Pin Me

Common Security Terms Dictionary: A to B

written by: •edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 7/22/2010

If you’re new the computing world, all of the acronyms, nomenclature, and strange terms can become a little intimidating. It’s my hope that this dictionary series will help you absorb this information and shed some light on the world of “techno-babble.”

  • slide 1 of 1

    A - B



    This term is often over-used (or misused) interchangeably with the terms spyware and malware. Adware is just what the name implies. It usually refers to some type of advertising pop-up, trial software, or third-party extension that’s sole purpose is to advertise a product or service. Adware is not usually a major security threat but rather more a nuisance than anything.


    An antivirus program’s sole purpose is to remove and prevent virus infection of your PC. As new viruses are created the antivirus program’s “virus definitions” must be updated to counter the new threats. Antivirus programs are controlled by an antivirus engine which is essentially the “brains” of the program that makes the determination of what is and is not a virus or threat.


    Similar in structure and function to an antivirus program, an antispam program protects your system from various forms of junk email (often called spam) which may or may not contain malicious file attachments. They also help prevent the collection of email addresses; both yours and those in your contact lists. Many antispam programs are paired with antivirus programs and together they make up a security software suite.


    As the name implies, authentication is the process by which a device or service validates the identity of another device or service. This is usually done by cross checking a username and password combination.

    Availability Time

    This term is most often used in referencing to server availability. For example, a small business that hosts a customer website will want that website available 24/7. As such, the availability time requirement for this server will be very high. This would translate into the need to add redundant hardware to the server such as backup power supplies, hard drives, and network connections.


    Back Door

    This term usually refers to security vulnerabilities within a software program, a PC, or other device. A back door can also be defined as a backup method used by an administrator to access a PC or server on a network without having to physically be in front of the device. However, the use of this term usually has negative connotations such as those mentioned above.


    A breach occurs when an attempt to bypass the system’s security is successful. This does not necessarily mean that any data was retrieved, only that the system was accessed. If a breach occurs, this is a good indication that one or more back doors exist and need to be immediately addressed.

    Bug (Software)

    A software bug is a programming flaw that causes a software program to behave in an unintended manner or crash altogether. In terms of information security, many security vulnerabilities are the consequence of a software bug.