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As a service to our web site visitors, Discretix has compiled a glossary of security technical terms from a variety of industry sources.

Term Explanation


Triple DES Encrypting Standard
Triple DES is implemented by running the symmetric DES algorithm three times with two or three different keys. The first and the third execution is done in encrypt mode and the second execution is in decrypt mode.DES defined in ANSI-X3.92


Advanced Encryption Standard
The symmetric algorithm that was selected by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to replace the first standard (DES). AES supports various key lengths of longer length than those of DES, and is considered to be highly secure.AES is defined in FIPS 197


Using cryptographic means to verify the identity of a person a host or an application. Strong authentication can be achieved by asymmetric cryptography employing digital signatures or by having a shared (symmetric) secret.


Cipher Block Chaining. A block cipher mode of operation.
The CBC mode of operation is implemented by XOR'ing each plaintext block with the previous ciphertext block prior to encryption. The first plaintext block is XOR'ed with the IV. The CBC mode is aimed at foiling codebook attacks.DES modes of operation defined in FIPS PUB 81
Modes of operation for an n-bit block cipher ISO 10116


A random message created using a PRNG mechanism to be sent to another party for authentication purposes

Challenge Response (C/R)

A method to authenticate another party using either a shared secret (symmetric key) that is used to encrypt a random challenge, or by using asymmetric cryptography i.e. signing a challenge whereas the other side verifies the signature.

Composite MAC

A Message Authentication Code (MAC) value, containing a record of the value of all the elements in the MAC table, hence directly certifying for the integrity of the MAC table and indirectly certifying for the entire of the entire protected memory space.


Cryptographic means to ensure privacy or secrecy of information (so that only after authorized access, data can be read). Confidentiality is ensured using data encryption using symmetric algorithms.

Contactless smartcard

An RFID based smartcard that typically can be placed 10 cm from its reader. Passive contactless smartcard receive energy from external source by inductance.
ISO 14443 defines proximity smartcards, the most common contactless smartcards


Chinese Remainder Theorem. A name of a mechanism that speeds up private key operations in RSA by splitting the problem into two parts, solving each part separately and combining the result. It is considered unsafe unless special countermeasures are implemented.


Counter mode. A cipher mode of operation. By this mode a stream is created by encrypting sequential block numbers, along with other information. The resulting stream of blocks is XOR'ed with the plaintext to obtain the ciphertext.


Data Encrypting Standard. The first NIST approved block cipher for symmetric encryption.
Defined in ANSI-X3.92 and FIPS 46-2


The Diffie-Hellman algorithm. An algorithm for asymmetric key-exchange which allows two parties to negotiate a key in a way that protects the key from disclosure by passive eavesdroppers.
DH Defined in PKCS#3 and ANSI X9.42 defines key agreement using DH.

Differential Power Analysis

Attempting to infer information by statistically analysis a large sample of power traces


Electronic Code Book. A block cipher mode of operation. The ECB mode is the simplest mode by which each block of plaintext is encrypted independently to obtain a block of ciphertext.


Elliptic Curve Cryptography. An asymmetric cryptographic technology that enables to use shorter keys than RSA for the same level of security. ECC however, is not widely accepted and is not commonly used like RSA.

PKCS#13 which is under development, will specify ECC.


Error Correction Code. Additional bits added to a message that is transmitted over a network, or to storage such as NAND Flash that may read incorrectly some bits. ECC adds information that enables to infer where the error is and what should be the true value of an erroneous bit.

Fault Analysis

Attempting to induce faults, monitor the results and infer information on the secret data


A one way function i.e. a function that can easily be calculated given an input, but the reverse (inferring input given the output) cannot feasibly be calculated. Hash functions are used as message digests (reduction of large message to a much smaller number of bits) to ensure data integrity and prior to digitally signing on a message.
See SHA and MD5

High Capacity SIM

A Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) with capacity of a mass storage device. Combining the best of worlds, smartcards security and experience in the industry with high capacity. However, some issues have to be resolved such as communication rate sufficient for mass storage and physical dimensions that fit the specifications. Another approach is to add SIM functionality to a mass storage form-factor.


Hash function-based MACs use a key or keys in conjunction with a hash function to produce the message digest. Also called keyed hash.


Cryptographic means to ensure that the message or the content of the storage media has not been altered in any way. Integrity is verified using hash functions or Message Authentication Code (MAC).


Initialization Vector for CBC mode. This is the block that is XOR'ed with the first block of plaintext to form the first block of ciphertext.


Message Authentication Code. In this context, it refers to the MAC that is produced as a side effect, by an AES encryption. The MAC value is dependent on the values of all the blocks that were processed and thus can be used to certify for the integrity of the blocks' contents.


Hash or Message Digest algorithm defined in RFC 1321


A cryptographic means to ensure that a party who performed a digital signature will not be able to deny signing


Open Mobile Alliance, Digital Rights Management standard V2 Is a strong DRM scheme that gains popularity. OMA DRM enables diverse content consumption policies.


Personal Identification Number. A secret code (numeric or alphanumeric) that is used to identify an individual, such as a password.


Public Key Infrastructure. A name for the set of components that is necessary in order to use asymmetric cryptography properly.


Pseudo Random Number Generator. A module that generates streams of numbers (in the form of bits) that appears random.
ANSI X9.31 Implementation of Pseudo Random Number Generator


Radio Frequency Identification, a wireless technology used by smartcards and tags. Proximity smartcards are defined in ISO 14443


Random Number Generator. A module that generates streams of random numbers. The random source could be analog oscillator (ARNG) or Digital oscillator (DRNG).


Removable Solid State Storage: Refers to flash cards and USB drives that uses solid state technology (rather than discs) to store data


Rivest Shamir Adelman - the most common asymmetric cryptography algorithm used for digital signature and key exchange.
RSA Cryptography standard defined in PKCS #1 (1.5 and 2.0)


See Confidentiality

Secret CryptoKey

A 128-bit random number, unique to every unit that is used for encrypting the data stored in the non-volatile memory.


Secure hash algorithms that provide message digest of various lengths (SHA-1 produces 160 bit digest)
SHA-1 is specified in FIPS 180-1

Side Channel Attacks

Attacks that rely on analysis of information leakage and include, timing analysis, fault analysis, simple power analysis and differential power analysis.


Subscriber Identification Module, a smartcard form factor that fits into mobile handsets that operate in GSM networks and provide authentication and encryption services. Defined by 3GPP in GSM11.11

Simple Power Analysis

Attempting to infer information by visual inspection of instantaneous power consumption


An integrated circuit card (ICC) the size of a credit card or of a SIM as defined in ISO 7816


Secure Storage Toolkit. CryptoFlash secure flash storage mechanism that enables diverse access control mechanisms ranging from PIN to challenge response. The SST enables storing credentials and keys safely and using stored keys to protect data objects.

Timing Analysis

Attempting to infer secret information by measuring processing time of different inputs


Write Once Read Many. Any type of storage medium that can only be written to once but can be read an unlimited number of times.

Please note:

The Glossary is intended for educational purposes only. While we have taken great care to insure that all terms are accurately defined, Discretix assumes no liability for mentions or omissions that may involve alternate descriptions.

Since Discretix focuses on providing best-of-class mobile security solutions, some terms and definitions reflect this emphasis.

We'll be pleased to consider suggestions for improving the Glossary.

Published - August 2011

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