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Cybersecurity Glossary: 73 Essential Terms

June 8, 2023

by Sydney Wess

Cybersecurity should be high on the priority list for companies of all sizes. Data breaches and cyber attacks are very real threats with the potential to compromise massive amounts of sensitive data. 

It’s a company and its employees’ jobs to protect information from cybersecurity threats. And, if there is a breach, it’s essential to be prepared to jump into action as soon as possible. The average cost of data breaches with lifecycles of more than 200 days is $4.87 million. A breach of that magnitude could mark the end of the road for many small companies.

To avoid facing sensitive data breaches and overwhelming amounts to mitigate cyber attacks, it’s important for companies to cultivate foundational knowledge on how cybersecurity works. This glossary is all you need to start covering the basics.  

73 Cybersecurity Terms to Know

Establishing a basis of knowledge on important cybersecurity will aid you in your ability to work with service providers and even implement security measures yourself. Here are the top 73 most pressing cybersecurity issues as of late. 


  • Access control technology: a security approach that measures who’s able to view certain resources.
  • Advanced persistent threat (APT): when an unauthorized user has long-term access to sensitive information
  • Adware: a type of malware hidden on a device to give you specific ads.
  • Algorithm: an algorithm is these of rules for a technical process
  • Antivirus software: a type of software used to safeguard devices against viruses and malware.
  • Authentication: the act of verifying a user in a system or technical process
  • Automation: using a machine to verify, investigate, and authorize levels of technical security


  • Backdoor: when an unauthorized user accesses a system in a completely unorthodox manner
  • Botnet: a shorthand for “robot network”, a botnet is a system of technology affected by a virus or malware
  • Bring your own device (BYOD): when workers use their own computers or technology to access their company’s network to complete their job
  • Brute force attack: a security breach method in that utilizes many different approaches to access sensitive data


  • Cloud computing: data management through a remote system of servers

cloud computing types and functions

Source: Knoldus

  • Computer network: an intertwined network of technical devices that can exchange information and resources
  • Computer program: a set of technical directions in a specified coding language
  • Computer security: a synonym for cybersecurity, computer security is a collection of processes to protect technical systems
  • Computer systems: the intersection between hardware and software in a technical setup
  • Critical infrastructure: vital cyber security networks for operations and technical safety
  • Cryptography: the process of establishing safe communication in the midst of unauthorized intruders
  • Cyber attack: when unauthorized personnel attempt to obtain classified data
  • Cyber threat: the clear and present potential for a cyber attack
  • Cybercriminals: digital miscreants (sometimes referred to as hackers) that try to illicitly obtain classified information


  • Data breach: when classified or important information has been compromised by a cybercriminal who cuts through system security
  • Data integrity: the complete constancy and accuracy of technical information
  • DDOS: distributed denial of service is a targeted attack on a server to interrupt traffic to a site
  • Decryption: The act of unlocking a previously secured system
  • Domain name: a piece of a network address that specifies which domain it belongs to
  • DNS: the domain name system effectively translates a domain name into an IP address that browsers use to load a page


  • Encryption key: a random amalgamation used to jumble and unjumble technical data
  • End user: the person intended to operate a particular product
  • Endpoint: endpoint security is the process of securing technical devices from attack.
  • Exfiltration: a type of data breach that occurs when an organization’s data is copied


  • Firewall: a network security tool that manages incoming and outgoing traffic based on security rules established by an admin


  • Incident response: a systemic approach to addressing a data breach or attack
  • Information security: security controls or protection around sensitive data from illicit activities
  • Information systems: the processes related to keeping sensitive data secure
  • Information technology (IT): the research of systems and information
  • Install: the process of making hardware and software suitable for an end-user
  • Intrusion detection system: a monitoring apparatus that investigates suspicious activities
  • IP address: an internet protocol address is an identification number related to a specific computer network


  • Keylogger: an activity monitoring program that allows hackers to access your personal data
  • Keystroke: the buttons you press on a technical keyboard


  • NIST: the National Institute of Standards and Technology


  • Malware: malicious software program that often plays a role in cyber attacks
  • Malicious code: intruder files on a piece of technology
  • Mobile devices: physical technology that can be transported out of a fixed location, including smartphones
  • Multi-factor authentication: a tiered approach to protecting sensitive information in which a user has to present multiple forms of identification to gain access to a system

what is multi-factor authentication vs. two-factor authentication

Source: Quicklaunch.io


  • Network security: A set of network rules to safeguard sensitive data
  • Network traffic: the volume of digital information moving across a network
  • Non-repudiation: proof that information was sent from a safe, secure location


  • Operating system: the program on a computer or technical device responsible for loading other applications


  • Penetration testing (pen testing): a way to identify and remedy vulnerabilities in a software system
  • Personal data: any key information that can be linked to the identity of an individual
  • Plaintext: a digital text type that encryption software translates a secure message into for safety
  • Phishing: an approach to obtaining sensitive data through misinformation and fraudulent messages


  • Ransomware: a type of malware that restricts access to a sensitive data
  • Risk assessment: the process of assessing and identifying security gaps
  • Risk management: the holistic process of finding, researching, and solving cyber security issues
  • Rootkit: a collection of malware tools that gives a hacker remote access to a network or system
  • Router: a tool that links two or more networks


  • Security breach: an incident where information is stolen or taken from a secure network
  • Security policy: a written guide that states procedures around IT infrastructure and safety
  • Sensitive information: another phrase for sensitive data
  • Social engineering: a cyber attack that uses human error and persuasion as main components
  • Spear phishing: a type of attack campaign that aims at a specific person for their ties to sensitive data
  • Spoofing: when a hacker attempts to pretend to be someone in order to gain their target’s trust
  • Spyware: malware that gathers data from a secured network without consent
  • Supply chain: the software and hardware resources required to create and maintain a product


  • Trojan horse: malware disguised as a legit program
  • Two-Factor authentication: a security process that requires users to utilize two types of authentication (ex. a password and phone number) to gain access to accounts and data


  • Unauthorized access: when an intruder is able to view and pull data from a secure network


  • Vectors: the method by which a hacker gains access to a system
  • Virtual private network (VPN) : a digital tool that establishes a secure network between your device and the internet


  • Zero-day: a weakness in a system’s software that has been identified but not fixed

Find the Right Cybersecurity Service Provider to Avoid Attacks

While learning more about the cybersecurity world will help you start to formulate modifications to your protocols and potentially new opportunities to explore, you won’t be able to do everything on your own at this point.

That’s why it may be best to connect with an expert cybersecurity company to execute on your requirements and secure your data from harm.

The best cybersecurity companies are listed on Clutch. Find best-fit candidates and decide on firms that work best for you. 

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