Glossary of Terms - AOL MyBenefits

Adware – short for advertising-supported software. This includes a broad range of software, all of which is supported financially through the use of advertisements placed within the software itself, sometimes in the form of popups. Some adware can be considered malware.

Allowlist – a list of people, websites, usernames or related items that are provided access or privileges. Allowlists are frequently used by security software or firewalls to allow access to information passed between the internet and your computer.

Antivirus software – installed on a computer to help find, remove and prevent malware.

Authentication – process of confirming the truth or identity of a computer, website, or other information passed through the internet.

Blocklist – a list of people, websites, usernames, or related items that are denied access or privileges. Blocklists are frequently used by security software or firewalls to prevent unwanted access by hackers or websites to your computer.

Botnet – a collection of computers that have malware installed on them and are used collectively to attack websites or computer networks. Each computer that is a part of a botnet is referred to as a bot. A botmaster controls a botnet, coordinating attacks.

Browser plug-in – (also browser extension) a software component designed to add more capabilities or functionality to your web browser.

Computer crime – (also cybercrime or netcrime) refers to any criminal activity involving a computer or network.

Computer virus – a malicious computer program that copies itself and spreads between computers.

Encryption – the act of changing electronic information into an unreadable state by the use of algorithms or ciphers. Decryption refers to the reverse process, or the process of changing this information back into a readable state. When information is encrypted properly with a complex cipher, it is usually considered very safe from hackers.

File backup – process of making copies of data to protect against any hardware failures or loss of data.

Firewall – a hardware- or software-based barrier placed within a network to analyze and control network traffic, usually to protect against exterior threats from the internet.

Hacking – the act or process of finding vulnerabilities in a computer or computer network and taking advantage of them. A hacker is one who spends their time looking for such vulnerabilities, either for malicious (red hat) or beneficial (blue hat) purposes.

Identity theft – refers to the act of stealing someone else's identity, usually for financial gain. Identity theft can occur when a hacker obtains personal information from unprotected computers or computer networks.

Keylogging – The tracking of the keys being struck on a keyboard, usually without the users notice. If a keylogging program is installed on your computer, hackers can take advantage of this to steal your personal information, such as website usernames, passwords, and credit card information. A keylogging program may be installed on your computer if you download or install corrupted files from the internet or visit malicious websites.

Malware – short for malicious software. Malware is a broad term that encompasses computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware, and others. Malware is designed to interfere with normal computer operation, usually giving hackers a chance to gain access to your computer and collect sensitive personal information.

Online information brokers – independent consultants that perform research for clients, commonly used for marketing research.

Password manager – software installed on a computer that keeps track of a user's passwords or other login credentials. This software keeps password information secure through the use of encryption.

Personal data – Any information about yourself that allows others to identify you.

Pharming – the act of redirecting a website’s traffic to a separate fake website, usually with the intention of collecting personal information (such as usernames and passwords) from users without their knowledge.

Phishing – The malicious use of electronic communication to acquire your credit card, login, or personal information. This usually takes place through the use of emails that seem to originate or look like they're from a trustworthy source.

Remote access – refers to the connection or communication between a computer and a remote network, sometimes through a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Spam – Mass unsolicited electronic communication, usually in the form of email. A spammer is one who creates or sends spam.

Spyware – a malicious computer program that, once installed on a computer, collects information about users without them knowing.

Trojan – (also Trojan horse) a malicious computer program that appears as a harmless program to a user.

VPN – short for Virtual Private Network. A VPN connection is generally regarded as a secure network connection; information sent over this type of network is encrypted.

Wi-Fi – the technology that allows the transmission of data wirelessly over a computer network. A Wi-Fi hotspot refers to a specific network access point to which Wi-Fi-enabled devices can connect.

Worm – a malicious computer program that copies itself and spreads to other computers, usually over a network.