace, targeting an enterprise’s use of cyberspace for the purpose of disrupting, disabling, destroying, or maliciously controlling a computing environment/infrastructure; or destroying the integrity of the data or stealing controlled information

Denial of Service (DoS) — A type of attack on a network that is designed to bring the network to its knees by flooding it with useless traffic.

Hacker — Unauthorized user who attempts to or gains access to an information system.

Firewall — A system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network.

Log file — A file that lists actions that have occurred. For example, Web servers maintain log files listing every request made to the server.

Malicious code — Malicious code is the term used to describe any code in any part of a software system or script that is intended to cause undesired effects, security breaches or damage to a system.

Malware — Short for malicious software, malware is software designed specifically to damage or disrupt a system, such as a virus or a Trojan horse.

Network — A network is a group of two or more computer systems linked together. Computers on a network are sometimes called nodes. Computers and devices that allocate resources for a network are called servers.

Phishing – The act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.

Rootkit — A set of tools used by an attacker after gaining root-level access to a host computer to conceal the attacker’s activities on the host and permit the attacker to maintain root-level access to the host through covert means.

Virus — A computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer without permission or knowledge of the user. A virus might corrupt or delete data on a computer, use email programs to spread itself to other computers, or even erase everything on a hard disk.

Vulnerability — An unintended flaw in software code or a system that leaves it open to the potential for exploitation in the form of unauthorized access or malicious behavior

Zombie — A computer that has been implanted with a daemon or system agent that puts it under the control of a malicious hacker without the knowledge of the computer owner. Zombies are used by malicious hackers to launch DoS attacks.

Sources: Webopedia and National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce