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In this list, you will find explanations of some terms frequently used in connection with Information Security. These will be explained in as simple terms as possible.

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Media Access Control Address (MAC Address)

This is the individual identification number of a device on a network. This ID is usually set at the factory. It could be compared to a car’s chassis number.

Money mule

The term money mule (also called financial agent) denotes people receiving money into their own bank account to pass it on abroad against payment. These funds almost always come from illegal deals. Money mules are generally recruited via lucrative job offers promising a chance to quickly earn large amounts of money. Anyone participating in such «deals» risks prosecution for aiding and abetting money laundering transactions.

Operating system

A computer’s programs managing its system resources such as working memory, hard drives, drives or input and output devices, and making them available to application programs (software). This means the operating system is the interface between user hardware and software.


Serves for authentication. This means agreeing on and using a character string for someone, usually a person, to identify themselves and confirm their own identity this way.


This is a small program which repairs bugs in software. Most patches are offered free-of-charge for download by software manufacturers on their website, or distributed automatically.


Just like classic phishing, pharming belongs to the Man-in-the-Middle group of attacks. With pharming, you will be redirected to a fake website by means of an IP address and domain allocation manipulation.


The term phishing is made up from the words «password» and «fishing». Attackers use phishing to obtain confidential data from unsuspecting Internet users. These might for instance involve access data for your e-banking facility or account information of online shops. Perpetrators abuse their victims’ good faith and helpfulness by purporting to be, say, an employee of a trustworthy financial institution.

There are a variety of other variations such as Vishing (Voice phishing or phone phishing) and QR phishing in addition to classic phishing via e-mail.


Is a standardised coding process to convert Unicode character strings to ASCII-compatible character strings consisting of the characters a to z, 0 to 9 and the hyphen (-). Punycode was developed to be able to display internationalised domain names made up from Unicode characters explicitly and reversibly by ASCII characters.

Quick Response Code (QR Code)

Originally, QR codes were used to mark assemblies and components in the car manufacturing sector. Nowadays, QR codes are also used in the publishing and marketing sectors to link physical objects (products, print media, posters, etc.) with the online world and make additional information available this way. As the contents of QR codes cannot readily be decoded by humans, these codes have to be scanned in first, e. g. using a smartphone. Users cannot usually see what kind of information is coded into them before scanning in a QR code. If possible, they should therefore use a QR code scanner (app) which displays the decoded contents first and asks them whether they would actually like to visit a link or execute a certain action.

Example QR code by «eBanking – but secure!»


This is one of the most perfidious malware varieties there are. Ransomware is used to blackmail the users of infected computers. Typically, your computer will be blocked, data encrypted or deleted, and ransom demands made. Criminals try to make money this way.

Example of «Locky» ransomware

Aargauische KantonalbankAppenzeller KantonalbankBaloise Bank SoBaBanca del Ceresio SABanca del SempioneBancaStatoBank CoopBank LinthBanque CIC (Suisse)Basellandschaftliche KantonalbankBasler KantonalbankFreiburger KantonalbankBanque Cantonale du JuraBanque Cantonale NeuchâteloiseBanque Cantonale VaudoiseBerner KantonalbankBanca Popolare di Sondrio (SUISSE)Caisse d'Epargne Rivieracash zweiplusClientisCornèr Bank AGCredit SuisseGlarner KantonalbankGraubündner KantonalbankHypothekarbank LenzburgJulius BaerLiechtensteinische Landesbank AGLuzerner KantonalbankMigros BankNidwaldner KantonalbankObwaldner KantonalbankPiguet GallandPostFinanceSt. Galler KantonalbankSchaffhauser KantonalbankSchwyzer KantonalbankThurgauer KantonalbankUBSUrner KantonalbankValiant Bank AGVontobel AGVP BankWalliser KantonalbankWIR Bank GenossenschaftZuger KantonalbankZürcher Kantonalbank

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