Security and Ethics


Hacking is breaking into a computer system to steal personal data without the owner’s consent or knowledge. Cracking is where someone edits a program source code.


 A computer virus is a type of malicious code or program written to alter the way a computer operates and is designed to spread from one computer to another.


Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information or data, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details or other sensitive details, by impersonating oneself as a trustworthy entity in a digital communication


Pharming is a form of online fraud involving malicious code and fraudulent websites. Cybercriminals install malicious code on your computer or server. The code automatically directs you to bogus websites without your knowledge or consent.


The act of locating and using wireless internet connection illegally. It only requires a laptop


Spyware is unwanted software that infiltrates your computing device, stealing your internet usage data and sensitive information. Spyware is classified as a type of malware — malicious software designed to gain access to or damage your computer, often without your knowledge


A COOKIE is a packet of information sent by a web server to a web browser. Cookies are generated each time the user visits the website. Every time a user visits the website, cookies will have collected some key information about the user. They are able to carry out user tracking and also maintain user preferences

Loss of data and data corruption

This section covers the potential impact on data caused by:

• accidental mal-operation

• hardware malfunction

• software malfunction on a computer system.

In each case:

• safeguards

• recovery methods to prevent the loss or corruption of data are considered.

Firewalls and proxy servers

A FIREWALL can be either software or hardware. It sits between the user’s computer and an external network (e.g. the internet) and filters information in and out of the computer

Security protocols

We will now consider two forms of security protocols when using the internet:

• Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

• Transport Layer Security (TLS).

SECURE SOCKETS LAYER (SSL) is a type of protocol (a set of rules used by computers to communicate with each other across a network). This allows data to be sent and received securely over the internet.

TRANSPORT LAYER SECURITY (TLS) is similar to SSL but is a more recent security system. TLS is a form of protocol that ensures the security and privacy of data between devices and users when communicating over the internet.


Encryption is used primarily to protect data in case it has been hacked. Whilst encryption won’t prevent hacking, it makes the data meaningless

Symmetric encryption

SYMMETRIC ENCRYPTION is a secret key which can be a combination of characters. If this key is applied to a message, its content is changed which makes it unreadable unless the recipient also has the decryption key.

Plain text and cypher text

PLAIN TEXT (sometimes written as a single word ‘plaintext’) is described as the text or normal representation of data before it goes through an encryption algorithm. CYPHER TEXT (sometimes written as ‘cypher text’ or ‘cipher text’) is the output from an encryption algorithm


AUTHENTICATION is used to verify that data comes from a trusted source. It works with encryption to strengthen internet security.

Computer ethics

COMPUTER ETHICS is a set of principles set out to regulate the use of computers. Three factors are considered:

• INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS – this covers, for example, copying of software without the permission of the owner

• PRIVACY ISSUES – this covers, for example, hacking or any illegal access to another person’s personal data

• effect of computers on society – this covers factors such as job losses, social impacts and so on.

Free software

Free software is software that can be freely used, modified, and redistributed with only one restriction: any redistributed version of the software must be distributed with the original terms of free use, modification, and distribution 


FREEWARE is software a user can download from the internet free of charge. Once it has been downloaded, there are no fees associated with using the software (examples include: Adobe, Skype or media players).


Shareware is a type of proprietary software which is initially provided free of charge to users, who are allowed and encouraged to make and share copies of the program


PrivaCY: privacy

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