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Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

EC312 Glossary

Applications of Cyber Security/Engineering

This is the place to find definitions and links for some of the new terms and acronyms we discuss in class.
>> Submit a new term


ESD-Electrostatic Discharge - A single event, rapid transfer of electrostatic charge between two objects.


CPU - Central Processing Unit. The brains of the computer. This is what performs calculations and other operations in your system.

Heat sink - is an object that takes an apparatus from a higher temperature to a lower temperature by transferring the heat into the air surrounding it

IDE Cable - IDE Cables connect from the motherboard of a computer to the hard drive, cd drive and/or floppy drive. IDE stands for Integrated Drive Electronics.

Network Interface Card - A piece of hardware that allows a computer to connect to a network and thus send and receive data to and from other computers

Peripheral -(computer science) electronic equipment connected by cable to the CPU of a computer; "disk drives and printers are important peripherals"

RAM - (Electronics & Computer Science / Computer Science) random access memory: semiconductor memory in which all storage locations can be rapidly accessed in the same amount of time. It forms the main memory of a computer, used by applications to perform tasks while the device is operating

SATA cable - SATA Cables (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) are used for connecting a hard drive or CD drive to the motherboard. They are the next generation replacement for IDE cables.


Daemon - A program that is not invoked explicitly, but lies dormant waiting for some conditions to occur.

File Header - data placed at the beginning of a file denoting the identity (type) of file it is, independent of extension

GUI (graphical user interface) - a way for humans to interact with computers that uses windows, icons, and menus which can be manipulated by a mouse or keyboard.

Operating System - A program (or collection of programs) that manage(s) the physical computer and the programs that run on it by serving as an intermediary between those programs (or the user) and the physical machine. For example, Microsoft Windows.

Shell - The part of the command processor that accepts commands. After verifying that the commands are valid, the shell sends them to the command processor to be executed.


Binary - is a numeral system which uses a base of 2 and is represented by two symbols (1 and 2)

Decimal - is a numeral system which has a base of ten

Hexadecimal - Is a positional numeral system with a base of 16


Application Programming Interface - The interface (calling conventions) exclusively for programs by which an executing program accesses the OS and other services to do something on its behalf.

ASCII - ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) is a code that represents English characters as numbers. ASCII codes represent text in computers, for example uppercase M is 77.

Buffer(Array) - a container that can store larger volumes of data

Byte - A unit of storage for digital information that usually consists of 8 bits.

Compiler - A program that translates source code into machine language that a processor can understand.

Debugger - Used by programmers to step through compiled programs, examine program memory, and view processor registers.

Format String - A character string with special escape sequences that tell the function to insert variables printed in a specific format in place of the escape sequence.

Global Variable - a variable that is accessible in every scope (unless shadowed). Interaction mechanisms with global variables are called global environment (see also global state) mechanisms.

Heap - The section of computer memory where all the variables created or initialized DURING EXECUTION are stored.

Null Byte - Having the value of zero, a null byte signifies the termination of a string.

Pseudocode - a compact and informal high-level description of the operating principle of a computer program or other algorithm. It uses the structural conventions of a programming language, but is intended for human reading rather than machine reading.

Stack - In programming, a special type of data structure in which items are removed in the reverse order from that in which they are added, so the most recently added item is the first one removed. This is also called last-in, first-out (LIFO). The stack is the section of memory that is allocated for automatic variables within functions.

Typecasting - A way to temporarily change a variable's data type.

User Defined Function - A function incorporated into the main program that has been written by the user in order to accomplish a certain task.


Baud rate - the number of signaling elements or symbols that occur in a given unit of time.

Frequency Division Multiplexing (FDM) - A type of multiplexing in which multiple signals share the bandwidth of a common communication channel. (transmits at different frequencies--car radio receives)

Modem - A device that converts binary signals into analog signals capable of being transmitted over the telephone lines and demodulates them, re-creating the binary output.

Multiplexing - a technique which allows more than one signal to be transmitted concurrently over a single medium

Time division multiplexing - Time-sharing variant of multiplexing. Each signal occupies the entire bandwidth of a channel, but each signal is transmitted for only a brief period of time.


ARP - Address Resolution Protocol, which essentially maps IP address to hardware addresses, such as "TCP/IP."

Domain Name System - This system matches the domain name (website address) to its IP address. The IP address is used by computers to send packets whereas human use the domain name to easily direct the browser to a website. The connection made by the DNS allows for easy access for the humans.

Submitted By: Delano Martins

Hub - A hardware device that connects ethernet devices into a single network. It is on the physical layer of the OSI model and does not discriminate which computers to send packets to on the local network.

protocol - method of communication between two devices; rules and procedures used to ensure compatibility between the sender and receiver of digital data regardless of the hardware and software; are used to identify the start and end of a message, the sender and receiver, the number of bytes to be transmitted and the method of error detection

Router - A hardware device that connects networks. It operates on the network layer of the OSI model and sends and receives packets across networks, particularly the internet as a whole. It reads the IP addresses of intended receivers and determines the destinations and best routes for those packets.

Switch - A hardware device that is a smarter version of a hub. It works on the data layer of the OSI model and discriminates which computers to send packets to on the local network. It does this by looking at the address of the intended receiver and sends the packet to that one location.


ARP Spoofing - A technique whereby an attacker sends fake (spoofed) Address Resolution Protocol messages onto a LAN. This is usually done in an attempt to associate the attacker's MAC address with the IP address of another host, usually the default gateway or network router. This causes any traffic being sent to that IP address to be sent to the attacker instead.

Submitted By: Jenn Underhill

Brute-Force Attack - A dictionary attack that tries every single possible combination

White Hat (hackers) - The term "white hat" in Internet slang refers to an ethical hacker, or a computer security expert, who specializes in penetration testing and in other testing methodologies to ensure the security of an organization's information systems

Shell Code - In computer security, a shellcode is a small piece of code used as the payload in the exploitation of a software vulnerability. It is called "shellcode" because it typically starts a command shell from which the attacker can control the compromised machine. Shellcode is commonly written in machine code, but any piece of code that performs a similar task can be called shellcode. Because the function of a payload is not limited to merely spawning a shell, some have suggested that the name shellcode is insufficient. However, attempts at replacing the term have not gained wide acceptance.

Information Assurance

Asymmetric Cipher - When exchanging data, each end of the exchange encrypts data with the other user/server's public key so that server/user can decrypt the data with their private key. This method is safe, but takes more time as the prime numbers are gargantuan. The private key must be kept safe.

Caesar Cipher - a simple and widely used encryption technique, this cipher shifts a message's letters a certain number of places in the alphabet

Encryption - Encryption is the conversion of data into a form, called a ciphertext, that cannot be easily understood by unauthorized people. Decryption is the process of converting encrypted data back into its original form, so it can be understood.

Hybrid Cipher - A type of data exchange that takes the best of both worlds from Symmetric and Asymmetric Ciphers. Asymmetric encryption is used to set up a secure connection, but then the data is sent back and forth by using symmetric encryption. To add more security, a digital signature is used by a user signing the data with their private key, and the other end decrypts the signature by using the public key.

Symmetric Cipher - When exchanging data, both ends of the exchange encrypt data with a symmetric key. The key must be kept secret. This method is fast, but there is an issue in setting up a secure key exchange.

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