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Glossary of Computer Forensics Terms

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Scripts are programs written to run with Web pages and perform a specific task in response to visitor actions such as clicking a button. For example, a Perl script could count the visits to a web page and a JavaScript script makes the buttons change colours when the mouse pointer hovers over them. Scripts can be written in Perl, Java, JavaScript, VBScript, and a number of other programming languages.


Small Computer System Interface. A standard that allows multiple devices to be connected in daisy-chain fashion.


The tracks on a disk are divided into sectors. Clusters contains from 1 to 64 sectors.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL)

A method of encrypting data as it is transferred between a browser and Internet server. Used for online payments amongst other processes.

Secure wipe

Overwriting all material on a disk so as to destroy, as far as possible, all data stored upon it.


Software that is distributed free on a trial basis with the understanding that if it is used beyond the trial period, the user will pay. Some shareware versions are programmed with a built-in expiry date or limited functionality (Known as ‘Crippleware’).

Slack space

The unused space in a disk cluster. DOS and Windows file systems use fixed-size clusters. Even if the actual data being stored requires less storage than the cluster size, an entire cluster is reserved for the file. The unused space is called the slack space.

Social engineering

A term for personal (social) tactics employed in support of attempts to achieve unauthorized access to a computer/information system. Social engineering attacks are typically carried out by telephoning users or operators and pretending to be an authorised user, to attempt to gain illicit access to systems. This is something of a catchall category for any tricks used to obtain the intended access or to obtain information critical to achieving that access.


The act of bombarding a target (system, Usenet news group, set of e-mail addresses) with sufficient volume of data (or a volume of sufficiently massive data items) such that degradation or even denial of service is achieved. This term is also used to describe the perceived harassment of an individual receiving, through their email account, profligately broadcast data (junk e-mail advertising). To cause a person or newsgroup to be flooded with irrelevant or inap¬propriate messages.


The art and science of communicating in a way that hides the existence of the communication. It is used to hide a file inside another. For example, a child pornography image can be hidden inside another graphic image file, audio file, or other file format.

Swap file

Space on a hard disk that is used to extend a computer's memory. Files not used recently are temporarily stored on the hard disk, leaving room for new files.

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