Cyber Security Awareness in 2019: Acronyms and Their Uses

Categories: Cyber Security Awareness Month Security

Often, IT professionals get (unfairly!) accused of excessive use of acronyms. FYI: DYK that in DASNR @ OSU we love aconyms too, IMHO. LOL! But cyber security is something we all should take seriously. In this article, we define several phrases or terms you may have seen – maybe some are new to you – and provide a short explanation of their intended harm. In our summary we provide advice on how to guard against the problems. 

Botnets – a vicious network of infected computers that act under the control of the hacker to spread spam email messages, malware, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.  

Cryptomining – a legitimate looking app is installed to the computer then allows a hacker to remotely harness the computer’s processing power to mine cryptocurrencies. 

DDoS – a botnet army causes a web server to fail due to an overload of requests thereby effectively shutting down the web service. 

Hacking – the act of someone or something gaining unauthorized access to your computer or device through exploits on the computer or device.  

Malvertising – advertising infected with malware

Malware – hackers gain control over your computer or device through infected software downloaded and installed on the device.  

Pharming – visiting a malicious and illegitimate website posing as a legitimate one. When the site visitor clicks on the page, they are redirected to a scam.  

Phishing – similar to pharming, phishing is a method to lure unsuspecting visitors to divulge confidential information such as passwords and banking details, often being presented in a manner that looks official or intimidating to elicit an immediate action.  

Ransomware – a type of malware that infects the computer or device and restricts access to files, demanding payment to regain access.  

Spam – mass distribution of unsolicited messages and advertisements. 

Spyware – software installed on a device that allows personal information to be collected and sent to a remote site; normally uncontrollable pop-up messages are indicative of spyware or malware.  

Viruses – similar to malware, infected email attachments and software downloaded then installed from the internet can infect the device. Once infected, the device can display unwanted ads, scan for personal information, hijack your web browser, and cause other problems.  

Whaling – a specific type of phishing attack that targets high-profile employees in order to steal sensitive information from a company or organization.

Wifi Eavesdropping – a hacker can ‘listen’ on insecure WiFi networks, thereby accessing personal information sent over the network and possibly accessing your device.  

Worms – worms can be spread through the network and attack vulnerable computers and devices that are not updated, effectively shutting down parts of the network.  

How can you protect your computer and device? In nearly every situation described above, the solution is straightforward: 

  • Keep your computer and device updated. When Microsoft, Apple, or Google release updates, make sure your computer or device is being updated. 
  • Install, activate, and keep updated an anti-malware software application.  
  • Use adblock extensions with your browser. 
  • Use a spam filter with your email application. 
  • Before clicking on links in email messages, notice their address and confirm the link is consistent with the sender; look for inconsistencies in the message that would be characteristic of a scammer’s message. 
  • Use good passwords. 

For more information or if you have questions about information presented in this article, feel free to contact Dwayne Hunter or others in DASNR Information Technology.

Additional material and links:

Written by: , DASNR IT

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