Cyber Scams Glossary


A collection of infected computers which can be remotely controlled by a cyber criminal.

Brute force attack

The use of computer programmes to try and identify the password allowing unauthorised access to a system.


Files held on your computer containing information about your website usage.

Data loss

The accidental loss of data, not its theft.

Data theft

The deliberate theft of data.

Data leakage

When information about a person or business is published online. This information may be used to construct spear phishing emails.

Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS)

An attack launched on a system by a network of computers, called a Botnet, which causes disruption to a computer or website.

Email malware distribution

Malware which is delivered via an attachment in an email.


These are designed to take advantage of a flaw or vulnerability in a computer system, typically for malicious purposes such as installing malware.


This is hacking that takes place for political or social purposes.


This involves the logging of keystrokes on a compromised computer or device.


This is malicious software which includes spyware, trojans, viruses and worms.


These are fixes for vulnerabilities found in software, operating systems or applications.

Phishing emails

This is the process of tricking recipients into revealing sensitive information via the sending of fraudulent emails.


This is a type of malware that denies you access to your files or computer until a ransom is paid.

Social engineering

This refers to the manipulation of victims in to disclosing information or completing a task they would not usually do.

Spear phishing

This is targeted phishing, often using spoofed addresses and containing information found from ‘data leakage’ to add legitimacy to its content.


Email spoofing is when the sender email address is falsified to assist in social engineering. Software available online is used to hide the true sender of an email.


This is malicious software that allows cyber criminals to obtain private information without a user’s knowledge. It may record keystrokes or what websites have been visited and pass this information to the cyber criminal.


Trojans are malicious programmes that appear to be something they are not. This could be a download that states it is a video player when in fact it is malware.


Viruses are pieces of malicious software that embed into a file and can be spread from one computer to another. They can be particularly harmful and may be used to steal data or take control of a computer – see Botnet.


These are faults within programmes that can be exploited by cyber criminals to attack computers, systems and mobile devices.


A worm is a type of virus that exploits a particular vulnerability within a system and uses this to spread itself to other systems.


A zombie is a computer that can be remotely controlled by a cyber criminal. It will have been infected within malware and may be used as part of the Botnet.

Published by the Metropolitan Police Service
© Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the Crown,
March 2017

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