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Glossary of Computer Forensics Terms

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Term Definition
Hacker

The label ‘hacker’ has come to connote a person who deliberately accesses and exploits computer and information systems to which he or she has no authorized access. Originally, the term was an accolade for someone highly motivated to explore what computers could do and/or the limits of his or her technical skills (especially in programming). ‘A great hack’ was a common compliment for an especially cunning or innovative piece of software code. The term ‘cracker’ was then reserved for people intruding into computer or information systems for the thrill of it (or worse). This was derived from ‘cracking’ safes. Over time, ‘cracker’ has faded from usage and ‘hacker’ came to subsume its (unfortunate) connotations.

Hard disk

A peripheral data storage device that may be found inside a desktop or laptop that is used to store large amounts of information. A hard disk maintains the information stored on it after the power is turned off. The hard disk may also be a transportable version and attached to a desktop or laptop.

Hashing

The process of using a mathematical algorithm against data to produce a numeric value that is representative of that data. A hashing algorithm will produce hash values that are significantly different if only one single bit changes. Hashes are used to verify that two pieces of data are identical. Common hash algoritms include MD5, SHA-1 and SHA-256.

Head

A small electromagnetic device inside a drive that reads, writes, and erases data on the drive’s media.

Heat sink

A mass of metal attached to a chip carrier or socket for dissipating heat.

HFS, HFS+

Hierarchical File System: The system used by the Mac OS to store files, consisting of folders and subfolders, which can be nested. Hierarchical File System +: The Power Macintosh file-format.

Hidden file

A file with a special hidden attribute turned on, so that the file is not normally visible to users. For example, hidden files are not listed when you execute the DOS DIR command. However, most file management utilities allow you to view hidden files. DOS hides some files, such as MSDOS.SYS and IO.SYS, so that you will not accidentally corrupt them. You can also turn on the hidden attribute for any normal file, thereby making it invisible to casual snoopers. On a Macintosh, you can hide files with the ResEdit utility.

Honeypot

A lure set up to trap hackers and users with malicious intent as they attempt to gain entry into a computer system.

Host

On the Internet, a host is any computer that has full two-way access to other computers on the Internet. A host has a specific local or host number that, together with the network number, forms its unique Internet Protocol address. If Point-to-Point Protocols (PPP) are used to get access to the Internet Service Provider (ISP), then an unique IP address is granted for the duration of any connection made to the Internet and the user’s computer is a host for that period.

Host Protected Area

An area that can be defined on IDE drives that meets the technical specifications as defined by ATA4 and later. If a Max Address has been set that is less than a Native Max Address, then a host-protected area is present.

HyperText Mark-up Language (HTML)

The scripts that make Web pages work are written in HTML. The file extension for a file written in HTML may be .htm or .html. It not only formats documents, but also links text and images to documents residing on other web servers.

HyperText Mark-up Language (HTTP)

Documents formatted with hypertext links are sent and received using HTTP. In order for hypertext documents to be sent and displayed properly, and to have active hypertext links, software on both the sending and receiving end must use HTTP.

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