Data security glossary

Look Up Data Security Terms

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Can’t find the term that you need to identify a system or process in the field of data security? Look up the definition here in our handy glossary. We will work to add to and update this list of technical terminology as needed over time.


Address Resolution Protocol (ARP)

ARP is a communication protocol utilized for mapping IP network addresses associated with a given internet layer address, typically an IPv4 address.

Ad Hoc Network

This is a local area network (LAN) that spontaneously builds as devices are connected. Rather than relying on a base station to coordinate different points, the individual base nodes forward packets to and from each other.


This is a process or finite set of instructions for a computer to solve a certain problem through calculations.

Asymmetric Cryptography

Also known as public key cryptography, it uses two different encryption keys – public and private – to encrypt and decrypt data. The two keys are comprised of large numbers that are paired, yet not identical (asymmetric). The public key can be shared with everyone; the private key is to be kept secret. Data can be encrypted using one key, then decrypted using its pair.


This process identifies a person or system with a particular username and password.

Baseline Security

This refers to the minimum level of security controls required for protecting an IT system related to confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Brute Force

It’s the simplest form of cybercrime involving repetitive serial attempts using every possible password combination to hack into any website. Recently brute force hackers use bots that have been installed maliciously on other computers.

Challenge-Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP)

It is a Point-to-point protocol (PPP) authentication process used to prevent attacks. By using various challenges and responses periodically, it verifies if the router is still communicating with the same host.

Cloud Computing

It is a platform comprised of shared resources enabling access to information and data which is stored on the internet. The cloud makes it possible to share files remotely.

Computer Oracle and Password System (COPS)

This was the first vulnerability scanner for Unix operating systems which was widely used to check a computer system for security holes.


Is a program that starts up with the system and runs continuously in the background and is activated by a specific event or condition.


This type of attack on a website refers to changes that are made to the visual appearance of a page. Defacement is a form of cyber vandalism which is done without the knowledge or permission of the owner.

Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)

This type of strategy is designed to enable ‘business as usual’ in case of a disaster. Disaster recovery plans also set preventive measures to help avoid disasters entirely.

Embedded Cryptography

This is a method of cryptography that is engineered into a piece of equipment or system.


This simply means changing the way data appears so that only authorized parties can access it and those who are not authorized cannot.

End-to-end Encryption

This form of encryption affects data as it passes through a network with the routing information still visible.

File Encryption

This process encrypts individual files on a storage device and allows access to the data only with proper authentication.

Fork Bomb

This describes denial-of-service (DoS) attack which damages Linux-based systems by making infinite copies of a process until it runs out of memory.


Is an operating system with free software which can be copied, modified and distributed.

Graduated Security

This type of security system provides multiple levels of protection based on threats, risks, available technology, support services, time, human concerns, and economics.


This is a name for a skilled computer programmer who works to gain unauthorized access into a network or computer system with the intent to cause damage.

Hybrid Encryption

This method of encryption combines two or more encryption algorithms or processes. Using both asymmetric and symmetric encryption it provides a higher level of security.

Internet Protocol (IP)

IP is a communication protocol utilized for sending datagrams across network boundaries. It has routing function which allows inter-networking which is basically the foundation of the Internet.

Internet Protocol Security (IPsec)

IPsec is a protocol set for IP communications; it works by authenticating and encrypting each IP packet within a communication session. It can be used to secure data flows between: a pair of hosts (host-to-host), security gateways (network-to-network), or between a security gateway and a host (network-to-host).


Refers to the action of modifying database fields while maintaining the features of the database that make it important. This can also refer to noise on a line.


This describes the center of a computer operating system, the opposite of the shell (see below). It supports the other components of the operating system and network.


This type of software can identify unprotected areas of a network.

List-Based Access Control

This type of access control uses a list of users and their privileges associated with each object, such as a single file. The list includes an entry for each system user with access privileges.

MAC Address

Describes a numeric value given to all hardware items enabling them to be identified on the network.


Can refer to any type of malicious computer code, including viruses, spyware and adware. Learn more about Risks from Macro-Based Malware.

Network Mapping

This analysis of the physical connectivity of networks can be applied to make an electronic inventory of the systems and the services on a network. As networks become more complex, automated network mapping has become increasingly useful.

Null Session

Also called an “Anonymous Logon,” this type of session enables access to usernames and accounts without requiring user authentication.

Open Systems Interconnection (OSI)

OSI is a guideline for how communications should be relayed and received across the network.

Password Authentication Protocol (PAP)

As the most basic type of authentication, PAP simply compares the username and password submitted are relayed over a network and compared to a database of name-password pairs. It is the foundational authentication mode built into the HTTP protocol.


It’s a malicious attempt to obtain information through email or other messages that are designed to look like they were sent from a trustworthy source.

Risk Assessment

Designed as a systematic process to study and identify possible threats, it helps find points where sensitive information might be vulnerable to attack. This risk can be calculated, and the assessment can be used to put measures in place that will help safeguard against such attacks in the future.


Any unsolicited email delivered to an unselective list of recipients. It is usually sent out for sales purposes and can be sent is large volume by botnets.


This is the outermost component of an operating system and is an interactive user interface. It’s the layer of programming that recognizes and executes user commands.

Symmetric Cryptography

Also called secret-key cryptography, this is a kind of cryptography uses algorithms with symmetrical keys for two different steps in the algorithm. A single (secret) key is required to encrypt electronic information and is shared between entities in order to then decrypt it.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)

This is the foundational communication protocol of the Internet and can also be used in a private network as well (intranet or extranet).

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

This refers to a restricted-use computer network.


It’s a general term that describes a weak point in the network system design which may make it easier to attack.

Web Server

Describes a computer system or software that processes requests using HTTP, the basic network protocol used to relay information on the internet.

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