Information Technology Glossary
Ability to use, create, modify, view, or otherwise manipulate information on a system.
Access control is the means by which the ability to use, create, modify, view, etc., is explicitly enabled or restricted in some way (usually through physical and system-based controls).
The combination of user name and password that provides an individual, group, or service with access to a computer system or computer network.
Administrative/special access account
Privileged account that impacts access to an information resource or that allows circumvention of controls in order to administer the information resource.
Any software package that detects and/or removes malicious code. This can include anti-virus software and spyware protection.
The process of confirming a claimed identity. All forms of authentication are based on something you know, something you have, or something you are.
- ‘Something you know’ is some form of information that you can recognize and keep to yourself, such as a personal identification number (PIN) or password.
- ‘Something you have’ is a physical item you possess, such as a photo ID or a security token.
- ‘Something you are’ is a human characteristic considered to be unique, such as a fingerprint, voice tone, or retinal pattern.
The act of granting permission for someone or something to conduct an act. Even when identity and authentication have indicated who someone is, authorization may be needed to establish what actions are permitted.
The requirement that an asset or resource be accessible to authorized persons, entities, or devices.
Copy of files and applications made to avoid loss of data and facilitate recovery in the event of a system crash.
Methods for differentiating humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical or behavioral traits such as fingerprints or facial geometry.
Using biometrics to verify or authenticate the identity of a person.
Business continuity plan (BCP)
The documentation of a predetermined set of instructions or procedures that describe how an organization’s critical business functions will be sustained during and after a significant disruption.
University data protected specifically by federal or state law or Angelo State University rules and regulations (e.g., HIPAA; FERPA; Sarbanes-Oxley, Gramm-Leach-Bliley; the Texas Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act; Angelo State University Operating Policy and Procedure; specific donor or employee data). University data that are not otherwise protected by a known civil statute or regulation, but which must be protected due to university contractual agreements requiring confidentiality considerations (e.g., Non-Disclosure Agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, Service Level Agreements, Granting or Funding Agency Agreements, etc.) are also included (see extended list of category I data classification examples in the Data Classification Standard).
University data not otherwise identified as category-I data, but which are releasable in accordance with the Texas Public Information Act (e.g., contents of specific e-mail, date of birth, salary, etc.) Such data must be appropriately protected to ensure a controlled and lawful release.
University data that are not otherwise identified as category-I or category-II data (e.g., publicly available). Such data have no requirement for confidentiality.
Storage on a central server made available over a network to users.
Any implementation of new functionality, interruption of service, repair of existing functionality, and/or removal of existing functionality to an information resource.
The process of controlling modifications to hardware, software, firmware, and documentation to ensure that information resources are protected against improper modification before, during, and after system implementation.
Computer security incident
See Security incident.
The classification of data of which unauthorized disclosure/use could cause serious damage to an organization or individual.
Characteristic of information indicating it is known by a limited set of people.
Information maintained by the university that is exempt from disclosure under the provisions of the Public Records Act or other applicable state and federal laws. The controlling factor for confidential information is dissemination.
The custodian is responsible for the processing and storage of information. Custodians of information resources will:
- Implement the controls specified by the information owner(s) and required by the Information Security Program.
- Manage system risk and develop policies/procedures required to protect the system in a manner commensurate with risk.
- Maintain compliance with ASU information security policies
- Provide physical and procedural safeguards for the information resources.
- Assist information owners in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of controls and monitoring.
- Implement the monitoring techniques and procedures for detecting, reporting, and investigating incidents.
- Ensure availability of information resource per requirements of information owner.
Data loss prevention
Prevention of unnecessary exposure of protected information.
See information owner.
An electronic document which uses a digital signature to bind specially derived numerical information with an identity - such as the name of a person or an organization. Most often encountered on web sites using encryption (SSL/https).
Method of adding specially derived numerical information to a file or message (most often used as part of a digital certificate infrastructure).
The subset of Data (as defined above) that is transmitted by, maintained, or made available in electronic media.
The act, intentional or otherwise, of revealing information that is otherwise held as confidential or protected.
Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)
A written plan for processing critical IT applications in the event of a major hardware or software failure or destruction of facilities. Such plans are designed to restore operability of the target system, application, or computer facility.
Any message, image, form, attachment, data, or other communication sent, received, or stored within an electronic mail system.
Electronic mail system
Any computer software application that allows electronic mail to be communicated from one computing system to another.
Any of the following: a) Electronic storage media including storage devices in computers (hard drives, memory) and any removable/transportable digital storage medium, such as magnetic tape or disk, optical disk, or digital memory card; or b) Transmission media used to exchange information already in electronic storage media. Transmission media include, for example, the internet (wide-open), extranet (using internet technology to link a business with information accessible only to collaborating parties), leased lines, dial-up lines, private networks, intranet, and the physical movement of removable/transportable electronic storage media.
When an unauthorized immediate response to imminent critical system failure is needed to prevent widespread service disruption.
Data rendered unreadable to anyone without the appropriate cryptographic key and algorithm.
Process of numerically changing data to enhance confidentiality. Data is obscured using a specific algorithm and key both of which are required to interpret the encrypted data.
A person given authorization to access information on a system.
Data decryption keys or passwords held in trust by a third party to be turned over to the user only upon fulfillment of specific authentication conditions.
State during which a system’s controls do not adequately reduce risk that the information could be stolen or exploited by an unauthorized person.
An access control mechanism that acts as a barrier between two or more segments of a computer network or overall client/server architecture, used to protect internal networks or network segments from unauthorized users or processes. Such devices include hardware that is placed in the network to create separate security zones, provide NAT, and create a point of access control.
Any set of circumstances in which the anticipated and configured delivery of a service is interrupted, delayed, or otherwise unavailable.
Process of returning service as quickly and effectively as possible.
Information custodian or custodian
Person(s) responsible for ensuring the infrastructure of a system provides appropriate levels of availability, confidentiality, and integrity.
Responsible for specified information and establishing the controls for its collection, creation, processing, access, dissemination, and disposal. The owner is usually the respective chair of the department or dean of the college, unless delegated. The owner of a collection of information is the person responsible for the business results of that system or the business use of the information. Where appropriate, ownership may be shared by managers of different departments. The owner or his designated representatives are responsible for and authorized to:
- Evaluate and classify sensitivity of the data based upon university data classification standards.
- Define protection requirements for the data outside of those specified for the classification of the data based on the sensitivity of the data, any legal or regulatory requirements, and business needs.
- Determine the asset’s value.
- Assign custody of information resources and provide appropriate authority to implement security controls and procedures.
- Define requirements for access to the data and approve access to information resources.
- Communicate data protection requirements to the custodian that processes the data.
- Specify appropriate controls, based on risk assessment, to protect information resources from unauthorized modification, deletion, or disclosure to meet business needs and compliance requirements.
The equipment and software used to collect, record, process, display, and transmit information.
Information resources facility
Any location that houses information resource equipment (includes servers, hubs, switches, and routers). Facilities are usually dedicated rooms or mechanical/wiring closets in the buildings.
Information Resources Manager (IRM)
Authorized and accountable to the State of Texas for management of the university’s information resources to implement security policies, procedures, and guidelines to protect the information resources of the university. The Associate Vice President of Information Technology is designated as the university’s IRM. The IRM will:
- Maintain information as a strategic asset of the university.
- Provide the resources to enable employees to carry out their responsibilities for securing information resources and data.
- Review and approve information owners and associated responsibilities.
Information Security Council
Body assembled by the CIO that contains at least the CIO and Information Security Officer. Provides direction and management of the information security program and information technology risk management program.
Information Security Officer (ISO)
Responsible for administering the information security functions within the university. The ISO is the university’s internal and external point of contact and internal resource for all information security matters. The ISO will:
- Develop, coordinate and administer the ASU Information Security Program and periodically assess whether the program is implemented in accordance with ASU IT Security policies.
- Provide consultation on balancing effective IT security with business needs.
- Develop and maintain an information security awareness program.
- Provide solutions, guidance, and expertise in IT security.
- Maintain written IT security policies, standards and procedures as appropriate.
- Collecting data relative to the state of IT security at ASU and communicating as needed.
- Provide guidance on the information security requirements of federal, state and local privacy regulations.
Information security program
The elements, structure, objectives, and resources that establish an information resources security function within the university.
The accuracy and completeness of information and assets and the authenticity of transactions.
Ideas for which property rights are recognized under patent, trademark, or copyright law. Usually a work originating from thought or an idea that is distinct, separate, clearly definable, and novel.
A global system interconnecting computers and computer networks. The computers and networks are owned separately by a host of organizations, government agencies, companies, and colleges.
Intrusion detection system (IDS)
Hardware or a software application that can be installed on network devices or host operating systems to monitor network traffic and host log entries for signs of known and likely methods of intruder activity and attacks. Suspicious activities trigger administrator alarms and other configurable responses.
The interception of data on the university network by ISO and IT Networking and Telecommunications staff, in accordance with local law and after following due process and receiving proper authorization from the appropriate authorities.
Account that allows access only to a local system and uses that systems local authentication service.
Local area network (LAN)
A data communications network spanning a limited geographical area. It provides communication between computers and peripherals at relatively high data rates and relatively low error rates.
Storage that is physically local to the workstation or server.
Software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner’s informed consent. The expression is a general term used by computer professionals to mean a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software or program code including spyware, Trojan horses, viruses, and worms.
Mission critical information resource
Information resource defined to be essential to the university’s function and which, if made unavailable, will inflict substantial harm to the university and the university’s ability to meet its instructional, research, patient care, or public service missions. Mission critical information resources include confidential information and sensitive information.
All associated equipment and media creating electronic transmission between any information resource(s), such as wired, optical, wireless, IP, synchronous serial, telephony, etc.
Based on data criticality, offsite storage should be in a geographically different location from the campus that does not share the same disaster threat event. Based on an assessment of the data backed up, removing the backup media from the building and storing it in another secured location on the campus may be appropriate.
See information owner.
A string of characters used to verify or “authenticate” a person’s identity.
The characteristic of a password typically described by the number of characters, the size of the character set used, and the randomness with which those characters were chosen.
Description of a password’s ability to resist being guessed or otherwise mathematically or cryptographically discovered.
Perimeter security control
The first layer of defense against malicious traffic that filters information between university internal networks and the internet.
Personally identifiable information
Any information that alone or in conjunction with other information identifies an individual, including Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, military ID numbers, passport ID numbers, passwords/PINs, personal accounts, credit card numbers, protected health information, financial information, criminal history records, unpublished home addresses or phone numbers, biometric data, and any other information that is deemed confidential by law or university policy.
Area of knowledge concerned with creating and enhancing the safety and security of a physical space and the physical assets contained therein.
Physical security control
Devices and means to control physical access to sensitive information and to protect the availability of the information. Examples are physical access systems (fences, mantraps, guards); physical intrusion detection systems (motion detector, alarm system); and physical protection systems (sprinklers, backup generator).
Personal identification number - typically associated with systems using a physical security card (ATMs) together with a short number to authenticate an individual.
Data in a form readable by anyone having access to the system on which it is stored or to the network over which it is transmitted.
Portable computing device
Any handheld portable device capable of performing basic computer tasks such as chat, email, web browsing, and storing information - smart phones, tablet computers (iPads), and PDAs all fall into this definition.
Any University system, software, or application that is used in the daily operations of the University.
Set of instructions written in a computer programming language that performs a specific set of related functions (Microsoft Word, et.al.).
Any information provided protection by law, regulation, or other legal means which mandates the methods, controls, processes, and/or procedures to afford such protection. This includes Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Both category I and category II information fall under this definition.
Any storage device built and intended to be easily connected to and removed from a computer system - examples include memory sticks, pen drives, external hard drives, and CD/DVDs.
Returning service through the implementation of a permanent solution or a workaround.
Potential that a given set of circumstances and actions will lead to an undesirable outcome - in terms of information this means loss of one or more of (confidentiality, availability, and integrity).
The process of identifying, evaluating, and documenting the level of impact that may result from the operation of an information system on an organization’s mission, functions, image, reputation, assets, or individuals. Risk assessment incorporates threat and vulnerability analyses and considers mitigations provided by planned or in-place security controls.
Decisions to accept risk exposures or to reduce vulnerabilities and to align information resources risk exposure with the organization’s risk tolerance.
Most privileged access to a computer system allowing the use, change, and deletion of any and all configuration information, system software, and data.
Formal notification received, reviewed, and approved by the review process in advance of the change being made.
Any previously agreed upon period in which a system is not available for normal use. This typically requires specific methods of discussion, approval and scheduling (Change Management).
The person charged with monitoring and implementing security controls and procedures for a system. Whereas each university will have one information security officer, technical management may designate a number of security administrators.
Any incident in which the secure configuration of a system has been compromised.
Security incident management
Area of incident management focused on controlling and correcting vulnerabilities, exposures, and compromise of the secure configuration of any system.
Information maintained by the university that requires special precautions to protect it from unauthorized modification or deletion. Sensitive information may be either public or confidential. It is information that requires a higher than normal assurance of accuracy and completeness. The controlling factor for sensitive information is that of integrity.
Any computer providing a service over the network. Services include, but are not limited to: website publishing, SSH, chat, printing, wireless access, and file sharing.
Ability for a user to sign in once and have that sign-in allow access to multiple information systems without the need for providing a username and password for each separate system.
Software that is installed surreptitiously on a computer to intercept or take partial control over the user’s interaction with the computer, without the user’s informed consent. While the term suggests software that secretly monitors the user’s behavior, the functions of spyware include collecting various types of personal information, interfere with control of the computer, changing computer settings, and redirecting web browser activity.
A strong password is constructed so that it cannot be easily guessed by another user or a “hacker” program. It is typically a minimum number of positions in length and contains a combination of alphabetic, numeric, or special characters and should not be linked to any personal information such as a birth date, Social Security number, and so on.
Person responsible for the effective operation and maintenance of information resources, including implementation of standard procedures and controls, to enforce a university’s security policy.
Process whereby information on two systems is shared so that each system’s copy is identical to the other.
In the context of IT, any device capable of performing complex functions to provide services by use of hardware, firmware, software, or other programming. Systems may include workstations, desktops, laptops, servers, routers, and switches.
Process of enhancing the configuration of a system so that there is greater assurance the system can be used only by authorized users for authorized purposes.
Destructive programs-usually viruses or worms-that are hidden in an attractive or innocent-looking piece of software, such as a game or graphics program. Victims may receive a Trojan horse program by e-mail or on portable media, often from another unknowing victim, or may be urged to download a file from a website.
The intentional or unintentional revealing of restricted information to people who do not have a legitimate need to access that information.
Failure to present notification to the formal process in advance of the change being made. Unscheduled changes will only be acceptable in the event of a system failure or the discovery of a security vulnerability.
Any period in which a system is not available for normal use and that lack of availability was not previously discussed, approved, and scheduled.
An individual, automated application or process that is authorized by the information owner to access the resource, in accordance with the information owner’s procedures and rules. The user is any person who has been authorized by the information owner to read, enter, or update that information. The user is the single most effective control for providing adequate security. The user has the responsibility to:
- Read and comply with university IT security policies
- Report breaches of information security, actual or suspected, to the Information Security Office.
- Take reasonable and prudent steps to protect the security of information resources and data to which access has been granted.
- Use the resource only for the purpose specified by the information owner.
- Comply with controls established by the information owner or custodian.
A pseudonym used by a user to access a computer system - typically based on the user’s legal name or some derivative thereof.
Encrypted connections over a larger network, typically over the Internet, which simulates the behavior of direct, local connections.
A computer virus refers to a program that enters your computer—often through e-mail or Internet downloads—and makes copies of itself, spreading throughout your computer and files. There is a wide range of computer viruses out there. They can be anything from merely annoying to horribly damaging—deleting files or making your computer inoperable. Viruses attach themselves to an application on a computer and aren’t actually executed until that application is accessed or run.
Any exploitable aspect of a system or process.
A document on the World Wide Web. Every web page is identified by a unique URL (uniform resource locator).
A computer that delivers (serves up) web pages.
A location on the World Wide Web, accessed by typing its address (URL) into a web browser. A website always includes a home page and may contain additional documents or pages.
Transmission of computer-based information over short to medium distances using radio frequencies.
Wireless adhoc networking
Wireless networking in which centralized authorization and infrastructure are not used - this is an unauthorized method of connecting systems to the university network.
World Wide Web
Also referred to as “the Web.” A system of Internet hosts that supports documents formatted in HTML (hypertext markup language), which contain links to other documents (hyperlinks) and to audio, video, and graphic images. Users can access the Web with special applications called browsers, such as Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer.
A program that makes copies of itself elsewhere in a computing system. These copies may be created on the same computer or may be sent over networks to other computers. The first use of the term described a program that copied itself benignly around a network, using otherwise-unused resources on networked machines to perform distributed computation. Some worms are security threats, using networks to spread themselves against the wishes of the system owners and disrupting networks by overloading them. A worm is similar to a virus in that it makes copies of itself, but different in that it need not attach to particular files or sectors at all.