October is Cyber-Security Awareness Month: from acronyms to buzzwords

Submitted by Nate Burt/Amy Hoffman

In the technology world we are typically barraged with acronyms full of useful meaning to we geeks.  Lately, though, we’ve had numerous buzzwords sent our way that we’ve been eager to share with anyone willing to listen.  Many of these buzzwords relate to what “evil-doers” in the computing space are doing with computers. 

It has only been a few years since we spoke of computer viruses and trojans with a mixture of amusement at some of the harmless ones, to fear or anger of those that deleted entire hard drives on the nth day of the nth month.  The landscape has shifted, though, as big money now drives the theft of your computer’s power, information, and/or your pocketbook.

Enter spam, phishing, rootkits, spyware, malware, grayware, adware, backscatter, and more.  Some are infestations, while others are the result.  Most are intended to trick folks out of their money.

Some bits of software code silently observe your computer usage, while others pop up ads, and many more prompt you to send sensitive information, and the like. 

There has been a recent surge in notices that pop up in your web browser or as an alert to the operating system informing you of serious threats to the information on your computer – and urging you to take immediate action.  This relatively new group of applications takes on a name quite appropriate for the season – SCAREWARE! 

Many computers have been infested with “Antivirus 2009” and other relatives, many of which originate from web sources including infected video on social networking sites.  Microsoft and others are hoping to put the scare back into the “evil-doers” in this Halloween season, though, through legal action.  Boo! 


for more on Cyber-Security Awareness Month:



for more on “scareware” and pending legal action:






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