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Glossary of IT Terms

Information Security

Glossary A


This glossary contains industry standard and City specific IT terminology. The glossary should be consulted when policy, issue papers, etc. are drafted to ensure consistent use of terms across the City.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Offsite
Open System Interconnection (OSI)
Operating System
Operating System Hardening
Outsourcing
Ownership

Offsite
A location separate and distinct from the area in which something, such as a computer, is located. Frequently referred to when considering backup storage.

Open System Interconnection (OSI)
A location separate and distinct from the area in which something, such as a computer, is located. Frequently referred to when considering backup storage.


Operating System
Computer programs that are primarily or entirely concerned with controlling the computer and its associated hardware, rather than with processing work for users. Computers can operate without application software, but cannot run without an operating system.

Major manufacturers - IBM etc., - tend to use proprietary operating systems, but popular commercial operating systems include Unix, Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP, MacOS, OS/2, Linux, and DOS variants.


Operating System Hardening
Hardening of operating systems is the first step towards safeguarding systems from intrusion. Workstations and servers typically arrive from the vendor, installed with a multitude of development tools and utilities, which, although beneficial to the new user, also provide potential back-door access to an organization's systems.

Hardening of an operating system involves the removal of all non essential tools, utilities and other systems administration options, any of which could be used to ease a hacker's path to your systems. Following this, the hardening process will ensure that all appropriate security features are activated and configured correctly. Again, 'out of the box' systems will likely be set up for ease of access with access to 'root' / Administrator account. Some vendors have now recognized that a market exists for pre-hardened systems; see Trusted Operating Systems.


Outsourcing
Having some or all of an organization's computer processing performed by a separate specialist organization, such as a computer payroll bureau. This approach can generate savings in resource, but rarely operates in real time and carries a high risk of breach of confidentiality.