Glossary Of Cyber Security Terms


Antivirus – Software that is designed to detect, stop and remove viruses.

Authentication – Verifying that someone is who they claim to be when they access a computer or online service.


Backing up – Making a copy of data stored on a computer or server in case the original data is damaged or lost.

Bring your own device (BYOD) – When personally owned mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets are authorised for use in the workplace.

Broadband – High-speed data transmission system capable of transporting multiple traffic types.


CEO fraud – When a fraudster purporting to be a senior member of an organisation emails the firm’s cashier or an employee responsible for finance, requesting them to make a bank transfer to a third party. The fraudster may email from a look-a-like email address, so the employee assumes it is a genuine instruction.

Cloud – Where shared resources are stored and accessed, usually online instead of locally.

Cyber – A broad term encompassing the technological elements of modern society, from computers and emails to websites and smart devices

Cyber-attack – An attack on the technology used by an individual or organisation, using technical and social engineering techniques to gain unauthorised access to data and systems.



Encryption – The conversion of data into a code in order to prevent unauthorised access.


Firewall – Hardware or software designed to act as a barrier between a trusted network and an untrusted network by controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic.



Hacker – Someone who violates computer security to gain unauthorised access to data.

Hard disk – Permanent storage medium within a computer.



Identification – The process of recognising a particular user of a computer or service.

Invoice fraud – A fraudster obtains details of a firm’s suppliers (for example, IT suppliers) and emails the finance department, purportedly as the supplier, asking for invoice remittances to be sent to a new bank.

Internet service provider (ISP) – Company that provides access to the internet and further services.



Keyboard logger – A virus that records keystrokes to secretly capture confidential information (such as credit card details).


Local area network (LAN) – Communications network linking multiple computers within a geographical location such as an office building.



Macro virus – Malware that infects common applications (eg word processing programs) and causes a sequence of actions to be performed when the application is started.

Malware – Software intended to infiltrate and damage computers (abbreviation of malicious software).


No hang-up – Fraudsters purporting to be trustworthy may suggest you hang up and ring your bank or the police immediately on a trusted number. However, they don’t disconnect the call, so when you dial the genuine phone number you are still connected to the fraudster or an accomplice who pursues the scam.




Phishing – The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from a trustworthy source in order to induce individuals to reveal sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and payment card numbers, online. Phishing is often associated with spam emails.




Smart device – A device that has internet connectivity and the ability to run computer programs or apps. Includes smartphones and tablets.

Spyware – Malware that secretly passes on information about a computer user’s activities to an external party.


Trojan – A type of virus disguised as legitimate software that can be used to hack into the victim’s computer.

Two-factor authentication – Obtaining evidence of identity by two independent means, eg knowing a password and receiving a pass code via a mobile phone.




Virus – A piece of code loaded onto a computer without the user’s knowledge, capable of copying itself and causing damage or disruption.

Vishing – Using telephone calls to dupe someone into providing personal details (abbreviation of ‘voice phishing’). It is often accompanied by knowledge of transactions gained during phishing.


Wide area network (WAN) – Communications network linking computers across different geographical locations.