Glossary of Computer Terms


Active X Controls





Computer Virus

Computer Worm



Defense in Depth 

Directory Attack 

Directory Harvest


Expired Password

False Positive 


Grace Logins





Malicious Code Malware MEEC MCCTAB
Morph MR Phishing PMO
RSS Scareware SIWS Spam
SPIM Social Engineering Spoof (Hijack)  Spyware
TCP/IP Trojan Horse

Voice Over IP 


Zero-Day Virus





Active X Controls are software modules based on Microsoft's Component Object Model (COM) architecture. They add functionality to software applications by seamlessly incorporating pre-made modules with the basic software package. Modules can be interchanged but still appear as parts of the original software.

On the Internet, ActiveX controls can be linked to Web pages and downloaded by an ActiveX-compliant browser. ActiveX controls turn Web pages into software pages that perform like any other program launched from a server. ActiveX controls can have full system access. In most instances, this access is legitimate, but one should be cautious when prompted to install ActiveX applications. <Learn More>

Adware is (ADvertisementWARE) software that can popup advertisements automatically while you surf the web. It displays advertising aimed at the individual based on the websites visited and key words entered in search engines. The marketing data is periodically collected from the computer cache and sent to the adware server. Adware is known as "contextual marketing." <Learn More>

AUP stands for the OIT Acceptable Use Policy. <Learn More>
CIO is the Chief Information Officer of the Office of Information Technology
CIOAG  stands for Chief Information Officer Advisory Group

Computer Viruses are manmade programs or piece of computer code that causes unexpected, usually negative, results. Viruses are often disguised as games or images with clever titles such as "Me, nude." Some viruses attach to files so when the infected file executes, the virus also executes. Other viruses sit in a computer's memory and infect files as the computer opens, modifies or creates the files. Some viruses display symptoms, and some viruses damage files and computer systems, but neither symptoms nor damage is essential in the definition of a virus; a non-damaging virus is still a virus. Common carriers for viruses are e-mail and instant messaging. <Learn More>

Computer Worms are viruses that reside in the active memory of a computer and duplicate themselves. They may send copies of themselves to other computers, such as through email or Internet Relay Chat (IRC). <Learn More>

Cookies are blocks of text placed in a file on your computer's hard disk. Web sites use cookies to identify users who revisit the site and track such things as passwords, login, registration or identification, user preferences, online shopping cart information, and lists of pages visited.

When you revisit a website and log on, first-party cookies (usually allowed by default by your web browser) compares the information you enter with the information in the cookie to validate you. Third-party cookies track your surfing for the purposes of advertising and are usually considered an invasion of your privacy. Beware, cookies can collect information you don't want collected. Cookies can be used to gather more information about a user than would be possible without them. They can also be used to collect more information than is safe or desireable. <Learn More>

CSG is the OIT Computer Support Group that supports administrative computers.

Defense in Depth uses multiple strategies to resist attackers. If systems are breached, data can be lost, stolen or corrupted. Montgomery College employs defense in depth strategies, such as Postini to filter out spam and viruses, firewalls to block unauthorized transmissions to our network, and McAfee virus and spyware protection on servers and on workstations to protect College resources. <Learn More>

Directory Attack is a program that bombards a mail server with millions of alphabetically generated email addresses in the hope that some addresses will be guessed correctly. This technique is also used to crack passwords.

Directory Harvest is when a spammer bombards a domain with thousands of generated email addresses in an attempt to collect valid email addresses from an organisation.

Expired Password refers to a password that is no longer valid, often because all grace logins have been used without a required password change. <Learn More>

EULA is the end-user software license. You should scan through the EULA before installing the software to look for privacy intent and sharing.

False Positive is when anti-spam software wrongly identifies a legitimate message as spam.

FERPA is the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974

Firewalls prevent computers on a network from communicating directly with external computer systems. A firewall typically is hardware or software that acts as a barrier through which all information passing between the networks and the external systems must travel. The firewall software analyzes information passing between the two and rejects it if it does not conform to pre-configured rules. <Learn More>

Grace Logins refers to the requirement to change your password but allowing you a given number of times you can put off changing it. You can still log onto the computer system until your grace logins are gone.

Hackers are people who intentionally breaches computer security, usually to cause disruption or gain confidential information such as financial details. Originally the word "hacker" referred to any person who was into computer technology, but is now commonly used by the public and media to refer to those who have malicious intentions. <Learn More>

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

Hoaxes (Urban Legends) are not viruses, but are usually deliberate or unintentional e-messages warning people about a virus or other malicious software program. Some hoaxes cause as much trouble as viruses by causing massive amounts of unnecessary e-mail.

Most hoaxes contain one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Warnings about alleged new viruses and its damaging consequences,
  • Demands the reader forward the warning to as many people as possible,
  • Pseudo-technical "information" describing the virus,
  • Bogus comments from officials: FBI, software companies, news agencies, etc.

If you receive an e-mail message about a virus, check with a reputable source, like Snopes, to ensure the warning is real.

IP Address (Internet Protocol) is an addressing protocol for the Internet. Networks using the TCP/IP protocol route messages based on the IP address of the destination.

Malicious Code is a piece of code designed to damage a system or the data it contains, or to prevent the system from being used in its normal manner. <Learn More>

Malware is a generic term used to describe malicious software such as: viruses, trojan horses, malicious active content, etc. <Learn More>


Maryland Community College Technology Advisory Board - MCCTAB is an affinity group of colleagues from community colleges statewide who share a common profession, in this case Chief Information Officers and technology professionals

MEEC (Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium) consortium was formed by the State of Maryland to facilitate licensing on a more cost effective basis for all academic institutions statewide, including public library systems, public museums and teaching hospitals.

Morph is a spammer's technique to avoid detection by anti-spam software by modifying an email header.

MR Media Resources. Responsible for OIT's audio visual resources.

Phishing is a "coined" term for a fraudulant scam that attempts to fish for your personal and confidential information. Scammers usually use e-mail messages which look authentic. These messages inform you that Citibank or PayPal (or other companies that handle money or goods) need updated information. The link included, usually in an e-mail, takes you to a website that looks exactly like you are on the corresponding page of the real website. When you enter your personal information on the page, your information, such as your SSN or password, is captured by the scammer. <Learn More>

PMO Project Management group that oversees projects in OIT.
Podcasting is n audio broadcast that has been converted to an MP3 file or other audio file format for playback in a digital music player, such as an iPod or MP3 player. <Learn More>  

RSS stands for "RDF Site Summary," but is commonly referred to as "Really Simple Syndication." RSS is the method of providing website content such as news stories or software updates in a standard XML format. Websites, such as CNET's, provide news stories to various RSS directories that distribute them over the Internet. RSS content can be accessed with an RSS-enabled Web browser or other programs designed for retrieving RSS feeds.

Scareware incorporates several types of malware to fool you into installing software. This is evident by the pop-up window which pops up while browsing the Internet. The pop-up is designed to shock or scare you, saying that a virus or other program has been detected and asks if you want to fix or remove the problem. The pop-up is really a software program that will install an executable virus, spyware or adware on your computer. Once installed, the program is often very difficult to remove. Even just clicking the X in the upper-right corner often will not block the action. Close the window by right mouse-clicking the item in the task bar at the bootom of your screen and selecting "Close" or by using Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up the Task List where you can close the window. Keep your all Microsoft software updated and use legitimate anti-virus and anti-spyware and keep them updated.

SIWS Smart Instructor Workstations

Social Engineering is a way for criminals to gain access to your computer. The purpose of social engineering is usually to secretly install spyware or other malicious software or to trick you into handing over your passwords or other sensitive financial or personal information.

Do not reveal any personal information in e-mail or online unless you know who you are dealing with and why. Additionally, make sure you are in a secure environment: that’s the key to help you avoid any type of attack.

Also, social engineering means conning email recipients into opening messages, revealing passwords or providing other confidential information by appealing to their curiosity, gullibility or computing naivety. <Learn More>

Spam is "E-mail that is not requested." Also known as "unsolicited commercial e-mail" (UCE), "unsolicited bulk e-mail" (UBE), "gray mail" and just plain "junk mail." Spam is mostly used to advertise products and sometimes to broadcast some political or social commentary. The term was proportedly coined from a Monty Python comedy sketch in the early 1970s, in which every item on a restaurant menu contained SPAM, and there was nothing a customer could do to get a meal without it. The sketch was derived from the fact that in England during World War II, SPAM (Hormel's processed meat) was abundantly available while other foods were rationed. Many believe spam is an acronym for "sales promotional advertising mail" or "simultaneously posted advertising message."

Why Do They Do It?

Simple math. Suppose that out of 2,000 spam messages, one person clicks the link, and the spammer makes $1. If a million spams were sent that day, the spammer made $500, and the job might have taken a half hour to set up. That means only a few hours per week could yield $100,000 a year. Is that incentive enough for high-school students, or would they rather go back to their paper routes? Of course, consistent revenues are not guaranteed, but some spammers make a whole lot more than $100,000 every year. In any case, there is ample motivation." <Learn More>

SPIM is (SPam Instant Messaging) unsolicited advertising in instant messages. SPIM is even more annoying than spam because it is instantaneous and not easily filtered.

Spoof (Hijack) is an attempt capture, change, and retransmit an e-mail or other communication stream, so that the messages appears to come from someone else. Spoofing is frequently used by spam houses to make it difficult to track the source of the spam. Also referred to as hijacking or joe job. <Learn More>

Spyware is software that collects information from you computer while you are on a website. It is used to track your habits on the website and/or on websites. It often is installed by the visited website and is a very common part of free downloads. The program transmits information to a server without your realizing it and without you being able to control what information is collected. As spyware technology increasing, so does the likelihood that such program can be utilized by virus writers to distribute viruses and worms. Spyware is also known as scumware, junkware, thiefware or parasite software.

The EULA, or software license, of a program may even tell you that the program installs spyware and tell you what it does. You usually cannot install the downloaded program without accepting the spyware with it. The information collected is used to target your preferences with popups and to developing advertising.

Besides the fact that spyware collects information from your computer, spyware is often poorly written and can cause many problems on your computer. Peformance on a spyware-laden computer degrades and behaves irradically. In many cases, computers must be reformatted in order to get rid of the spyware.

Montgomery College's McAfee anti-virus software contains a spyware module to help protect College computers from running spyware. At home, a good anti-spyware program is recommended. Prevention is your best defense. <Learn More>

TCP/IP is the Internet Protocol Suite, which is the set of communications protocols (standards rules) used for the Internet and other similar networks. It is named from two of the most important protocols in it: the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP).

Trojan Horse programs are malicious programs that pretends to be benign applications. A Trojan horse program purposefully does something the user does not expect. Trojans are not viruses since they do not replicate, but Trojan horse programs can be just as destructive.

Voice Over IP (VoIP) is the process of making and receiving voice transmissions over any IP network. IP networks include the Internet, office LANs, and private data networks between corporate offices.

WAG OIT's Web Applications Group

Zero-Day Virus is a computer virus that is released and circulated so quickly that there is little time for anti-virus and anti-spam services to react. These viruses may make it through filters before fixes and updates can be written and applied.