Charity Digital – Topics – A beginner’s guide to cyber security terms

Protect yourself from online attacks that threaten your identity, your files, your system, and your financial well-being.

Encryption One of the most effective ways to mitigate the risk of a data breach is to ensure that all confidential data that your charity stores is encrypted using a proven encryption method. That means that even if a hacker gains access to your data, they will be unable to use it without a decryption key.


Endpoint security system Traditional anti-virus software installed on charity staff computers has evolved into software that provides protection against many different types of cyber security threats including ransomware and hacker attacks. This type of software is now known as endpoint security software but many people still call it anti-virus or AV software.


Exploit In the cyber security world, an exploit is a specific technique that hackers develop to get unauthorised access to a computer system. In order to develop an exploit, hackers first need to discover a programming error or some other form of vulnerability in a piece of software (or occasionally hardware). The exploit is so-called because it exploits a particular weakness or vulnerability.


Firewall A firewall carries out a similar job to a nightclub bouncer: it sits at the entrance to a charity’s network and watches all the data attempting to get in. Its purpose is to ensure that only legitimate data can get onto the network, while preventing data sent by hackers or other unwanted data from gaining entry. Many modern firewalls are now equipped with other security features including the ability to set up secure VPN (see below) connections.


Hacker A hacker is a term commonly used to describe a cyber criminal, or anyone who attempts to interfere with other people’s computer systems with ill intent. Originally, a hacker simply referred to someone who liked to experiment with computer systems, so many cyber security experts prefer to use the term malicious hacker or black hat hacker when referring to cyber criminals.


Key logger A hacker who gets access to an end user’s computer may install a key logger. This is a particularly malicious piece of software which records every keystroke that a user makes, and then sends this information to the hacker. A key logger can be used to