Cybercrime 101: A Glossary for Home Internet Safety

Oct 25, 2019

Nearly two of every three Americans have experienced some form of data theft, mostly through fraudulent charges on credit cards, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey.

And many times, credit card fraud is a direct result of some type of cybercrime — a phishing scheme, malware, card skimmers or use of public Wi-Fi. (Read more about the telltale signs that your account has been hacked, and what you can do about it.)

Not sure what some of that means? You’re not alone. Another Pew survey found that many Americans don’t understand key cybersecurity topics, terms and concepts, especially the more technical ones.

Why does that matter? A greater understanding of cybercrime terms can help protect you and your family from having an account hacked — and even improve general safety every time you log onto your Kinetic internet.

And fortunately, our Windstream team is kicking off Cybersecurity Awareness Month this October with a glossary of key cybersecurity terms to get you started.


A person who gains access to a computer or a network without authorization


A person who gains access to a computer or a network without authorization for the purpose of promoting or protesting a cause


Infections within computer programs — including an infiltration of pop-up ads or data breaches — that can spread to other programs


A combination of two words: malicious software. It’s a general term used to group together threats, including viruses and spyware


Software that allows a third-party, such as a hacker, to access information about you — like your web history — without your authorization

Keylogging or Keystroke logging

A method of tracking what you type that is typically used to steal passwords and other confidential information


Software that shows you advertisements on programs across your computer


Software that holds hostage your files, information or computer until you pony up a ransom

Identity Theft

When a person takes another person’s identifying information, such as a social security number, without authorization


An attempt by phone or email to deceive you into providing personal information. Typically, these come in the form of emails in which hackers mimic legitimate companies and ask something of you (e.g., “your email has been compromised. Click here to change your password.”) on an illegitimate website.


When a person steals credit or debit card information through devices hooked up to legitimate card transaction machines


A network of compromised computers controlled by a hacker, who usually carries on denial of service attacks

Denial of Service

A type of cyberattack that can deny you access to your computer or website


A solution to cybercrime in which information, whether confidential or not, is scrambled and, therefore, unreadable to those without an access code


A hardware or software that blocks unauthorized access to networks or computers

Two-step verification or two-step authentication

A solution to help prevent unauthorized access to accounts by requiring two steps of identification. As an example, for an email address, you will type in your password and receive a text message with a one-time randomized code that allows you to log in


A virtual private network gives you a secure connection to share data by accessing a private network from a public internet connection


A virtual data room is a secure online depository that holds confidential information, such as financial transactions

Keep these terms in mind as we celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month by giving you all the tips and tools you need to keep you and your family protected.




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