Data security flowchart with various cybersecurity terms. Cybersecurity refers to how companies protect their computer systems and networks from theft or damage.

Talk Cybersecurity to Me – Tech Tip for November 5, 2019

You’ve probably heard the term cybersecurity. In the world of technology, it refers to how companies protect their computer systems and networks from theft or damage. But what about all the other terms that surround cybersecurity? Like, what exactly is a ransomware malware virus? And what are the best ways to protect yourself from security threats?


Since cybercrime is at an all-time high, this month we are diving into security education and best practices with expert Shawn Lawson. This week, he and Jarred Jallah at TechWise Group have put together the most useful security definitions that will help supercharge your security strategy and increase your awareness to potential threats.


Security 101

Security Problems

  • Virus: A malicious program or software that infects a computer, changing programs & code as it spreads.
    • A virus self-replicates and spreads to other programs & CPU, causing harm everywhere it travels. 
  • Malware: A combination of the words “Malicious” and “Software.” This is a universal term to describe any dangerous or harmful applications, programs, or software.
    • “Mal” means bad in Spanish.
    • There are various types of Malware such as viruses, ransomware, trojan horses, spyware etc.…. we will describe more below.
  • Ransomware: A type of malware software that is designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. The data is usually encrypted until the perpetrator gets what they want and provides a decryption key that unlocks the data or computer.
  • Trojan Horse: A type of Malware intended to mislead users.
    • Software that pretends to be legitimate, but in reality, causes harm to your CPU.
    • The name originates from the infamous Trojan Horse scheme pulled off by the Greeks to dupe the city of Troy during the Trojan War (for you history buffs).
  • Spyware: Malware that spy & monitor your device, secretly collecting information & data.
    • Spyware collects sensitive information and computer usage and then transmits that data covertly without the user knowing.
  • Social Engineering: The art of manipulating people so they give up confidential information.
    • Manipulating people into breaking normal security procedures and best practices in order to gain access to systems, networks or physical locations or for financial gain.
  • Baiting: A form of social engineering that promises something to a user in order to trick them.
    • The worst form of baiting is when an attacker purposefully leaves a Malware-infected physical device (like a USB Drive) somewhere obvious like a bathroom or common room. And it usually looks enticing (maybe it’s labeled company payroll).
    • The infected device will contain harmful malware that unintentionally installs when connected to a user device.
  • Phishing: A fraudulent email or text from a sender pretending to be someone that they are not.
    • This form of social engineering uses messages to trick the recipient into sharing personal information or clicking on a link that will install Malware.
  • Spam: Unsolicited junk email sent indiscriminately in bulk.
    • Spam is usually created for commercial purposes, but it can contain links to harmful Malware.


Security Perpetrators

  • Cybercriminal: Individuals that use computer systems to gain access to business and personal information for malicious and exploitative purposes.
    • Commonly referred to as Hackers
  • Identity Thieves: Cyber criminals who try to gain access to their victims’ personal information.
  • Phishing Scammers: Cyber criminals who attempt to get ahold of personal or sensitive information through impersonation and other unethical mechanisms.  


Threat Prevention

  • Virus Protection: A program and/or software utilized to prevent, detect, and remove viruses and other malware.  
  • Threat Protection: A program and/or software that is utilized to assess the security posture of a network and then enforce security policies and remediation to prevent potential threats/attackers.
  • Firewall: A device that allows you to filter network traffic. It allows you to filter what kind of traffic can come in and go out of a network. Designed to prevent unauthorized access to a computer or network from another computer or network.
    • Can be a software or program
    • Can be a piece of hardware
  •  Information Protection: Procedure(s) & software utilized to ensure the protection of sensitive information and other company intellectual properties.
  • Encryption: The process of encoding a message, information, or data in such a way that only authorized users can access it.
  • Personally Identifiable Information (PII): Unique information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity.
    • Ex: SSN, DL, Bank Account Number, Passport Number.
  • 2-Factor Authentication / Multi-Factor Authentication: A method that ensures additional security by requiring a second method of verification in addition to your password before access is granted. It works by requiring two or more of the following authentication methods:
    • Something you know (typically a password)
    • Something you have (a trusted device that is not easily duplicated, like a phone)
    • Something you are (biometrics)
  • Strong Passwords: A complex password that is at least 8 characters long. An ideal strong password should be composed of a combination of upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.
    • You should aim to make all password credentials fit these criteria.
    • Why? Strong Passwords ensure that credentials are NOT easily breached.
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM): The process of monitoring and managing mobile devices, laptops, or other handheld devices that have access to company networks.
  • Identity & Access Management (IAM): The process of monitoring and managing users’ activities and protecting company properties by only allowing authorized users access to company resources.
  • Security Information & Event Management (SIEM): Software products & services utilized to ensure holistic security. Oftentimes, SIEM uses machine learning & AI to identify and address cyberattacks.


If you’re interested in learning more terms, check out SANS Institute’s security glossary or Cyberwire’s glossary.