Essential cybersecurity terms you must know

Cybersecurity is an unending endeavor — and it can be very difficult for businesses/business managers to keep up with all the developments and trends, not to mention the rapid rise of malware and other cyberattacks to which businesses are vulnerable.

Awareness among all stakeholders — from the rank and file up to the C-suite — is a key component of cybersecurity. But sometimes, technical jargon can hinder people from getting interested and invested in it. To help you overcome this hurdle, we’ve come up with a brief glossary of essential cybersecurity terms you ought to know.

Advanced persistent threat (APT): A security breach that allows an attacker to gain access and control a system for an extended period without the knowledge of the victim. This may come in the form of zero-day exploits (see entry below), which allow the cybercriminal to maintain access even when some attack vectors have already been patched or blocked.

Antivirus software: Security software used on PCs, Macs, and mobile devices designed to monitor a system for malicious software, or simply malware. Once malware is detected, the antivirus program will attempt to remove it from the system or quarantine it to prevent further damage.

Authentication: The process of proving the identity of a certain individual. It is accomplished by inputting a password, PIN, or pattern, or providing physical items like smart cards and USB drives. In more recent technology, biometrics is becoming more commonly used with a person’s fingerprint, voice, or iris being a more secure method for verifying a user’s identity.

Backup: A copy of one or more files used as an alternate in case the original data becomes corrupted or unusable. This may be caused by natural and man-made disasters such as earthquakes, fires, and cyberattacks. Backups can be saved in physical drives or servers, or in cloud-based solutions where files are hosted on the internet for better security.

Bring your own device (BYOD): A work policy that permits employees to bring personal gadgets like laptops, tablets, and smartphones to the workplace and use them to get tasks done, in addition to the devices already assigned to them by the company. BYOD policies have become more popular recently, as they provide better flexibility for employees, which, in turn, boosts their morale.

Cloud computing:
 The process of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data. In theory, cloud computing is more secure than storing information locally on hard drives due to its redundancy features.

Data breach: The intentional or unintentional exposure of confidential information to an unauthorized party. This may be due to organized crime or an insider attack. Data breaches may involve financial information such as credit card details, protected health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), and trade secrets, among others.

Distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS): A popular attack method where a hacker enlists thousands of different computers to target an internet-accessible system and flood it with connection requests. When traffic becomes too much to handle, the system will crash and be taken down.

Firewall: A network security device monitoring incoming and outgoing network traffic. It also allows or blocks specific connection requests based on a defined set of security rules.

Hacker: A person knowledgeable in analyzing computer systems, modifying their functions, and altering their capabilities. They may be ethical (called white hat hackers) or malicious, and can range from skilled programmers to those who have little knowledge of IT systems but can follow instructions.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): A US law enacted in 1996 that protects health information by establishing industry-wide standards. The HIPAA Privacy Rule safeguards protected health information (PHI), while the HIPAA Security Rule handles electronic protected health information (ePHI).

Identity fraud: An act of identity theft wherein a cybercriminal uses the stolen personal information of another individual and enters into transactions or agreements as that individual.

Information security: The practice of preventing unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, recording, or destruction of information, may it be electronic or physical. It is also known simply as “infosec.”

Internet service provider (ISP): A company that provides internet connectivity for individuals or businesses. Some ISPs may offer additional services on top of the connectivity package such as landline phones, email, and web hosting, among others.

Keylogger: A type of surveillance software that can record every keystroke made on a system. It can capture instant messages, email, and any information typed anytime using a keyboard, including usernames, passwords, and other PII.

Malware: Short for malicious software, malware is any code written with the purpose of causing harm, disclosing information, or violating the security of a computer system. Its types include worms, viruses, Trojan horses, remote access Trojans (RATs), rootkits, ransomware, and spyware.

Managed services provider (MSP): An IT firm that delivers managed services such as IT processes for a client under a subscription model. They can, for instance, optimize the network infrastructure of a small business through a team of IT experts to protect the enterprise from disasters and cyberattacks.

Mobile device management (MDM): A security software that enables IT administrators to control and monitor the number of mobile devices that are registered in the company network. This can be used to control the access of sensitive files and wipe devices if they get lost or stolen.

Network monitoring: A systematic scan to detect slow or failing network components like faulty servers, routers, and switches. MSPs can provide network monitoring services to clients to uncover problems and fix them before they become too complicated.

Patch management: Researching, testing, approving, and installing updates and patches to computer systems. A patch may correct, improve, or expand existing software through the introduction of new code by the application developer. It is an essential part of security management to prevent downtime and minimize vulnerabilities.

Phishing: The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from a legitimate entity (e.g., your bank or a co-worker) in order to steal personal and financial information. These emails typically contain links that spoof a legitimate company’s website to trick the user into handing over their information.

Ransomware: A form of malware that encrypts files in a computer system and denies users access to them unless a ransom is paid, which is usually in Bitcoins. They are typically sent through email, but can also be found in exploit kits and malicious links.

Service level agreement (SLA): An SLA defines certain requirements that an MSP has agreed to meet. Let’s say there’s a time required between opening a ticket and a resolution for a technical problem. An SLA might say that 95% of tickets should be resolved within 72 hours.

Social engineering: Any act that tricks a person or a group of people into divulging personal or confidential information that may be utilized for committing fraud. Phishing (see entry above) is a popular way to conduct social engineering.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): A distribution model that makes computer programs available over the internet rather than being installed locally on machines. They are paid for as a monthly subscription rather than as a one-time purchase. Examples of SaaS programs include Office 365, Google Apps, Cisco WebEx, and Citrix GoToMeeting.

Two-factor authentication (2FA)/Multi-factor authentication (MFA): A security system that requires a user to verify their identity by inputting at least two pieces of information to log in to a device or network. For example, a corporate app may require users to input a code sent to their registered smartphone after they’ve entered their password. They may also be asked directly through their device if they’re the one logging in.

Virus: A form of malware capable of copying itself and causing system corruption and data destruction. It is attached to a legitimate program or document in order to execute its code.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): A service that enables voice communications over the internet without the need for a telephone line. VoIP can also enable video chatting and conferencing.

Zero-day exploit: A cyberattack that occurs on the same day a vulnerability within a software program is discovered. With such an attack, it makes it easier for a cybercriminal to exploit the flaw because of a lack of patches available from the software developer.

Don’t let the ABCs of cybersecurity throw your business off guard. Here at Dyrand Systems, we make the management of your IT systems stress-free. The best part? We don’t charge a premium fee, so you can truly have peace of mind for your enterprise. Give us a call today!