The 15 Cybersecurity Terms You Must Know

The demand for cybersecurity specialists is growing at a rapid rate due to increased cyber attacks across every sector.

Cybersecurity specialists must constantly evolve to defend against the efforts of malicious hackers. As new technologies are developed for general public use, you can imagine the number of tools being developed behind the scenes that allow malicious hackers to access poorly protected devices and networks. Technology will only continue to evolve and bad actors will take advantage of vulnerabilities in them. It is up to each and every one of us to prioritize cybersecurity in our homes and offices.


It’s crucial that, as a society, we increase our cybersecurity efforts no matter if it’s our intended career path or merely an interest. Even at home, we must monitor our devices, the websites our family visit, and the software we download. Having a significant grasp of fundamental cybersecurity terminology can better protect you and your family.


15 Cybersecurity Terms You Should Know


If you learn 15 of the most used words or phrases in the cybersecurity field, you’ll have a greater understanding of information technology than the majority of the world. These terms and techniques are associated with protecting your devices, networks, and, ultimately, data from malicious hackers. It’s important you maintain the privacy of your networks to ensure your private information remains secure.

  1. User Authentication – is often used to identify and validate the identity of anyone who connects to a network resource.
  2. Encryption – is the process of encoding data, by converting the original representation of the information, known as plain text, into an alternative form known as cipher text.
  3. Antivirus – helps protect your computer against malware and cyber criminals by seeking out and removing computer viruses that have infected your computer.
  4. Malware – is any type of software designed to harm or exploit any programmable device, service or network. Examples include computer viruses, worms, and trojan horses.
  5. Firewall – is a network security system that tracks all incoming and outgoing network traffic based on security rules set up by an administrator.
  6. Phishing – is the fraudulent use of electronic communications to take advantage of users and collect personal information.
  7. Multi-Factor Authentication –  is a layered security system that requires more than one means of authentication (i.e. fingerprint and password) to grant access to an account or device.
  8. DoS / DDoS (Denial of Service) – is a cyber-attack in which the bad actor makes a device or network resource unavailable by flooding the services of a host connected to the Internet.
  9. Ethical Hacking – is an authorized, legal  practice of bypassing system security to locate potential data breaches and threats in a network.
  10. Ransomware – is a form of malware that locks the user out of their devices or accounts, then demands payment to restore access
  11. Cyber Attack – is any unauthorized attempt to access, alter, steal or block system or user information. 
  12. Cloud – is a storage system that allows the access of data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive.
  13. Network – is a digital telecommunications network for communication between devices that use a common telecommunications technology
  14. IoT – (Internet of Things) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines or objects used and managed over a network. 
  15. Penetration Test – is an authorized simulated cyber attack on a computer system, performed to locate network vulnerabilities.

Learn About Cybersecurity


If you’re looking to dive a little deeper into the cybersecurity field, you can talk to an American University admissions advisors. Find out what the day in the life of a cybersecurity professional is all about and how they use these terms on a daily basis and call 202-888-4202.


The American University Cybersecurity Certificate Program can help you grow professionally and aid you in getting a job in cybersecurity. You will have all the training and skills you need to enter the workforce and take many of the industry’s leading certification exams in as little as 1 year.

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