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The Internet threat alert status is currently normal. At present, no major epidemics or other serious incidents have been recorded by Kaspersky Lab’s monitoring service. Internet threat level: 1

Windows registry

Synonyms: System registry

The Windows system registry is a database used by all modern Windows platforms. This database contains the information needed to configure the system.

Windows constantly refers to the registry for information ranging from user profiles, to which applications are installed on the machine, to what hardware is installed and which ports are registered.

Registry keys replace .ini files in previous version of Windows. The registry data is stored as binary code.

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Wireless access point

Synonyms: Hot spot

A hot spot provides access to a wireless network. Hot spots are now common in businesses, homes, hotels, airports and even fast food outlets.


Worm

Synonyms: Computer worm, Email worm, Internet worm, Network worm

Worms are generally considered to be a subset of viruses, but with key differences. A worm is a computer program that replicates, but does not infect other files: instead, it installs itself on a victim computer and then looks for a way to spread to other computers.

From a user’s perspective, there are observable differences. In the case of a virus, the longer it goes undetected, the more infected files there will be on the victim computer. In the case of a worm, by contrast, there is just a single instance of the worm code. Moreover, the worm’s code is ‘self-standing’, rather than being added to existing files on the disk.

Like viruses, worms are often sub-divided according to the means they use to infect a system. E-mail worms are distributed as attachments to e-mail messages, IM worms are attached to messages sent using instant messaging programs (such as IRC or ICQ). P2P [peer-to-peer] worms use file-sharing networks to spread. Network worms spread directly over the LAN [Local Area Network] or across the Internet, often making use of a specific vulnerability.

The term ‘worm’ was coined by sci-fi writer John Brunner in his 1975 novel Shockwave Rider. The hero, a talented programmer, created self-replicating computer programs that tunneled their way through a worldwide network.

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War chalking

War chalking refers to the act of walking round a city or town to locate wireless access points, or ‘hot spots’, in order to gain unauthorized access to unsecured wireless networks. It is so-called from the act of indicating the hot-spot using a chalk mark.


War driving

War driving refers to the act of driving round a city or town to locate wireless access points, or ‘hot spots’, in order to gain unauthorized access to unsecured wireless networks. The specific process of mapping Bluetooth devices is referred to as ‘war nibbling’.


Web browser

A web browser is an application that lets a user access and display content from the World Wide Web.


Whitelist

Used as one method of filtering spam, a whitelist provides a list of legitimate e-mail addresses or domain names: all messages from whitelisted addresses or domains are automatically passed through to the intended recipient.


WiFi

Synonyms: Wireless network

WiFi (short for ‘wireless fidelity’) is the name commonly given to wireless networks that conform to the 802.11 specification laid down by IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers]. WiFi provides for fast data transfer rates (up to 11Mbs) and has become increasingly popular in recent years. Today, many PCs and mobile devices are fitted with wireless cards that enable them to connect to a wireless network. WiFi has become a more common way of connecting to a network and wireless access points, or ‘hot spots’, can be found in businesses, homes, hotels, airports and even fast food outlets.

By design, no wires are required to connect to a wireless network. If the wireless network is unsecured, it can be accessed easily by hackers or other users wishing to obtain free Internet access: so-called ‘war driving’ or ‘war chalking’.


WildList

The WildList was established in July 1993 by anti-virus researcher Joe Wells, was subsequently published monthly by the WildList Organization and is now published by ICSA Labs (part of TrueSecure Corporation). It aims to keep track of which viruses are spreading in the real world (the WildList FAQ cites the WildList as ‘the world’s authority on which viruses users should really be concerned with’).

Detection of 'in the wild' viruses, as defined by the WildList, has become the de facto measure by which anti-virus products are judged. Fee-based anti-virus certification tests, most notably ICSA Labs. and West Coast Labs, are based on detection of WildList samples. In addition, the Virus Bulletin ‘VB100%’ is awarded on the basis of a product's ability to detect WildList viruses.

However, in today’s wired world, there’s a higher risk of being hit by new malware, with around 80% of new malicious programs being found in the field, not just in so-called ‘zoo’ collections. As a result, the WildList has become somewhat outmoded as a measure of the real threat.


World Wide Web

The World Wide Web (or WWW for short) was developed by Tim Berners-Lee, a British software consultant who was looking for a way to track associations between pieces of information using a computer (much like a thesaurus does manually). His initial program for doing this was called ‘Enquire’, developed in the 1980s.

He subsequently developed the idea, and the standards, to allow the sharing of data across the Internet. He created HTML as the standard method for coding web content. He designed an addressing scheme (contained in the URL) for locating web content. And he created HTTP as the protocol for transferring web content across the Internet.

The World Wide Web as we now know it appeared in 1991 and has grown exponentially since. Tim Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium [the W3C], the body that sets WWW standards. The W3C defines the World Wide Web as ‘the universe of network-accessible information, an embodiment of human knowledge’.