31 Cybersecurity Terms Everyone Should Know



A key part in protecting yourself and your business from being a part of a security breach is to stay educated on security. As cybersecurity issues regularly become more complicated and are changing at a rapid speed it is important to know the terms and language that is being used to describe these cybersecurity events. We have compiled a list of 31 cybersecurity terms that you need to know to begin to understand the cybersecurity landscape and keep yourself, your employees, and your business protected.


Adware – You see this pop up when you get unwanted advertisements appearing on your screen when you visit certain sites. Adware is highly problematic because it can not only disguise itself as a legitimate site and trick you into clicking buttons that actually trigger the download of software that can track you to collect data on your activities, but it can also add harmful software to your device.


Application Security - A process for enhancing the security posture of software. The process typically involves: threat modeling, design reviews, finding security bugs through tools/testing (IAST, RASP, SAST, DAST, manual, etc), and then fixing the security bugs in the software development lifecycle (SDL). Application security is being adapted in to more streamlined ‘DevSecOps’ processes in today’s development world.


Authentication – This refers to the sequence of steps by which the identity of a user or device is verified. Single passwords are the simplest form of authentication. Current best practices are for multi-factor authentication, where multiple different checks are used to verify identity since hackers are less likely to be able to provide various forms of verification.


Blacklist – Any collection of users, devices, or other entities that are not permitted access privileges.


Bot – An individual device that has been fed programming to act maliciously under the remote control of another administrator.


Bug – A functional glitch or imperfection present in a device or piece of code.


Certificate – This is virtual confirmation of the identity of a specific entity. This is usually issued by a Certificate Authority (CA) and is something that can be verified. When you visit a secure site, for example, your computer checks the site’s security certificates and in this way determines that the site is secure.


Cloud - Emerging technology that allows us to access our files and/or services through the internet from anywhere in the world. Technically speaking, it’s a collection of computers with large storage capabilities that remotely serve requests


Cyber exposure - An emerging discipline used to accurately understand and reduce cyber risk. This approach is key to helping companies safeguard valuable assets and become more cyber secure by providing holistic visibility into the various digital compute platforms and assets that make up the modern attack surface. The Cyber Exposure process takes the whole life cycle into account, allowing companies to determine where they are exposed, where they should prioritize based on risk and how they are reducing exposure over time


Data breach – Any event where information is shared with an untrustworthy party or opened up to an unsecured environment.


Data mining – The analysis of large data sets to identify previously unknown patterns or relationships. Often used towards positive ends, such as in medicine to discover health trends in populations or in academia to characterize social patterns, data mining can also be employed for malicious purposes by hackers.


Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) – This is a form of attack that targets a specific server or network of servers, causing a massive, sudden surge in traffic with the intent of shutting down the servers. One of the most common ways for this to take place is for a hacker to use malware to gain access to several machines connected on the same network; these can then be controlled by the hacker or directs them to flood the network servers.


Encryption – This is a process of data conversion that transforms it using a secret code into a sequence that requires deciphering to be able to use; only authorized entities have the means to decode this sequence and access the data contained within.


Endpoint - Endpoint refers to any device that connects to a network and can serve as an entry point for security threats. Devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops are all endpoints that must be secured to block unauthorized access to company networks. Endpoint security also can prevent the internal theft of sensitive data.


Firewall – This can be constructed using software and/or hardware, but at its core, it sets a specific set of access permissions in place that control who can access a particular network. Secure firewalls offer several layers of protection from hackers and their malware.


Honeypot – This is a fake vulnerability that masquerades as a weakened part of your system or network, in an effort to bait a potential hijacker or other threat. It can be used as part of a security plan as a way to monitor whether the system or network is currently a moving target for any threats.


IP Address - A unique series of numbers that identifies a device connected to the Internet or a local network. Allows systems to be recognized by other systems via Internet Protocol.


IoT Security - Internet of Things (IoT) security includes both the physical security of internet-connected devices and the network security to which each IoT ‘thing’ connects.


Keylogging – This is generally a malicious practice where keyboard input is secretly monitored as a way to keep tabs on a user’s activity. Aside from the violation of personal privacy inherent to this, this is particularly dangerous as it gives hackers access to input personal details such as credit card information and passwords.


Malware – This is a broad term that refers to any software that intrudes upon a computer system’s process in an unauthorized manner.


MSSP - MSSP stands for ‘managed security service providers.’ They provide outsourced monitoring and management of security devices and systems. MSSP can be outsourced or managed in-house. Services include firewall management, vulnerability scanning, and anti-viral protection.


Phishing – This refers to the practice of using false communications to deceive people in a way that elicits their sharing of personal information and sensitive details. One typical example of phishing is when scammers send emails pretending to be the Internal Revenue Service or a bank, and scaring recipients into believing they are in trouble and need to resolve a conflict. This resolution always requires the user to share details so that they may be identified.


Ransomware – This is a form of malware that cannot be removed until payment of a ransom is received by the malicious instigator. The most common avenues for spreading ransomware include infected websites as well as phishing.


Spear Phishing - A technique used by attackers to obtain sensitive information. Traditionally executed using highly targeted email messages designed to trick people into divulging personal or confidential data.


Spoofing – This refers to any method by which a user is conned. Successful spoofing is what leads users into sharing their details with the malicious party. For example, the impersonation involved with many phishing scams is an example of spoofing.


Spyware – This is malware that is secretly placed onto a system and monitors the user’s activities.


Threat – This is an imminent risk to exploit known or unknown opportunities for malicious individuals or organizations to infiltrate a system or network.


Virus – A piece of programming code that can secretly enter a computer, replicate, and then be transmitted to other computers.


Vulnerability – This is any potential opportunity for malicious individuals or organizations to infiltrate a system or network. Threats exploit vulnerabilities; and so, it might be a flaw in design or a gap in security protocols.


Whitelist – The opposite of a blacklist, this is a list of exclusions to a particular security rule, generated because the members of the list are known to be trustworthy.


Zero day exploits - A cyberattack on a software or hardware vulnerability before it can be detected and fixed. Attackers exploit the security flaw by releasing malware that can take control of your computer, steal your data, corrupt files, access your contacts, and send spam messages from your account.


At Mapletronics, we value our position as your security experts. We hope that this list can be a guide to understanding confusing cybersecurity terminology. Our expert team is always here to help if you need help deciphering a term or understanding what is happening in the world of cybersecurity. We view it as our job to stay one step ahead of malicious acts and security breaches and we hope to help you prevent hackers from successfully infiltrating their way into your business.

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