A Guide to Cyber Terminology


These days in the digitally transformed era, if you keep yourself up to speed on cyber terminology then that means you are ready for a turbulent future replete with cyber risks. It also means that you are aware of cybersecurity ‘jargon’ so to speak and are tech-savvy. Even still, it means you give value to your privacy which is your God-given right, and a fundamental right that is listed in the UN charter. 

The IT security trend this decade can be called the following: “Always be prepared.” Being prepared with a good knowledge of cybersecurity applies to everyone these days, probably even your grandparents to an extent. Why is that? This is because cybercrime is at an all-time high, along with specially crafted social engineering scams that may target those exact people, your grandparents. Doing something like running your laptop, smartphone, tablet, or any other smart device without any protection will raise eyebrows from an IT expert, as this is a big ‘no-no’ for them. Cybersecurity is becoming ever more important because we store more and more data about ourselves online without giving that second thought. Because this is a growing industry now past the hundred billion-dollar mark, there are a vast amount of cybersecurity products and services out there. Adding to that, there is a large basket of cyber terminology out there that may confuse people. Some of it applies to cybercrime methods, some of it to scams, and some of it to technological advances and various protocols.

In any case, it would be very beneficial to you to peruse this content to gain a better picture of cybersecurity terminology and expand your cybersecurity glossary.

What is Cyber Terminology?

Cyber terminology refers to terminology that defines technology concepts and IT security concepts. These concepts are constantly evolving, changing, and being updated. You may hear new terms being thrown around all the time, and it can get quite confusing for some people that cannot follow this at the pace that, say, younger generations that are habituated to the speed of technology can. Because of this, we have sorted a comprehensive, curated list of the most important and trending cyber terminology in our cyber terminology 101 section below for you to peruse. Applying this knowledge to your daily life can mean several things; you might be able to save your data or educate and warn others on the risks of cyberspace and vulnerabilities affecting all types of digital systems. You may also be wondering what a specific cyberattack is, what ransomware is, or what a hacker is. All of this is why knowledge of cyber terminology is so important going forward in the digital age we find ourselves in.

Cyber Terminology 101

The world of cyberspace is so large and multifaceted that it takes years of learning to even scratch the surface in some ways. Remember, even industry experts are still learning as new concepts emerge and we create new technological paradigms. For now, though, here is a list of eight cyber terminology items that you will certainly find useful in your lifetime;

  • Phishing
  • Ransomware
  • Hacker
  • VPN
  • Firewall
  • Password
  • Software vulnerability
  • IP address

The above cyber terminology is key in our age. You will now understand why. Let’s start with phishing scams as we go down the list. Phishing scams are a popular socially engineered method to scam you of your money (usually) that comes in the form of a fake email from a fraudulent sender. Ransomware, on the other hand, is a nasty form of cyberattack that involves taking data ransom (locking the computer disk) and asking for money in return to release that data. Next, you may have heard or are familiar with what a hacker is. A hacker (sometimes called a blackhat, greyhat, or whitehat) is someone who can access systems without prior authorization or access given to them. Hackers can come in many colors, such as ethical hackers and malicious hackers. Malicious hackers, for instance, can launch ransomware attacks. 

Next, is the VPN. A VPN or Virtual Private Network is an essential cybersecurity tool that is readily available for download via subscription. A VPN insulates your internet traffic from risks and anonymizes you for better privacy. Now, onto the firewall. A firewall is a default component on any operating system i.e. Windows, macOS, Android, etc. Its purpose is to filter incoming and outgoing traffic. It can block malicious traffic as well as it can be customized by the user to allow certain applications to communicate with the internet. 

Finally, we have the password, software vulnerabilities, and IP address. First of all, a password is your primary method of accessing anything. Without it, how could you keep your data safe? A good password for a single account is a 10-digit or longer, randomized set of characters and symbols that will make it difficult for hackers to infiltrate your data or accounts. Next, let’s talk about software vulnerabilities and IP addresses. Software is anything that runs on your computer or devices, even the article you are reading now needs Google software to be able to run on your computer. Any piece of software may be vulnerable to hackers if it is not coded securely or if hackers find a way to exploit a piece of code in the software. This is why manufacturers constantly roll out software updates. 

To conclude, the all-important IP address (internet protocol). Every device that connects to the internet has a public and local IP address. The public IP address tells the rest of the internet where a user’s physical location is accurate to a mile or so. This protocol is necessary for computers to communicate. For privacy purposes, you can throw off this IP address by using a VPN for instance (there, now you have applied your cyber terminology knowledge!).

In conclusion, there are several hundreds of cyber terminology terms out there that are usually shortened for efficiency, such as; DMCA, DNS, IPv4, MiTM, DDos and more. However, these will not apply to you at this time, most likely. Sticking to some big, general ones like those in the list above and learning them will vastly improve your overall cybersecurity and privacy stance.