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In the University of Cambridge Computer Officers tend to use some IT Jargon. Here is a list of some of this jargon. These descriptions are in no way technically detailed. They are simple overviews of commonly used IT terminology.

A useful place to look is:, Oxford University's FOLDOC site or the Computing Service Jargon File.


Active Directory Service: A directory service from Microsoft Corporation, similar in concept to Novell Netware Directory Services, that also integrates with the user organisation's DNS structure and is interoperable with LDAP. Active Directory is included in Windows 2000 & 2003.


The terminology 'Cache' can be used in different context

  • a section of memory or a separate storage device used in a computer system to store recently accessed data or instructions
  • (proxy web cache): a collection of recently-fetched Web documents kept on a local proxy server, to reduce network traffic
  • (local web cache): copies of recently-fetched Web documents kept locally (usually on the hard disk) by the web browser


Computer Emergency Response Team: or CIRT (* Incident *) a team of full-time CO level computer operatives, part of who's job is to investigate and report on intrusive or obstructive behaviour by an IT resource. From a mis-configured machine broadcasting to the world, to a machine being probed or scanned, or a machine probing others, etc.

CAV-CERT is the Cavendish Laboratory version of the UCS CERT and JANET CERT.


A text file stored by a web browser in response to a request from a web server, and sent back to the server (to identify the user and possibly customise pages) each time the browser requests a page from the server.


Computer Officer


Computer Resource ID: is a unique user ID used generally used as a computer LOGIN. On application to the UCS, an ID is returned by internal mail with an accompanying password for each resource applied for (e.g. HERMES account has one password, PWF account has another, etc.). The CRSID is made up from the users initials and a number (e.g. abc1234 or ab12345).


The Cambridge University Data Network, which links institutions within Cambridge and provides onward connectivity to JANET and the Internet


The University Finance System


The Central Unix Service, available to staff and postgraduate students


The DPDN is the Department of Pharmacology Data Network (DPDN) and is the backbone on which all of the Department's computing runs.

Follow these links for more information on the DPDN infrastructure, the Network Monitoring policy, the network overview, the About this site and the port blocking pages for more information on the network management and security.

No other network traffic management software or hardware is to be used on the Laboratory network without permission of the network manager. Please e-mail it-helpdesk@phar. for more information and see the network policy for more information.


Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol: is a network protocol progressed from the older bootp protocol. A DHCP server issues IP addresses based on requests sent to it from client hosts. There is one in the laboratory (with suitable backup) and as the older static IP addresses are being returned to the UCS they are being replaced with private or public/private addresses from on the server.

Apart from making a single change to the machines IP configuration, the end-users is not affected by IP re-configuration. No other DHCP server should be run and changes to DHCP should not be made without guidance from


Domain Name Service: A service (an application run for a specific purpose) that acts as a "translator" between an IP address and IP name, -> It is an essential service in a network topology like the Pharmacology. University of Cambridge Central Services run two DNS services at address: and

Although implementations can be run on most any platform, this is highly destructive if not coordinated with the Central Services and as such is seen as destructive behaviour and not permitted under the Pharmacology or UCS rules.


Denial of Service. Occurs when large numbers of requests are sent to a server at one time with the purpose of rendering it inoperable.


File Transfer Protocol (FTP) applications are utilities that lets the user copy files to or from remote host that support TCP/IP. The prefix FTP is also used on URL specifications to distinguish when connecting to a public FTP area as opposed to an HTTP server or a Gopher server. e.g.


A Hyperlink (also know as Hypertext link or URL) is a connection, or link between web pages that are associated with hypertext. Also known as a URLs or Universal Rescource Locator, the link allows the user to take a free-associative tour of information on the WWW or other resources defined within the link. Please see URL for more detailed information.


HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol is used on URL specifications to distinguish the type of service that a web browser is requesting, since most web browsers can connect to other items such as local files, public FTP areas, and Gopher servers.


Hypertext Markup Language a coding specification which is used to create World Wide Web hypertext pages.


A chain letter that usually spreads a false virus warning.

Institute Liaison

The remit of institution liaison - is to provide strategic and policy advice to individual IT support staff, IT committees, institutions and the IT Syndicate. Assist with recruitment and induction of IT support staff throughout the University. Organise IT Liaison Meetings (next one likely to be end of September) and other groups (e.g. Windows Integration Group) at which IT support staff can exchange information and experience.



The internet is a worldwide collection of thousands of computer networks that can intercommunicate. These networks all communicate in the same "language" or protocol, called Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). For your computer to be a part of the Internet, it must be on a computer network that is part of the Internet, and it must be able to communicate with TCP/IP protocols. The Internet can communicate via gateways with other networks such as CompuServe, MCI Mail, FIDONet, Prodigy, and America Online.


Encryption technology used to carry traffic from one point to another (point-to-point) without being observed. This allows two computers to communicate privately over a public network.


A program with annoying or funny functionality, but its not destructive.


Lightweight Directory Access Protocol: LDAP was defined by the IETF in order to encourage adoption of X.500 directories. LDAP defines a relatively simple protocol for updating and searching directories running over TCP/IP.

An LDAP directory entry is a collection of attributes with a name, called a distinguished name (DN). The DN refers to the entry unambiguously. Each of the entry's attributes has a type and one or more values. The types are typically mnemonic strings, like "cn" for common name, or "mail" for e-mail address. The values depend on the type. For example, a mail attribute might contain the value "". A jpegPhoto attribute would contain a photograph in binary JPEG/JFIF format.

LDAP directory entries are arranged in a hierarchical structure that reflects political, geographic, and/or organisational boundaries. Entries representing countries appear at the top of the tree. Below them are entries representing states or national organisations. Below them might be entries representing people, organisational units, printers, documents, or just about anything else.

Local Area Network (LAN)

A LAN is a network that is in a small (or local) geographic area. Despite the ISP size infrastructure, the Department of Pharmacology Data Network is a LAN.

MAC Address

A MAC address is also known as the "Hardware Address" or a machines "Physical Address" is unique to every network card produced. It can be found either on the network card itself (often difficult to obtain) or by interrogating the hardware using operating system tools. A Hardware address takes the form of 6 octal pairs

e.g. 00-0e-a5-fe-66-9a
or (the preferred format in the DHCP) 00:30:1B:B0:93:8F

The tools for discovering a machines hardware address depend on your machine and the operating system – will be able to guide you in that. If you are running a PC, the easiest way is to run a command-line prompt ("Start" button -> "Run..." -> type ""cmd" and press "OK") then type 'ipconfig /all' followed by return:
and look for a line saying "Physical address", "MAC address" or "Hardware address"
On a linux / Unix box simply run a Terminal window and type 'ifconfig -a' followed by return

If you know a machines IP address, an alternative method is to run a command prompt; ping the machine; stop after about 3 or 4 returns, then enter 'arp -a'. This will show a list of IP addressess and their MAC addresses - one of which will be the one you want.


A common name for all kinds of unwanted software such as viruses, worms, trojans and jokes.

Multipartite virus

A virus composed of several parts. Every part of a multipartite virus needs to be cleaned away, to give assurance of non-infection.

On-demand scanner

A virus scanner which is started manually.

[Document] Page

The term "document page" generally refers to an actual page you are looking at (for instance, this one). The main page (or home page) of a server is normally the first page to be viewed for a specific server and using HTML, the document presents a hyperlink that when clicked upon takes the viewer to another document page.

Polymorphic virus

A virus which changes itself (mutates) as it passes through host files, making disinfection a serious challenge.


An agreed set of messages required whenever two computers must communicate with each other.

"Real-time" application

An application (e.g. virus scanner) that operates in the background, allowing a user to continue working at normal speed, with little or no significant slowing.

It should be noted that the more background operations you have running, the slower your machine will run.

Replication mechanism

A mandatory part of every virus and worm. If it doesnt have a replication mechanism, its by definition not a virus or worm.


Stands for 'Secure Shell'. The name of both a Unix software product and the company that produces it. Please see the following pages for more detailed information

The most common ways of using SSH is via applications such as putty, WinSCP or WINSSH (which combines both).

Stealth virus

A virus that hides itself by intercepting disk access requests. When an anti-virus program tries to read files or boot sectors to find the virus, the stealth virus feeds the anti-virus program a clean image of file or boot sector.


Commonly known as TCP, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is a network protocol used by computers for interconnectivity.

Time bomb

Destructive action triggered at some specific date or time.

Trojan or Trojan Horse

A program with hidden destructive functionality.


A Uniform Naming Convention, in IBM PC networking, is a way to specify a directory shared from a machine. The basic format is: \\machine\share or \\machine.domain\share where machine is the name of the directory server (including the domain if necessary e.g. and the share is the name of the share (not necessarily the name of the directory. e.g. Drive E: on a machine "server" has a sub-directory "shared" - if shared this would have a UNC of \\server\ shared. A Windows user connecting to server can then map a drive, say H: to the UNC known as \\server\ shared.


A Universal Resource Locator (URL) is an address string which specifies a full Internet domain and host path, as well as specific directory and file name information for the document. World Wide Web documents typically contain hyperlinks to other documents referenced by additional URLs.


A computer program that replicates by attaching itself to another object.

Web Surfing

Web surfing is the action of traversing the World Wide Web via the hyperlinks.

Web Server

A server on the World Wide Web which offers documents to be viewed. You must be connected to the Internet to access these servers. The servers are reached through URLs.

Wide Area Information Service (WAIS)

A project set up to provide an automated method of searching for and retrieving various kinds of information on the World Wide Web.

World Wide Web (WWW)

A "hypermedia" information environment, meaning that by simply highlighting a subject, information linked to that subject can be accessed quickly from wherever it may reside in the world. World Wide Web documents are available on various TCP/IP hosts around the world, accessible using Universal Resource Locators (URLs) and linked via hypertext jumps. The World Wide Web runs over the Internet. In many ways, using the World Wide Web is analogous to reading a huge Windows Help file.


A computer program that replicates independently by sending itself to other systems.