Cyber Security Terms Every Business Should Know

IT & data security
is one of, if not the, top priority for executives and IT professionals in 2016. Without strong cyber security, sensitive information may be at risk. Below are seven cyber security terms every business should know.


A firewall is a security system for your network that can be either hardware or software based. Think of a firewall as your first line of defense for sensitive business and client information. It controls the traffic in and out of your network based on a set of pre-defined rules. For example, next-gen firewalls controls what kind of traffic is allowed into your network based on specifications you outline, and it denies traffic that does not meet these parameters. It’s a barrier between you and untrusted networks, and it’s one of the most important tools in your cyber security arsenal. 


Authentication is an important step in keeping your business information safe from unwanted attention. It’s a process by which your network compares the credentials you enter to the credentials that it has on file on a special authentication server or device. 


Encryption protects sensitive client data. It refers to the process that secures your data by scrambling it so it’s unreadable. Encrypting your personal and client information, like credit card and social security numbers, is a must to prevent unwanted access. Some people only encrypt traveling information, while others store encrypted information on servers or devices. Either way, you’ll need a special key to unscramble it so it’s readable again. 


Malware is the nickname for “malicious software.” Simply, it’s any kind of program that’s designed to either gain access to your information or damage your network. Malware comes in various forms, from spyware to ransomware, keyloggers to worms. The method for infiltrating your system varies, but all forms of malware are intended to inflict harm on your business.

Malware is becoming increasingly popular as hackers become more sophisticated, realizing the amount of money available for siphoning through the internet. One of your firewall’s main jobs is to protect your business from malware.


Ransomware is a particularly insidious type of malware. It blocks access to your computer or deletes all of your files unless you pay a sum to an unknown party within a certain time frame. Your network has essentially been kidnapped. As anti-virus companies and cyber security experts have become more adept at thwarting more basic forms of malware, hackers have turned to more inventive methods to garner money from vulnerable companies and individuals. 


Keylogging is when hackers install malware onto your computer to track and record your keystrokes to gain access to your passwords and other forms of sensitive data. You could be giving people access to your confidential information without even realizing it. 


Phishing is a blanket term, one that refers to any attempt by a hacker to retrieve confidential information like passwords, account numbers, or credit card numbers. Phishers often masquerade as trustworthy sources, like banks, to elicit this information from an unsuspecting party. Your firewall is designed to address potential phishers, but enterprising hackers may still break through to elicit money. 

Cyber security terms are important to know. With a working knowledge of IT terminology, your business will be better equipped to acknowledge and head off potential threats before they arise.

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