Security Term Glossary

Below are the most common security and computer terms used when speaking about online security.



Anti-virus programAn anti-virus program is software that detects and deletes computer viruses. Anti-virus software can also prevent viruses from infecting your computer in the first place.
The software can also check for computer viruses when you download files from the Internet, receive emails and insert disks into your computer.
AuthenticationAuthentication occurs when individuals and organisations verify each other's identity. When you are banking online.
Certification AuthorityCertification Authorities are trusted third parties that issue Digital Certificates used to authenticate an individual's or organisation's identity online. Suncorp's Certification Authorities are Cybertrust and VerisignT.
CookiesWhen you visit a website it will often leave a file on your computer so it recognises you and your user preferences next time you visit. Cookies are often used to identify and track your Internet usage for marketing purposes.
Digital CertificateDigital certificates are the online equivalent of a passport or driver's licence. They are used to authenticate a website or individual online. Digital certificates are issued by a Certification Authority and contain the name of the certificate holder, a unique certificate serial number, expiration dates, and other information to verify the certificate's authenticity.
EncryptionEncryption is a process that ensures information is kept confidential and intact. Encrypted information is 'scrambled' so it cannot be understood by anyone other than the intended recipient.
FirewallA firewall is a program that helps protect your computer and its contents from outsiders on the Internet. It stops unauthorised access to and from your computer.
PhishingPhishing is a type of scam whereby fraudulent emails are randomly delivered and are made to look like they are from a financial institution. These emails request readers to reply or click on a link and provide their banking or credit card details. They can look very authentic and link to a site that looks very similar to a legitimate bank's website.
Security PatchesFaults, errors and vulnerabilities are often found in computer programs and operating systems after they have been released to the general public. Computer viruses often take advantage of these 'security holes'. Software companies usually release security patches that you can install onto your computer to fix these problems.
SSLSecure Sockets Layer (SSL) provides confidentiality and integrity for Internet traffic between your browser and a web server. You can tell if your Internet session is secured with SSL when the web address you are visiting starts with "https://", and you may also see a small padlock on the lower right hand corner of your browser. If you click on this padlock you will be able to view the website's Digital Certificate.
TrojanIn Greek mythology the Greeks offered a Trojan Horse as a gift to the city of Troy. No sooner had it entered the gates when the Trojan Horse turned out to be filled with soldiers who overtook the entire city! Today's Trojans also act by stealth. These malicious computer viruses can be hidden within software, files or email attachments that appear to be useful, but instead they compromise your security and can cause a lot of damage. You can even unknowingly download a Trojan by simply visiting an infected website.
Trojans spread when people are lured into opening a file, program, email attachment or web link because they think it comes from a legitimate source. Trojans can also be included in software that you download from the Internet. Never download software from a source that you don't trust, and make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus protection.
VirusesComputer viruses are malicious programs that can cause damage to your computer and information on your computer. They can also slow down the Internet, and use your computer to spread themselves to your friends, family, coworkers, and the rest of the Internet.