Cybersecurity Terms You Should Know – Part 4

Cybersecurity requires a ton of knowledge across many different areas and seemingly all at once. This short series of articles aims to give newer friends some guidance. If I did something dumb, please let me know on twitter @digibeard_yt or you can email at Let’s Go!
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 .


Malware is a combination word of “Malicious” and “software”. If the code is dangerous in what it tries to accomplish, it should be malware. Full stop. This covers everything from cryptominers to worms and trojan horses and so on.

MAC Address

Media Access Control address is a unique identifier assigned to a network interface card (NIC) for use as a network address in communications within a network segment. That’s a lot of words to say “every internet device has a MAC address”.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

If you’re using more than one method of authentication to access an account, resource or service, you’re using MFA. Most often this is paired with needing a PIN code from a text message or a hardware token or a mobile app like Google’s Authenticator. If you’re not using this with your personal service, you need to sort that, like, right now maaaan.


The Message Digest Algorithm is a crytographically broken but still widely used hash function producing a 128-bit hash value. It had a good run for an algorithm that was first published in 1992.


Released as an all-in-one penetration testing platform meant to aid in the successful exploitation of vulnerable targets.


An advanced Metasploit payload that embraces “living off the land” and persists in memory and is consequently a bit harder to trace.

Null-Byte Injection

A method to bypass the protections of various systems. Null bytes (%00, or 0x00) added to URLs can cause the web servers to return random and unwanted data which can then be useful for the attackers.

Network Interface Card (NIC)

This is the hardware in your comptuer that helps you get and stay connected to your network. Most often this is an ethernet port.

Network Address Translation (NAT)

A way to mitigate running out of IP addresses. Every device internally has its own address but when something wants to connect outside, only one external IP is used by the router.


A powerful (and popular) network mapping tool which gives information about what operating system is running, open ports, running services and OS versions.


SImple, yet powerful tool that will view and record data from the NIC on TCP and UDP network connections. This utility is no longer maintained and NCat is now the preferred tool.


Nikto is a powerful web application scanner that is trained to find 6,700+ vulnerabilities from server configuration errors to installed web server software.


Nessus is a commercial alternative to Nmap and provides a detailed list of vulnerabilities following a scan.


Data that is sent and received by systems uses packets to travel through the Intertubes. Packets have data written into them or encapsulated, and contain info such as source/destination IP, protocol(s) and other necessary information.

Password Cracking

The act of deciphering a password you don’t know. This attack could use something like JohnTheRipper to guess the hashes of a target computer’s users.

Password Sniffing

A software vulnerability may allow something like a man-in-the-middle attack to obtain passwords as quietly as possible to avoid detection.


A software update released by the author(s) to fix a bug or vulnerability in any system. (Interesting fact: this comes from the days of punchcards when you would literally patch up the holes you didn’t want read)


Sending fake emails that look like legitimate ones in an effort to steal credentials. Most often make use of fake websites that are carbon copies of the original to trick users into trusting the application.

Ping Sweep

A broad scan of an entire network range to see if/what systems are online.

Public Key Cryptography

This is an encryption mechanism that issues a user a pair of keys, a private and a public key. The sender can encrypt a message using their public key and the recipient can decrypt or decode the message with their private key.

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

PKI is a system designed to create, store and distribute digital certificates.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

Any information that identifies a user, full name, social security number, addresses, passport numbers, birthdates and more.


The bit of code that performs a specific function. Typically used in a malicious fashion.

Payment Card Industry-Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)

A standard that is implemented in any organization that handles credit card data.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.