Glossary

A

Address Harvesting
The use of computer programs that automatically gather contact information by collecting addresses such as those for emails, published on the Internet.
Adware
Software that displays advertisements on your computer. Adware becomes a problem if it:
  • installs itself on your computer without your consent;
  • installs itself in applications other than the one it came with;
  • hijacks your web browser in order to display more ads;
  • gathers data on your web browsing without your consent and sends it to others;
  • is designed to be difficult to uninstall.
Adware can slow down your computer and your Internet connection.
Alphanumeric
A combination of numbers and letters in upper or lower case (e.g., Cand4).
Anti-Virus Software
Software used to detect, prevent and remove malware, including viruses, affecting a user's computer or electronic address accounts.
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B

Bots
Software applications that run automated tasks over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone.
Botnets
Any number of software robots, or "bots", that operate undetected on a network of infected computers (or "zombies").
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C

Commercial Activity (As per the legislation)
Any particular transaction, act or conduct or any regular course of conduct that is of a commercial character, whether or not the person who carries it out does so in the expectation of profit, other than any transaction, act or conduct that is carried out for the purposes of law enforcement, public safety, the protection of Canada, the conduct of international affairs or the defence of Canada.
Commercial Electronic Message (CEM)
Any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity, regardless of whether there is an expectation of profit.
Computer Program (as per the Criminal Code)
Data representing instructions or statements that, when executed in a computer system, causes the computer system to perform a function.
Computer System (as per the Criminal Code)
A device that, or a group of interconnected or related devices one or more of which,
  1. contains computer programs or other data, and
  2. pursuant to computer programs,
    1. performs logic and control, and
    2. may perform any other function;
Cookie
A small data file created by a web server and stored on a user's computer. Cookies let websites identify users, keep track of users' preferences and recognize users who are returning to the website. They also let websites make custom pages for users. Some cookies may also keep personal information, such as site passwords and account numbers Web browsers let a user accept or refuse all cookies, third-party cookies or cookies from certain websites.
Cross-site Scripting (XSS)
A computer security liability that allows attackers to insert script into Web pages and use it to bypass access controls.
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D

Data (as per the legislation)
Signs, signals, symbols or concepts that are being prepared or have been prepared in a form suitable for use in a computer system.
Denial of Service Attack (DoS Attack) or Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS)
A type of cyber attack aimed at overwhelming or otherwise disrupting the ability of the target system to receive information and interact with any other system. For example, sending either one or a large number of unwanted messages to keep a server or network from working properly.
Dictionary Attack
  1. A technique used by spammers in which randomly generated email addresses are created using known domains, a dictionary of common words, and additional random characters in an attempt to spam actual email addresses.
  2. A technique in which a dictionary of common words is used to test many possibilities for passwords to break into a password-protected system.
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E

Electronic Address (as per the legislation)
An address used in connection with the transmission of an electronic message to
  • an electronic mail account;
  • an instant messaging account;
  • a telephone account*; or
  • any similar account.
Electronic Message (as per the legislation)
A message sent by any means of telecommunication, including a text, sound, voice or image message*.

*Note that provisions in Canada's anti-spam legislation in respect of commercial electronic messages do not apply to voice and fax communication.

Email Address
The name that identifies an electronic mail account where email can be sent or received. (e.g. mailbox@domain.ca)
Email Service Provider (ESP)
A company that provides email services to other businesses. These services can include collecting and keeping lists of email addresses, sending bulk email to the addresses on the lists, removing addresses that bounce and dealing with complaints and abuse reports caused by emailings.
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F

Firewall
A hardware and/or software device on a computer that controls the access between a private network and a public network like the Internet. A firewall is designed to provide protection by stopping unauthorized access to the computer or network.
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H

HTML (Hypertext markup language)
It is a method or language used to format some web pages and email messages.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP and HTTPS)
A system of standards that allows users to share information on the Internet. HTTPS is a more secure, encrypted version of HTTP.
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I

Internet Service Provider (ISP)
A company that provides users with a connection to the Internet. The company may also provide services such as email accounts and the hosting of websites.
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J

JavaScript
A scripting language which allows authors to design interactive web pages.
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M

Malware
A general term for malicious software, including viruses, worms and Trojans.
Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
A variation of Short Message Service (SMS) that is designed to be able to send photos, video and audio clips as well as text over mobile or cellular networks.
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N

Network
A number of computers that are connected to one another.
Node
In data communication, a physical network node may either be a data circuit-terminating equipment (DCE) such as a modem, hub, bridge or switch; or a data terminal equipment (DTE) such as a digital telephone handset, a printer or a host computer, for example a router, a workstation or a server.
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O

Operating System
The main program that runs on a computer and/or electronic device. An operating system manages all other software, as well as, the input and output to and from attached hardware devices. Major operating systems include Windows, MacOS X, Linux, iOS, Blackberry OS and Android.
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P

Phishing
Phishing is an attempt to obtain personal information for identity theft or other sensitive information such as credit card numbers or bank account details for fraud. For example, an email message may appear to be from the receiver's bank asking them to visit a website to confirm account details, but instead directs them to a false website where the personal information is collected. A variation of phishing called "spear-phishing" gains and uses specific information about users to tailor these fake emails so they seem even more real.
Point of Sale (POS) Systems
The point where customers pay for their purchases. Components can include hardware, software, scanners, cash registers, and keypads or touch screens.
Pop-Up
Unsolicited content that opens or "pops up" in a separate box on a web browser.
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R

Router
A network device that is used to establish and control the flow of data between different networks.
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S

Service Set Identifier (SSID)
The public name of a wireless network.
Short Message Service (SMS)
A service for sending short written/text messages between devices over mobile or cellular networks.
Smishing
A phishing message sent via SMS. See "Phishing."
Social Engineering
Manipulating people to gain sensitive information through means such as phishing.
Spam
Spam generally refers to the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited, bulk messages. Spam messages may contain deceptive content, support illegal activities and may also be used to deliver electronic threats such as spyware and viruses.
Spammer
A person or organization that sends out spam.
Spoofing
Pretending to be another person or organization to make it appear that an email message originated from somewhere other than its actual source.
Spyware
Software that collects information about a user without the user's knowledge or consent. Some spyware changes the way a user's computer works, without the user's knowledge or consent.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Encryption
A cryptographic protocol that provides security when communicating over the Internet.
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T

Telecommunications Service Providers (TSPs)
A person who, independently or as part of a group or association, provides telecommunications services.
Text Messaging
See Short Message Service (SMS) for definition.
Transmission Data (as per the legislation)
data that:
  1. relates to the telecommunications functions of dialling, routing, addressing or signalling;
  2. either is transmitted to identify, activate or configure an apparatus or device, including a computer program, in order to establish or maintain a communication, or is generated during the creation, transmission or reception of a communication and identifies or purports to identify the type, direction, date, time, duration, size, origin, destination or termination of the communication; and
  3. does not reveal the substance, meaning or purpose of the communication.
Trojan
Software that secretly performs a second function (usually harmful and illegal) on a computer system while pretending to be a benign application.
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U

Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
A name used to identify a web page or other online resource (e.g., http://www.mydomain.ca/somepage).
Unsubscribe
To cancel a subscription to or remove from an online mailing list, publication or service.
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V

Virus
A type of malware that can infect a computer and spreads by copying itself and using the infected computer to send itself to other computers. Viruses are generally spread by email or website pop-ups.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP)
Routing of voice conversations over the Internet. This is distinct from a telephone call, which is made from your home or office phone which goes through the Public Switched Telephone Network.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A private communications network usually used within a company, or by several different companies or organisations, to communicate over a wider network. VPN communications are typically encrypted or encoded to protect the traffic from other users on the public network carrying the VPN.
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W

White List
A list of email addresses or IP addresses from which a mail server accepts incoming mail. White lists can be used as one part of an email filtering system.
Whitelisting
The reverse blacklisting. Rather than having a list of sites, contacts or email addresses which are unacceptable, whitelisting creates a list of the only sites, contacts and email addresses that are acceptable.
Wi-Fi
Refers to a set of wireless communication protocols that can transmit traffic to Wi-Fi enabled devices within a local area. A Wi-Fi enabled device such as a laptop or tablet can connect to the Internet when within range of a wireless network connected to the Internet.
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Z

Zombie
A computer infected by malware that is remotely controlled by the maker, distributor or controller of the malware. Most spam is currently sent through zombies.