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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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This is a software aiming to hide certain files, folders, processes or system entries from users and often also from your security software (anti-virus software). A rootkit in itself is not actually «harmful», but an indication that malware is present on a computer.


This term is made up of the terms «scare» and «software». Based on misleading alert messages pointing to an infection of your computer, you are supposed to become so scared and unsettled that you feel actually pressured, for instance into buying a dubious «anti-virus program» (which is then useless).

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

SSL is a hybrid encryption protocol for secure data transmission on the Internet.

Service Set Identifier (SSID)

This is the name of a WLAN.

Session Riding

Contrary to phishing and pharming, session riding does not constitute a Man-in-the-Middle attack. Instead of redirecting log-in information via an attacker, with session riding, communication with a financial institution is manipulated already on a victim’s computer. It is the malware which has infected a user’s computer which is to blame for manipulating communications.


Denotes an attack where data from EC or credit cards are captured. Criminals manipulate ATMs here, so that when inserting a card, data are read from the magnetic strip, and access data (PINs) are also captured. These data are then used to create counterfeit cards.

Social Engineering

This is an attack which does not really take place by technical, but by psychological means. It is a wide-spread method of snooping on confidential information, and always targets humans. To obtain such confidential information, it is not only people’s credulity and helpfulness which are being exploited, but also their insecurities - anything from faked telephone calls to people pretending to be someone else and phishing attacks is possible.


This is the umbrella term for unwanted e-mails which often contain advertising materials. Phishing mails, aiming to steal personal data from the recipient, also count as spam. In accordance with several studies, the proportion of spam amounts to over 60 per cent of all e-mail traffic worldwide by now!

Supported by the Fernmeldegesetz (FMG) and the Bundesgesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb (UWG), spam is strictly prohibited in Switzerland.

Spam Filter

Filters unwanted spam e-mails from your inbox.


Deliberate attempt at deceiving users in preparation for an attack onto system security. A spoofing program will for instance create a counterfeit log-in screen to tempt users into entering their password when they want to log into the system. Spoofing programs will capture the password entered and send it to the malware’s author.

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