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Glossary

The following is provided to help non-expert users understand the terms we have used in this report. It is by no means a complete or detailed dictionary of security-related terminology.

Antimalware program: see antivirus program

Antivirus program: an application that protects your computer against malicious programs (malware). These days, antivirus programs guard against all types of malware, including worms and Trojans.

Application/App: a piece of software that carries out a specific task, e.g. Microsoft Word, Mozilla Firefox, Apple iTunes.

Download: to copy a file (e.g. picture, music track or program installer) from an Internet server to your computer, usually by clicking on a link in a web page or email.

Firewall: a program (or physical device) that controls communications between your computer the Internet or local area network. Amongst other things, it helps prevent hackers from gaining access to your PC.

Install: to make a new antivirus program/security suite work on your computer, the program file that you have downloaded or got on CD-ROM has to be run; this registers and activates the program on your system, and provides shortcuts with which you can open its main window.

Internet security suite: an antivirus program that includes additional features such as a firewall.

Logs: a feature of antivirus programs that keeps records of malware detections, scans run, and updates received.

Mail protection: a feature of antivirus programs which scans incoming email for malicious attachments or links and blocks any it finds before you can access them. It is only relevant if you use an email program such as Windows Mail, Thunderbird or Outlook. It does not apply if you access your email using a browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome, and Firefox). However, in this case other features of the antivirus program will still protect you against threats in emails.

Malware: any type of clearly malicious software which can e.g. damage your computer, allow hackers to remotely control it, or steal personal data. Viruses, worms and Trojans are all examples of malware.

Malware definitions/malware signatures: information about malicious programs (malware) which is used by antivirus programs to detect threats.

Phishing: a means of stealing usernames, passwords and other security-related information used to access e.g. Internet banking websites. This is done by tricking the user into going to a fake copy of the website and entering the necessary security details to log on, allowing the criminals to steal these.

Potentially Unwanted Application (PUA): a program which is not malware (clearly malicious) but which some people would nonetheless not want to have on their computers. PUAs include adware (which may e.g. change your home page without asking permission), and legitimate programs (e.g. for remote control) which could be misused by hackers for criminal purposes.

Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP): see Potentially Unwanted Application

Program: see Application/App

Quarantine: when antivirus programs detect a file on your computer that is believed to be malicious, they can store it safely in quarantine so that it can be further analysed without posing a threat.

Real-time protection: a feature of antivirus programs which constantly watches for malicious programs (malware) entering your computer via e.g. the Internet, local area network or USB stick. If real-time protection is disabled or malfunctions, the computer is effectively unprotected during normal use.

Scan: a feature of antivirus programs, which actively searches your computer for malicious programs (malware). Most antivirus programs allow the user to scan the entire computer, or just a specific area, such as a USB stick. NB: some antivirus vendors may use the term on-access scan to mean real-time protection.

Scheduled scan: a computer scan which is set to run automatically on a schedule, e.g. every evening at 10pm.

Trojan: a malicious program (malware) which tricks the user into running it, by pretending to be a legitimate program such as a game.

Update: a feature of antivirus programs which allows them to get the most recent information over the Internet. The term is usually used to mean updating malware definitions, but can also mean updating the antivirus program itself.

Virus: a specific type of malicious program (malware). The term may be used by some people to mean any or all types of malware, although this is not technically correct.

Virus definitions/virus signatures: see malware definitions

Web protection: a feature of antivirus programs which helps protect you against threats from web pages. It can block e.g. phishing pages and sites known to distribute malicious programs (malware), and detect and block any inadvertent downloads of malware before they reach your computer.

Worm: a specific type of malicious program (malware)

Windows Administrator Account: an account (name that you log on with) that gives you complete control of the computer, and lets you e.g. install and uninstall programs.

Windows Standard User Account: an account (name that you log on with) that allows you to change your own personal preferences, but not change system settings or install/uninstall programs.