Our 50+ cyber security jargon buster guide is designed specifically for beginners. Each term and concept will be broken down into basic terminology, with an easy-to-understand definition for the cyber security jargon. If you’re interested in more jargon busters, check out our IT jargon buster for beginners.
Cyber Security Jargon
We’ve broken down over 50 cyber security terminology into separate categories.
- Adware: Software that automatically displays or downloads advertising content when a user is online. While some may be legitimate, it can be malicious, serving unwanted ads or spying on user behavior.
- Advanced Persistent Threat (APT): A cyberattack campaign in which an intruder establishes an undetected presence in a network to mine sensitive data, often spanning an extended period and targeting specific organisations or nations.
- Backdoor: A hidden method for bypassing standard computer authentication systems. This unauthorized access can be created by the system’s designers or through a malware infection.
- Black Hat: Refers to an individual who conducts unauthorized and malicious hacking operations, typically for personal or financial gain. This term derives from classic Western movies where villains wore black hats.
- Botnet: A network of private computers, infected with malicious software and controlled as a group. Botnets can be used to perform distributed attacks, send spam, or steal data.
- Brute Force Attack: A trial-and-error approach used by attackers to guess correct login credentials, utilizing exhaustive attempts.
- CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional): A globally recognized advanced certification in cybersecurity. It signifies deep knowledge in designing, implementing, and managing top-tier cybersecurity programs.
- CISM (Certified Information Security Manager): This certification emphasizes the management of information security, aiming for organisational excellence in risk management and governance.
- CJSM (Criminal Justice System Mail): The Criminal Justice Secure Email (CJSM) system is designed to facilitate the communication of sensitive information between organisations in the criminal justice system.
- CompTIA Security+: A foundational cybersecurity certification that teaches the core knowledge required for any cybersecurity role, covering a wide array of introductory topics.
- Cryptography: The study of secure communication techniques that protect information from adversaries, especially during transmission. It involves creating and deciphering codes.
- Cryptolocker: The CryptoLocker ransomware incident involved a cyber assault using CryptoLocker malware from 5 September 2013 to the end of May 2014. This attack deployed a trojan aimed at computers operating on Microsoft Windows.
- Cyber Essentials (Certification): Cyber Essentials is a UK government-backed initiative that sets out a good baseline of cyber security for businesses. It addresses a wide range of threats.
- Cyber Essentials Plus (Certification): An advanced level of the Cyber Essentials certification. It involves hands-on testing of an organisation’s systems to ensure robust defenses against cyber threats.
- Cyber Insurance: Cyber insurance for businesses is a specialised type of insurance that provides coverage and protection against the financial losses and liabilities associated with cyber incidents and data breaches.
- Dark Web: A concealed part of the internet not indexed by traditional search engines, and often requires specific software to access. It can be a hub for illegal activities.
- DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service): An attack where multiple compromised systems target a single system, resulting in its overload and subsequent unavailability to users.
- Digital Certificate: An electronic “passport” that establishes a person’s or entity’s credentials when conducting business online. It’s associated with public key encryption.
- Encryption: A security measure that encodes data to prevent unauthorized access. Only a user with the correct decryption key can access the original information.
- Endpoint Security: Protecting corporate networks by ensuring that all connected devices comply with a definite level of security. It’s vital due to the rise of threats targeting end-user devices.
- Exploit: A software tool or technique that targets a specific vulnerability in hardware or software, often providing the attacker with elevated access.
- Firewall: A hardware or software-based network security system designed to control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on a set of rules. There are several types of firewalls, including packet filtering firewalls, stateful inspection firewalls, and next-generation firewalls.
- Firewall Evasion: Techniques that attackers use to bypass and navigate around firewall protections, allowing unauthorized access.
- Honeypot: A decoy system or network set up to attract cyber attackers. It is used to study hacker behaviors and gather intelligence on new threats.
- Incident Response: A coordinated set of processes and procedures that an organisation uses to identify, respond to, and learn from cybersecurity threats.
- Intrusion Detection System (IDS): A system or application that monitors and analyzes network traffic to detect and alert potential threats.
- ISO/IEC 27001: An international standard on how to manage information security, offering a systematic approach to managing company and customer information.
- Keylogger: Malicious software designed to record every keystroke made by a computer user, especially to gain fraudulent access to passwords and other confidential data.
- Logic Bomb: A piece of malicious code inserted into a software system. This code is set to be executed when certain conditions are met, often resulting in detrimental actions like data deletion or corruption.
- Malware: Malware is a general term for any software intentionally designed to harm, exploit, or otherwise perform malicious actions on a computer, server, client, or network.
- Man-in-the-Middle Attack: A form of eavesdropping where communication between two parties is secretly intercepted and potentially altered without detection. The “man in the middle” monitors, captures, and can control the communication.
- Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): An authentication process that requires users to provide multiple methods of identification before granting access, enhancing the security of traditional username-password logins.
- Patch: A software update that is applied to an installed application or operating system to correct a specific problem or vulnerability.
- Penetration Testing (Pen Test): An authorized and simulated cyberattack on a computer system, performed to evaluate the security posture of the system, and identify vulnerabilities.
- Phishing: Phishing is a deceptive technique employed by cybercriminals to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity, often via email.
- Ransomware: A type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or encrypt its data until a sum of money, or ransom, is paid.
- Romance Scam: A romance scam is when individuals pose as romantic partners on various online platforms aiming to deceive their targets and obtain their financial assets.
- Rootkit: A clandestine software set, typically malicious, that allows unauthorized access to a computer’s core systems, often hiding its existence or the existence of other software.
- Sandboxing: A technique used to run potentially untrusted programs in a restricted environment to prevent them from causing harm to the host system or network.
- Secure Coding: A practice of designing and implementing software in a way that protects against security threats and vulnerabilities. This includes techniques to guard against common exploits.
- Security Posture: The collective security status of an enterprise’s software, hardware, policies, networks, and information. It provides a complete view of an organisation’s security readiness and vulnerabilities.
- Sextortion: Sextortion is a tactic used by scammers to threaten victims by threatening to release sensitive imagery, audio, or video to scare the victim into paying fees demanded by the scammer.
- SIEM (Security Information and Event Management): A comprehensive solution combining real-time analysis of security alerts and data aggregation for event forensics and compliance reporting.
- Social Engineering: A manipulative method cyber attackers use that relies on human interactions to obtain or compromise information about an organisation or its computer systems.
- Spoofing: A technique used to gain unauthorized access to systems by pretending to be a trusted user or device. It can involve forging email headers, caller IDs, or IP addresses.
- SSL/TLS (Secure Socket Layer/Transport Layer Security): Cryptographic protocols that provide secure communications over a computer network, such as during web browsing or email transmission.
- Threat Intelligence: The collection and analysis of information about potential threats to provide a predictive and protective security strategy. It involves understanding and countering threats in real-time.
- Threat Vector: The method or path a cyberattack takes to compromise a system. Common vectors include emails, websites, and network connections.
- Trojan Horse: A malicious program that misrepresents itself to seem useful or benign but can take control or cause damage to the user’s computer once activated.
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): A security verification process where two forms of identification are required, combining something the user knows (password) with something they have (smartcard or token).
- VPN (Virtual Private Network): A VPN is technology that creates a secure, encrypted online connection over a less secure network, such as the public internet. It ensures data privacy.
- Vulnerability Assessment: An organised approach to identifying, quantifying, and prioritizing vulnerabilities in a computer system, using various tools and techniques.
- Whitelisting: An approach where only pre-approved entities (like software applications or IP addresses) are granted permissions, while all others are blocked by default.
- Worm: A standalone malware computer program that replicates itself to infect other computers, often using a network to spread itself.
- Zero-Day Vulnerability: A software security flaw unknown to the vendor, with no patches available when it is first discovered. Zero-day attacks exploit these vulnerabilities before a fix becomes available.
Cyber security terminology is confusing, but we hope this list clears up any queries.
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