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TOPIC: Glossary of Network Security Terms

Glossary of Network Security Terms 11 years 6 months ago #18945

Glossary of Network Security Terms
This glossary contains a list of terms, abbreviations, and acronyms frequently used when discussing networks, security, firewalls, and WatchGuard products.

10BaseT; 100BaseT
An Ethernet specification that can handle up to 10 mega bits of data per second. 10BaseT Ethernet imposes differing limitations, depending on what type of physical wire is being used and how many stations are attached to the network. For example, the maximum distance a hub can be from a workstation in 10BaseT is 325 feet if using twisted pair cables, but 3,000 feet if using fiber optic cable. Most modern Ethernets are migrating to 100BaseT, which is ten times faster than 10BaseT.
ACL (Access Control List)
A method of keeping in check the Internet traffic that attempts to flow through a given hub, router, firewall, or similar device. Access control is often accomplished by creating a list specifying the IP addresses and/or ports from which permitted traffic can come. The device stops any traffic coming from IP addresses or ports not on the ACL.
active mode FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
One of two ways an FTP data connection is made. In active mode, the FTP server establishes the data connection. In passive mode, the client establishes the connection. In general, FTP user agents use active mode and Web user agents use passive mode.
activity light
An LED (light-emitting diode) that shines when a piece of hardware is working, communicating with the network, and transmitting data.
address learning
A method by which switches and routers determine the unique address number for each device on a network, enabling accurate transmission to and from each node.
address space probe
An intrusion technique in which a hacker sequentially scans IP addresses, generally as the information-gathering prelude to an attack. These probes are usually attempts to map IP address space as the hacker looks for security holes that might be exploited to compromise system security.
A computer program that reports information to another computer or allows another computer access to the local system. Agents can be used for good or evil. Many security programs have agent components that report security information back to a central reporting platform. However, agents can also be remotely controlled programs hackers use to access machines.
AH (authentication header)
An IPSec header used to verify that the contents of a packet have not been modified while the packet was in transit.
algorithm (encryption)
A set of mathematical rules (logic) for the process of encryption and decryption.
A shortcut that enables a user to identify a group of hosts, networks, or users under one name. Aliases are used to speed user authentication and service configuration. For example, in configuring a Firebox a user can set up the alias "Marketing" to include the IP addresses of every network user in a company's marketing department.
API (Application Programming Interface)
Programming tools that specify standard ways software programs within a given operating environment should act, so that numerous applications can play well together. These specifications and tools enable a developer to create applications that will interact well with other applications that the developer has never seen, because all the developers are working from standardized specifications. For example, the robust APIs in Windows allow many dissimilar software products to interact upon one another (and even look similar) within the Windows environment.
See parameter.
When a Firebox is armed, it is actively guarding against intrusion and attack.
ARP (Address Resolution Protocol)
Each device on a network has at least two addresses: a media access control (MAC) address, and an Internet Protocol (IP) address. The MAC address is the address of the physical network interface card inside the device, and never changes for the life of the device. The IP address can change if the machine moves to another part of the network or the network uses DHCP. ARP, one of the IP protocols, is used to match, or resolve, an IP address to its appropriate MAC address (and vice versa). ARP works by broadcasting a packet to all hosts attached to an Ethernet. The packet contains the IP address the sender is interested in communicating with. Most hosts ignore the packet. The target machine, recognizing that the IP address in the packet matches its own, returns an answer. For more details, see the LiveSecurity Service article, "Foundations: What Are NIC, MAC, and ARP?"
ARP table
A table of IP addresses stored on a local computer, used to match IP addresses to their corresponding MAC addresses.
See also ARP.
ASN.1 (Abstract Syntax Notation One)
An international standard that aims at specifying data used in communication protocols. ISO/IEC standard for encoding rules used in ANSI X.509 certificates. Two common types exist: DER (Distinguished Encoding Rules) and BER (Basic Encoding Rules).
asymmetric keys
A pair of encryption keys, composed of one public key and one private key. Each key is one way, meaning that a key used to encrypt data cannot be used to decrypt the same data. However, information encrypted using the public key can be decrypted using the private key, and vice versa. This technology is commonly applied to e-mails, which are encrypted for confidentiality en route.
An attempt to break into a system.
ATM (asynchronous transfer mode)
A networking technology that breaks data into fixed-length cells, enabling high transfer speeds. ATM is widely used for the backbone, or core, of the Internet.
1. The process of identifying an individual, usually based on a user name and password. Authentication iusually requires something a person has (such as a key, badge, or token), something a person knows (such as a password, ID number, or mother's maiden name), or something a person is (represented by a photo, fingerprint or retina scan, etc). When authentication requires two of those three things, it is considered strong authentication.
2. A method of associating a user name with a workstation IP address, allowing the tracking of connections based on name rather than IP address. With authentication, you can track users regardless of which machine a person chooses to work from.
A feature on some network devices that isolates a node within the workgroup when the node becomes disabled, so as not to affect the entire network or group.
To convey official access or legal power to a person or entity.
A term often used to describe the main network connections composing the Internet.
A design fault, planned or accidental, that allows the apparent strength of the design to be easily avoided by those who know the trick.
The rate at which a network segment can transfer data.
Bandwidth Meter
A monitoring tool that provides a real-time graphical display of network activities across a Firebox. This comes as a part of the application called Firebox Monitors.
bastion host
A computer placed outside a firewall to provide public services (such as World Wide Web access and FTP) to other Internet sites, hardened to withstand whatever attacks the Internet can throw at it.
Hardening is accomplished by making the box as single-purpose as possible, removing all unneeded services and potential security vulnerabilities. Bastion host is sometimes inaccurately generalized to refer to any host critical to the defense of a local network.
A pattern of bits for an IP address that determines how much of the IP address identifies the host and how much identifies the network. For example, if a bitmask of 24 were applied to the address, 10.12.132 identifies the network and the remainder of the address (1-254) can be used to specify individual machines on the 10.12.132 network.
To learn more, see IP address and subnet mask. You can find a full discussion of the topic in these LiveSecurity editorials from the Foundations series: "Understanding IP Addresses and Binary," "Understanding Subnetting (Part 1)," and "Understanding Subnetting (Part 2)."
block cipher
A procedure that translates plain text into coded text, operating on blocks of plain text of a fixed size (usually 64 bits). Every block is padded out to be the same size, making the encrypted message harder to guess.
blocked port
A security measure in which a specific port is disabled, stopping users outside the firewall from gaining access to the network through that port. The ports commonly blocked by network administrators are the ports most commonly used in attacks.
See also port.
blocked site
An IP address outside the firewall, explicitly blocked so it cannot connect with hosts behind the firewall. Sites can be blocked manually and permanently, or automatically and temporarily.
Blue Screen of Death (BSoD)
When a Windows NT-based system encounters a serious error, the entire operating system halts and displays a screen with information regarding the error. The name comes from the blue color of the error screen.
boot up
To start a computer. Inspired by the phrase, "pull oneself up by one's boot straps."
BOVPN (Branch Office Virtual Private Network)
A type of VPN that creates a securely encrypted tunnel over an unsecured public network, either between two networks that are protected by the WatchGuard Firebox System, or between a WatchGuard Firebox and an IPSec-compliant device. BOVPN allows a user to connect two or more locations over the Internet while protecting the resources on the Trusted and Optional networks.
A piece of hardware used to connect two local area networks, or segments of a LAN, so that devices on the network can communicate without requiring a router. Bridges can only connect networks running the same protocol.
A network transmission sent to all nodes on a network.
broadcast address
A special type of networking address that denotes all machines on a given network segment.
See Web browser.
buffer overflow
The result of a programming flaw. Some computer programs expect input from the user (for example, a Web page form might accept phone numbers from prospective customers). The program allows some virtual memory for accepting the expected input. If the programmer did not write his program to discard extra input (e.g., if instead of a phone number, someone submitted one thousand characters), the input can overflow the amount of memory allocated for it, and break into the portion of memory where code is executed. A skillful hacker can exploit this flaw to make someone's computer execute the hacker's code. Used interchangeably with the term, "buffer overrun." For more detail, see the LiveSecurity editorial, "Foundations: What Are Buffer Overflows?"
bus topology
A type of network design used by all Ethernet systems, in which all the devices are connected to a central cable.
cable segment
A section of network cable separated by switches, routers, or bridges.
A command that arranges windows so that they are overlapped, with the active window in front.
Category 3 cabling
A cabling specification for 10BaseT networks, which are capable of handling up to 10 mega bits of data per second.
See also 10BaseT / 100BaseT.
Category 5 cabling
A cabling specification for 100BaseT networks, which are capable of handling up to 100 mega bits of data per second.
See also 10BaseT / 100BaseT.
CBC (Cipher Block Chaining)
A technique commonly used by encryption algorithms like Data Encryption Standard (DES) - CBC, where a plain text message is broken into sequential blocks. The first block is encrypted using a given cipher, creating cipher text. That cipher text is used to encrypt the second block of plain text. This pattern continues, with each subsequent block of plain text being encrypted using the cipher text encrypted just before it.
CD-ROM (Compact Disc Read-Only Memory)
A compact disk on which data is stored.
An electronic document attached to someone's public key by a trusted third party, which attests that the public key belongs to a legitimate owner and has not been compromised. Certificates are intended to help you verify that a file or message actually comes from the entity it claims to come from.
certificate authority (CA)
A trusted third party (TTP) who verifies the identity of a person or entity, then issues digital certificates vouching that various attributes (e. g., name, a given public key) have a valid association with that entity.
certificate revocation list
See CRL.
1. A communications path between two computers or devices.
2. A category of topics for LiveSecurity broadcasts (e.g., Virus Alerts, Editorials, etc.). LiveSecurity Service subscribers can turn on and off which channels they receive by logging in at login, and then clicking Broadcast Preferences.
CHAP (Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol)
A type of authentication where the person logging in uses secret information and some special mathematical operations to come up with a number value. The server he or she is logging into knows the same secret value and performs the same mathematical operations. If the results match, the person is authorized to access the server. One of the numbers in the mathematical operation is changed after every log-in, to protect against an intruder secretly copying a valid authentication session and replaying it later to log in. Often contrasted with PAP.
CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing)
Originally, Internet addresses were classified as A, B, or C. The early classification system did not envision the massive popularity of the Internet, and is in danger of running out of new unique addresses. CIDR is an addressing scheme that allows one IP address to designate many IP addresses. A CIDR IP address looks like a normal IP address except that it ends with a slash followed by a number; for example, CIDR is described in RFC 1519. For a full discussion of "classful" versus CIDR "classless" routing, see these LiveSecurity editorials from the Foundations series: "Understanding Subnetting (Part 1)," and "Understanding Subnetting (Part 2)."
cipher block chaining
See CBC.
cipher text
The result of encrypting either characters or bits using some algorithm. Cipher text is unreadable until it is decrypted.
Class A, Class B, Class C
See Internet address class.
clear-signed message
A message that is digitally signed but not encrypted.
See digital signature.
clear text
Characters in a human readable form prior to encryption or after decryption. Also called plain text.
A computer process that requests a service from another computer and accepts the server's responses.
A network computing system in which individual computers (clients) use a central computer (server) for services such as file storage, printing, and communications.
See peer-to-peer.
coax (coaxial) cable
A type of cable, used in Ethernet networking, with a solid central conductor surrounded by an insulator, in turn surrounded by a cylindrical shield woven from fine wires. The shield minimizes electrical and radio frequency interference.
cold boot
The process of starting a computer by turning on the power to the system unit.
Conflicts that occur when two packets are sent over the network simultaneously. When packets collide, both packets are rejected. Ethernet automatically resends them at altered timing.
To compact a file or group of files so that they occupy less disk space.
See also decompress.
compression function
A function that accepts input and returns a shorter output. One common program that performs this is WinZIP.
Control Panel
The set of Microsoft Windows programs used to change system hardware, software, and settings.
conventional encryption
See symmetric algorithm.
A text file passed from the Web server to the Web client (a user's browser) that is used to identify a user and could record personal information such as ID and password, mailing address, credit card number, and more. A cookie is what enables your favorite Web site to "recognize" you each time you revisit it.
A microprocessor designed to assist another microprocessor in specific functions, such as handling complex mathematics or graphics, and to temporarily reduce the workload of the other microprocessor.
CPU (Central Processing Unit)
The microprocessor chip that interprets and carries out most of the instructions you give your computer. Also, simply, a term for a computer.
Another term for someone who attempts to defeat network security measures, with hostile intent. Commonly used in popular media as a synonym for hacker.
CRL (Certificate Revocation List)
An up-to-date list of previously issued certificates that are no longer valid.
See also revocation.
A status where two or more organizations or certificate authorities share some level of trust.
crossover cable
Ethernet cables have multiple wires inside them. Some are dedicated to sending; some are dedicated to receiving. A crossover cable is a special cable in which the receive and send wires cross so that the sending leads on one device can directly connect to the receiving leads on the other device. When WatchGuard encloses a crossover cable with its products, it is typically color-coded red for easy identification.
cross-site scripting
An attack performed through Web browsers, taking advantage of poorly-written Web applications. Cross-site scripting attacks can take many forms. One common form is for an attacker to trick a user into clicking on a specially-crafted, malicious hyperlink. The link appears to lead to an innocent site, but the site is actually the attacker's, and includes embedded scripts. What the script does is up to the attacker; commonly, it collects data the victim might enter, such as a credit card number or password. The malicious link itself might also collect the victim's cookie data. For more details and examples, see the LiveSecurity article, "Anatomy of a Cross-Site Scripting Attack."
The art or science of transferring cipher text into plain text without initial knowledge of the key used to encrypt the plain text.
One element in a proprietary authentication system, which uses an offline card containing a large secret key to answer security "challenges" from the network. The large number inside the card, called a key, is like a hard-to-guess password used in encrypting and decrypting. The key is never stored on a computer, which increases its safety against unauthorized discovery.
The art and science of encoding and decoding messages using mathematical algorithms that utilize a secret key. The concept has broadened to include managing messages that have some combination of: privacy (by being unreadable to anyone but the sender and receiver); integrity (not modified while en route), and non-repudiation (digitally signed in such a way that the originator cannot plausibly claim he or she did not originate it).
CSLIP (Compressed Serial Line Internet Protocol)
A protocol for exchanging IP packets over a serial line, which compresses the headers of many TCP/IP packets.
custom filter rules
A filter rule is a configuration setting to either deny or allow specific content types through the Firebox. A custom filter rule is a rule a Firebox user created in WatchGuard Policy Manager, in contrast with the pre-made rules WatchGuard created for the Firebox.
Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) is a list of standardized names for vulnerabilities and other information security exposures, whose aim is to standardize the names for all publicly known vulnerabilities and security exposures. "CVE-compatible" means that a tool, Web site, database, or service uses CVE names in a way that allows it to cross-link with other repositories that use CVE names.
data compression
See compress.
A packet of data that contains information, plus origin and destination addresses. Generally used in reference to UDP and ICMP packets when talking about IP protocols.
data transmission speed
The number of bits that can travel per second over a network cable, typically measured in bits per second (bps).
DCE-RPC (Distributed Computing Environment Remote Procedure Call)
A Microsoft implementation of a portmapping service. A portmapper is a service that runs on a specific port, redirecting clients that send a request to that port. These initial calls typically result in a response from the trusted machine that redirects the client to a new port for the actual service the client wants.
See also RPC.
See denial of service attack (DoS).
To expand a compressed file or group of files back to their normal size so that the file or files can be opened.
See also compress.
To decode data that has been encrypted, turning it back into plain text.
See also encrypt.
dedicated server
A single computer in a network, reserved for serving the needs of the network.
A predefined setting built into a program, used when an alternative setting is not specified.
default gateway
When individual machines on a network segment send data packets, they check the packet's destination to figure out whether the destination is local (meaning, on the same network segment) or not. If the packet's destination is not local, the machine forwards it to a node on the network serving as the entrance to all other networks. This node is called the default gateway, and could be any routing device, such as a router or a firewall appliance.
default packet handling
A set of rules that instruct the Firebox on how to process packets when no other rules have been specified. For example, by default the Firebox logs any packet sent to a broadcast address.
denial of service attack (DoS)
A type of attack aimed at making the targeted system or network unusable, often by monopolizing system resources. For example, in February 2000 a hacker directed thousands of requests to eBay's Web site. The network traffic flooded the available Internet connection so that no users could access eBay for a few hours. A distributed denial of service (DDoS) involves many computer systems, possibly hundreds, all sending traffic to a few choice targets. The term "Denial of Service" is also used imprecisely to refer to any outwardly-induced condition that renders a computer unusable, thus "denying service" to its rightful user.
DES (Data Encryption Standard)
A commonly-used encryption algorithm that encrypts data using a key of 56 bits, which is considered fairly weak given the speed and power of modern computers. Until recently it was the US government's encryption standard, but it has largely been replaced by Triple-DES and AES.
See also Triple-DES.
A generic term for computer equipment such as a hub, switch, router, or printer.
DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol)
A standard proposed in RFC 1541 for transferring network configuration information from a central server to devices as the devices boot up. This data typically includes a machine's IP address, which the server can change and allocate automatically (on the fly) under DHCP.
DHCP server
A device that automatically assigns IP addresses to networked computers from a defined pool of numbers, returning unused IP addresses to the pool. Using a DHCP server, an administrator normally does not have to get involved with the details of assigning IP addresses to individual clients.
dialog box
A box that appears when you choose a command from a menu. It offers additional options, and requires your acknowledgement before it goes away.
dial-up connection
A connection between a remote computer and a server, established using software, a modem, and a telephone line.
dictionary attack
An attempt to guess a password by systematically trying every word in a dictionary as the password. This attack is usually automated, using a dictionary of the hacker's choosing, which may include both ordinary words and jargon, names, and slang.
A mathematical algorithm that allows two users to exchange a secret key over an insecure medium without any prior secrets. This protocol, named after the inventors who first published it in 1976, is used in Virtual Private Networking (VPN).
digital signature
An electronic identification of a person or thing, intended to verify to a recipient the integrity of data sent to them, and the identity of the sender. Creating a digital signature involves elaborate mathematical techniques that the sender and recipient can both perform on the transmitted data. Performing identical formulas on identical data should produce identical results at both the sending and receiving end. If the recipient's results do not equal the sender's results, the message may have been tampered with en route. If the message was modified after being sent -- even if all someone did was change the punctuation on a sentence, or added an extra space between two of the words -- you could tell. A digital signature typically depends upon three elements: public key encryption, a Certificate Authority, and a digital certificate.
The state of a Firebox when it is not actively protecting a network.
DLL (Dynamic Link Library)
In Microsoft Windows, a Dynamic Link Library is a collection of functions that perform very commonly used tasks. This library is intended to be a universal resource that any program can use, reducing the need to have similar snippets of code existing on a computer in multiple places. Windows comes with many DLLs that programs can use to get the recognized "Windows" feel.
DMZ (Demilitarized Zone)
A partially-protected zone on a network, not exposed to the full fury of the Internet, but not fully behind the firewall. This technique is typically used on parts of the network which must remain open to the public (such as a Web server) but must also access trusted resources (such as a database). The point is to allow the inside firewall component, guarding the trusted resources, to make certain assumptions about the impossibility of outsiders forging DMZ addresses. WatchGuard refers to the DMZ as the Optional network interface.
DNS (Domain Name System)
A network system of servers that translates numeric IP addresses into readable, hierarchical Internet addresses, and vice versa. This is what allows your computer network to understand that you want to reach the server at (for example) when you type into your browser a domain name such as .
DNS cache poisoning
A clever technique that tricks your DNS server into believing it has received authentic information when, in reality, it has been lied to. Why would an attacker corrupt your DNS server's cache? So that your DNS server will give out incorrect answers that provide IP addresses of the attacker's choice, instead of the real addresses. Imagine that someone decides to use the Microsoft Update Web site to get the latest Internet Explorer patch. But, the attacker has inserted phony addresses for in your DNS server, so instead of being taken to Microsoft's download site, the victim's browser arrives at the attacker's site and downloads the latest worm.
DNS lookup
The Domain Name Service act of matching a friendly, readable domain name (such as ) to its associated IP address.
DNS spoofing
An attack technique where a hacker intercepts your system's requests to a DNS server in order to issue false responses as though they came from the real DNS server. Using this technique, an attacker can convince your system that an existing Web page does not exist, or respond to requests that should lead to a legitimate Web site, with the IP address of a malicious Web site. This differs from DNS cache poisoning because in DNS spoofing, the attacker does not hack a DNS server; instead, he inserts himself between you and the server and impersonates the server.
domain name hijacking
An attack technique where the attacker takes over a domain by first blocking access to the victim domain's DNS server, then putting up a malicious server in its place. For example, if a hacker wanted to take over, he would have to remove the DNS server from operation using a Denial of Service attack to block access to fnark's DNS server. Then, he would put up his own DNS server, advertising it to everyone on the Internet as When an unsuspecting user went to access, he would get the attacker's domain instead of the real one.
Domain Name System (DNS)
See DNS.
See denial of service attack.
dotted notation
The notation used to write IP addresses as four decimal numbers separated by dots (periods), sometimes called dotted quad. Example: For a full explanation of IP addresses, see the LiveSecurity article, "Foundations: Understanding IP Addresses and Binary."
A software program that manipulates a device (such as a printer, keyboard, mouse, or hard drive). The driver accepts generic commands from a program and then translates them into specialized commands for the device.
drop-in mode
A network configuration in which the Firebox is physically located between the router and the LAN without any of the computers on the Trusted interface being reconfigured. This is a quick and simplified way to get the Firebox into the network, but can only protect a single network that is not subdivided into smaller networks.
See also proxy ARP. For a contrasting approach, see routed mode.
drop-in network
A network being used in drop-in mode.
See drop-in mode.
DSA (Digital Signature Algorithm)
A public key digital signature algorithm proposed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
DSS (Digital Signature Standard)
A standard for digital signatures proposed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
DVCP (Dynamic VPN Configuration Protocol)
A WatchGuard proprietary protocol that simplifies configuration of VPNs. A DVCP server provides centralized storage of all configured devices under management and builds Virtual Private Networks quickly and interactively for those devices.
Dynamic Link Library
See DLL.
dynamic NAT
On outgoing requests from your network, the Firebox replaces all private IP source addresses with one public address (usually its own).
See Network Address Translation, and IP masquerading. For a fuller explanation, LiveSecurity subscribers can read, "How and When to Use 1:1 NAT."
dynamic packet filtering
See stateful packet filtering.
ECC (Elliptic Curve Cryptosystem)
A method for creating public key algorithms, which some experts claim provides the highest strength-per-bit of any cryptosystem known today. Its algorithms accept an encryption key but then add extra numbers representing the coordinates of points on an imaginary wiggly curve as it crosses an imaginary line. Its complicated algebraic approach allows shorter keys to produce security equivalent to longer keys in other cryptosystems (such as RSA). Shorter keys mean the encryption and decryption can be performed relatively quickly and with less computer hardware. Numerous experts believe ECC will eventually enjoy widespread use.
elevation of privilege
Almost every computer program has some notion of "privilege" built in, meaning, permission to do some set of actions on the system. This permission is granted to individuals based on their ability to present proper credentials (for example, a username and password). Privilege has levels -- for example, a guest account typically has fewer privileges than an administrator account. Many network attacks begin with an attacker obtaining limited privileges on a system, then attempting to leverage those privileges into greater privileges that might ultimately lead to controlling the system. Any attempt to gain greater permissions illicitly (typically, by impersonating a privileged user or otherwise bypassing normal authentication) is considered an elevation of privilege. For a lengthier discussion, see the LiveSecurity article, "What We Mean by 'Elevation of Privileges'."
The process of disguising data to hide its content. As used in a network security context, encryption is usually accomplished by putting the data through any of several established mathematical algorithms developed specifically for this purpose.
In cryptography, a mathematical measurement of the amount of uncertainty or randomness.
ESMTP (Extended Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)
A protocol that provides extensions to SMTP for sending e-mail that supports graphics, audio, and video files, and text in various foreign languages. These extensions were first described in RFC 1869.
ESP (Encapsulating Security Payload)
An IPSec protocol used in WatchGuard's Branch Office VPN. ESP encrypts all or part of a packet of data in a way that assures confidentiality even though the data travels over the public Internet. It provides data integrity, and offers assurance of the identity of the data's sender (authentication). For details, see RFC 1827.
One of the least expensive, most widely deployed networking standards, enabling the transmission of data at 10 million bits per second (Mbps), using a specified protocol. A more recent Ethernet standard, called 100BaseTx, enables data to be transmitted and received at 100 Mbps.
Ethernet address
A unique ID number obtained automatically when an Ethernet adapter is added to a computer. This address identifies the machine as a unique communication item and enables direct communications to and from that particular computer.
See also MAC address.
Any network incident that prompts some kind of log entry or other notification.
Event processor
See WatchGuard Security Event Processor.
See file extension.
External interface
On the Firebox, an Ethernet port intended for connecting to the portion of your network that presents the greatest security risk (typically the Internet and any other switches, routers, or servers connected to, but outside, your network).
External network
Any network that can connect to yours, with which you have neither a trusted or semi-trusted relationship. For example, a company's employees would typically be trusted on your network, a primary vendor's network might be semi-trusted, but the public Internet would be untrusted — hence, External.
A configuration that allows a secondary machine to take over in the event of a stoppage in the first machine, thus allowing normal use to return or continue.
See also high availability.
failover logging
A process in which the Firebox immediately establishes contact with a secondary log host, in the event that the Firebox cannot communicate with the primary log host.
fail-shut mode
A condition in which a firewall blocks all incoming and outgoing network traffic in the event of a firewall failure. This is the opposite of fail-open mode, in which a firewall crash opens all traffic in both directions. Fail-shut is the default failure mode of the WatchGuard Firebox System.
fast Ethernet
An Ethernet networking system that transmits data at 100 million bits per second (Mbps), ten times the speed of an earlier Ethernet standard. Derived from the Ethernet 802.3 standard, it is also known as 100Base-T.
file server
A dedicated network computer that stores data files so that other computers can share access to them.
See also client/server.
filtering process
Deciding whether a packet should be allowed or denied, depending on what is contained in its header or its contents, based on user-defined policies.
A unique identifier for a key that is obtained by hashing specific portions of the key data.
See one-way hash function.
file extension
Under Windows, a period and up to three characters at the end of a file name. The extension can help identify the type of file, and often helps a computer know what to do with the file. For example, if a file is named glossary.exe, the file extension is ".exe." The .exe tells a Windows computer that the glossary file is executable.
Small, fast programs in a firewall that examine packets as they arrive at the firewall, and route or reject the packets based on user-definable rules.
The WatchGuard firewall appliance.
Firebox Monitors
A suite of WatchGuard Firebox System observation tools combined into a single user interface accessible from Firebox? System Manager. Firebox Monitors allows you to keep an eye on bandwidth usage, who has authenticated to the Firebox, what Web sites have been automatically blocked because they sent questionable traffic, and more.
Firebox? System Manager
WatchGuard's toolkit of applications enabling configuration, management, and monitoring of a network security policy.
Software or hardware components that restrict access between a protected network and the Internet, or between other sets of networks, to block unwanted use or abuse.
flash disk
An 8-megabyte, on-board flash ROM disk that acts like a hard disk in a Firebox. The word "flash" arises from the fact that it can be erased and reprogrammed rapidly, in blocks instead of one byte at a time.
forward DNS lookup
See DNS lookup
FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name)
A fully qualified domain name consists of a host and domain name, including a top-level domain such as .com, .net, .gov, .edu, etc. For example, is a fully qualified domain name. www is the local host, watchguard is the second-level domain, and .com is the top level domain.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
The most common protocol for copying files over the Internet.
See also active mode FTP.
Fully Qualified Domain Name
In programming, a function is part of a program that performs a specific task. Computer programs usually consist of modules of code. Each module consists of a small part of the program written to perform one specific task. These small, special-purpose chunks of code are called functions. When a program runs, it calls different functions to perform certain tasks. For example, a programmer could write a function to alphabetize a list of names. When the program got to the place where it needed to alphabetize a list of names, the program would call the alphabetizing function, and the function would return the list of names in the correct order. If those names then had to be inserted into a database, the program might call a different function to accomplish that.
See also parameter and Dynamic Link Libraries.
A system that provides access between two or more networks. Gateways are typically used to connect networks that are dissimilar. The Firebox often serves as the gateway between the Internet and your network.
GUI (Graphical User Interface)
The visual representation on a computer screen that allows users to view, enter, or change information. It is characterized by icons and commonly utilizes a mouse, in contrast to a Command Line Interface (CLI), which uses strictly text.
See TCP handshake.
hash code
A unique, mathematical summary of a document that serves to identify the document and its contents.
See message digest.
A series of bytes at the beginning of a communication packet that provides information about the packet such as its computer of origin, the intended recipient, packet size, and destination port number. The header of a packet is like the envelope of a traditionally-mailed letter, in that it conveys "return address" and "intended recipient" information but is not the real content of the message.
A base-16 numbering system (from hexadecem, Latin for 16) particularly important in computer programming, since four bits (each consisting of a one or zero) are succinctly expressed using a single hexadecimal digit. Hexadecimal resembles decimal (base-10) numbering with the digits 0 through 9, but the decimal equivalents of 10 - 16 are represented in hexadecimal by the letters A through F. Example: the decimal number 252 is written in hexadecimal as FC.
hierarchical trust
A method of organizing "trust" within an organization by allowing one Certificate Authority to delegate a portion of its responsibility to a subordinate Certificate Authority. For example, a business might have a master Certificate Authority, which vouches for a Certificate Authority at the company's Los Angeles office, which vouches for a Certificate Authority at the company's Phoenix office. Commonly used in ANSI X.509 certificates.
High Availability
High Availability enables the installation of two Fireboxes so that if one fails for any reason, the other takes over immediately. This minimizes data loss while the failed box is replaced or repaired..
Historical Reports
A WatchGuard Firebox System application that creates HTML reports of Firebox log files, displaying session types, most active hosts, most used services, and other information useful in monitoring and troubleshooting a network.
HMAC (Hashed Message Authentication Code)
A mechanism for message authentication, using cryptographic one-way hash functions, based upon RFC 2104 and commonly used in VPNs. The end result is that when you receive a data packet, you can know that whoever sent the packet possesses the same secret key that you do. You can combine this with other technologies, such as IKE, to know who sent a given message.
home page
The first page of a multi-page Web site, used as an entrance into the site.
A network-connected computer.
host route
A network configuration where a router sits between the Firebox and an internal host. For the Firebox to be able to send data to the host, it must be informed of the existence of the additional router (and the host behind it). This entry in the Firebox's routing table is the host route.
A WatchGuard Firebox? System Manager application that provides a real-time display of which hosts are connected from behind the Firebox to hosts on the Internet.
HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
A simple programming language used to format Web pages, including methods to specify text characteristics, graphic placement, and links. HTML files are written in plain text, then read or interpreted by a Web browser.
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)
A communications standard designed and used to transfer information and documents between servers or from a server to a client. This standard is what enables your Web browser to fetch pages from the World Wide Web.
A variation of HTTP enabling the secure transmission of data. Generally used in conjunction with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which encrypts the HTTP.
A device that serves as a common connection point for multiple devices on a network. There are several different types of hubs, but in general each receives and sends signals to all the devices connected to it.
An object on a Web page such as a graphic or underlined text that represents a link to another location, either on the same Web site or on a different Web site. When a user clicks on a hyperlink, a page or graphic from the linked location appears in the user's Web browser.
IANA (Internet Assigned Number Authority)
The central authority charged with assigning parameter values (numbers) to Internet protocols. For example, IANA controls the assignment of well-known TCP/IP port numbers. Currently IANA manages port numbers 1 through 1023.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers )
A non-profit, private-sector corporation formed by a broad coalition of the Internet's business, technical, academic, and user communities. ICANN has been recognized by the U.S. and other governments as the global consensus entity to coordinate the technical management of the Internet's domain name system, the allocation of IP address space, the assignment of protocol parameters, and the management of the root server system.
ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol)
A protocol used to pass control and error messages back and forth between nodes on the Internet. Perhaps the most used ICMP command is ping.
identity certificate
A signed statement that binds a public encryption key to the name of an individual and therefore delegates authority from that individual to the public key. Any message encrypted with that person's public key can then be regarded as being from that person.
IDS (Intrusion Detection System)
A class of networking products devoted to detecting attacks from hackers. Network-based intrusion detection systems examine the traffic on a network for signs of unauthorized access or attacks in progress, while host-based systems look at processes running on a local machine for activity an administrator has defined as "bad."
IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force)
A large, open international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet. IANA is chartered by one of the IETF's working groups.
IKE (Internet Key Exchange)
A standard proposed in RFC 2409 used with IPSec virtual private networks (VPNs) for automating the process of negotiating encryption keys, changing keys, and determining when to change keys. IKE first mutually authenticates the two endpoints that plan to set up IPSec tunnels between them; then the endpoints can establish mutually agreed-upon security parameters. For more, see IPSec and VPN.
initialization vector
A block of arbitrary data that serves as the starting point for a block cipher like Triple-DES.
See also cipher block chaining.
To prepare (a disk) for information storage.
installation wizard
A software tool specifically designed to guide a user through the process of installing a new application.
integrity; data integrity
The concept that you can discern whether data is in the condition its authors or owners intend it to be, and that it has not been modified by unauthorized persons during storage or transmittal.
A boundary across which two independent systems meet and act on or communicate with each other. The term sometimes refers to the wires, plugs, and sockets that hardware devices use to communicate with each other. Other times, it refers to the style in which a software program receives and responds to user input; for example, command line interface or graphical user interface.
Internet address class
Historically, to efficiently administer the whole range of possible 32-bit IP addresses, the addresses were separated into three classes that describe networks of varying sizes:
Class A - If the first octet of an IP address is less than 128, it is a Class A address. A network with a Class A address can have up to about 16 million hosts.
Class B - If the first octet of an IP address is from 128 to 191, it is a Class B address. A network with a Class B address can have up to 64,000 hosts.
Class C - If the first octet of an IP address is from 192 to 223, it is a Class C address. A network with a Class C address can have up to 254 hosts.
Modern addressing techniques favor classless routing, rendering these class categorizations less and less relevant. For a full discussion of the topic, see the following LiveSecurity editorials from the Foundations series: "Understanding IP Addresses and Binary," "Understanding Subnetting (Part 1)," and "Understanding Subnetting (Part 2)." For a briefer treatment, see network address.
Internet Engineering Task Force
A self-contained network with a limited number of participants who extend limited trust to one another in order to accomplish an agreed-upon goal. For example, a manufacturer and its key vendors might create an intranet to facilitate managing the process of turning raw materials into finished products.
Intrusion Detection System
See IDS.
IP (Internet Protocol)
A fundamental set of detailed specifications that controls how data packets are formatted and how they move from one networked computer to another.
IP address
An understanding of IP addresses is foundational for managing a network, so we go into some depth with this definition.
In short, an IP address is a numeric identifier that represents a computer or device on a TCP/IP network. The devices on the network rely on the address in order to know where to route data.
The format of an IP address is a 32-bit number divided into four 8-bit segments, separated by periods. The four segments, called octets, can be represented in binary notation (ones and zeros, the basic building blocks of all software) like this: 11010000.10001100.00100011.00000010. Because writing so many ones and zeros is inefficient and laborious for humans, IP addresses are usually converted to decimal notation when written out (but remember, the machines always understand them as ones and zeros). For example, the same binary address above, expressed in decimal, is In decimal notation, no octet can have a value greater than 255. This is because binary requires 9 ones and zeros to express a number greater than 255, and the rules for IP addresses only allow 8.
Some portion of any IP address designates a network, and the remaining portion of the address designates a specific device on that network. For more information, see network address, Internet address class, and subnet mask. You can also read the LiveSecurity editorial, "Foundations: Understanding IP Addresses and Binary."
IP fragment
A formatted portion of data that is part of a larger IP packet. IP fragments are typically used when an IP packet is too large for the physical media that the data must cross. For example, the IP standard for Ethernet limits IP packets to about 1,500 bytes, but the maximum IP packet size is 65,536 bytes. To send packets larger than 1,500 bytes over an Ethernet, IP fragments must be used.
IP masquerading
See NAT.
IP options
Extensions to the Internet Protocol used mainly for debugging and for special applications on local networks. In general, there are no legitimate uses of IP options over an Internet connection.
IP options attack
A method of gaining unauthorized network access by utilizing IP options.
IPSec (Internet Protocol Security)
An open-standard methodology of exchanging data over the public Internet while protecting the data from prying eyes as it travels from the originator to the recipient. IPSec provides encryption and authentication options to maximize the confidentiality of data transmissions, employing cryptographic protocols in conjunction with IKE and ISAKMP. The IETF chartered the IPSec work group to provide cryptographic security services that will flexibly support combinations of authentication, integrity, access control, and confidentiality. IPSec standards are commonly employed when establishing a VPN.
IP spoofing
The act of inserting a false (but ordinary-seeming) sender IP address into the "From" field of an Internet transmission's header in order to hide the actual origin of the transmission. There are few, if any, legitimate reasons to perform IP spoofing; the technique is usually one aspect of an attack.
ISAKMP (Internet Security Association Key Management Protocol)
A set of specifications defined in RFC 2408 and used in close conjunction with IPSec. Defines the procedures for authenticating, creating and managing security associations, generating keys, and using digital certificates when establishing VPN connections.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
An international organization composed of national standards bodies from over 75 countries. For example, ANSI (American National Standards Institute) is a member of ISO. ISO has defined a number of important computer standards, the most significant of which is perhaps OSI (Open Systems Interconnection), a standardized architecture for designing networks.
ISP (Internet service provider)
A business that sells access to the Internet. A government bureau or an educational institution may be the ISP for some organizations.
ITU-T (International Telecommunication Union-Telecommunication)
Formerly the CCITT (Consultative Committee for International Telegraph and Telephone), a worldwide telecommunications technology standards organization. Just as IETF and ICANN propose and maintain standards for the Internet, ITUT proposes and establishes standards for international telephony.
See initialization vector.
Java applet
A small program written in the Java programming language that can be included on an HTML page, much in the same way an image is included. When someone uses a Java-enabled browser to view a page that contains an applet, the applet's code is transferred to that user's system and executed by the browser's Java virtual machine (JVM). For example, if you access a Web page that shows a virtual stock ticker streaming by with live data, that might be enabled by a Java applet.
A trusted third-party authentication protocol developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and used widely in the United States. Unlike other authentication schemes, Kerberos does not use public key technology. Instead, it uses symmetric ciphers and secrets shared between the Kerberos server and each individual user. Each user has a unique password, and the Kerberos server uses this password to encrypt messages sent to that user, so the message can't be read by anyone else.
A secret code, most often expressed as a numeric value, used to encrypt a message, to make the text unreadable to anyone but the intended recipient. If a message encrypted by a key must be decrypted by using the same key, the key is called a symmetric key. If a message encrypted by a key must be decrypted using a different key, the keys are called asymmetric keys, or a key pair. Key pairs (usually comprised of a public key and a private key) form the basis of public key cryptography.
key exchange
A scheme for two or more nodes to transfer a secret session key across an unsecured channel, such as the Internet.
key fingerprint
A uniquely identifying string of numbers and characters used to authenticate public keys.
key ID
A code that uniquely identifies a key pair. Two key pairs can have the same user ID, but they have different key IDs.
See also key and key fingerprint.
key length
The number of bits representing the key size; the longer the key, the stronger it is.
key management
The process and procedure for safely storing and distributing accurate cryptographic keys; the overall process of generating and distributing cryptographic keys to authorized recipients in a secure manner.
key pair
Public key cryptography uses a pair of key codes related to each other in this way: if you lock-up data using one key code, you can only unlock it using the other key code. And vice versa. One of the keys is made known publicly, while the other is kept private. The two, together, form a key pair.
See also key and keyring.
A set of digital codes, or keys, used to encrypt and decrypt messages in asymmetric cryptography. Each user has two types of keyrings: a private keyring and a public one. People who wish to receive encrypted messages typically publish their public keys in directories or make their keys otherwise available. To send them an encrypted message, all you have to do is get a copy of their public key, use the public key to encrypt your message, and send it to them. The only person who can decrypt the message is the person who possesses the matching private key.
key splitting
The process of dividing a private key into multiple pieces and sharing those pieces among several users. A designated number of users must bring their shares of the key together to use the key.
LAN (local area network)
A computer network that spans a relatively small area, generally confined to a single building or group of buildings.
LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol)
A protocol that helps manage information about authorized users on a network such as names, phone numbers, addresses, and what a user is and is not allowed to access. LDAP is vendor- and platform-neutral, working across otherwise incompatible systems.
LED (light-emitting diode)
A small indicator light on a networking device that indicates status and other information about the device. For example, an LED on the WatchGuard SOHO blinks to indicate when the SOHO is receiving data.
See hyperlink.
An open source version of the UNIX operating system.
LiveSecurity? Service
See WatchGuard LiveSecurity Service.
log host, logging host
A designated device for receiving and storing a record of events from another device or program (such as a Firebox, SOHO, or ServerLock).
A WatchGuard Firebox? System Manager application for viewing Firebox log files.
loopback interface
A special type of interface that allows you to make network connections to yourself, using IP. This convention, which all Internet-aware applications expect and utilize, has a variety of purposes, including routing and application testing.
MAC (Machine Authentication Code)
A way to check the integrity of information transmitted over, or stored on, an unreliable medium, based on a secret key. Typically, MACs are used between two parties who share a secret key, in order to validate the information transmitted between the two parties. key-dependent, one-way hash function, requiring the use of the identical key to verify the hash.
See also HMAC.
MAC address (Media Access Control)
One of the two addresses every networked computer has (the other being an IP address), a Media Access Control address is a unique 48-bit identifier usually written as 12 hexadecimal characters grouped in pairs (e. g., 00-00-0c-34-11-4e). This address is usually hard-coded into a Network Interface Card (NIC) by its manufacturer, and does not change. It is the physical address of a data device, and is used as an aid for routers trying to locate machines on large networks.
See also ARP and Ethernet address. LiveSecurity subscribers can learn all about this in the article, "Foundations: What Are NIC, MAC, and ARP?"
mail server
Refers to both the application and the physical machine tasked with routing incoming and outgoing electronic mail.
Management Station
The computer on which the WatchGuard Firebox System Firebox? System Manager and Policy Manager run. In its simplest terms, this is the computer you use to configure and monitor a WatchGuard Firebox.
In the WatchGuard Firebox System, masquerading sets up addressing so that a Firebox presents its IP address to the outside world in place of the private IP addresses of the hosts protected by the Firebox.
See also NAT.
MD2 (Message Digest 2)
128-bit, one-way hash function that is dependent on a random permutation of bytes. MD2 is considered very secure, but takes a long time to compute, and therefore is rarely used.
See also message digest.
MD4 (Message Digest 4)
A 128-bit, one-way hash function that uses a simple set of bit manipulations on 32-bit operands, developed as a weaker but faster alternative to MD2.
See also message digest.
MD5 (Message Digest 5)
A more secure, more complex version of MD4, but still a 128-bit, one-way hash function. Although now widely used, MD5 contains a few flaws discovered in 1996 making it slightly weaker, so it is gradually falling out of favor in deference to another message digest function known as SHA-1.
See also message digest.
message digest
A mathematical function used in encryption to distill the information contained in a file into a single large number, typically between 128 and 256 bits in length. Message digests are also known as one-way hash functions because they produce results where it is mathematically infeasible to try to calculate the original message by computing backwards from the result. Message digest functions are designed so that a change to a single character in the message will cause the message to result in a very different message digest number. Many different message digest functions have been proposed and are now in use; most are considered highly resistant to attack.
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)
A specification for formatting non-ASCII messages so that they can be sent over the Internet. Many e-mail clients now support MIME, which enables them to send and receive graphics, audio, and video files via the Internet mail system. In addition, MIME supports messages in character sets other than ASCII.
A shortened version of "modulator/demodulator," this is the word for a communications device that sends computer transmissions over a standard telephone line.
The main printed circuit board in a computer, which contains sockets that accept additional boards (daughterboards).
An abbreviation for Microsoft Dial-Up Networking, required for remote user VPN.
multiple network configuration
See routed mode.
name resolution
The successful look-up of an IP address to discover the name of the networked computer it indicates.
See DNS.
NAT (Network Address Translation)
A technology where you advertise one IP address for the world to send stuff to (e-mails, HTTP, database traffic, whatever). Then the Firebox translates that request from the outside world and sends it to the appropriate IP address inside your network. In this way, the Firebox can hide from outsiders the IP addresses of machines on your internal network. Various techniques for applying NAT include dynamic NAT, and static NAT. Some people use the term NAT interchangeably with masquerading.
National Institute for Standards and Technology
NetBIOS (Network Basic Input/Output System)
An older proprietary Microsoft networking protocol that enables a computer to connect to and communicate with a Local Area Network (LAN).
NetBEUI (NetBIOS Extended User Interface)
A non-routable networking protocol used by smaller, non-subnetted networks for internal communications. Because NetBEUI is not publicly routable, network transmissions sent via NetBEUI cannot be transmitted over the Internet.
network address
The network portion of an Internet Protocol (IP) address. For a Class A network, the network address is the first byte of the IP address (e.g., in, the network address is 74). For a class B network, the network address is the first two bytes of the IP address (e.g., in, the network address is 128.10). For a class C network, the network address is the first three bytes of the IP address (e.g., in, the network address is 192.168.10). In each case, the remaining bits can be used to identify specific computers, often called hosts. In the Internet, assigned network addresses are globally unique; that is, a computer cannot have the same IP address as any other computer with which it can communicate.
See also CIDR block addressing, Internet address class, and subnet mask. For a very full discussion of these concepts, see the LiveSecurity articles, "Foundations: Understanding IP Addresses and Binary," "Foundations: Understanding Subnetting (Part 1)," and "Foundations: Understanding Subnetting (Part 2)."
network address translation
See NAT.
See subnet mask.
Network Configuration wizard
Automated software presenting a series of windows. The various windows and fields prompt you for essential information that helps create a basic Firebox configuration.
network adaptor, network interface card (NIC)
A device that sends and receives data between the computer and the network cabling. Every computer attached to a network must have a NIC.
network range
See subnet mask.
network segment
A subdivision of a computer network, bounded by a device such as a router, switch, or even a Firebox. Dividing an Ethernet into multiple segments is a common way of increasing available bandwidth on the individual segments.
NFS (Network File System)
A popular TCP/IP service for providing shared file systems over a network. NFS allows all network users to access shared files stored on computers of different types. A user can manipulate shared files as if the files were stored locally on the user's own hard disk. NFS is typically found on Unix computers.
NIST (National Institute for Standards and Tech

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