Cybersecurity can seem complicated. There are hundreds of terms to describe the various facets of cybersecurity. In this article, we list and explain the most common security terminology in layman's terms. We create high-level, strategic security plans with business grade defences. But we have learnt, over the years, that one of the most important jobs we have is to translate the jargon used by the IT and security industry.
There's no need to be put off by jargon used by cybersecurity providers. Instead, understand the basic principles, to make it easier for you to apply the principles to your own business.
Here is our A-Z guide of cybersecurity terms, topics and definitions:
Did we miss a term? Let us know down in the comments below and we will be sure to add it!
A – Anti-virus
Everybody should have some form of anti-virus installed on their system/network. Anti-virus software will scan for malicious software and either alert you to the problem or fix it behind the scenes. There are both free and paid versions of anti-virus software so make sure you compare what the software offers.
B – Banking
As we do more and more banking online, we must make sure we’re doing it securely. Ensure that you have login alerts and a secure password. Always check your statements match up to your online banking. Whenever you make a purchase online, you should check your online banking straight away.
C – CAPTCHA
Ever been filling in a form on a website and you’ve had to decode a complex mix of lettering and numbers this is known as a CAPTCHA form. Standing for ’Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart’, created in the early 2000’s the test allows to determine if a user is human or a machine. CAPTCHA helps stops a lot of spam that’s often part of wide-scale cyber-attacks.
D – Downloads
One of the easiest way to for cyber criminals to infect devices is by malicious downloads. Always check a website is legitimate before downloading any files from it (see HTTPS) if it isn’t, make sure you avoid it. If you’re browsing the web and a file automatically downloads without any warning, it’s imperative that you don’t open it. Only ever download field you need.
E – E-mail
E-mails are one of the most popular places for cyber-attacks to take place. Always be wary when opening E-mails and check the senders’ address. One of the main rules when it comes to E-mail cyber security is never to click links in E-mails unless you are 100% sure they’re legitimate. Always be aware of phishing too.
F – Firewalls
In short, a firewall can be either a piece of hardware or software on your network that runs monitoring checks on incoming and outgoing traffic to a user defined protocol. The firewall acts as a barrier between your computer and the internet which traffic flows through and gets checked. If any traffic both incoming or outgoing goes against the predetermined set of rules, it will not be given access to the network. This can include blocked websites, viruses or malicious attacks.
G – Government
One of the easiest ways to see how much of an issue cyber security has become is to look at the Governments cyber security website. They have also announced a £1.9bn budget to help with cyber security over the next five years.
H – HTTPS
Ever seen a little green lock next to a website URL? This is good! The green lock means a site is safe and secure. Whenever making a transaction online make sure you’re using an HTTPS site, so your payment is secure. If you click the green lock, you’re able to see details of the security certificate that the site has been given.
I – Identity Theft
Years ago, identity theft came from letters and bank statements; now it’s far more popular online. Whenever filling out forms online never store your information for next time. Take the extra 60 seconds and fill it out from scratch. A big part of identity theft also comes from social media. Make sure your privacy settings are secure and always think before you post. Would you tell this information to a stranger on the street?
K – Kill Chain
The kill chain is the stages of a cyber-attack. There are numerous versions of this chain, but in most attacks, there are four main stages;
- Survey – The scouting of potential networks for the cyber attack
- Delivery – The process of sending the attack hoping to breach the system
- Breach – When the system gets breached it reaches this stage
- Attack – The stage where the damages gets done
L – LastPass (Password Managers)
You should never use the same password twice, but it can seem daunting to remember all the different secure passwords. This is where applications such as LastPass come in. These are online password managers who can not only securely store passwords for various accounts but create secure passwords for you to use. You can then also share passwords to allow people access to files and accounts. Great for businesses!
M – Malware
Malware is anything bad when it comes to cyber-attacks. Viruses, worms, ransomware and anything malicious gets classed as malware. To protect yourself from malware being cyber secure and having software such as anti-virus.
N – Next-Generation Cyber Security
Cyber security is ever changing, and as more things become connected by technology, attacks are becoming bigger and harder to fix. As we mention in ‘X’ more and more items are now vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Webcams, ATM’s even kids toys can now get hacked into!
O – Out/Insider Threat
When protecting yourself from cyber attacks, it’s important to focus on both out and insider threats. Outside threats are usually untargeted and are difficult to track. They can be paid cyber criminals looking for weak systems. Insider threats will be from inside your organisation. These can either be done on purpose or by mistake usually from inexperienced computer users.
P – Passwords
Secure passwords are now more important than ever. They should be secure and sophisticated, but as we mentioned earlier, they should never be used twice. For the most complex and hardest to crack passwords we recommend following these rules;
- At least eight characters in length
- A mix of numbers and letters (both upper and lower case)
- A policy to change your passwords around every three months
Q – Quarantine
We’re getting more spam E-mails than ever before, and they’re getting harder to tell apart from real ones. To help counteract this, there are applications you can install to help sift through your E-mails. If it appears that an E-mail is spam, it will be then held in a quarantine where you can choose settings such as blocking domains sending you E-mails or releasing them into your inbox.
R – Ransomware
Ransomware is where a user will get blocked from accessing their data or locked out of their account. The hackers will usually demand a fee to be paid by bank transfer or in bitcoin for the data to be released. Although, security experts say you should never pay the fee and report any attacks to the police.
S – Social Media-
Social Media is one of people’s biggest downfalls when it comes to cyber security. Always think before you post on any social media platform. Is there any personal information in your post? If there is then do not post it. Only ever connect with people you know and never accept request off strangers. With a host of personal information available on these platforms, you should constantly be checking your privacy settings.
T – Tampering
Tampering can come from inside or outside threats. This is where a piece of software such as a router or firewall will be tampered with to either cause or open the gateway for a cyber-attack.
U – Updates
We know how annoying it can be to get constant pop ups telling you to update your machine or device, but you must update as soon as you see these alerts. Providers will release these updates for a reason, and quite often they will be plugging security flaws that have been discovered. On several devices, you can set up auto-updates which will automatically update your device as soon as it is available.
V – Viruses
Falling under the umbrella of ‘malware’ viruses are probably the best-known form of cyber-attacks. First reported in the 1970’s viruses have become more popular and sophisticated over the years. One of the best ways to stay protected from viruses is to have anti-virus software installed.
W – Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi has now become an essential part of our lives but are you being cyber secure while using Wi-Fi? Always be wary when using unprotected public Wi-Fi and never use it when logging into any accounts. At home or in your business you should always change the default passwords on your router to a more secure password.
X – X-ray Machines
You’re probably wondering what X-ray machines have to do with cyber security. As the world becomes more connected by technology, it opens a new world for cyber criminals. In spring 2017 a wide scale attack took place on the NHS in Britain. Not only did the virus dubbed ‘WannaCry’ see users locked out of machines but it also allowed them to access machines connected to the network such as X-ray machines!
Y – Y2K (The year 2000 Problem)
The Y2K bug was one of the most famous computer bugs of all time. Taking place at the turn of the millennium the problem arose due to most software only representing years by changing the final two digits rather than the four. So, when the clocks turned into the year, 2000 many systems ended up displaying 1900. The next problem is set to next arise in 2038.
Z – Zero day
In cyber security, the term zero-day refers to an attack that contains something such as malware. These attacks will be unannounced and have no patch or security measures to combat them thus giving cyber security experts zero days of warning. These attacks are usually some of the worst attacks due to them having no quick fix.