Account harvesting

The illegal practice of collecting email accounts from information in the public domain or by using software to search for email addresses stored locally on a computer. Account harvesting is one of the foundations for spamming.


Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is a data communications technology that enables faster data transmission over copper telephone lines than a conventional dial-up modem can provide.


Software that is covertly installed on your computer and designed to deliver advertisements or other content which encourages you to purchase goods or services.


Software that is designed to prevent infection from computer viruses.

Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies

A type of digital currency which uses encryption techniques to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.


A single compromised computer (a robot computer), sometimes called a zombie.


A network of compromised computers, also called a zombie network.

Botnet master

The individual (or group) who controls a botnet remotely, also called a bot-herder.


A software application that enables the retrieval and presentation of websites and other internet resources.

Browser hijacking

A symptom of a malware infection (particularly ransomware and scareware) in which your browser persistently redirects to fraudulent web sites, usually in an attempt to extort money.


Internet predators who create fake online identities to lure people into emotional or romantic relationships for personal or financial gain.


A string of text stored by your web browser enabling a website to remember you and your personal settings.

Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attack

An attack that 'floods' a system with useless data or requests for data in order to overload it.

Dictionary attack

A technique used for finding a password by attempting a search with a large volume of words from a specialized dictionary of commonly used passwords and normal words.

Digital certificate

A way for browsers to verify the identity and authenticity of a website. A digital certificate is issued to a website by a trusted third party certificate authority.

Distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS)

A denial of service attack coming from multiple sources at once.

Domain Name System (DNS)

A hierarchical naming system for resources connected to the internet. The DNS translates domain names to numerical identifiers (IP addresses) which are readable to networking equipment, allowing the routing of data from one point on the internet to another.


The process of transforming documents and files for safe transmission over a public network. The information is then converted or deciphered back into its original format.


Hardware or software which monitors information going in and out of your computer or network.


Copyrighted computer software which is made available for use free of charge, for an unlimited time.


Someone who attempts to gain unauthorised access to a computer system, often for fraudulent purposes.


The mechanical parts of a computer system, including the central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, and mouse, as well as other equipment like printers and speakers and mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones.


An area in which wi-fi is available to the general public as a wireless local area network, as in a coffee shop.

Identity theft

Use of personal details by someone else to deceive, to support some type of crime, or even just to play a joke. Identity theft is a form of identity crime (where somebody uses a false identity to commit a crime).

Internet Service Provider (ISP)

A company that provides access to the internet.

Keystroke logger

A malware program hidden on a computer that records and 'logs' each key you press. It is used to record your personal data, e.g. usernames, passwords, credit card and bank account numbers which is then sent to the malware operator without your knowledge.

Like farming

Use of social engineering, such as compelling stories or photos, to persuade large number of users to 'like' a social networking page. Many of the stories are fake, and are part of a scam which makes money from the exposure generated by people liking and hence sharing the page.

Malicious software (malware)

A catch-all term used to describe software designed to be installed into a computer system for the purpose of causing harm to you or others. This would include viruses, spyware, trojans, worms, etc.


A device that is used to connect your computer to a network (such as the internet) over a long distance.


A padlock display in a browser is intended to indicate a secure connection or website, although it may not always be a reliable indicator. Users should look instead for 'HTTPS' at the beginning of the address bar and check the website's SSL certificate.


A secret word, phrase or series of characters that is used for authentication.


A fix for a software program, also known as a software update.

Peer-to-peer file sharing network (P2P)

A decentralised file sharing system. Files are stored on and served by the personal computers of the users.


A way of harvesting personal information, where a hacker puts a malicious code on your computer that redirects you to a fake site.

Phishing (email/website)

Fraudulent email messages or web sites used to gain access to personal information for illegal purposes such as transferring funds or purchasing goods over the internet.


A small window, which suddenly appears (pops-up) in the foreground of the normal screen.

Privacy settings

Settings which control how a user's data is shared with other people or systems. Privacy settings apply to web browsers and social networking services.


Malware which handicaps computer functionality, e.g. through browser hijacking or encrypting personal data, and offers to restore the functionality for a fee.

Remote access

Communication with a computer or network from a remote location through a link such as the internet or mobile phone.


A software system that consists of one or more programs designed to obscure the fact that a system has been compromised.


A device that connects a local network to the internet and converts a public IP address to private addresses on the local network.


A commonly used term to describe a confidence trick, relying on email or a website to deliver the trick to unsuspecting users.


Malware that causes frightening messages to appear (for example, that your computer is infected with malware or that you are guilty of a crime), and attempts to extort money from you to resolve the alleged issue. Similar to ransomware.

Security symbols

A secure webpage will have two symbols - a closed padlock image at the top or bottom of the browser window (although this may not be visible on a mobile device), and 'https://' in the address bar. Modern browsers also colour code the address bar to provide a visual cue that the page is secure. These signs help to indicate the presence of a digital certificate, which can provide a way for you to verify the identity and authenticity of a website.

Service Set Identifier (SSID)

The Service Set Identifier (SSID) is the name given to identify a particular wi-fi network. The SSID is broadcast by the wireless access point (wireless router) and can be detected by other wireless-enabled devices in range of the wireless access point. In some cases SSIDs are hidden, making them invisible to wi-fi clients.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL)

The most widely used security protocol on the internet, used for online banking and shopping sites. Website digital certificates are commonly implemented through SSL. The presence of 'https' in the browser address bar demonstrates that the connection between your computer and the website is encrypted. However, 'https' can still be present when connecting to a website with an invalid digital certificate.

Social engineering

Psychological manipulation of people in order to achieve a hidden goal. A wide variety of social engineering techniques are used in activities such as fraud, phishing and like farming.


Unsolicited email. Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or illegal services. Users are advised that if an offer in an email appears too good to be true then it probably is and should not be actioned in any way.


Software that is covertly installed on a computing device and takes information from it without your consent or the knowledge of the user.

Trojan horse

Malicious code that is hidden in a computer program or file that may appear to be useful, interesting, or at the very least harmless to you when using your computer. When this computer program or file is run, the malicious code is also triggered, resulting in the set up or installation of malware.


Universal Resource Locator. The technical term for the address (location) of an internet resource on the internet such as a website or image within a website.

USB stick

Universal Serial Bus. A small piece of hardware that stores data, sometimes called a jump drive, thumb drive or flash drive.


Malware designed to infect and corrupt a computer and to copy itself. Viruses can disrupt programs installed on a computer.


The routing of real time voice conversations (telephone calls) over the internet rather than over an analogue or circuit-switched network.


A set of wireless communication protocols that can transmit traffic to wi-fi-enabled devices within a local area. A wi-fi-enabled device such as a laptop or mobile device can connect to the internet when within range of a wireless network connected to the internet. An area covered by one or more wi-fi access points is commonly called a hotspot.


A self-replicating virus that does not alter files but resides in active memory and duplicates itself.


A compromised computer. See Bot.

From the Department of Communications Stay Smart Online initiative.

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