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«Securing Information in the Digital Age Information Security Policies This document presents a suite of integrated solutions which, together, offer ...»

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Virtual Private Network – VPN A Virtual Private Network – or VPN, is a network which emulates a private network, although runs over public network lines and infrastructure. Using specialist hardware and software, a VPN may be established running over the Internet. The use of encryption and a ‘tunnelling protocol’ maintains privacy.

Because public networks are used, the cost of a VPN costs a fraction of that of a traditional private network.

Virus A virus is a form of malicious code and, as such it is potentially disruptive. It may also be transferred unknowingly from one computer to another. The term Virus Glossary 491 includes all sort of variations on a theme, including the nastier variants of macroviruses, Trojans, and Worms, but, for convenience, all such programs are classed simply as ‘virus’.

Viruses are a very real problem for both organisation and individual computer users. At the present time there are very few, if any, virus which affect large computers, primarily because the programming languages which those systems use are not the same as those used to write virus code. Viruses, therefore are a problem primarily for users of PCs and servers.

As at April 2001, there were over 49,000 known viruses. Fortunately the great majority of these are classed as ‘rare’ and usually appear only in virus research centre files. However, that still leaves nearly 5,000 viruses, classed as ‘common’, roaming the world’s computer networks, so there is absolutely no room for complacency.

They tend to fall into 3 groups:Dangerous; - such as ‘Resume’ and ‘Loveletter’ which do real, sometimes irrevocable, damage to a computer’s system files, and the programs and data held on the computer’s storage media, as well as attempting to steal and transmit user ID and password information Childish; - such as ‘Yeke’, ‘Hitchcock’, ‘Flip’, and Diamond, which do not, generally, corrupt or destroy data, programs, or boot records, but restrict themselves to irritating activities such as displaying childish messages, playing sounds, flipping the screen upside down, or displaying animated graphics Ineffective - those, such as ‘Bleah’, which appear to do nothing at all except reproduce themselves, or attach themselves to files in the system, thereby clogging up the storage media with unnecessary clutter. Some of these viruses are ineffective because of badly written code, - they should do something, but the virus writer didn’t get it quite right.

Within all types there are some which operate on the basis of a ‘triggered event’ usually a date such as April 1st, or October 31st, or a time such 15:10 each day when the ‘Tea Time’ virus activates.

Organisations should maintain a ‘virus diary’ of known high risk dates/times to ensure that anti-virus measures are in place as required.

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Voice Mailbox A mechanism whereby incoming telephone messages are recorded pending the availability of the intended recipient. Fancy IT version of the answer-phone.

Volume Testing Volume Testing, as its name implies, is testing that purposely subjects a system (both hardware and software) to a series of tests where the volume of data being processed is the subject of the test. Such systems can be transactions processing systems capturing real time sales or could be database updates and or data retrieval.

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Vulcan Nerve Pinch [from the old ‘Star Trek’ TV series via Commodore Amiga hackers] Alternative name for the Three Finger Salute Web Site An organisation’s Web site is now as common as a Business Card but, unlike business cards, Web sites can offer anything from a simple ‘electronic brochure’, to an engaging experience of a product or service ‘on line’. In just a few years, web sites have grown from being static and ‘flat’ pages, to those with animated 3D graphics and sound and many pages are able to be built dynamically depending upon selections made.

The Web; it’s what most people mean by ‘the Internet’.

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Weeding Selective stripping of records, files, data, etc. More refined than ‘stripping’ which is more wholesale in nature, weeding can be as precise as removing one particular field from a database.

Well don't do it then Standard help desk response to a Luser who complains that (for example) a particular combination of key strokes makes the PC do strange things. Derived from an old doctor's office joke about a patient with a trivial complaint.

Wetware The human nervous system, as opposed to electronic computer hardware or software. Also, human beings (programmers, operators, administrators) associated with a computer system, as opposed to the system's hardware or software. Probably from the novels of Rudy Rucker, or, possibly, Stanislav Lem.

White Hat / Black Hat Hackers Cyber terms. White Hat hackers are hackers who perform hacking for legitimate reasons; e.g. IT Security technicians testing their systems and researchers testing the limits of systems. On the other hand, Black Hat hackers are those who perform clandestine hacking for malicious reasons; such persons can also be referred to

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Wide Area Network A communications network that extends beyond the organisation’s immediate premises.


WINTEL is the short form of Windows® Intel® meaning an Intel processor based PC running a version of Microsoft Windows® e.g. 3.1, 95,98, NT or 2000. All these are forms of WINTEL PC. Of course, there are other microprocessor (chip ) manufacturers who are making significant in roads into Intel’s domination of the PC chip market. Hence the demise of the term WINTEL!

Workstation The term workstation used to refer to extremely powerful desktop computers which were often (and still are) used by the scientific and research communities. They tend to run the UNIX® operating system using powerful RISC processors with massive screens and superb graphics!

Today, however, whilst the above definition remains broadly true, workstation can also be used interchangeably with ‘PC’ where the computer is attached to the corporate network / LAN.

Worm Classed as a type of virus. From ‘Tapeworm’ in the Science Fiction novel ‘The Shockwave Rider’ by John Brunner. A Worm is a malicious program that propagates itself over a network, reproducing itself as it goes.

The Anna Kournikova virus of March 2001, was written in the Visual Basic language with the code encrypted in an effort to disguise the contents.

Additionally, the file was disguised as a graphic (.jpg) image of the famous tennis player. This Worm, and others like it, replicate themselves by generating outbound emails to all those persons listed in your e-mail address book.

WORM Disk A ‘Write Once Read Many’ non-magnetic disk where, once data had been written to the disk, it could not be deleted, changed, or any more data added, but could be read, or copied to other media, as many times as required. Users of early CD drives used this technique to ‘burn’ programs and/or data onto a CD for distribution in the knowledge that it could not be altered in any way but was more reliable than removable magnetic media in situations where the disk would be accessed frequently.

Although advances in CD technology mean that in some cases more material can be added, and, most recently, can be deleted and the disk re-used, WORM disks are still the standard medium for distributing commercial software, and for companies distributing static data.

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XML XML - eXtensible Markup Language is a markup language as is HTML for Web pages. However, whereas HTML describes data in terms of its display characteristics a page, XML describes data in terms of its content. In that respect XML is a markup language that has significant potential for the capture and onward processing of data directly from Web pages.

The real significance of this is that Business to Business data transfer will be greatly facilitated by XML as neither party needs to write interfaces to each other’s systems; they merely need to be able to accept and process XML.

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Zip Disks Zip® Disks, introduced by the Iomega corporation, have become a de-facto standard for transportable data storage. Being physically a little large than a 3.5’ floppy disk, and yet able to store 250MB (or 100MB in older versions), makes the Zip® Disk an excellent choice for both transportable media and also security backups.

However, it is precisely because such large amounts of data may be easily copied and transported, that the use of such devices needs to be carefully controlled within the organisation. Please be aware that, only 10 years ago, 250MB was equivalent to the total storage capacity of most organisation’s data, and whilst this may appear small by today’s standards, it’s capacity ensure that ensure client databases, product details, plans and charts etc, can be reliably copied onto a disk that fits into a shirt pocket.

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