Word of the Day: Honeypot

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A honeypot is a security system designed to detect and counteract unauthorized access or use of a computer system. The name “honeypot” is used in reference to the way the system traps unauthorized users, such as hackers or spammers so they can be identified and prevented from causing further problems.

Honeypots are different than typical security solutions because they intentionally lure in hackers or users with malicious intent. For example, a company may purposely create a security hole in their network that hackers could exploit to gain access to a computer system. The system might contain fake data that would be of interest to hackers. By gaining access to the data, the hacker might reveal identifying information, such as an IP address, geographical location, computer platform, and other data. This information can be used to increase security against the hacker and similar users.

Another example of a honeypot is an email honeypot designed to counteract spammers. It may be configured as a fake email address that is intentionally added to known spam lists. The email address can be used to track the servers and relays that send spam to the honeypot account. This information can be used to blacklist certain IP addresses and domain names in anti-spam databases. An email honeypot can even be used as a counterattack tool, which forwards spam to the email addresses of identified spammers.

While honeypots are an effective way to monitor and protect information systems, they can also be expensive to maintain. Therefore, honeypots are used primarily by large companies and organizations, rather than small businesses. Government and educational institutions may also deploy research honeypots as a means of tracking unauthorized access attempts and improving security solutions.

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: Multicasting

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Multicasting is similar to broadcasting, but only transmits information to specific users. It is used to efficiently transmit streaming media and other types of data to multiple users at one time.

The simple way to send data to multiple users simultaneously is to transmit individual copies of the data to each user. However, this is highly inefficient, since multiple copies of the same data are sent from the source through one or more networks. Multicasting enables a single transmission to be split up among multiple users, significantly reducing the required bandwidth.

Multicasts that take place over the Internet are known as IP multicasts, since they use the Internet protocol (IP) to transmit data. IP multicasts create “multicast trees,” which allow a single transmission to branch out to individual users. These branches are created at Internet routers wherever necessary. For example, if five users from five different countries requested access to the same stream, branches would be created close the original source. If five users from the same city requested access to the same stream, the branches would be created close to users.

IP multicasting works by combining two other protocols with the Internet protocol. One is the Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP), which allows users or client systems use to request access to a stream. The other is Protocol Independent Multicast (PIM), which is used by network routers to create multicast trees. When a router receives a request to join a stream via IGMP, it uses PIM to route the data stream to the appropriate system.

Multicasting has several different applications. It is commonly used for streaming mediaover the Internet, such as live TV and Internet radio. It also supports video conferencing and webcasts. Multicasting can also be used to send other types of data over the Internet, such as news, stock quotes, and even digital copies of software. Whatever the application, multicasting helps reduce Internet bandwidth usage by providing an efficient way of sending data to multiple users.

– definition fro TechTerms

Word of the Day: Hypermedia

Most Web navigation is done by clicking text-based links that open new pages in a Web browser. These links, which are often blue and underlined, are referred to as hypertext, since they allow the user to jump from page to page. Hypermedia is an extension of hypertext that allows images, movies, and Flash animations to be linked to other content.

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The most common type of hypermedia is an image link. Photos or graphics on the Web are often linked to other pages. For example, clicking a small “thumbnail” image may open a larger version of the picture in a new window. Clicking a promotional graphic may direct you to an advertiser’s website. Flash animations and videos can also be turned into hyperlinks by embedding one or more links that appear during playback.

You can tell if an image or video is a hyperlink by moving the cursor over it. If the cursor changes into a small hand, that means the image or video is linked to another page. Clicking the text, image, or video will open up a new location in your Web browser. Therefore, you should only click a hypertext or hypermedia link when you are ready to leave the current page. If you want to open the link in a new window, you can usually right-click the link and select “Open Link in New Window.”

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: Graymail

Graymail describes email messages that are generally unwanted, but do not fit the definition of spam. Unlike spam, graymail includes messages from mailing lists and newsletters that you have legitimately signed up to receive. Over time, these messages can begin to clutter your inbox and can easily be mistaken for spam.

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The term “graymail” was coined by the Microsoft Hotmail team in 2011, when the company introduced new methods of filtering incoming messages. Graymail differs from spam in the following ways:

  1. The email is solicited. You request to receive graymail by opting in, either directly or indirectly. For example, a direct method is subscribing to a mailing list. An indirect method is providing your email address when you register with an e-commerce website.
  2. The email is legitimate. Graymail messages are sent by reputable sources who value their relationship with the recipient. The messages usually contain an unsubscribe option, which is honored by the sender.
  3. The email content is targeted to specific users. Graymail messages generally contain content that is specific to your interests. While the emails may include text that is similar to spam messages, such as special offers and promotions, the offers are directed to you and other specific users.

Based on Microsoft’s research, newsletters and special offers make up the majority of messages in the average user’s inbox. By identifying these messages as graymail, Hotmail is able to filter them appropriately. This includes moving newsletters to a specific “Newsletters” category and providing a “Schedule Cleanup” tool that moves or deletes outdated email promotion

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: Captcha

A captcha is program used to verify that a human, rather than a computer, is entering data. Captchas are commonly seen at the end of online forms and ask the user to enter text from a distorted image. The text in the image may be wavy, have lines through it, or may be highly irregular, making it nearly impossible for an automated program to recognize it. (Of course, some captchas are so distorted that they can be difficult for humans to recognize as well.) Fortunately, most captchas allow the user to regenerate the image if the text is too difficult to read. Some even include an auditory pronunciation feature.

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By requiring a captcha response, webmasters can prevent automated programs, or “bots,” from filling out forms online. This prevents spam from being sent through website forms and ensures that wikis, such as Wikipedia, are only edited by humans. Captchas are also used by websites such as Ticketmaster.com to make sure users don’t bog down the server with repeated requests. While captchas may be a minor inconvenience to the user, they can save webmasters a lot of hassle by fending off automated programs.

The name “captcha” comes from the word “capture,” since it captures human responses. It may also be written “CAPTCHA,” which is an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.”

– definition from TechTerms

Word of the Day: Packet

#WOTD (8)

This is a small amount of computer data sent over a network. Any time you receive data from the Internet, it comes to your computer in the form of many little packets. Each packet contains the address of its origin and destination, and information that connects it to the related packets being sent. The process of sending and receiving packets is known as “packet-switching.” Packets from many different locations can be sent on the same lines and be sorted and directed to different routes by various computers along the way. It works a lot like the post office, except billions of packets are transferred each day, and most packets take less than a few seconds to reach their destination. Even FedEx same-day delivery can’t compete with that.

– definition from TechTerms

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