Vocabulary For Some Well-Known Computer Security Violations


When you are dealing with computer security issues (which most of us are on a daily basis), it’s important to know the jargon. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common (yet relatively unknown) terms in the computer security world. Memorize these words so you can clearly explain your problems to your computer guy and even “nerd-out” with the programmers at work.

419 Scam

You’ve seen the e-mails asking for money transfers or upfront payments in exchange for a big payout down the road, perhaps from the estate of a dead billionaire. These scams are known as advance-fee fraud, and are often referred to as 419 scams. Since these scams often originate in Nigeria, the name is derived from the section of Nigerian law that deals with fraud — Section 419.


Spoofing is falsifying information on the Web. It could include using a false e-mail address as the return sender of an e-mail. It could also include falsely portraying an address bar or URL to make a site seem innocent. There are other instances (such as spoofing logos, links, or even entire Web sites) where the victim can’t see the real danger behind the curtain.


This is the term used to refer to the way hackers may gain access to your computer. The “backdoor” is left open when a piece of malware is installed to allow remote access to your machine.

Trojan Horse Attack

Trojan Horse programs appear to be one thing, but include undesired, malicious components that are released upon delivery. They may claim to be a game, photo, video or just about anything. The name comes from the Greek legend of the attack on Troy.


A keylogger is a program that monitors keystrokes on a specific machine. Hackers use the keystroke history to discover passwords or other sensitive information. These programs are often a part of larger Trojan Horse attacks.


Bot is short for robot, and it refers to programs that filter through the Internet gathering information for their masters. Many times, bots are quite useful (i.e., Google search bots). Other times, a bot can be designed to spread maliciously from one computer to another.

White Hats

These are the good guys. White Hats are programmers who discover flaws in software and/or processes and report their findings to security professionals. Their testing helps create more secure systems with fewer vulnerabilities.

Drive-By Downloading

This is the process hackers use to automatically install software (usually spyware or adware) when someone visits a Web page.

E-mail Bombing

E-mail bombs send so much e-mail to a single mail client that they succeed in shutting down the system. These can also be coordinated attacks on a certain business, school or domain.

There are many other terms that relate to computer security. As you keep yourself informed, you’ll learn many more. If you are experiencing difficulties with your computer security, give the techs at Computer Problem Specialists a call at (928) 468-0000.

The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be. This is a fight we can win.


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