What does it mean?

See below for key definitions of terminology in the area of cybercrime and cybersecurity.

Definitions

Browse the list of definnitions below. If you have a query, please contact cybersecurity@lawsociety.ie.

Cybercrime

A criminal activity carried out using computers and the internet.  The most common method of perpetrating cybercrime is through a phising attack and includes financial fraud, theft of confidential data, ransomware and denial of services amongst others.

Cybersecurity

The protection of information systems from theft or damage to the hardware, the software, and to the information on them, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.

Malware

Short for "malicious software," malware refers to software programs designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system. In Spanish, "mal" is a prefix that means "bad," making the term "badware," which is a good way to remember it (even if you're not Spanish!).

Common examples of malware include viruses, worms, trojan horses, and spyware. Viruses, for example, can cause havoc on a computer's hard drive by deleting files or directory information. Spyware can gather data from a user's system without the user knowing it. This can include anything from the Web pages a user visits to personal information, such as credit card numbers.

It is unfortunate that there are software programmers out there with malicious intent, but it is good to be aware of the fact. You can install anti-virus and anti-spyware utilities on your computer that will seek and destroy the malicious programs they find on your computer. So join the fight against badware and install some protective utilities on your hard drive!

Phishing

Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

Spyware

Software that aims to gather information about a person or organization without their knowledge and that may send such information to another entity without the consumer's consent, or that asserts control over a computer without the consumer's knowledge.

Trojan Horse

Any malicious computer program which is used to hack into a computer by misleading users of its true intent. Unlike computer viruses and worms, Trojans generally do not attempt to inject themselves into other files or otherwise propagate themselves.

Worm

A standalone malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers. Unlike a computer virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program.

Virus

A malware that, when executed, replicates by reproducing itself or infecting other programs by modifying them. Viruses often perform some type of harmful activity on infected hosts, such as acquisition of hard disk space or CPUtime, accessing private information, corrupting data, displaying political or humorous messages on the user's screen, spamming their contacts, logging their keystrokes, or even rendering the computer useless.