In this day in age, it is hard to go one day without hearing about the latest IT security issues or computer scams. Whether it is through the television, newspaper, or even an online news site, these stories are creeping into our daily lives. In an effort to keep you informed with the latest security terms and risks to your sensitive data, here are ten of the most common security terms in use today:

  1. Adware – Software that generates pop-up advertisements or links on Web pages that are not part of the page’s intended design. These programs can also modify your system configuration by changing your home page and/or adding shortcuts to your desktop. The programmers of these applications are compensated for bringing traffic to their ad servers and generally do not have malicious intent other than displaying the unauthorized ads.
  2. Spyware – Software that collects and transmits user specific information, such as which web sites are visited, how often they are visited, and which advertisements you respond to. All of this is generally done without the user’s knowledge. Spyware can infect a system in a number of ways, but usually occurs while installing an application (by simply clicking on a hyperlink or pop-up window) or by simply loading a non-mainstream web page.
  3. Malware – Software that purposely disrupts the normal operation of your system, causes instability, or changes computer security settings. Examples include: computer viruses, worms, and Trojans.
  4. Virus – Code written with the sole purpose of propagating itself. A virus is spread from computer to computer by attaching itself to another object. A virus may damage hardware, software, data, or cause a denial of service by consuming local system or network resources.
  5. Worm – A self-sufficient program similar to a virus, but it does not rely on other programs for distribution. The same risks of damage apply for worms that apply to viruses.
  6. Trojan – Programs that appear to be harmless and beneficial but actually contain malicious code designed to exploit or damage the computer system on which it is installed. Trojans are commonly found as email attachments or bundled with other software installation programs.
  7. Social Engineering – The practice of obtaining non-public or confidential information by manipulating legitimate users. A social engineer commonly uses the telephone or the Internet to trick people into revealing sensitive information that would normally be against their better judgment or company policy.
  8. Phishing -“ A form of social engineering that utilizes official looking emails or instant messages to defraud the user of sensitive personal information such as passwords, social security information, and credit card details.
  9. Pharming – A technique used to defraud users of sensitive information that works by exploiting a vulnerability in the DNS server software that allows the attacker to redirect valid traffic to a fraudulent site. DNS servers are the machines that resolve internet names ( to their real addresses. They act as the “signposts” of the Internet.
  10. Keylogger – A hardware or software device that captures all of the user’s keystrokes. The hardware device can be attached to your keyboard cable or can even be installed inside the keyboard, thus making it invisible. The software versions can be distributed as a Trojan program, virus, or worm and are capable of emailing the captured keystrokes to predefined email addresses.

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