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The top 20 Cybersecurity words, phrases, and acronyms you need to know!

Whether you plan to pursue a career in Cybersecurity or are already an expert at it, it is necessary to have the knowledge of and insight on the cybersecurity industry’s significant terms and definitions. Having knowledge of the new words, phrases, and acronyms spawning the cybersecurity industry shows your experience and competency as an expert. Keeping yourself away from vulnerable security threats is difficult, but not knowing and understanding the technical jargon makes it even harder. 

We have collated one of the most extensive and top cybersecurity glossary list that you will be required to know as a security professional. This cybersecurity glossary list will be of great help for professionals who are not articulate of the most common cybersecurity terms and often find themselves lost in herculean discussions. 

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Cybersecurity Definitions


Adware is a software application that automatically downloads or displays advertising banners or pop-ups when an application is running or when a user is online. It can be defined as a software that feloniously creeps advertisements into your browsers and applications with a mere goal of producing monetary payoff for the adware producers.


It is the process of identifying whether someone or something is in reality who or what it declares to be. Authentication is used to provide access control for systems by verifying if a user’s ID matches with the ID of authorized users in the database or on the data authentication server.


The term is a blend of the words “Robot” and “Network”. A botnet is a network of robots that have been developed to commit cybercrime and are controlled by a “bot-herder” or a “hacker”. It performs various malicious activities on the command of an attacker providing them complete control of an affected computer remotely.


It is an attack and defense strategies that recites on the curiosity and greed of the victim or a specific target. It is almost like a phishing attack, but this comes with a promise of a product or an item that hacker use to compel users to click on it.

Data Breach

This is the most common cybersecurity term in the news all the time mentioning another company is getting data breached. A data breach is an unauthorized entry into an organizations database providing hackers access to all customer data like -SSN’s, Bank Account Numbers, Passwords, Credit Card Numbers, and more. A data breachexposes the most valuable and sensitive information of an organization.


Abbreviated as Distributed Denial of Service is one of the most common cybersecurity attack and a favorite black hat tool. In DDoS attack, multiplecompromised(systems infected with a Trojan) computers or systems are used to attack a single target such as a website, a network resource, or a server by overwhelming the target and its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of connection request, incoming messages, or malformed packets.


It is nothing but the networking of devices like routers, switches, printers, scanners, and computers that are interconnected and supervised as a whole.


The process of making the information unreadable to anybody who is not authorized to access it. The information is encoded using PKI and SSL.TLS protocol and only authorized users can decode the encrypted data using decryption keys or passwords. It is just similar to using a code cipher for communicating a top-secret coded spy message.


An attack which takes advantage of the passiveness in networks, operating system, applications, any software code, or hardware. Exploit, here is used as a verb referring to the process of successfully making such an attack.


Firewalls are a defensive security technology developed with the intent of keeping the bad guys out. It is software used to maintain the security of a private network by keeping the intruders out — a firewall blocks or permits traffic to a network based on a pre-defined set of security rules. A firewall can either be hardware-based or software-based.

Guessing Entropy

Is a measure of the difficulty a hacker or an attacker has to guess the average password used in a computer system, Guessing Entropy is usually measured in Bits.


There are two types of hackers- Black Hat Hacker and a White Hat/Ethical Hacker. A person who not being authorized somehow tries to gain access to a system, and its information with the sole purpose of causing damage or theft is a Black Hat Hacker.  Ethical or a White Hat Hacker is a person who is authorized to test out systems and servers to identify any security vulnerabilities and information the organization as to where the security needs to be stronger.

Key Logger

A software program, a hardware device or a virus which reports keyboard strokes. Hackers use a keylogger to monitor and track input on a numerical pad (similar to the one on POS machines) or keyboard with the intent of capturing the most sensitive information like  Credit/Debit Card PIN and Passwords in real-time.


Malware derived from the combination of words “Malicious ” and “Software” is a software that accesses, controls, and damages systems using the harmful code. Rather you can term it as the “Bad Guy,” it is an umbrella term used for various types of malicious software’s that have been designed to cause damage to a system. The most common types of Malware are – Ransomware, Viruses, Worms, and Trojans often delivered through spam emails.


The most common technique used by hackers to steal sensitive personal information such as emails, phone number, PINs, Passwords, Bank Account Numbers, or Credit Card Numbers. Phishing usually occurs through an unexpected email from a legitimate organization particularly a bank, credit card company, charitable trust or others compelling you to reply to the mail with details like password, bank account number, and credit card details or enticing you to download a file or a link that infects your system with a malware.


Ransomware, sometimes also referred to as cryptoviral extortion is a kind of malware that prevents you from accessing certain important files on your computer by encrypting them. The victim can then restore access to the data only when they pay someransom to unlock it. WannaCry and NotPetya are the most aggressive forms of Ransomware.


One of the most common techniques used by black hat hackers to hide their identity by pretending themselves to be a trusted source and trying to fool people over the internet.  It involves the act of sending email to gain unauthorized entry into a secure system. This is accomplished by changing the IP address so that it seems to the victim that it comes from a trusted source.


This is a kind of malware that usually dates back to the Floppy days. A software program (malicious code) which copies itself to other programs with the intent of corrupting, erasing, and destroying information on a computer without the user's knowledge.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A secure channel for connecting a series of systems and devices in a private encrypted network. VPN allows users to maintain anonymity when using the network, making it difficult for hackers to attack.


A standalone malware that replicates itself without any human interaction with the sole intent of spreading itself to other systems in the connected network. These are the most common type of malware programs which cause harm to their host networks by overloading the server and consuming unnecessary bandwidth.

We know there are still so many cybersecurity terms to tackle, but be assured these terms will help you get started. Now that you have gained some basic knowledge of the popular cybersecurity terms, it’s time to upskill and master cybersecurity skills to get climb up the career success ladder. ExitCertified can help you with your cybersecurity training needs.

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