Cyber Terminology 101: Learn the 15 Basic Words You Need to Know

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Cybersecurity can seem like a very complex subject to learn, but you can start getting familiar with its basic concepts by learning some of the most commonly used terms.  

“Cybersecurity” refers to the practice of protecting computer networks, digital data systems, and interconnected devices against malicious attacks. Of course, every organization uses unique computing systems and internal processes, so cybersecurity strategies can vary quite a bit from one company to the next.

Additionally, according to research by The McKinsey Global Institute, 127 new devices connect to the internet every second. Every new internet-enabled technology or device that is invented and adopted becomes a new entry point to our interconnected digital world—offering malicious actors a novel way to infiltrate and attack protected systems.

What this means for you: as a future cybersecurity professional, you need to always stay up to date with all the new, innovative technologies and attacks being developed. 

Plus, you need to understand that cybersecurity is more than just the protection of systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. Every personal device should be protected. At home, you should monitor how your family uses their devices, what websites they visit, and teach them the dangers of browsing unsecured pages or connecting to public networks. 

Of course, to practice good cybersecurity in your everyday life, you first must understand some of the most common terms so you can read articles and follow tutorials like a pro.

cybersecurity student

Basic Terminology in Cybersecurity

  1. User Authentication – whenever you log into your laptop or phone, “user authentication” validates your identity and authorizes you to connect to a specific network or server.
  2. Encryption – whenever we communicate via email or text, we don’t have to worry about hackers intercepting and reading our messages. Why? Because thanks to the magic of encryption, we encode all of our data by converting the original representation of the information, known as plaintext, into an alternative form known as ciphertext.
  3. Firewall – essentially, the barrier that sits between unsecured networks, such as the internet, and your secure, private IT network. It tracks all incoming and outgoing network traffic based on security rules set up by an administrator.
  4. Multi-Factor Authentication –  if you try to sign into your emails from a new device, your provider might ask you to enter a code sent to your phone or ask you to scan your fingerprint to verify your identity. It is a layered security system that requires more than one means of authentication.
  5. Antivirus – perhaps the most essential and universally adopted of all cybersecurity software. It helps protect your computer against malware and cybercriminals by seeking out and removing computer viruses that have infected your device.
  6. Ethical Hacking – a branch of cybersecurity you can specialize in, Ethical Hacking is the authorized, legal practice of testing a system’s defenses by simulating a cyberattack. By using the same techniques as a hacker, security professionals can locate potential vulnerabilities and proactively fix them.
  7. Cloud – a type of server that allows the access of data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive.
  8. Network – is a digital telecommunications network for communication between devices that use a common telecommunications technology
  9. IoT – Internet of Things is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, or objects used and managed over a network. 
  10. Cyberattack – is any unauthorized attempt to access, alter, steal, or block system or user information. 
  11. Exploit – the term used by cybersecurity professionals to refer to a malicious actor’s technique to take advantage of a vulnerability in their system.
  12. Malware – the most common type of cyberattack. It encompasses all types of software designed to harm or exploit any programmable device, service, or network. Examples include viruses, worms, and trojans.
  13. Phishing – a specific type of cyberattack that exploits the fraudulent use of electronic communications to take advantage of users and collect personal information.
  14. DoS / DDoS (Denial of Service) – a very popular type of cyberattack in which malicious actors overload a device or network connected to the Internet to render it unavailable to its intended users.
  15. Ransomware – a type of cyberattack that is becoming increasingly widespread thanks, in part, to cryptocurrency adoption. It is a form of malware that locks the user out of their devices or networks, then demands payment to restore access.

Learn Cybersecurity

Do you want to get started on your cybersecurity journey? If you are ready to take the next steps to gain the skills and knowledge you need to enter the cybersecurity workforce, we invite you to reach out to the UNLV Cybersecurity Bootcamp admissions team. They will be able to help you map out the next steps and provide guidance on your career trajectory overall.   

Whatever your next steps look like, get excited! Cybersecurity is a fast-growing industry, and if you are serious about starting a career in this field, the UNLV Cybersecurity Bootcamp can help you go from novice to cyber professional in less than a year. Fill out the form below to speak with a career consultant and learn everything our program has to offer.


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