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Smurfing and Other Mysterious Words in the Cyber World

Cyber world has its own language, often filled with acronyms and mysterious sounding words that both the good guys and the bad guys creatively come up with to describe what's happening on the dark side of the web.

If you think a Smurf Attack is a large group of tiny blue characters singing cute songs, you better read on.  

1. Pwning

Taking over or taking ownership of a device, network. etc. Pwning is not new, its just a new meaning vectored by the cyber security/hacker world. It originally came from internet slang (or leet speak) and means 'to own.' Leet, or 1337, is an elite language that came about during the 1980s from BBS Bulletin Board Services, where “elite“ status on the BBS meant you had control over the BBS or Internet Relay Chat areas. Many of today’s cyber attacks are designed to "Take Over" or "Pwn" the attacked device or system.

2. Doxing or Doxxing

Publishing personal information (PII) on the internet or other public media, often for "outing" the person, from a hidden persona is Doxing. An example can be found in the Ashley Madison hack, where the hackers are extorting the company under threat that they will Dox the millions of cheaters' information that they acquired. The hackers here are not only thieves looking for financial gain; they are also vandals intent on the site's/company's destruction through extorting the people associated with the site.

3. Heisenbug 

A software bug which fails to manifest itself during regular debugging. The word is a play on Werner Heisenberg, a German theoretical physicist who devised The Uncertainty Principle, which states "that any attempt to measure the position of a subatomic particle will disrupt its movement, making it harder to predict." 

4. Yak Shaving

This is a funny way of saying that more or useless work must be done before one can even get to the real job at hand. Scott Hanselman has the best definition: "Yak shaving is what you are doing when you're doing some stupid, fiddly little task that bears no obvious relationship to what you're supposed to be working on, but yet a chain of twelve causal relations links what you're doing to the original meta-task." The term was coined by Carlin J. Vieri, a Ph.D. at MIT back in the 90s with some saying a worthless event at MIT was the origin.

5. Smurf Attack

Sounds cute, but it's a sinister method of a denial of service attack (DOS or DDOS). In a Smurf Attack a site or a system is flooded with spoofed ping (ICMP) messages which usually stops the site from responding and carrying out its original need or business. 

This is one of my lighter posts, I hope you enjoy, stay informed and stay safe.  

Looking for more tips from Tim O'Neill on Cyber Security? Check out his top 10 tips for securing your business and your home:

10 Tips For Better Cyber Security

Written by Tim O'Neill

As the Senior Technology Consultant & Chief Editor at LoveMyTool, Tim O’Neill has over 45 years of technology experience at data/voice and video networking analysis companies, including successful senior roles in Sales, Product Design, Marketing Management, Business Development and Security.