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Cyber security jargon you need to know


Cyber security jargon can be confusing. However, securing your systems needn’t be a big, confusing job and our team is here to support you every step of the way. We’ve compiled some of the most common cyber security jargon to help you get to grips with how to keep your systems safe.

1. Hacker

The word hacker can instantly conjure up images of masked criminals using complex codes to steal data from a computer. While the term ‘hacker’ is correct for this individual it is also a wider term used to describe those who possess the skills to gain unauthorised access to computer systems. These are not necessarily bad guys. Many software and tech companies actually employ hackers to test software and identify areas of weakness so they can be fixed.

2. Phishing

Not to be confused with the pastime using bait and rods, phishing is a term for an online scam. Merriam-Webster defines phishing as a ‘scam by which an internet user is duped into revealing personal or confidential information which the scammer can use illicitly’. A common example of this is a fraudulent email pretending to be a bank aiming to obtain bank details to then hack, blackmail or steal money.

3. Malware

The clue to malware is in the name, ‘mal’ comes from malicious and ‘ware’ from software. Malware is just that, malicious software. Viruses, spyware and Trojan horses are all various types of malware and should be protected against as much as possible. The easiest way to protect against malware is to simply be careful online. Be wary of unusual emails, strange pop-ups and alerts, and odd-looking downloads.

4. Patching

Patching can mean a number of different things, including fixing the hole in that old pair of jeans! When it comes to cyber security, patching is a very similar process. The National Cyber Security Centre defines patching as ‘applying updates to devices or software to improve security and/or enhance functionality’’.

5. Encryption

The term encryption gets thrown around a lot when it comes to cyber security, but do you know what it actually means? According to Tom’s Guide, encryption refers to ‘a process used to make sensitive data more secure’. This means converting the data into a code that wouldn’t make sense to most. Another term that you should be aware of is cryptography. This is the term for the science behind encrypting and decrypting data.

6. VPN

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a way to safely surf the web on a public internet connection. A VPN hides your IP (internet protocol) address so that your online activities are hidden from view and safe on a potentially harmful network. Online security firm Norton describes the process as a ‘data tunnel between your local network and an exit node in another location’.

7. Firewall

Forcepoint defines a firewall as ‘a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic’. A firewall has the ability to block or deny access to any traffic that is deemed harmful or seems a little bit ‘phishy’. Think of it as a security guard for your device, monitoring anything attempting to gain access.

8. Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware designed to lock users out of devices or accounts and effectively hold them for ransom. Hackers will demand money or something else of value to allow the user to regain access again to their device or account. Ransomware can enter a device through a comprised website or a dodgy download. This is why firewalls and antivirus software are so important as they can attempt to stop these harmful files before they gain access.

9. Clickjacking

Clickjacking is a particularly sneaky way that hackers (the bad kind) will get a user to download malware or inadvertently click through to a harmful website. This is done by disguising an element on a web page as something else or creating an invisible element that users won’t even realise is there. A form of clickjacking is ‘likejacking’, which according to Imperva is a ‘technique in which the Facebook like button is manipulated, causing users to like a page or post they did not intent to’.

10. Pen-testing

Short for ‘penetration testing’, pen-testing can also be referred to as ethical hacking. This is a process where trained hackers will attempt to penetrate a system to look for weaknesses that cyber criminals could potentially manipulate. Described by ITGovernance.co.uk as ‘a controlled form of hacking’ pen-testing is a great way to test systems, updates, firewalls and overall security. Many companies will employ ethical hackers that will regularly attempt to access systems to ensure that they are on top of their cyber security and can patch any holes as quickly as possible!

When it comes to cyber security jargon there can be a lot of confusion, so it’s no surprise that users get confused and put off and end up leaving themselves at risk. However, the majority of problems can usually be fixed by ensuring staff training is up to date. With all the jargon and ever-evolving systems and technology, educating staff on key skills and processes is often missed. A business could have the best tools and the most expensive systems but if staff don’t know how to properly use these systems and aren’t aware of potential treats and how to report them, the door could be left wide open.

Here at Probado we aim to avoid the techno-babble and ensure you know exactly what is going on with your IT and how to operate it. If you’re unsure about some cyber security jargon or would like to know more about our training packages, get in touch with a member of our team here.

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