Skip to main content

An SES Guide To Cyber Security Terminology

Published on 22/10/2019

It’s within everyone’s reach to read up on the vulnerabilities affecting their organisation, there are numerous articles all over the internet exploring vulnerabilities and breaking down the latest attacks. However, the security industry often makes the presumption that its readers understand all the technical terminology when discussing the latest incidents plaguing businesses.

At SES, our goal is to cut through the jargon. Whether you are new to security or a seasoned professional, it’s important to understand the terminology malicious individuals use when attempting to infiltrate your organisations defences.

With that in mind, this guide aims to explore 10 of the common terms attackers and security professionals use to broaden your understanding.

1. Malware

Short for malicious software, malware is a universal term for software which has been specifically designed to disrupt the operation of your computers with malicious intent. In many cases malware attacks are often delivered though Phishing emails.

2. Backdoor

Backdoors are pieces of code, intentionally created by the developers of software which allow access to the application without having to go through standard security processes. Attackers will attempt to exploit these backdoors to bypass your security controls and malware attacks may also create their own backdoors into your systems.

3. Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

These attacks are used to bring down network resources by flooding the resource (often a website) with requests which cannot be serviced in an effort to bring it down. This type of attack is particularly malicious for online retailers as a successful attack leaves their customers with no way of purchasing, significantly harming the retailer’s income.

4. Reconnaissance

Most attacks begin with some form of reconnaissance or due diligence. This prior research enables the attack to appear genuine, increasing the likelihood of the attack being successful.

Reconnaissance can take two forms:

  • Passive: Passive Reconnaissance involves accessing publicly available information (e.g. from Google and social media platforms) to gain information on a target. It can also involve searching through a targets rubbish for letters, bank statements and other credentials.
  • Active: Active Reconnaissance involves gathering data which is not publicly available. To do this, the attacker has to interact with the target personally such as probing the network for hosts, IP addresses and services.

5. Attack Surface

The attack surface is typically established once the reconnaissance stage has been completed. It is the sum of all possible attack points and demonstrates the full landscape of where a malicious individual can attack your network.

6. Attack Pivot

Rather than attacking the target directly. Pivoting enables a malicious individual to target a low security host (often using phishing emails) then uses that entity to move laterally through your network to find areas with high privileges whilst avoiding firewalls and other restrictions.

7. Attack Escalation

As above, Attack Escalation is where a cyber attack escalates from low to high/ critical value.

8. Critical Value Data (CVD)

This is your organisations most sensitive data. It includes intellectual property (IP), secret recipe formulas and manufacturing processes etc.

9. Remote Access Trojan (RAT)

This is a virus or malware which is executed alongside a legitimate programme (again, often as part of a phishing email) and opens a connection to an external Command & Control (C&C) device. Once the RAT is in place, it creates a remote backdoor for the C&C to access.

10. Command & Control (C&C)

A device outside of the targets internal network which sends commands to any compromised devices that have a RAT installed on them CVD is exfiltrated back to the C&C.

This is just a selection of the terms used to describe how various attacks infiltrate your organisation causing theft, damage and disruption.

In the next article, SES will be building on this list to detail some of the more common hacking techniques organisations are facing so keep your eyes peeled on your inbox and the SES blog.

In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding your organisations cyber security our specialists are always on hand to help, please get in touch to speak to one of our specialists. 

© SES Secure Limited and, 2019. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Financechain Limited trading as SES and, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  

Contact us

If you would like further information, discuss your requirements, get a free no obligation quotation or just a friendly chat on how we could possibly help please fill in the details below and one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.
Tick the box to receive regular updates and industry insights