State of Iowa Information Security Office (ISO)


Q: What does encryption mean?
A: Encryption is the scrambling of data (putting it in code) so it becomes unreadable. Only persons with special knowledge (called the key) can read the encrypted data. Encryption may be used to limit access to confidential or sensitive information stored or transmitted by computers.
Q: What is a network intrusion?
A: Network intrusion occurs when an unauthorized user hacks into a computer network. Network intrusions may involve destruction of records/data, alteration of information, viewing or downloading confidential or sensitive information.
Q: What does a firewall do?
A: A firewall prevents computers on your network from communicating directly with external computer systems or networks. A firewall can be either software, hardware, or a combination of the two, which analyzes information and rejects it if it does not conform to pre-configured rules.
Q: What is malicious code?
A: Malicious code is a virus, worm, Trojan horse or other computer program that surreptitiously infects a computer.
Q: What is a virus?
A: A virus is a computer program that can copy itself and spread to other computers without the knowledge of the user. Some viruses attach to program files, so when the infected file runs, the virus also runs. Other viruses sit in a computer's memory and infect files as the computer opens or modifies them.
Q: What is a worm?
A: A worm is a self-replicating computer programs that uses a network to send itself to other computers. Worms differ from viruses because they are stand-alone programs that do not attach themselves to other files or programs. A worm can spread itself automatically (without user intervention) over the network from one computer to the next, by taking advantage of automatic file sending and receiving features found on many computers.
Q: What is a Trojan horse?
A: A Trojan horse is a destructive program masquerading as a harmless computer program. The purpose of most Trojan horses is to get access to your computer from another location. Trojan horses are often found attached to programs you receive in e-mail or download from the Internet.
Q: What is a "sniffer?"
A: A sniffer is a software program that monitors network traffic. Hackers use sniffers to capture data transmitted within your network.
Q: Why should I protect my Computer?
A: If you have a computer that connects to the internet then protecting your computer is crucial. Your computer is not only prone to malware and theft of information, but can also be used for criminal or spamming purposes by hackers. Hackers can use your computer to launch cyber attacks, carry out criminal activities and send spam.
Q: What is spyware?
A: Spyware is software that is surreptitiously installed on a computer to gather information on individuals or organizations without their knowledge.
Q: What is a botnet?
A: A botnet is a collection of computers, connected to the internet, that interact to accomplish some distributed task. Although such a collection of computers can be used for useful and constructive applications, the term botnet typically refers to such a system designed and used for illegal purposes. Such systems are composed of compromised machines that are assimilated without their owner's knowledge. The compromised machines are referred to as drones or zombies, the malicious software running on them as 'bot'.
Last updated: 07-31-2012