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For Your Reference: 25 Commonly Misused and Misunderstood Cybersecurity Terms

Cybersecurity is a highly technical field designed to protect technology users from the ever-growing dangers of the cyber world. But it’s this complixity that can become a barrier in communication. The reality is that if the people and companies we are trying to protect get lost in the tech lingo, we can’t succeed in educating them to the risks or finding effective solutions to the problems they are facing. 


To help aid in clear communication and tearing down the barriers that “tech speak” can create, we have put together a Cybersecurity Terms Index. We took frequently misused and misunderstood cybersecurity terms and deciphered what they really mean so you can be fully ‘in-the-know’ and confident when in a discussion about protecting sensitive data.


Bot: short for robot, or an autonomous program, is a type of software application or script that performs tasks on command. 


Botnet: a string of connected computers or a single computer that been unknowingly compromised to perform activities. 


Bug: An small unexcepted detected or imperfect in an information system or device. 


Cloud: Global network of servers linked together to operate as one. Servers are designed to store and manage data, run applications, or deliver content or service (video streaming, webmail, social media) Accessible online anywhere you go. 


Data Breach: The unauthorized movement or disclosure of sensitive information to a party that is not authorized to have or see the information.


Data Mining: Process used to sort through large sets of data with the goal of transforming the data into a structure for future usage. 


Disaster recovery (DR): a plan devised with a set of policies, tools, and producer to enable the recovery of vital technology infrastructure and systems following a natural or human-induced disaster.  


Denial of Service/DDOS: A cyber attacked by a perpetrator to cease the operation of a network or machine. Temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services. 


Exploit: A technique to breach the security of a network of information system in violation of security policy.


Firewall: A software designed to block unauthorized access to private networks and maintain the security of computer systems. 


Hacker: An unauthorized user who attempts to maneuver into the private information on a computer system. 


Keylogger: A software or hardware deployed with malicious attempt to analyze actions of users keystrokes and keyboard events. 


Malware:  Short for Malicious software. Malware is a file or code designed to target a computer and cause damage. Once introduced (typically over a network) it virtually can perform any behavior an attacker wants. 


MSP: Acronym for a managed service provider. It is a company that remotely manages a customer’s IT infrastructure and/or end-user systems. MSP companies provide technical advice and support to help clients day-to-day operations (printers, software updates VOIP,  phone systems) 


MDR: Acronym for Managed detection and Response. This service detects intrusions and malicious activity in your network. MDR assists in responding quickly to eliminate and reduce threats. 


Patch:  A set of changes to update and improve a computer program and supporting data. 


Phishing:  Phishing is when a cyber criminal (phisherman) poses as a legitimate institution to lure individuals into providing sensitive data. Emails arrive from accounts that appear to be familiar (Facebook, Instagram, Gmail or other email accounts, banks, etc) when in reality, they are from a hacker who has their sights set on gaining access to their accounts or other sensitive data. 


Ransomware: ransomware is a type of malware deployed by cybercriminals that prey on technical and human flaws in an attempt to deny access to system controls and important data. Access will remain blocked until a sum of money is paid.  


Spam: Abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send bulk messages.


Spyware: An unauthorized software installed to obtain information about another's computer activities. 


Trojan horse: A program that appears safe but has once engaged can deploy its viruses. Unlike a virus, it does not replicate itself but can still be detrimental. It evades security mechanisms. 


Threat: Something that may or may not happen, but could potentially cause damage. Threats can range from mismanagement to cybercriminals trying to infiltrate computer systems, networks, or 


Vulnerability:  A flaw or weakness in a system that leaves in open to an attack. 


Virus: a type of malware, that attaches to a program, file, or document. Once it receives interaction, it can spread through computer systems. Much like the flu virus, it can spread from host to host ( or other computers on the same network) and has the ability to replicate itself. 


Worm: Standalone malware computer program that uses computer networks to replicate and spread to other computers. 

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