What is Cyber Security

access controlThe process of granting or denying requests for access to systems, applications and data. Can also refer to the process of granting or denying requests for access to facilities.
Access Cross Domain SolutionA system permitting access to multiple security domains from a single client device.
aggregation (of data)A term used to describe compilations of data that may require a higher level of protection than their component parts.
application controlAn approach in which only an explicitly defined set of trusted applications are allowed to execute on systems.
assetAnything of value, such as ICT equipment, software or data.
attack surfaceThe amount of ICT equipment and software used in a system. The greater the attack surface the greater the chances of an adversary finding an exploitable security vulnerability.
audit logA chronological record of system activities including records of system access and operations performed.
audit trailA chronological record that reconstructs the sequence of activities surrounding, or leading to, a specific operation, procedure or event.
Australasian Information Security Evaluation ProgramA program under which evaluations are performed by impartial bodies against the Common Criteria. The results of these evaluations are then certified by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) which is responsible for the overall operation of the program.
Australian Eyes Only dataData not to be passed to, or accessed by, foreign nationals.
Australian Government Access Only dataData not to be passed to, or accessed by, foreign nationals, with the exception of seconded foreign nationals.
Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Cryptographic EvaluationThe rigorous investigation, analysis, verification and validation of cryptographic functionality in products used to protect classified data.
authenticationVerifying the identity of a user, process or device as a prerequisite to allowing access to resources in a system.
Authentication HeaderA protocol used in Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) that provides data integrity and data origin authenticity but not confidentiality.
authorising officerAn executive with the authority to formally accept the security risks associated with the operation of a system and to authorise it to operate.
availabilityThe assurance that systems and data are accessible and useable by authorised entities when required.
biometricsMeasurable physical characteristics used to identify or verify an individual.
cascaded connectionsCascaded connections occur when one network is connected to another, which is then connected to another, and so on.
caveatA marking that indicates that the data has special requirements in addition to those indicated by its classification. This term covers codewords, source codewords, releasability indicators and special-handling caveats.
certification reportAn artefact of Common Criteria evaluations that outlines the outcomes of a product’s evaluation.
Chief Information Security OfficerA senior executive who is responsible for coordinating communication between security and business functions as well as overseeing the application of security controls and associated security risk management processes.
classificationThe categorisation of systems and data according to the expected impact if it was to be compromised.
classified dataData that would cause damage, serious damage or exceptionally grave damage to the national interest, organisations or individuals if compromised (i.e. data assessed as PROTECTED, SECRET or TOP SECRET).
classified systemA system that processes, stores or communications classified data.
coercivityA property of magnetic material, used as a measure of the amount of coercive force required to reduce the magnetic induction to zero from its remnant state.
Commercial Grade Cryptographic EquipmentA subset of ICT equipment which contains cryptographic components.
Common CriteriaAn international standard for product evaluations.
Common Criteria Recognition ArrangementAn international agreement which facilitates the mutual recognition of Common Criteria evaluations by certificate producing schemes.
communications securityThe security measures applied to protect telecommunications from unauthorised interception and exploitation, as well as ensure the authenticity of such telecommunications.
conduitA tube, duct or pipe used to protect cables.
confidentialityThe assurance that data is disclosed only to authorised entities.
connection forwardingThe use of network address translation to allow a port on a node inside a network to be accessed from outside the network. Alternatively, using a Secure Shell server to forward a Transmission Control Protocol connection to an arbitrary port on the local host.
consumer guideSpecific configuration and usage guidance for products evaluated through the ASD Cryptographic Evaluation program or the High Assurance Evaluation program.
content filterA filter that examines content to assess conformance against a security policy.
continuous monitoring planA document that describes the plan for the continuous monitoring and assurance in the effectiveness of security controls for a system.
control planeThe administrative interface that allows for the management and orchestration of a system’s infrastructure and applications.
Cross Domain SolutionA system capable of implementing comprehensive data flow security policies with a high level of trust between two or more differing security domains.
cryptographic algorithmAn algorithm used to perform cryptographic functions such as encryption, integrity, authentication, digital signatures or key establishment.
cryptographic equipmentA generic term for Commercial Grade Cryptographic Equipment and High Assurance Cryptographic Equipment.
cryptographic hashAn algorithm (the hash function) which takes as input a string of any length (the message) and generates a fixed length string (the message digest or fingerprint) as output. The algorithm is designed to make it computationally infeasible to find any input which maps to a given digest, or to find two different messages that map to the same digest.
cryptographic protocolAn agreed standard for secure communication between two or more entities to provide confidentiality, integrity, authentication and non-repudiation of data.
cryptographic softwareSoftware designed to perform cryptographic functions.
cryptographic systemA related set of hardware or software used for cryptographic communication, processing or storage, and the administrative framework in which it operates.
cyber resilienceThe ability to adapt to disruptions caused by cyber security incidents while maintaining continuous business operations. This includes the ability to detect, manage and recover from cyber security incidents.
cyber securityMeasures used to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of systems and data.
cyber security eventAn occurrence of a system, service or network state indicating a possible breach of security policy, failure of safeguards or a previously unknown situation that may be relevant to security.
cyber security incidentAn unwanted or unexpected cyber security event, or a series of such events, that have a significant probability of compromising business operations.
cyber threatAny circumstance or event with the potential to harm systems or data.
data at restData that resides on media or a system.
data in transitData that is being communicated across a communication medium.
data spillThe accidental or deliberate exposure of data into an uncontrolled or unauthorised environment, or to people without a need-to-know.
declassificationA process whereby data is reduced to an OFFICIAL level and an administrative decision is made to formally authorise its release into the public domain.
degausserAn electrical device or permanent magnet assembly which generates a coercive magnetic force for the purpose of degaussing magnetic storage devices.
degaussingA process for reducing the magnetisation of a magnetic storage device to zero by applying a reverse (coercive) magnetic force, rendering any previously stored data unreadable.
demilitarised zoneA small network with one or more servers that is kept separate from the core network, typically on the outside of the firewall or as a separate network protected by the firewall. Demilitarised zones usually provide data to less trusted networks, such as the internet.
denial-of-service attackAn attempt by an adversary to prevent legitimate access to online services (typically a website), for example, by consuming the amount of available bandwidth or the processing capacity of the server hosting the online service.
device access control softwareSoftware that can be used on a system to restrict access to communications ports. Device access control software can block all access to a communications port or allow access based on device types, manufacturer’s identification or even unique device identifiers.
digital preservationThe coordinated and ongoing set of processes and activities that ensure long-term, error-free storage of digital information, with means for retrieval and interpretation, for the entire time span the information is required.
digital signatureA cryptographic process that allows the proof of the source (with non-repudiation) and the verification of the integrity of that data.
diodeA device that allows data to flow in only one direction.
distributed-denial-of-service attackA distributed form of denial-of-service attack.
dual-stack network deviceICT equipment that implements both Internet Protocol version 4 and Internet Protocol version 6 protocol stacks.
emanation securityThe counter-measures employed to reduce classified emanations from a facility and its systems to an acceptable level. Emanations can be in the form of Radio Frequency energy, sound waves or optical signals.
Encapsulating Security PayloadA protocol used for encryption and authentication in IPsec.
encryption softwareSoftware designed to ensure the confidentiality of data by encrypting it when at rest.
escortA person who ensures that when maintenance or repairs are undertaken to ICT equipment that uncleared personnel are not exposed to data they are not authorised to access.
eventIn the context of system logs, an event constitutes an evident change to the normal behaviour of a network, system or user.
facilityA physical space where business is performed. For example, a facility can be a building, a floor of a building or a designated space on the floor of a building.
fax machineA device that allows copies of documents to be sent over a telephone network.
firewallA network device that filters incoming and outgoing network data based on a series of rules.
firmwareSoftware embedded in ICT equipment.
fly leadA lead that connects ICT equipment to the fixed infrastructure of a facility. For example, the lead that connects a workstation to a network wall socket.
foreign nationalA person who is not an Australian citizen.
foreign systemA system that is not managed by, or on behalf of, the Australian Government.
fuzzingFuzzing (or fuzz testing) is a method used to discover errors or potential security vulnerabilities in software.
gatewayGateways securely manage data flows between connected networks from different security domains.
handling requirementsAn agreed standard for the storage and dissemination of data to ensure its protection.
hardwareA generic term for ICT equipment.
Hash-based Message Authentication Code AlgorithmsA cryptographic construction that can be used to compute Message Authentication Codes using a hash function and a secret key.
High Assurance Cryptographic EquipmentCryptographic equipment that has been designed and authorised for the protection of highly classified data.
High Assurance EvaluationThe rigorous investigation, analysis, verification and validation of products used to protect highly classified data.
high assurance ICT equipmentICT equipment that has been designed and authorised for the protection of highly classified data.
highly classified dataData that would cause serious damage or exceptionally grave damage to the national interest, organisations or individuals if compromised (i.e. data assessed as SECRET or TOP SECRET).
highly classified systemA system that processes, stores or communicates highly classified data.
Host-based Intrusion Detection SystemSoftware, resident on a system, which monitors system activities for malicious or unwanted behaviour.
Host-based Intrusion Prevention SystemSoftware, resident on a system, which monitors system activities for malicious or unwanted behaviour and can react in real-time to block or prevent those activities.
hybrid hard driveNon-volatile magnetic media that uses a cache to increase read/write speeds and reduce boot times. The cache is normally non-volatile flash memory media.
ICT equipmentAny device that can process, store or communicate electronic data (e.g. computers, multifunction devices, mobile phones, digital cameras, electronic storage media and other radio devices).
incident response planA document that describes the plan for responding to cyber security incidents.
Infosec Registered Assessors ProgramAn initiative of the ACSC designed to register suitably qualified individuals to carry out security assessments for systems.
infrared deviceDevices such as mice, keyboards and pointing devices that have an infrared communications capability.
integrityThe assurance that data has been created, amended or deleted only by authorised individuals.
interactive authenticationAuthentication that involves the interaction of a person with a system.
Internet Protocol SecurityA suite of protocols for secure communications through authentication or encryption of Internet Protocol (IP) packets as well as including protocols for cryptographic key establishment.
Internet Protocol telephonyThe transport of telephone calls over IP networks.
Internet Protocol version 6A protocol used for communicating over packet switched networks. Version 6 is the successor to version 4 which is widely used on the internet.
Intrusion Detection SystemAn automated system used to identify an infringement of security policy. IDS can be host-based or network-based.
Internet Security Association Key Management Protocol aggressive modeA protocol that uses half the exchanges of main mode to establish an IPsec connection.
Internet Security Association Key Management Protocol main modeA protocol that offers optimal security using six packets to establish an IPsec connection.
jump serverA computer which is used to manage important or critical resources in a separate security domain. Also known as a jump host or jump box.
keying materialCryptographic keys generated or used by cryptographic equipment or software.
key managementThe use and management of cryptographic keys and associated hardware and software. It includes their generation, registration, distribution, installation, usage, protection, storage, access, recovery and destruction.
lockable commercial cabinetA cabinet that is commercially available, of robust construction and is fitted with a commercial lock.
logging facilityA facility that includes software which generates events and their associated details, the transmission (if necessary) of event logs, and how they are stored.
malicious codeAny software that attempts to subvert the confidentiality, integrity or availability of a system.
malicious code infectionThe occurrence of malicious code infecting a system.
management trafficTraffic generated by system administrators over a network in order to control workstations and servers. This includes standard management protocols and traffic that contains data relating to the management of the network.
mediaA generic term for hardware, often portable in nature, which is used to store data.
media destructionThe process of physically damaging media with the intent of making data stored on it inaccessible. To destroy media effectively, only the actual material in which data is stored needs to be destroyed.
media disposalThe process of relinquishing control of media when it is no longer required.
media sanitisationThe process of erasing or overwriting data stored on media so that it cannot be retrieved or reconstructed.
metadataDescriptive data about the content and context used to identify data.
mobile deviceA portable computing or communications device. For example, a laptop, mobile phone or tablet.
multifunction deviceICT equipment that combines printing, scanning, copying, faxing or voice messaging functionality in the one device. These devices are often designed to connect to computer and telephone networks simultaneously.
need-to-knowThe principle of restricting an individual’s access to only the data they require to fulfil the duties of their role.
network access controlSecurity policies used to control access to a network and actions on a network. This can include authentication checks and authorisation controls.
network deviceICT equipment designed to facilitate the communication of data.
network infrastructureThe infrastructure used to carry data between workstations and servers or other network devices.
non-interactive authenticationAuthentication between systems or services that does not involve the interaction of a person.
non-repudiationProviding proof that a user performed an action, and in doing so preventing a user from denying that they did so.
non-shared government facilityA facility where the entire facility and personnel are cleared to the highest level of data processed in the facility.
non-volatile flash memory mediaA specific type of electrically erasable programmable read-only memory.
non-volatile mediaA type of media which retains its data when power is removed.
official dataData that would cause insignificant damage to the national interest, organisations or individuals if compromised (i.e. data assessed as OFFICIAL).
official systemA system that processes, stores or communications official and sensitive data.
off-hook audio protectionA method of mitigating the possibility of an active handset inadvertently allowing background discussions to be heard by a remote party. This can be achieved through the use of a hold feature, mute feature, push-to-talk handset or equivalent.
online servicesServices using the internet such as social media, online collaboration tools, web browsing, instant messaging, IP telephony, video conferencing, file sharing websites and peer-to-peer applications.
OpenPGP Message FormatAn open-source implementation of Pretty Good Privacy, a widely available cryptographic toolkit.
passphraseA sequence of words used for authentication.
passphrase complexityThe use of at least three of the following character sets in passphrases: lower-case alphabetical characters (a-z), upper-case alphabetical characters (A-Z), numeric characters (0-9) or special characters.
passwordA sequence of characters used for authentication.
patchA piece of software designed to remedy security vulnerabilities, or improve the usability or performance of software and ICT equipment.
patch cableA metallic (copper) or fibre-optic cable used for routing signals between two components in an enclosed container or rack.
patch panelA group of sockets or connectors that allow manual configuration changes, generally by means of connecting patch cables.
penetration testA penetration test is designed to exercise real-world targeted cyber intrusion scenarios in an attempt to achieve a specific goal, such as compromising critical systems or data.
Perfect Forward SecrecyAdditional security for security associations ensuring that if one security association is compromised subsequent security associations will not be compromised.
peripheral switchA device used to share a set of peripherals between multiple computers. For example, a keyboard, video monitor and mouse.
plan of action and milestonesA document that describes security vulnerabilities in a system and the plans for their rectification.
position of trustA position that involves duties that require a higher level of assurance than that provided by normal employment screening. In some organisations additional screening may be required. Positions of trust can include, but are not limited to, an organisation’s Chief Information Security Officer and their delegates, administrators or privileged users.
privileged userA user who can alter or circumvent a system’s security measures. This can also apply to users who could have only limited privileges, such as software developers, who can still bypass security measures. A privileged user can have the capability to modify system configurations, account privileges, audit logs, data files or applications.
productA generic term used to describe software or hardware.
PROTECTED areaAn area that has been authorised to process, store or communicate PROTECTED data. Such areas are not necessarily tied to a specific level of Security Zone.
Protection ProfileA document that stipulates the security functionality that must be included in Common Criteria evaluation to meet a range of defined threats. Protection Profiles also define the activities to be taken to assess the security function of an evaluated product.
protective markingAn administrative label assigned to data that not only shows the value of the data but also defines the level of protection to be provided.
public dataData that has been formally authorised for release into the public domain.
public network infrastructureNetwork infrastructure that an organisation has no control over (e.g. the internet).
Public Switched Telephone NetworkPublic network infrastructure used for voice communications.
push-to-talk handsetsHandsets that have a button which is pressed by the user before audio can be communicated, thus providing off-hook audio protection.
quality of serviceThe ability to provide different priorities to different applications, users or data flows, or to guarantee a certain level of performance to a data flow.
Radio Frequency transmitterA device designed to transmit electromagnetic radiation as part of a radio communication system.
reclassificationAn administrative decision to change the security measures afforded to data based on a reassessment of the potential impact of its unauthorised disclosure. The lowering of the security measures for media containing sensitive or classified data often requires sanitisation or destruction processes to be undertaken prior to a formal decision to lower the security measures protecting the data.
Releasable To dataData not to be passed to, or accessed by, foreign nationals beyond those belonging to specific nations which the data has been authorised for release to.
remote accessAccess to a system that originates from outside an organisation’s network and enters the network through a gateway, including over the internet.
removable mediaStorage media that can be easily removed from a system and is designed for removal (e.g. Universal Serial Bus flash drives or optical media).
seconded foreign nationalA representative of a foreign government on exchange or long-term posting.
SECRET areaAn area that has been authorised to process, store or communicate SECRET data. Such areas are not necessarily tied to a specific level of Security Zone.
secured spaceAn area certified to the physical security requirements for a Zone 2 to Zone 5 area, as defined in the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD)’s Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF), Entity facilities policy, to allow for the processing or storage of sensitive or classified data.
Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail ExtensionA protocol which allows the encryption and signing of email messages.
Secure ShellA network protocol that can be used to securely log into, execute commands on, and transfer files between remote workstations and servers.
security assessmentAn activity undertaken to assess security controls for a system and its environment to determine if they have been implemented correctly and are operating as intended.
security assessment reportA document that describes that outcomes of a security assessment and contributes to the development of a plan of action and milestones.
security associationA collection of connection-specific parameters used for IPsec connections.
security association lifetimeThe duration a security association is valid for.
Security Construction and Equipment CommitteeAn Australian Government interdepartmental committee responsible for the evaluation and endorsement of security equipment and services. The committee is chaired by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
security documentationAn organisation’s cyber security strategy; system-specific security documentation; and any supporting policies, processes, procedures and registers.
security domainA system or collection of systems operating under a consistent security policy that defines the classification, releasability and special handling caveats for data processed within the domain.
security postureThe level of security risk to which a system is exposed. A system with a strong security posture is exposed to a low level of security risk while a system with a weak security posture is exposed to a high level of security risk.
security riskAny event that could result in the compromise, loss of integrity or unavailability of data or resources, or deliberate harm to people measured in terms of its likelihood and consequences.
security risk appetiteStatements that communicate the expectations of an organisation’s senior management about the organisation’s security risk tolerance. These criteria help an organisation identify security risk and prepare appropriate treatments and provide a benchmark against which the success of mitigations can be measured.
security risk managementThe process of identifying, assessing and taking steps to reduce security risks to an acceptable level.
security targetAn artefact of Common Criteria evaluations that specifies conformance claims, threats and assumptions, security objectives, and security requirements for an evaluated product.
security vulnerabilityA weakness in a system’s security requirements, design, implementation or operation that could be accidentally triggered or intentionally exploited and result in a violation of the system’s security policy.
sensitive dataData that would cause limited damage to the national interest, organisations or individuals if compromised (i.e. data assessed as OFFICIAL: Sensitive).
serverA computer that provides services to users or other systems. For example, a file server, email server or database server.
shared government facilityA facility where the facility and personnel are cleared at different levels.
shared non-government facilityA facility where the facility is shared by government organisations and non-government organisations.
shared responsibility modelA framework that describes the management and operational responsibilities between different parties for a system. Where responsibilities relating to specific security controls are shared between multiple parties, enough detail is documented to provide clear demarcation between the parties.
softphoneAn application that allows a workstation to act as a phone using a built-in or externally-connected microphone and speaker.
softwareAn element of a system including, but not limited to, an application or operating system.
solid state driveNon-volatile media that uses non-volatile flash memory media to retain its data when power is removed and, unlike non-volatile magnetic media, contains no moving parts.
split tunnellingFunctionality that allows personnel to access both public network infrastructure and a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection at the same time, such as an organisation’s system and the internet.
Standard Operating EnvironmentA standardised build of an operating system and associated software that can be used for servers, workstations, laptops and mobile devices.
Standard Operating ProcedureInstructions for following a defined set of activities in a specific manner. For example, an approved data transfer process.
standard userA user who can, with their normal privileges, make only limited changes to a system and generally cannot bypass security measures.
systemA related set of hardware and software used for the processing, storage or communication of data and the governance framework in which it operates.
system ownerThe executive responsible for a system.
system classificationThe classification of a system is the highest classification of data which the system is authorised to store, process or communicate.
system security planA document that describes a system and its associated security controls.
system-specific security documentationA system’s system security plan, incident response plan, continuous monitoring plan, security assessment report, and plan of action and milestones.
telemetryThe automatic measurement and transmission of data collected from remote sources. Such data is often used within systems to measure the use, performance and health of one or more functions or devices that make up the system.
telephoneA device that is used for point-to-point communication over a distance. This includes digital and IP telephony.
telephone systemA system designed primarily for the transmission of voice communications.
TEMPESTA short name referring to investigations and studies of compromising emanations.
TOP SECRET areaAn area that has been authorised to process, store or communicate TOP SECRET data. Such areas are not necessarily tied to a specific level of Security Zone.
traffic flow filterA device that has been configured to automatically filter and control the flow of data.
Transfer Cross Domain SolutionA system that facilitates the transfer of data, in one or multiple directions (low to high or high to low), between different security domains.
transport modeAn IPsec mode that provides a secure connection between two endpoints by encapsulating an IP payload.
trusted sourceA person or system formally identified as being capable of reliably producing data meeting certain defined parameters, such as a maximum data classification and reliably reviewing data produced by others to confirm compliance with certain defined parameters.
tunnel modeAn IPsec mode that provides a secure connection between two endpoints by encapsulating an entire IP packet.
unsecured spaceAn area not been certified to the physical security requirements for a Zone 2 to Zone 5 area, as defined in AGD’s PSPF, Entity facilities policy, to allow for the processing or storage of sensitive or classified data.
userAn individual that is authorised to access a system.
validationConfirmation (through the provision of strong, sound, objective evidence) that requirements for a specific intended use or application have been fulfilled.
verificationConfirmation, through the provision of objective evidence, that specified requirements have been fulfilled.
Virtual Local Area NetworkNetwork devices and ICT equipment grouped logically based on resources, security or business requirements instead of their physical location.
Virtual Private NetworkA network that maintains privacy through a tunnelling protocol and security procedures. VPNs may use encryption to protect traffic.
virtualisationSimulation of a hardware platform, operating system, application, storage device or network resource.
volatile mediaA type of media, such as random-access memory, which gradually loses its data when power is removed.
vulnerability assessmentA vulnerability assessment can consist of a documentation-based review of a system’s design, an in-depth hands-on assessment or automated scanning with software tools. In each case, the goal is to identify as many security vulnerabilities as possible.
vulnerability managementVulnerability management assists in identifying, prioritising and responding to security vulnerabilities.
wear levellingA technique used in non-volatile flash memory media to prolong the life of the media. As data can be written to and erased from memory blocks a finite number of times, wear-levelling helps to distribute writes evenly across each memory block, thereby decreasing wear and increasing its lifetime.
Wi-Fi Protected Access 2A protocol designed to replace the Wi-Fi Protected Access protocol for communicating data over wireless networks.
wireless access pointA device which enables communications between wireless clients. It is typically also the device which connects wired and wireless networks.
wireless communicationsThe transmission of data over a communications path using electromagnetic waves rather than a wired medium.
wireless networkA network based on the 802.11 standards.
workstationA stand-alone or networked single-user computer.
X11 ForwardingX11, also known as the X Window System, is a basic method of video display used in a variety of operating systems. X11 Forwarding allows the video display from one device to be shown on another device.