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Information Technology Glossary


Ability to use, create, modify, view, or otherwise manipulate information on a system.

Access control

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 system or that allows circumvention of controls in order to administer the information system.

Anti-malware software

Any software package that detects and/or removes malicious code. This can include anti-virus software and spyware protection.

Areas containing critical infrastructure

Facilities that contain information systems. The ASU Data Center is an example.

ASU in security policy

The population of a group whose membership is determined by each individual’s responsibility to fulfill university policy and state regulatory requirements.  If the requirement must be fulfilled by all employees, then that is the membership of “ASU” for that requirement.


The process of confirming a claimed identity. All forms of authentication are based on something you know, something you have, or something you are.


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 failure.


Methods for differentiating humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical or behavioral traits such as fingerprints or facial geometry.

Biometric authentication

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.

 Category-1 data

Information whose confidentiality is protected by law or contract.  For a full definition see the Data Classification Standard.

Category-1a data

Information whose confidentiality is protected by law or contract, but for which there are no specifically proscribed penalties.  For a full definition see the Data Classification Standard.

Category-2 data

University information usually restricted to university employees, but which are releasable in accordance with the Texas Public Information Act.  For a full definition see the Data Classification Standard.

Category-3 data

University information that is generally publicly available. For a full definition see the Data Classification Standard.

Centralized storage

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 system.

Change management

The process of controlling modifications to hardware, software, firmware, and documentation to ensure that information systems are protected against improper modification before, during, and after system implementation.

Common secure configurations

Documentation that provides recognized, standardized, and established benchmarks that stipulate secure configuration settings for information systems as well as instructions for configuring those systems to meet operational requirements. Also known as hardening guides, security reference guides, security configuration checklists, or lockdown guides.

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 intended to be known by a limited set of people.

Confidential information

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.


Method used to reduce the probability of occurrence or the negative impact of the realization of a risk.


Custodians ensure the effective and secure operation of the information owner’s systems.  See the OP 44 series of operating policies for more information.


See the Data Classification Standard.

Data loss prevention

Prevention of unnecessary exposure of protected information.

Data owner

See information owner.

Digital certificate

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).

Digital signature

Method of adding specially derived numerical information to a file or message (most often used as part of a digital certificate infrastructure).

Digital data

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.


A DMZ, or demilitarized zone, is a physical or logical network that contains and exposes external-facing services to the Internet. Systems that need to be made available to the Internet, such as the ASU website, are located in a DMZ.


The Domain Name System (DNS) is a naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to a network that associates a name with an IP address.

 Electronic Information, Communication, and Technology (EICT)

Includes information technology and any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment used to create, convert, duplicate, or deliver data or information.

Other terms such as, but not limited to, Electronic Information Resources (EIR), Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Electronic Information Technology (EIT), etc. can be considered interchangeable terms with EICT for purposes of applicability for compliance with this rule.

Electronic Information Resources (EIR)

See Electronic Information, Communication, and Technology (EICT).

Electronic mail (email)

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.

Electronic media

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.

Emergency change

When an unauthorized immediate response to imminent critical system failure is needed to prevent widespread service disruption.

Encrypted data

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.

End user

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.


The process of making computer and network systems more resistant to tampering or malicious software.


Any set of circumstances in which the anticipated and configured delivery of a service is interrupted, delayed, or otherwise unavailable.

Incident management

Process of returning service as quickly and effectively as possible.

Information custodian or custodian

See Custodian.

 Information owner

Responsible for specified information and establishing the controls for its collection, creation, processing, access, dissemination, and disposal. 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. See OP 44.00 for a list of duties and responsibilities.

Information security

Protecting information so that it can only be seen, changed, deleted or copied by an authorized person and only in ways and to places authorized to contain it.

Information system

The equipment and software such as files, computers, tablets, servers, hard drives, removable thumb drives, cloud storage, etc. used to collect, record, process, display, and transmit information.

Information Resources Manager (IRM)

Authorized and accountable to the State of Texas for management of the university’s information systems to implement security policies, procedures, and guidelines to protect the information systems of the university. The Associate Vice President of Information Technology/CIO is designated as the university’s IRM. The IRM will:

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:

Information security program

The elements, structure, objectives, and resources that establish an information system’s security function within the university.


The accuracy and completeness of information and assets and the authenticity of transactions.

Intellectual property

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.

 Lawful intercept

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.

Local account

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.

Local storage

Storage that is physically local to the workstation or server.

 Malicious code

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 system

Information system 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 systems include those systems containing sensitive information.


All associated equipment and media creating electronic transmission between any information system(s), such as wired, optical, wireless, IP, synchronous serial, telephony, etc.

 Offsite storage

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.

Password complexity

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.

Password strength

Description of a password’s ability to resist being guessed or otherwise mathematically or cryptographically discovered.


A fix or update for a software program usually related to a security issue.

Penetration Test

A controlled attempt to circumvent the security of a network or computer system to test its ability to resit hacking.

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.

Physical security

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.

Plaintext data

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.

Production system

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,

Protected information

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).

 Removable media

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).

Residual risk

Any risk remaining once controls have been applied.  The amount of residual risk allowed will be determined by the organization’s tolerance for risk.

Risk assessment

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 current security controls.

Risk management

Decisions to accept risk exposures or to reduce vulnerabilities and to align information system risk exposure with the organization’s risk tolerance.

Root access

Most privileged access to a computer system allowing the use, change, and deletion of any and all configuration information, system software, and data.

 Scheduled change

Formal notification received, reviewed, and approved by the review process in advance of the change being made.

Scheduled outage

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).

Security administrator

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.

Security incident

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.

Sensitive information

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.

Single sign-on

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.

Strong password

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.

System administrator

Person responsible for the effective operation and maintenance of information systems, 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.

System hardening

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.

 Test and development systems

Systems used exclusively for testing or development of software and not used to directly support university operations.


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 email or on portable media, often from another unknowing victim, or may be urged to download a file from a website.

 Unauthorized disclosure

The intentional or unintentional revealing of restricted information to people who do not have a legitimate need to access that information.

Unscheduled change

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.

Unscheduled outage

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 uninterruptible power supply. An electrical apparatus that provides emergency power to a load when the input power source (usually commercial power) fails.


An umbrella term that includes the terms store, process, change, delete, read, and access (and their progressive forms).


An individual 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. See OP 44.00 and OP 44.01 for a list of duties and responsibilities.


A pseudonym used by a user to access a computer system - typically based on the user’s legal name or some derivative thereof.

 Virtual private network (VPN)

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 email 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.  

 Web page

A document on the World Wide Web. Every web page is identified by a unique URL (uniform resource locator).

Web server

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.

Wireless networking

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.