Understanding Common Cybersecurity Terminology

Understanding Common Cybersecurity Terminology

Understanding Common Cybersecurity Terminology

In the digital era we are living in, data is everything. Cybersecurity is essential for all businesses and the topic is continuing to grow in popularity. The purpose of this list is to help readers avoid confusion and understand the terminology associated with the subject of cybersecurity.

Growing from $3.86 million in 2020 to $4.24 million in 2021, the cost of a data breach is the highest it has been in the past 17 years. For this reason, our team always recommends extensive research on how to protect your systems and/or a discussion with a Managed IT representative. The best defense is a great offense.

Basic Cybersecurity Terminology
Terminology for Cyberattacks

Basic Cybersecurity Terminology

Let’s start with the basics. In this section, we discuss some of the common connectivity and identification terminologies.


Fig. Cloud Computing

1. Cloud

In technology, the cloud is the delivery of services through the internet vs locally on your computer. This can be seen in the figure to the left, “cloud computing”. The cloud provides a network that is accessible from any device and contributes to a collaborative digital environment.

2. Network

A network connects multiple computers locally with either a wired or wifi (wireless) connection. Networks allow for a quick transmission, exchange, or sharing of data and resources. There are millions of people connected to the internet from all over the world, which is an example of a network.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Fig. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, extends the shield of a secured private network to an off-site public device through an encrypted connection.

4. IP Address

The Internet Protocol address, or IP address, is a unique identifier that ties everything you do on the Internet to your computer or phone.

5. MAC Address

MAC (Media Control Access) addresses are assigned by the hardware manufacturer. A desktop computer typically only has one MAC address, but a laptop will have two (one for ethernet and one for wireless ports). Local Area Networks (LANs) use MAC addresses for communication, so for internet access, an IP address is needed.

6. Domain Name System (DNS)

A Domain Name System (DNS) connects website hostnames to their corresponding IP addresses.

DHCP graphic


7. Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, or DHCP, automatically assigns unique IP addresses to devices. You could manually assign IP addresses, but it becomes increasingly difficult to do so as the number of devices on the server increases.

When you turn on a device and it does not have an IP address, it looks for a DHCP server. A DHCP server can be found on either a router (at home or a similar environment) or a server (in an office or similar environment). The DHCP server manages all IP addresses and assigns a unique IP address to the device.

8. Router

A router acts as a gateway between multiple computers and a network. For example, a printer and computer can work together when connected to the same home wifi network via a router.

Related Article: Top 3 Managed IT Service Trends in 2022

Terminology for Cyberattacks

Now that we know some of the basic terms associated with connections and identification of computers, let’s delve deeper into what types of cyber threats are out there and how to prevent them.

Firewall Illustration

Fig. Firewall

1. Firewall

A firewall blocks unwanted traffic and permits wanted traffic to a private network. It helps to prevent hackers and malicious trackers on the internet from accessing a private network. Firewalls are a crucial part of security for large organizations with a significant number of devices but all organizations should use them.

2. Malware

Computer code commonly referred to as malware seeks to disrupt, disable, or take control of your computer system. Malware comes in many forms including, but not limited to, ransomware, phishing attacks, trojan horses, worms, and bots.

3. Ransomware

Ransomware locks infected systems until the victim pays a ransom to unlock them. The number of ransomware attacks and the complexity of those attacks continues to grow. Therefore, it is a threat that is constantly evolving with the possibility of significant financial repercussions.

4. Trojan Horse

Similar to the Greeks in the Trojan War, a trojan horse presents itself in a seemingly harmless email. By clicking on a malicious link or attachment, the hacker now has access to your computer. There are many different types of trojan attacks including, but not limited to:

  • DDoS Attacks
  • Backdoor Trojans
  • Rootkits
  • Banking Trojans
  • Fake Anti-virus Trojans
  • Trojan Ransoms

A trojan horse is not able to replicate itself like a worm or virus.

5. Worm

A computer worm takes the initial victim’s computer and uses it to find additional systems to infect. Vulnerable systems and systems running older unpatched software will likely be infected during this type of attack. Some worms are operating system specific and will only infect Microsoft or Apple products, for example. The infection can continue to spread through networks that the infected system connects to.

Botnet Illustration

Fig. Botnet

6. Botnet

A botnet is a network of many compromised systems remotely controlled by a hacker. It is common for users not to know that their computer has been compromised until it is too late. A botnet is often referred to as a zombie network for this reason.

Bot networks, or botnets, are used for widespread Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks or other malicious attacks. They can also be sold or rented to other cybercriminals.

7. Phishing

Phishing attacks gather personal or business information using deceptive emails or websites. It is the second most common cyberattack next to malware. Phishing attacks are becoming increasingly dangerous and you need to be hyper-aware of suspicious emails requesting information or any email with links.

Related Article: 6 Tips to Identify a Phishing Email


By implementing effective cybersecurity preventative measures, you can avoid or quickly detect cyberattacks. Stay up to date on system software and patches, disable unneeded network protocols, and utilize effective cybersecurity system hygiene to decrease the chance of infection.

Want a customized solution based on your needs? Not quite sure where to go from here? Let the experts at Ford Office Technologies give you a hand at 1-800-633-3673 or by emailing info@fordtech.com

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