Phreaks, spoofers, and spammers want to invade your school and home computers, and the tricks of their trade include airsnarfs, wabbits, and fork bombs.

Few educators and consumers know hacker lingo, and even if they did, the most vigilant expert can’t make a computer 100-percent safe against attacks. But technology executives say they are undertaking unprecedented educational campaigns to teach consumers about emerging cyber threats.

Most major computer brands, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell, publish holiday guidelines for employees so they can help consumers protect their machines.

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    IBM’s security gurus also update a dictionary that describes various "cyber villains" and other dangers in non-technical terms.

    Here are some entries from Big Blue’s "Version 1.0 Online Security Dictionary," an employee reference guide that is currently published only on IBM’s internal web site:

    • Airsnarf (noun): A rogue wireless device added to a network that steals usernames and passwords from people using public wireless hotspots.
    • Backdoor (noun): A way to bypass authentication and obtain remote access to a computer. A spammer might install a backdoor to send junk mail from that computer.
    • Bot (noun): A software program designed to act like a person and infiltrate computers. For example, a bot might be programmed to automatically delete eMail messages containing certain words or to sweep up and collect certain information from a PC.
    • List bomb (verb): Forging messages that cause the victim to unknowingly subscribe to mass mailing lists (such as a subscription to an online newsletter) in volumes that might crash their systems.
    • Phreaking (verb): Cracking into the telephone network, which has now evolved to include cracking into cell phones and computer communications networks.
    • Spit (noun): Spam sent over an internet telephone connection.
    • Spim (noun): Spam sent over an instant message connection.
    • Spoofing (verb): Impersonating another host on a network; pretending to be a trusted host.
    • Wabbit (noun): Any hack that repeatedly replicates itself on a local computer
    • Fork bomb (noun): A species of "wabbit" that performs a denial of service on a computer system by creating a large number of processes very quickly and overloading the computer.


    IBM holiday security tips