Basic Security Terms You Most Know About


Security professionals have specific terminology. Individuals or system administrators having experience in network administration are probably already familiar with most of these terms. Although most hacking terminology describes the activity or the person performing it (phreaking, sneaker, etc.). 

The first and most basic security device is the firewall. A firewall is a barrier between a network and the outside world. Sometimes a firewall is a stand-alone server, sometimes a router, and sometimes software running on a machine. Whatever it’s physical form, the purpose is the same: to filter traffic entering and exiting a network. Firewalls are related to, and often used in conjunction with, a proxy server. A proxy server hides your internal network IP addresses and presents a single IP address (its own) to the outside world.

Firewalls and proxy servers are added to networks to provide basic perimeter security. They filter incoming and outgoing network traffic but do not affect traffic on the network. Sometimes these devices are augmented by an intrusion-detection system (IDS). An IDS monitor’s traffic looking for suspicious activity that might indicate an attempted intrusion.

Firewall and Proxy server

Access control is another important computer security term. Access control is the aggregate of all measures taken to limit access to resources. This includes logon procedures, encryption, and any method that is designed to prevent unauthorised personnel from accessing a resource. Authentication is clearly a subset of access control, perhaps the most basic security activity. 

Authentication is simply the process of determining whether the credentials given by a user or another system, such as a username and password, are authorised to access the network resource in question. When a user logs in with a username and password, the system attempts to authenticate that username and password. If they are authenticated, the user will be granted access.

Non-repudiation is another term you encounter frequently in computer security. It is any technique that is used to ensure that someone performing an action on a computer cannot falsely deny that they performed that action. Non-repudiation provides reliable records of what user took a particular action at a specific time. In short, it is methods to track what actions are taken by what user. Various system logs provide one method for non-repudiation. One of the most important security activities is auditing. Auditing is the process of reviewing logs, records, and procedures to determine whether they meet standards. 

Least privilege is a concept you should keep in mind when assigning privileges to any user or device. The concept is that you only assign the minimum privileges required for that person to do his job, no more. Keep this simple but critical concept in mind.

You should also keep in mind the CIA triad, or Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. All security measures should affect one or more of these areas. For example, hard drive encryption and good passwords help protect confidentiality. Digital signatures help ensure integrity, and a good backup system, or network server redundancy, can support availability.