Fraud Terminology



  • Anti-virus Program - Scans for known computer viruses. Some work automatically; others must be run periodically. It prompts you to clean, quarantine or delete the virus (or file containing it).

  • Browser - A software program that allows the user to find and read encoded documents in a form suitable for display, esp. such a program for use on the World Wide Web.

  • Cookie - Code a site downloads to a computer to track preferences and behavior (e.g., ID/password). While usually not a threat, people dislike that third parties can log their viewing habits.

  • DLL - A Dynamic Library Link is a file that contains small functions common to many programs. Malware writers may add dangerous code to .dll files to trick software programs into loading things.

  • DNS - When you type in a site, your computer calls your ISP's Domain Name Server for the numerical address. Hackers try to change your settings to point to a DNS that they control.

  • Driver - Software that works with your operating system to control a piece of hardware (e.g., monitor, printer). Malware installs bad drivers to steal data, record keystrokes, etc.

  • Email Spoofing - An email activity in which the sender address and other parts of the email header are altered to appear as though the e-mail originated from a different source.

  • Encryption - Security feature to prevent unauthorized users from reading an email or file. For instance, reputable merchants encrypt data (e.g., credit card details) when you're shopping on their sites.

  • Firewall - Hardware or software designed to filter online traffic. It uses security monitoring measures to ensure only authorized users are allowed to access systems and networks.

  • Hacker - A good hacker tests programs, systems and networks to assist in security development. A bad hacker breeches network or system security to gain authorized access.

  • Hardware - The mechanical, magnetic, electronic, and electrical devices comprising a computer system, as the CPU, disk drives, keyboard, or screen.

  • Homepage - The initial page of a site on the World Wide Web.

  • ISP (Internet Service Provider) - A company that offers access to the Internet and to e-mail, usually for a monthly fee.

  • Identity Theft - The fraudulent appropriation and use of someone's identifying or personal data or documents, as a credit card.

  • Keylogger - Hardware or software that records clicks and button pushes. Parents can use it to monitor online activity; hackers use it to collect passwords, or account and credit card numbers.

  • Keystroke Logging - The action of tracking (or logging) the keys struck on a keyboard, typically in a covert manner so that the person using the keyboard is unaware that their actions are being monitored.

  • Link - A segment of text or a graphical item that serves as a cross-reference between parts of a hypertext document or between files or hypertext documents.

  • Malware - Malicious software or code, such as a virus, worm or spyware. It can be transmitted via email and attachments, bogus sites and programs downloaded from non-secure locations.

  • Operating Systems - Software designed to control the hardware of a specific data-processing system in order to allow users and application programs to make use of it.

  • Patch (farming) - A piece of software designed to fix problems with, or update a computer program or its supporting data. This includes fixing security vulnerabilities[1] and other bugs, and improving the usability or performance.

  • Pharming (farming) - Intense form of phishing involving spyware. Users type in a Web address and are unknowingly redirected to a fake site that looks similar but harvests personal information.

  • Phishing (fishing) - Scam based on social engineering. Criminals send official-looking email requesting urgent action to lure you into disclosing sensitive details via a phony link or site.

  • Pop-up Blocker - Any software or application that disables any pop-up, pop-over, or pop-under advertisement window that you would see while using a Web browser.

  • Pop-up Ads - Unsolicited advertising in a new browser window. Criminals create pop-up ads that seem to be from a trusted source and ask for personal details or download spyware, when clicked.

  • Privacy Policy - Legal document that discloses some or all of the ways a party gathers, uses, discloses and manages a customer's data. The exact contents of a privacy policy will depend upon the applicable law and may need to address the requirements of multiple countries or jurisdictions.

  • Registry - Part of Windows that stores configuration information. Malicious programs may access registries to change security settings and help hackers take control of your computer.

  • Secure Socket Layer (SSL) - A commonly-used protocol for managing the security of a message transmission on the Internet.

  • Service Pack - A collection of updates, fixes and/or enhancements to a software program delivered in the form of a single installable package.

  • Signature - A program's electronic fingerprint. By comparing it with a list of known signatures, anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are able to identify known threats.

  • Skimming - A type of fraud that captures the track data from the magnetic stripe on a credit card, Debit Card or ATM card via a device that is illegally added to the ATM swiper.

  • Smishing - An attempt to get cellular phone and mobile device owners to download a Trojan horse, virus or other malware by clinking on a link included in a SMS text message.

  • Social Engineering - Manipulating users into giving confidential data, by exploiting trust (i.e., criminal pretends to be your financial institution) or common behavior (i.e., clicking email links).

  • Software - Written programs or procedures or rules and associated documentation pertaining to the operation of a computer system and that are stored in read/write memory.

  • Spam - Junk, unsolicited email sent to masses of people to advertise products or services.

  • Spyware - A program loaded secretly that may seem legitimate. It tracks computer activity, gathers personal details, degrades performance, corrupts data or floods you with advertising.

  • Tab-nabbing - A computer exploit and phishing attack, which persuades users to submit their login details and passwords to popular Web sites by impersonating those sites and convincing the user that the site is genuine.

  • Trojan Horse - A malicious program that are often hidden within legitimate programs and secretly executed when the legitimate program is installed or run on the user's computer.

  • Virus - A malicious code or program that can be carried by any attachment. Such an executable file, when opened, copies itself and uses up memory to damage software or hardware.

  • Worm - A program that replicates itself within a network to hijack or shut down systems.

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