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Computer words and technical talk defined!

Computer words and the technical definitions are often hard to understand. It is hard to understand the problem with your machine, if you can not relate to it. When we went to standard dictionaries, we found that many of these terms are not included. So to help you learn about the techno talk, we have compiled an dictionary for you to use. 



There are so many words that we have arranged them on two pages. This page will deal with words starting with the letters N - Z and the previous page listed the letters A - M.


N - Z


N     O     P     R     S     T     U     V     W     Z



Newsgroup - An electronic forum where readers post articles and follow-up messages on a specified topic. An Internet newsgroup allows people from around the globe discuss common interests. Each newsgroup name indicates the newsgroup's subject in terms of increasingly narrow categories, such as alt.comp.virus.


Not In The Wild Viruses - "not in the wild" are in real world but fail to spread successfully. See Also: In The Wild, Zoo Virus


NTFS (NT File System) - A type of Windows file system used to organize and keep track of files and folders. As a 32 bit environment, it is the most secure type of Windows.

See Also: FAT



On-access Scanner - A real-time virus scanner that scans disks and files automatically and often in the background. An on-access scanner scans files for viruses as the computer accesses the files.


On-demand Scanner - A virus scanner the user starts manually. Most on-demand scanners allow the user to set various configurations and to scan specific files, folders or disks.


Operating System (O.S.) - The operating system is usually the underlying software that enables you to interact with the computer. The operating system controls the computer storage, communications and task management functions. Examples of common operating systems include: MS-DOS, MacOS, Linux, Windows XP. Also: OS, DOS


OCR - Optical Character Recognition programs convert scanned text into actual characters.


Overwriting Virus - An overwriting virus copies its code over its host file's data, thus destroying the original program. Disinfection is possible, although files cannot be recovered. It is usually necessary to delete the original file and replace it with a clean copy. Also: Overwrite Virus



Page Template - Repeating elements on a webpage. They allow faster download times and a uniform appearance.


Password Attacks - A password attack is an attempt to obtain or decrypt a legitimate user's password. Hackers can use password dictionaries, cracking programs, and password sniffers in password attacks. Defense against password attacks is rather limited but usually consists of a password policy including a minimum length, unrecognizable words, and frequent changes. See Also: Password Sniffer


Password Sniffing - The use of a sniffer to capture passwords as they cross a network. The network could be a local area network, or the Internet itself. The sniffer can be hardware or software. Most sniffers are passive and only log passwords. The attacker must then analyze the logs later. See Also: Sniffer


Payload - Refers to the effects produced by a virus attack. Sometimes refers to a virus associated with a dropper or Trojan horse.


PCI slots -These can transmit data much faster than older slot formats, and are used for devices such as sound cards, video cards and network cards. Most hardware is compatible with these efficient slots, and if you are planning on upgrading in the future, you will want to have a few PCI slots available.


PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) - Considered the strongest program for encrypting data files and/or e-mail messages on PCs and Macintosh computers. PGP includes authentication to verify the sender of a message and non-repudiation to prevent someone denying they sent a message.


Piggyback - To gain unauthorized access to a system via an authorized user's legitimate connection.


Polymorphic Virus - Polymorphic viruses create varied (though fully functional) copies of themselves as a way to avoid detection from anti-virus software. Some polymorphic virus use different encryption schemes and requires different decryption routines. Thus, the same virus may look completely different on different systems or even within different files. Other polymorphic viruses vary instruction sequences and use false commands in the attempt to thwart anti-virus software. One of the most advanced polymorphic viruses uses a mutation-engine and random-number generators to change the virus code and its decryption routine. See Also: Mutating Virus


PDF - Portable Documents Files are converted from their natural format into Adobe Acrobat's cross-platform file type. They still retain all of the original content and are saved as .pdf files. The files are compressed for faster downloading.    


Program Infector - A program infector virus infects other program files once an infected application is executed and the activated virus is loaded into memory.



Rasterized - A vector image that has been converted into a bitmap file format.


Real Audio - Digital format for streaming audio. This type of audio can be listened to while the file is downloaded verses after you download and open the file.


Real-time Scanner - An anti-virus software application that operates as a background task, allowing the computer to continue working at normal speed, with no perceptible slowing. See Also: On-Access Scanner


Redirect - The action used by some viruses to point a command to a different location. Often this different location is the address of the virus and not the original file or application.


Referrer - A visitor that came to your site from a link placed on another site.


RFID - Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an item-tagging technology.


RGB - The native color space of digital color images that consist of overlapping Red, Blue and Green.


Rename - The action by which a user or program assigns a new name to a file. Viruses may rename program files and take the name of the file so running the program inadvertently runs the virus. Anti-virus programs may rename infected files so the are unusable until they are manually cleaned or deleted.


Replication - The process by which a virus makes copies of itself in order to carry out subsequent infections. Replication is one of major criteria separating viruses from other computer programs.


Reset - To restart a computer without turning it off. Also: Warm Boot


Resident Virus - A resident virus loads into memory and remains inactive until a trigger event. When the event occurs the virus activates, either infecting a file or disk, or causing other consequences. All boot viruses are resident viruses and so are the most common file viruses.


Resident Extension - A resident extension is a memory-resident portion of a program that remains active after the program ends. It essentially becomes an extension to the operating system. Many viruses install themselves as resident extensions.


Rogue Program - A term the media use to denote any program intended to damage programs or data, or to breach a system's security. It includes Trojan Horse programs, logic bombs, viruses, and more.


Rollover buttons - Button graphics that change when you move the mouse over them.


RTF File (Rich Text Format File) - An alternative format to the DOC file type supported by Microsoft Word. RTF files are ASCII text files and include embedded formatting commands. RTF files do not contain macros and cannot be infected with a macro virus. This makes RTF files a good document format for communicating with others via e-mail. However, some macro viruses attempt to intercept saving a file as an RTF file and instead save it as a DOC file with an RTF extension. Users can catch this trick by first reading the file in a simple text editor like Notepad. DOC files will be nearly unreadable, while RTF files will be readable. This file type has the extension RTF. See Also DOC File


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Scanner - A virus detection program that searches for viruses. See Also: Anti-virus Software, On-demand Scanner, On-Access Scanner


Search Engines - Internet sites that maintain an index of the pages making up the world wide web / internet. Their databases can be searched for the address of a specific website.


Sector Viruses - See: Boot Sector Infector, Master Boot Sector Virus


Self-encrypting Virus - Self-encrypting viruses attempt to conceal themselves from anti-virus programs. Most anti-virus programs attempt to find viruses by looking for certain patterns of code (known as virus signatures) that are unique to each virus. Self-encrypting viruses encrypt these text strings differently with each infection to avoid detection. See Self-garbling Virus, Encrypted Virus


Self-extracting Files - A self-extracting file decompresses part of itself into one or more parts when executed. Software authors and others often use this file type to transmit files and software via the Internet since the compressed files conserve disk space and reduce download time. Some anti-virus products may not search self-extracting file components. To scan these components, you must first extract the files and then scan them.


Self-garbling Viruses - A self-garbling virus attempts to hide from anti-virus software by garbling its own code. When these viruses spread, they change the way their code is encoded so anti-virus software cannot find them. A small portion of the virus code decodes the garbled code when activated. See Also: Self-encrypting Virus, Polymorphic Virus


Shared Drive - A disk drive available to other computers on the network. Shared drives use the Universal Naming Convention to differentiate themselves from other drives. See Also: Mapped Drives, UNC


Shareware - Software distributed for evaluation without cost, but that requires payment to the author for full rights. If, after trying the software, you do not intend to use it, you simply delete it. Using unregistered shareware beyond the evaluation period is pirating.


Shockwave - Interactive content that is embedded into web pages. They allow animations to play when visitors have the Shockwave player plug-in. Another product of the Macromedia company.


Signature - A search pattern, often a simple string of characters or bytes, expected to be found in every instance of a particular virus. Usually, different viruses have different signatures. Anti-virus scanners use signatures to locate specific viruses. Also: Virus Signatures


Site Architecture - Your site design, that optimizes the content for effective uses by your visitors.


Slow Infector - Slow infectors are active in memory and only infect new or modified files. See Also: Fast Infector


SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol) - The Internet e-mail delivery format for transmitting e-mail messages between servers.


Sniffer - A software program that monitors network traffic. Hackers use sniffers to capture data transmitted via a network.


Spam - it can do all of the things listed above, but comes to you by your in-box. Yes junk mail that is sitting in your in-box may infect you without you opening it, and it most certainly will if you do open it accidentally. Never click on anything and especially do not use their link to ‘remove you from their mailing list’ as it will get you bombarded with a whole lot more. It tells them you are active and reading junk mail and paints a bull's-eye on your e-mail address.


Sparse Infector - A sparse infector viruses use conditions before infecting files. Examples include files infected only on the 10th execution or files that have a maximum size of 128kb. These viruses use the conditions to infect less often and therefore avoid detection. Also: Sparse Virus


Spyware - A general term for a program that surreptitiously monitors your actions. While they are sometimes sinister, like a remote control program used by a hacker, software companies have been known to use spyware to gather data about customers. The practice is generally frowned upon. A technology that assists in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge. When you surf the Internet, "spyware is programming that is put in someone's computer to secretly gather information about the user and relay it to advertisers or other interested parties." As such, spyware is cause for public concern about privacy on the Internet. It transmits user information via the Internet to their site. There are concerns that some Web sites and commercial organizations track users' online activity through the use of what is called ‘spyware'. Sometimes coming in the form of ‘cookies' which enable the cookie writer to build-up information about what you do and where you go on the Web. Simply clearing your cookies file will not touch this ‘self protecting,’ hi-tech, hidden software. Don’t worry to much as we are here to help!  


SQL - Structured Query Languages are used to address the data and structure within a database.


Stealth Virus - Stealth viruses attempt to conceal their presence from anti-virus software. Many stealth viruses intercept disk-access requests, so when an anti-virus application tries to read files or boot sectors to find the virus, the virus feeds the program a "clean" image of the requested item. Other viruses hide the actual size of an infected file and display the size of the file before infection. Stealth viruses must be running to exhibit their stealth qualities. Also: Interrupt Interceptors


String - A consecutive series of letters, numbers, and other characters. "afsH(*&@~" is a string; so is "The Mad Hatter". Anti-virus applications often use specific strings, called virus signatures, to detect viruses. See Also: Signature


System Boot Record - See: Boot Record



Template - Certain applications use template files to pre-load default configurations settings. Microsoft Word uses a template called NORMAL.DOT to store information about page setup, margins and other document information.


Tiff - Tagged Image File Format is the standard cross-platform format for bitmap graphics. When you save a Bitmap as a Tiff, you retain all of the color and pixel information. Tiff's can be RGB, Gray-Scale or CMYK formatted colors. 


Time Bomb - Usually malicious action triggered at a specific date or time. See Also: Logic Bomb


Timestamp - The time of creation or last modification recorded on a file or another object. Users can usually find the timestamp in the Properties section of a file.


TOM - Top of Memory, a design limit at the 640kb-mark on most PCs. Often the boot record does not completely reach top of memory, thus leaving empty space. Boot sector infectors often try to conceal themselves by hiding around the top of memory. Checking the top of memory value for changes can help detect a virus, though there is also non-viral reasons this value change.


Triggered Event - An action built into a virus set off by a specific condition. Examples include a message displayed on a specific date or reformatting a hard drive after the 10th execution of a program.


Trojan Horse Program - A Trojan horse program is a malicious program that pretends to be a benign application; 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. Many people use the term to refer only to non-replicating malicious programs, thus making a distinction between Trojans and viruses. Also: Trojan


TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) - TSR programs stay in memory after being executed. TSR programs allow the user to quickly switch back and forth between programs in a non-multitasking environment, such as MS-DOS. Some viruses are TSR programs that stay in memory to infect other files and program. Also: Memory-resident Program


Tunneling - A virus technique designed to prevent anti-virus applications from working correctly. Anti-virus programs work by intercepting the operating system actions before the OS can execute a virus. Tunneling viruses try to intercept the actions before the anti-virus software can detect the malicious code. New anti-virus programs can recognize many viruses with tunneling behavior.



UNC (Universal Naming Convention) - This is the standard for naming network drives. For example, UNC directory path has the following form: \\server\resource-pathname\subfolder\filename


URL - Uniform Resource Locater is the address of web pages. Each page has a different URL. All addresses have three distinct parts. The protocol, the domain and the file name of the page.  



Vaccination - A technique of some anti-virus programs to store information about files in order to notify the user about file changes. Internal vaccines store the information within the file itself, while external vaccines use another file to verify the original for possible changes.


Variant - A modified version of a virus. Usually produced on purpose by the virus author or another person amending the virus code. If changes to the original are small, most anti-virus products will also detect variants. However, if the changes are large, the variant may go undetected by anti-virus software.


VBS (Visual Basic Script) - Visual Basic Script is a programming language that can invoke any system function--including starting, using and shutting down other applications without--user knowledge. VBS programs can be embedded in HTML files and provide active content via the Internet. Since not all content is benign, users should be careful about changing security settings without understanding the implications. This file type has the extension VBS.


Virus - A computer program file capable of attaching to disks or other files and replicating itself repeatedly, typically without user knowledge or permission. 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. There are computer viruses written for several operating systems including DOS, Windows, Amiga, Macintosh, Atari, and UNIX, and others. One of the best virus companies - McAfee presently detects more than 57,000 viruses, trojans, and other malicious software. See Also: Boot Sector Infector, File Viruses, Macro virus, Companion Virus, Worm

Virus Hoaxes - Hoaxes 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 information like:

 »  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.


Warm Boot - Restarting a computer without first turning off the power. Using CTL+ALT+DEL or the reset button on many computers can warm boot a machine. See Also: Cold Boot, Reset  *We do not recommend this type of shut down.


Web Authoring Program - A program that helps users create websites without the knowledge of programming code.


Web bugs - very small graphic files, usually 1 pixel by 1 pixel in size (hence the term "bug" or invisible) that can send messages to third parties about your Internet browsing habits. Third parties can use this information to create user profiles and can give you away by capturing the date and time the web bug was accessed, the browser version used and even your IP address when you received bug.


Web Host - A service offered by ISP's and Companies, providing space on their servers for publishing your website onto the internet.


Web Log - An ASCII file that logs every request for information from your website.


Windows Scripting - Windows Scripting Host (WSH) is a Microsoft integrated module that lets programmers use any scripting language to automate operations throughout the Windows desktop.


World Wide Web Consortium - The W3C organization consists of volunteers that work as the gatekeepers of HTML.


Worm - Worms are parasitic computer programs that replicate, but unlike viruses, do not infect other computer program files. Worms can create copies on the same computer, or can send the copies to other computers via a network. Worms often spread via IRC (Internet Relay Chat).



ZIP File - ZIP Archive File. A ZIP archive contains compressed collections of other files. ZIP files are popular on the Internet because users can deliver multiple files in a single container; the compressed files also save disk space and download time. A ZIP file can contain viruses if any of the files packaged in it contain viruses, but the ZIP file itself is not directly dangerous. Other archive files include RAR, and LHA files. This file type has the extension ZIP.


Zoo - A collection of viruses used for testing by researchers. See Also: In The Wild, Zoo Virus


Zoo Virus - A zoo virus exists in the collections of researchers and has never infected a real world computer system. See Also: In The Wild.


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The Definitions A - M are available on the previous page.



If you did not find the information you were searching for, just drop us a line and we will be glad to help out and add the information to this page for other guests. We are always adding new information so check back and discover something new! 

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Technology Terms

Definitions A - M

Definitions N - Z ««