In today’s connected business world, knowing how to explain cyber security buzzwords to all members of your organization is essential.
We have compiled a list of top 10 buzzwords you and your organization need to know. This glossary, which is by no means exhaustive, is a first step.
The Cybersecurity Glossary
Encryption: An algorithmic technique that takes a file and changes its contents into something unreadable to those outside the chain of communication.
Firewall: A defensive technology focused on keeping the bad guys out. A “wall” or filter is created that judges each attempted interaction with a user’s computer and Internet connection to determine “should this be allowed entry or not?” Firewalls can be hardware or software-based.
Malware: An umbrella term that describes all forms of malicious software designed to cause havoc on a computer. Typical forms include viruses, trojans, worms and ransomware.
Ransomware: A form of malware that deliberately prevents you from accessing files on your computer. If a computer is infected by malware designed for this purpose, it will typically encrypt files and request that a ransom be paid in order to have them decrypted.
Phishing or spear phishing: A technique used by hackers to obtain sensitive information, including passwords, bank accounts or credit cards.Often an unexpected email is received disguised as being from a legitimate source. In many cases, the hacker will attempt to trick you into either replying with the information they seek, like bank details, or tempt you to click a malicious link or run an attachment. Spear phishing is a variant of this technique, but the hacker targets a business or person specifically, instead of taking a blanket approach.
Vulnerability: A weakness in computer software. Eventually, if you do not keep your systems up to date, you will have vulnerabilities. Say you’re using Microsoft Windows 7 but are failing to install updates – your system could exhibit vulnerabilities that can be attacked by a hacker because security safeguards are out of date.
Virus: A type of malware for personal computers, dating back to the days of floppy disks. Viruses typically aim to corrupt, erase or modify information on a computer before spreading to others. However, in more recent years, viruses like Stuxnet have caused physical damage.
Patch or Update: Most software requires thousands of lines of programming language to create, so it’s difficult for a developer to ensure all possible vulnerabilities are covered. When entry points are discovered by hackers or the developer themselves, software vendors will often release new pieces of software as a fix.
DDoS: An acronym that stands for distributed denial of service – a form of cyber attack. This attack aims to make a service such as a website unusable by “flooding” it with malicious traffic or data from multiple sources (often botnets).
Brute force attack: A technique a hacker can use to break into a computer system. They do this by trying to “guess” its password (either manually or with a computer application).
The buzzwords and jargon discussed here are just the tip of the security iceberg, but they represent the terms that are used and often misunderstood within IT security.