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Common Security Terms Dictionary: L to M

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.”

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    L - M


    LAN (Local Area Network) Analyzer

    A hardware device that connects to a network and is used to analyze data packets for closer inspection and integrity checking. This device can be a big help when investigating routine network issues as well as detecting malicious code embedded in data packets. A LAN analyzer is sometimes called a “sniffer.”

    Load Balancing

    This term is often used in conjunction with servers and how the interact and support one another. A group of servers working together for the same purpose is called a cluster. Load balancing is a method by which traffic and processing is dispersed equally across all servers. If a single server in a cluster took on the bulk of the work, the integrity of that server could be compromised; especially in a DoS attack. Load balancing ensures (or at least attempts to ensure) that one server does not get stuck with the majority of processing responsibility.

    Logical Drive

    This often refers to physical hard drives that have been partitioned or split into multiple logical spaces. Each space can be assigned a drive letter and can act independently of the other spaces even though it is part of the physical whole.

    Loopback Address

    In a TCP/IP network, the loopback address ( is essentially a virtual IP address. It is often used for the purpose of software testing to identify bugs and potential security weaknesses within the coding of the software.


    MAC Address

    The physical address of a network device (for example, an Ethernet card). Unlike an IP address which can change (dynamic) or be hard coded (static), a MAC address does not change.


    This is a generic term which generally refers to any type of malicious software or code. Spyware, adware, and viruses are all types of malware.

    Mail Proxy

    Similar is function to an HTTP proxy, a mail proxy is usually a server or piece of network hardware (like a router) that acts as a filter. For example, a mail proxy could filter email messages between hosts and the public Internet in order to mask the sender’s direct email address.