Sometimes, a thorough knowledge of industry-specific jargon can really make a difference in how your peers and potential employers perceive you and your experience. While this fact likely comforts the cybersecurity veterans who are currently reading this, it also probably terrifies those of you who may just be starting out in the industry or have decided to embark on a new career path. Thankfully, getting the low-down on some of the most-used terms is easier than you might think. So easy, in fact, that we’re going to spell them out for you, right now. Read on, readers, for the top cybersecurity terms you need to know (and make sure to check out Part 1 of this blog series, which defines terms A-M.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is the division within the United States Department of Commerce that is charged with the duty of setting standards that the federal government must follow in respect to information security and modern cybersecurity threats.
Short for “operational security,” is simply the process or processes of identifying “what information needs to be kept secret, and whom you’re trying to keep it a secret from.” These processes include high-tech and low-tech tactics (ex: encryption… and hand-written notes.)
Password managers are those wonderful things that keep track of all your usernames, passwords and other login credentials and keep them safe from prying eyes, real or virtual. You need only remember one, master password that gets you into the manager, and the rest is done for you. These can be particularly handy as they can often create difficult, randomized passwords for you that would be extremely difficult for hackers to obtain.
Also called “pen testing,” penetration testing seeks out and identifies vulnerabilities that a hacker could use to invade a network. Essentially, pen testers try to hack you before the bad guys do, so you can better protect yourself and your organization.
Imagine the act of fishing. You put the worm on the hook, you cast it out into open water and you wait for a bite, and then you reel it in to collect your prize. Now, place that into the realm of cybersecurity. Phishing scams involve hackers and malignant actors attempting to trick you via email into giving our your personal information that will thereby allow them to steal your identity. One of the simplest ways of protecting yourself from phishing attempts is to change your passwords regularly and use diligent, safe online practices.
Text that has not been encrypted, of course.
Just like in the movies when the villain kidnaps the queen and refuses to return her without an ominous black bag filled with millions of dollars, so does ransomware. In this type of cyberextortion, a certain malware locks your computer and won’t let you gain access to your files without giving up a huge chunk of cash. Blackmail is often involved, as well, if the wrong people have the right information.
“The root of the problem,” the root of a tree, etc. This is merely the term used to describe the deepest, most fundamental foundation of a system, access to which a hacker could manipulate in order to completely takeover said system, were he to obtain it.
Literally, malware that spies on you and your data.
Threat hunting is the process during which security professionals look for threats that already exist within their organization’s IT infrastructure. This differs from penetration testing, although these are often done together to get a comprehensive look at the security of an organization or network.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a service that keeps your internet activity secure and private, away from public Wi-Fi and the dangers it poses . Many individuals and corporations will only engage in internet activity through the use of VPNs, and for good reason.
Just like the flu virus can be passed to you from your colleague at the water cooler, so can a computer virus be passed to your network through the email sent to you by a hacker. Viruses can crash computers, steal data, encrypt and decrypt it, and more. And you thought the flu was bad enough.
Another cute little abbreviation in the cybersecurity industry, “vuln” is short for “vulnerability,” and is used to describe vulnerabilities in networks and systems that could be exploited by the wrong people with the right skills.
Contrary to black hat hackers (yes, who use their powers for the forces of evil), these people are the “good guys” of the hacking world. They are the ones who protect computer networks and often perform penetration testing. Fun fact: black hat hackers often can (and do, often) convert to white hat hackers with the motivation of a good, steady paycheck.
Well, now that you’re an expert on all the most relevant cybersecurity jargon, you’ll have no problem networking with the many security professionals at Secure360 Twin Cities. Oh, and if you happen to think of one we missed, leave it in the comments section, below!