26 Cybersecurity Terms That Everyone Who Uses A Computer Should Know

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As the world moves increasingly towards a digital and online-focused future, cybersecurity has become an increasingly important issue.

From data breaches to malware attacks, the threats facing online users are constantly evolving and becoming more complex.

Currently, there’s a cyber attack every 39 seconds. The damage inflicted by these attacks can be devastating, with the world expected to lose $6 trillion to these attacks by the end of 2022.

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To stay safe online, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the most common cyber security terms and definitions.

Here are 26 key cyber security terms that you need to know if you want to stay protected and informed in today’s digital world.

1. Malware

As our first item among the leading cyber security terms, Malware, short for malicious software, is any type of harmful software designed to damage or disrupt a computer system. 

Malware comes in different forms. Its aim is often to steal sensitive information or gain access to a computer system.

2. Phishing

Phishing is a type of cyber attack that attempts to fool users into providing sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card details, via fake emails and websites. 

These phishing attacks may be carried out by individuals or large-scale organized cybercrime groups in an attempt to steal personal data or financial information.

3. DDoS Attack

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack involves the use of multiple devices to flood a website or server with traffic, resulting in its temporary shutdown. 

These attacks are often motivated by financial gain or political motivations and can be extremely costly for businesses and organizations.

4. Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of cyber attack that locks users out of their computer systems until they pay a ransom, typically in the form of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. 

These attacks can be devastating to individuals and businesses, leading to lost data and high costs associated with restoring systems.

5. Botnet

A botnet is a network of compromised computers used to carry out cyberattacks on other systems.

Hackers will often infect computers using malware, then control those devices remotely to destroy data.

Then, they will proceed to steal information or carry out other illegal activities.

6. Zero-Day Attack

A zero-day attack refers to a type of cyber attack that exploits a vulnerability in software that no one is aware of yet. 

These attacks are particularly dangerous, as they can bypass traditional security measures and defenses before developers have an opportunity to address the issue.

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7. Encryption

Encryption is a method of scrambling data so that only authorized users or systems can access it.

With good encryption deployed, users can send sensitive information such as financial records, passwords, and personal data securely online. 

Encryption can protect them from cyber threats like hackers and malware attacks.

8. Firewall

A firewall is a system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a computer network.

By blocking specific types of traffic and controlling the flow of data, firewalls help protect sensitive information from cyber attacks like DDoS and botnets. 

You will find that there are two types of firewalls, hardware and software.

Hardware firewalls are physical devices that are positioned between your computer and the internet (or other network connection). 

Software firewalls are usually on most operating systems (OSs). These are built-in firewall features that you should enable for added protection, even if you have an external firewall.

If you download one, make sure you do it from a reputable vendor.

9. VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) is a secure online service that allows users to connect remotely to another network, such as their workplace network or home Wi-Fi.

VPNs encrypt user data, making it virtually impossible for hackers or other unauthorized users to intercept sensitive information while it’s in transit.

It is prudent to use a VPN whenever possible.

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10. Public Wi-Fi Networks

Public Wi-Fi networks are widely available across the globe. These access points allow users to connect to the internet using wireless hotspots when they’re away from home. 

These networks can be unsecure and vulnerable to threats like man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks and phishing scams. 

Although they’re great because they help connect the world, allowing rural areas to access the internet, always use a VPN on Public Wi-Fi.

11. Encryption Keys

Encryption keys are codes that protect data during the encryption process.

Hackers can decrypt sensitive information by accessing or tampering with these keys.

By breaching this encryption, hackers can gain access to private user data such as credit card numbers, passwords, or personal information.

12. User Account Control

User account control (UAC) is a security feature built into most operating systems.

UAC helps prevent unauthorized changes to a system’s settings and files by requiring users to confirm their identity prior to making any changes.

This helps protect against malware attacks and other unauthorized access attempts.

13. Password Management Tools

Continuing on our list of cyber security terms to know, password management tools are software applications that help users create and store strong passwords for their online accounts. 

These tools can also generate automated, randomized passwords for users, allowing them to avoid reusing the same password for multiple sites or services. 

With 81% of hacks leveraging stolen or poor passwords, password management tools have never been more important.

14. Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is designed to detect, prevent, and remove malware infections on computers and other devices. 

By scanning files and detecting suspicious activity, these programs help protect against cyber attacks that could result in data breaches or stolen information.

15. Security Awareness Training

Security awareness training is an essential part of any organization’s cybersecurity strategy.

This training provides employees with the knowledge they need to identify cyber threats and best practices for protecting sensitive information from cyber-attacks.

85% of attacks happen from employees so it’s best to train them on how to identify threats.

16. Trojan Horse

A Trojan horse (“trojan”) is malware that appears harmless but can perform malicious actions on an infected device once downloaded or opened. 

These attacks are often disguised as legitimate applications or files. This is how they can trick users into clicking on them and releasing the trojan onto their computers.

17. Spyware

Spyware is a type of malware that can collect and transmit private user information without the user’s knowledge or consent.

These programs are often installed on users’ devices as part of other types of malicious software, such as trojans or viruses.

18. Clickjacking

Clickjacking, also known as “UI redress attack,” is another type of malicious cyber attack.

With clickjacking, an attacker tricks users into clicking on hidden elements in order to perform unwanted actions. 

The attacker aims to hijack user accounts or steal sensitive information.

Clickjacking typically employs social engineering techniques like phishing to trick users into clicking harmful links or downloading dangerous files.

One way to prevent these attacks is to invest in end-to-end human factor solutions.

19. White Hat Hackers

White hat hackers (“penetration testers”) are cybersecurity professionals who use technical expertise to identify and fix security vulnerabilities in software systems. 

Unlike malicious hackers, white hat hackers work with organizations to help them protect their digital assets from cyber threats and attacks.

20. Black Hat Hackers

No list of cyber security terms and definitions would be complete without mentioning black hat hackers.

Also known as “crackers,” these individuals or groups illegally exploit network vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to computers and other devices.

These cybercriminals often use their technical knowledge for illegal financial gain by stealing private user information or committing other types of fraud.

21. Data Breaches

A data breach is a cyber attack where unauthorized users gain access to sensitive information stored on computer networks or online services.

These breaches can occur due to compromised login credentials, unsecured network connections, or weak security protocols. 

The prevalence of data breaches continues to grow, with an astounding 22 billion records exposed in 2021 alone.

22. IP Address

An IP address, or Internet Protocol address, is a unique string of numbers that identifies a device connected to the internet. 

These addresses are assigned to computers, smartphones, and other devices using DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol). IP addresses enable these devices to communicate with each other over the web. 

As more users go online and adopt digital technologies like IoT devices, IP security grows in importance.

23. BYOD

BYOD, or “bring your own device,” is a trend in which workers use their personal laptops, smartphones, and other digital devices for work purposes. 

Currently, about 83% of organizations have a BYOD policy of some kind.

This practice helps organizations save on hardware costs and increase employee productivity.

However, it also introduces new risks to cybersecurity due to the increased potential for data breaches from unsecured devices.

24. Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a type of online harassment in which perpetrators use digital technologies to target and intimidate victims.

This form of abuse can take many different forms. It can be through social media posts, emails, or text messages. Frequently, cyberbullying will leave victims with lasting emotional and psychological damage. 

As the prevalence of cyberbullying continues to rise, users need to be aware of strategies for prevention and reporting.

How should victims deal with cyberbullying? Some of the best steps include reporting the harassment, unfollowing or blocking the perpetrator, and ignoring or leaving social media.

In some cases, people even call the police or file a report with screenshots of the harassment. 

However, you can be the change you want to see. If you see it and you know the person doing it, call them out. These actions will help someone else being bullied, and perhaps influence the bully to stop the behavior altogether.

25. Deepfake

A deepfake is a type of media manipulation, where bad actors alter an image or video to create a false perception of reality.

These malicious cyber attacks can be used for spreading misinformation and propaganda, or engaging in identity theft or fraud. 

As deepfakes become more prevalent and sophisticated, users need to be aware of how to protect themselves from these attacks.

26. Main-In-The-Middle Attack (Wifi-Pineapple)

This technique is usually used to spy on people using public Wi-Fi. People think they are logging into another Wi-Fi network but really, it is a fake source.

This usually happens at a coffee shop, remote working location, etc. When people connect to this fake Wi-Fi, cybercriminals can easily access and steal all the data on the network.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to know if you are connected to a legitimate public Wi-Fi network or a Pineapple network.

Top Cyber Security Terms to Know to Avoid Cyber Attacks

Overall, there are many important cyber security terms and definitions that everyone who uses digital devices should know.

From clickjacking to BYOD, these threats pose serious risks to the security and privacy of users worldwide. 

The best way to stay safe online is to remain vigilant and take proactive steps. Start by investing in the best security awareness training for your organization. 

Are you interested in taking your company’s cybersecurity to the next level? Get in touch with us today to learn about our ThriveDX Enterprise Solutions.

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