Glossary of Terms

A quick overview of various terms used within the Identity Theft Manifesto community.

Adware is a software program created to serve advertisements.  Usually, you get Adware on your computer by downloading some sort of free software, or freeware.

Active Duty Alert  simply notifies any potential credit grantor of the fact that you are on Active Duty and that they should take appropriate steps to verify and protect your identity.

Botnet, aka a Zombie Army, is a network of compromised computers connected to the internet.  Botnets are used for various malicious activities.  See, Zombie

Cookie, aka browser cookie and HTTP cookie, is simply a piece of text sent to your browser by the websites you visit.  When you visit a website for the very first time, the server of the website generates a string of text and sends it to your browser.  When you visit that website for the second time, your browser sends this piece of text back to the server of the website.  This way, the website recognizes your computer and it makes it for a better web surfing experience.

COPPA-the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998.

Credit Freeze, aka Security Freeze, allows you to restrict access to your credit file.  When the Security Freeze is added to your file, you or anyone else using your name will not be able obtain new credit, because the potential credit grantors will not be able to view your report to evaluate your creditworthiness; hence, they will not be able to extent new credit.

Dumpster Diving  is a low-tech method of stealing one’s sensitive information by literally going through someone’s trash.

FCRA-the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

FDCPA-the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Fraud Alert is a notification, a security statement if you will, attached to your credit file. Once you place a fraud alert in your file, any potential lender must take every reasonable step to verify your identity before extending any credit to you or anyone else applying for credit using your name.

Hacker is, for the purposes of this website’s topic, a person who tries to gain an unauthorized access to computers, systems and networks.  The true meaning of a “hacker” is a person who enjoys exploring things and figuring out how they work.  They enjoy figuring out  the ins and outs of systems, programs, etc. They love programming.

Identity Theft: A Legal Definition of Identity Theft per Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003  is “… a fraud committed using the identifying information of another person.” 16 CFR §603.2

Keylogger is a software program or a hardware device created to capture every keystroke that the user makes. A Keylogger is a malware, which belongs in the spyware family.

Koobface (anagram of Facebook) is a very sophisticated worm, which can distribute itself in various ways. Koobface sometimes is referred to as “Facebook virus”, because, at first, it was targeting only Facebook users. Now, it is targeting various social networking sites.

Malware is short for “malicious software” and is used as a general term to refer to any program, software, code that is designed to harm computers/computer users; hence, viruses, worms, spyware, Trojan Horses, etc.

Payload is a code, which carries instruction on what the malware should do.  The most common payload is the installation of a backdoor, which would allow for an easy undetectable entry by the criminals.

Phishing is an attempt to obtain victims’ personal information such as user names, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, PINs, Social Security Numbers and other extremely sensitive information.

Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit personal identification number, which was originally intended to receive Retirement Benefits. Presently, SSN is needed to apply for a job, file and pay taxes, apply for credit, open bank accounts, etc.

Spam is unsolicited bulk email. More often than not, Spam may contain malware, links to phishing or malicious sites, scams, etc.

Spyware is a program, which belongs in the malware category, created to monitor users’ online activities, gather personal information, login information and capture every single keystroke that the users make without their knowledge.

Trojan Horse is a computer program that appears to be legitimate, functional and even useful; however, it also includes a nefarious functionality that gives someone unauthorized remote access to a computer and creates backdoors that allow additional malware downloads.

Virus is a software program or a script designed to affect negatively the targeted system. Viruses attach themselves to program files and documents and generally need some type of human intervention to start replicating.  Some viruses are harmless and just annoy the user by displaying funny messages or by suddenly playing music, some viruses take up your computer’s memory making it too slow, some viruses are designed to completely destroy the operating system rendering the computer useless.

Worm is a standalone self-replicating computer program that moves through the network and looks for possible hosts that have security vulnerabilities.  Worm copies itself on a compromised computer and keeps moving looking for more victims.  Worms do not need to attach themselves to any files to replicate.   They usually carry some type of a payload. (see Payload)

Zombie is a computer that has been infected by malware or taken over by a hacker and used to perform various malicious activities, such as sending out spam, DDoS (destributed-denial-of-service) attacks on targeted websites, commit click fraud, etc.  Once a zombie computer is triggered, it becomes a part of a “botnet”, which is comprised of thousands and thousands of other zombie computers.