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The A-Z of Cyber Security

Regardless of the size of your business, cyber threats are on the increase. With this in mind, we’ve created an A-Z of Cyber Security so you can familiarise yourself with key terms in the field of cyber security.

A – Adware

Adware refers to any advertising banners displayed within software applications. Extra code is written into the software by its author, which serves up the ads as the application is running.

B – Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR)

The strategy, process, and planning that will come into action following a failure of IT systems. IT systems and data can fail for a number of reasons, including a malware or ransomware attack, theft of equipment, fire or flood, or connectivity issues. Therefore, you will require a business continuity and disaster recovery plan in order to keep you business functioning as normal. If you can’t access your data and systems, you risk going out of business.

C – Cryptocurrency

A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses strong cryptography to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets. Cryptocurrency is often used by ransomware attackers who demand financial recompense in exchange for your files or data in the form of cryptocurrency.

D – Data Theft

Data theft is one of the hottest topics in cyber security at the moment and is an issue affecting businesses of all sizes, in all industries.

Several high-profile companies have fallen victim to data breaches in the last few months, thrusting the issue into the spotlight for businesses, governments, and consumers alike.

E – Encryption

Encryption is a form of cryptography that prevents unauthorised parties from reading a message that has been coded. It is done using algorithms to create a ciphertext that can only be decrypted by those that have the correct key.

F – Firewall

A firewall is the first line of defence in any cyber security system and is designed to block access from unauthorised users or programs to your computer. It is essential to keep this up to date. Remember – Not all firewalls are created equally so do your research and make sure your network security (firewall) is protecting you fully.

G – General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR ensures the safety and responsible handling of data is a legal requirement for ALL organisations and is now a consistent law across Europe, with financial penalties for those who mishandle data.

H – Honeypot

A cyber security measure to entice hackers into a computer system with the intention of capturing malware, detect attacks, or provide fake network services. A honeypot functions with the intention of monitoring the motives and tactics of hackers by ‘baiting’ a system to make it look genuine and potentially valuable.

I – Incremental Backup

Quicker than a full backup, an incremental backup only picks up on files that have been updated or added since the previous backup.

Backups are vital (and not uncommon for businesses these days) as they protect files, software, and data from physical perils (such as power surges) and cyber threats (like ransomware attacks). It is important to update backups on a regular basis, therefore incremental backups can be a good solution for those who have large amounts of data to protect. Not all backup systems offer incremental backup so it is worth looking at before you invest in one for your business.

J – Jamming

Jamming is the malicious interruption of communication. This is usually achieved by flooding the system or by attacking protocols. It may be used as a smokescreen for other attacks.

K – Keylogging

Keystroke logging or ‘keylogging’ refers to the process of recording all keystrokes on a computer keyboard. A keylogger is the software or hardware device that logs the strokes. These are used by cyber criminals as a means to acquire a victim’s credentials.

L – Least Privilege

The principle of least privilege is an important part of maintaining cyber security by granting access to information and functions on a strictly ‘need to know’ basis within a particular network

M – Malware

Malware, or ‘malicious software’, is a program or piece of code implanted into a computer system for criminal purposes. It’s also known as a computer virus.

N – Network

A computer network is a group of linked computers and/or other IT systems and devices that are able to communicate with each other and share resources. Once one of these systems is successfully hacked the devices within the network could be compromised. This can be prevented with network security.

O – One-Time Password (OTP)

In some cases, a simple username and password combination is deemed insufficient and extra layers of security are applied, such as two-factor authentication (2FA). One approach to 2FA is the one-time password (OTP), which is only valid for a single login. This reduces the risk around a stolen password being reused. OTPs are usually generated on a small device contained in a keyring fob or by a smartphone app.

P – Patch management

Patch management is more relevant today than ever. We’re constantly seeing ransomware take over systems that haven’t been fully patched, and it’s costing businesses millions – not just in payments, but also because of the downtime suffered during an attack. Keep your software updated and patches implemented as soon as they are released.

Q – Quarantine

Quarantine is a function performed by antivirus software, where a file showing signs of infection is isolated on a computer’s hard disk. This isolation makes sure that the file, if infected, can’t harm or further infect the host computer.

R – Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that allows hackers to hold a user to ransom by restricting access to an infected computer system. Arguably one of the most prevalent and dangerous types of cyber attacks that businesses need to protect themsleves against.

S – Spyware

This is a form of malware that infiltrates your computer or device and passes on information to an unauthorised third party. Spyware is both dangerous and disastrous. The end user doesn’t even need to interact with the spyware for it to be deployed and activated. Once it is in action, the hacker can take control of the microphone, speakers, camera and other functions to capture information.

T – Trojan

Named after the Trojan horse of Greek mythology, a Trojan is a form of malware that pretends to be something legitimate in order for you to download it. A Trojan actually opens a ‘backdoor’ on your device, potentially allowing an unauthorised user access to your computer’s data and functions.

U – Unauthorised access

Illegal access to a website, program, server, service or data. It’s more popularly referred to as hacking.

V – Virus

A computer virus is a form of malware that replicates itself once it is on your computer, modifying or corrupting existing programs and files until the computer is thoroughly infected. Up-to-date antivirus software is essential to protect your system against this kind of attack.

W – WannaCry

WannaCry was the big cyber security story of 2017. WannaCry incorporated a Windows exploit known as “EternalBlue” that enabled it to self-propagate, infecting other computers on a network, and spreading across the internet. Read more about WannaCry: Two Years on.

X – Cross-site scripting (XSS)

Cross Site Scripting (XSS) is one of the most commonly used methods to attack visitors to a website. XSS works by exploiting vulnerabilities in web applications that permit attackers to insert their own code on to other people’s websites. This could permit attackers to steal other users’ credentials or cookies, allowing them to access their accounts and/or impersonate them.


YARA is an open source initiative, a tool firms can use to identify and flag malware. While many traditional signature-based detection technologies rely on matching file hashes, YARA additionally works by creating rules that instead flag files based on matching code strings.

Z – Zombie

A zombie is an internet-connected computer that has been compromised by a hacker or virus, and can be controlled remotely in order to carry out malicious activities.

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