List of Terms and Definitions for Computer Investigations
Following is a list of computer terms that you might come across in a computer forensic investigation, along with a short description. This list will continue to grow over time.
Algorithm – A set of rules used to solve a problem. For example, Google uses a search algorithm to rate and rank sites in their search results.
Amiga OS – Amiga OS was the proprietary native operating system of the Amiga and AmigaOne personal computers. It was developed first by Commodore International
Application – An application is a computer software program. Small applications that run on mobile devices are apps, which is short for application.
Algorithm – A set of rules or processes that a computer follows to solve a problem or answer a question.
ASCII – American Standard Code for Information Exchange
ATM – ATM is an acronym that stands for Asynchronous Transfer Mode. ATM is a switching technique used to encode data into cells with a fixed size.
Authentication – A process used to establish/confirm the identity of a user. Authentication is usually associated with the login process.
Backup – A copy of a file or files that are created in case something happens to the original. Backups are used to restore files if the originals are damaged, deleted, or otherwise inaccessible.
Bandwidth – The amount of data that can travel over a network.
BASIC – Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. A programming language.
Boot – To turn on our startup a device or computer. Sometimes referred to as “booting up”
Browser – Also known as a web browser, a software tool used to read web pages and other web-based content. View a list of the most popular web browsers.
CD-ROM – Compact Disc – Read-Only Memory – A form of storage where the data and information stored on the disc can be read but not manipulated or changed.
CMS – Content Management System.
COBOL – Stands for Common Oriented Business Language. It was the first standardized computer programming language.
Cookie – A cookie is a small file that is saved to a user’s computer as they browse certain websites. The file stores information that helps websites recognize you on further visits. Also, they can be used to track your browsing activity (known as tracking cookies).
Cloud Computing – Cloud computing is when a company uses a network of servers stored on the internet to store, manage and process data.
CSS – Cascading Style Sheets
Encryption – Encryption is the process of encoding information, such as a message or file, that makes the information unreadable if intercepted.
Firewall – Limits the data that passes to the host computer to protect it from unauthorized access.
Google Chrome OS – Google Chrome OS is based on the Linux kernel and designed by Google to work with web applications and installed applications. Chrome is quickly growing in popularity due to its fast speed, stability, and ease of use. It is also less often the target of hackers and scammers.
GUI – GUI is an acronym for Graphical User Interface. It refers to the visual interface to a computer, including screens, designs, layout, buttons, menus, etc.
Hard Drive – A hard drive, also known as a hard disk is a storage device used to store and retrieve digital information.
HTML – Hypertext Markup Language
Java – A programming language developed by Sun Microsystems
Keyboard – An input device used to type characters, numbers, symbols, and commands.
Keys – The individual components of the keyboard.
Linux – Linux is an open-source operating system modeled on UNIX.
Microsoft Windows – Currently active Windows operating systems include Windows 8 and 10. Windows runs on more computers than any other system in the world. It is important for private eyes to be familiar with Windows for computer forensics-related investigations.
Mac OSX – MAC OSX is a series of Unix-based graphical interface operating systems developed and marketed by Apple.
Mouse – A device that is used to operate a computer.
Mouse Pad – A desktop pad that makes it easier for the mouse to move.
Netiquette – Netiquette is short for “internet etiquette. In general, it refers to using good behavior on the internet. For example, it is considered bad behavior to type messages in ALL CAPS. In the online world, this is the equivalent of yelling.
Operating System – In computing, an operating system (OS) is an interface between hardware and the user. The operating system is responsible for the management and coordination of activities and the sharing of the resources of a computer, that acts as a host for computing applications run on the machine. One of the primary purposes of an operating system is to handle the resource allocation and access protection of the hardware. This relieves the application programmers from having to manage these details.
OSINT – Open Source Intelligence.
Reboot – To restart a computer or other device. Also, a restart.
Unix – Unix is a widely used multi-user operating system.
Web Page – A web page is an individual HTML page on a website. Web pages may contain text, HTML markup, images, videos, and other types of content.
Wipe – Wipe means to completely clean all data and information off a computer.
Windows 95, 97, 99, NT, Vista – Windows is a computer operating system.
What Do Private Investigators Need to Know?
Private detectives may need to be familiar with various operating systems for a variety of reasons. First, they may specialize in providing PC forensic analysis or computer investigations. In this case, they will need to be very familiar with the various systems to know how to analyze activity, track down malicious code, identify errors, and gather evidence.
Second, regardless of the types of investigations offered by your business, you will undoubtedly run a variety of operating systems on various electronic devices, such as computers, tablets, and mobile devices. In this instance, private detectives should be familiar with how the system works to run their business most efficiently.
If you have any questions about this list of computer terms, please leave a comment below.