Home Cybersecurity Cybersecurity Jargon Unraveled: Understanding the Language of Online Security

Cybersecurity Jargon Unraveled: Understanding the Language of Online Security


Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing industry. If you are considering a career in cybersecurity or already have one, it is essential to understand the terminology used. Hacking – The act of entering a computer system without authorization. Firewall – A network hardware that monitors traffic to screen out hackers, viruses, worms, and malware.

Attack Surface

An attack surface is a cybersecurity jargon that refers to the number of potential ways hackers can access its systems, manipulate data, or extract information. This can include a company’s computer systems, IoT devices, and other hardware. It can also include any employee devices connected to the organization’s network. It can even include a company’s physical spaces, such as a door propped open by employees to let in strangers. A company can use attack surface management tools to identify its vulnerabilities, assess them, and prioritize threats for action. This can help to prevent attacks from gaining a foothold and bypassing cybersecurity measures. It can also improve the effectiveness of those measures by identifying what threats they are most likely to combat.


Attack Vector

The attack vector is a hacker’s pathway to illegally access a private system and exploit its vulnerabilities. They often do so through viruses and malware that can steal login credentials, cause a data breach, or even cause a system shutdown. Passive attack vectors, such as phishing and clickjacking, are also common. These attacks can steal credentials or disrupt an organization’s production environment, which is often costly for the business. Active attack vectors, such as malware and denial of service (DoS) attacks, are much more dangerous and challenging to detect. These attacks can damage or destroy company systems, network devices, and sensitive data.


Cybersecurity protects Internet-connected devices and systems from unauthorized access, attacks, and damage. It includes everything from viruses to ransomware to phishing. For example, when you notice a spike in your system’s Internet activity, it could result from bloated malware squatters taking up too much space. Or it could be a Trojan communicating back and forth with attacker command and control servers to download a secondary infection—like ransomware. Spyware spies on your computer, smartphone, or tablet and sends the gathered information to the attacker, who may seek sensitive data like passwords. Or, it could be a rootkit that modifies the OS to create a backdoor for attackers to access computers remotely.


A botnet is a network of malware-infected devices controlled by an attacking party. It can be used to steal data, launch DDoS attacks, commit fraud, and many other crimes. Attackers typically deploy botnets by persuading victims via social engineering techniques to click on phishing links or download malicious software. This malware then enables hackers to infect devices connected to the internet, such as computers, mobile phones, tablets, and even IoT devices like smartwatches or network core hardware like routers. An attacking party can control These infected devices remotely, also known as a bot herder or master. The attacker can remotely update the botnet by modifying the source material each device consumes from its command center.


Backdoors are access points that bypass the system’s standard authentication mechanisms. They allow cybercriminals to steal data, deploy ransomware, and take other malicious actions. Often, backdoors are created by software developers. They are initially intended for positive use so they can access applications and fix bugs in a program without waiting for a real account to be created. However, they can fall into the wrong hands (such as disgruntled employees or criminal groups) and be weaponized for malicious purposes. They can also be found in IoT devices and vendor software updates. They can even be built into hardware components.

Brute Force Attack

Brute force attacks are a cybercriminal tactic in which threat actors try to gain access to password-based systems or encryption keys by using trial-and-error methods. They try all possible combinations until they hit the right one. This type of hacking can be especially effective when a company uses passwords with common combinations or practices poor password etiquette. To counteract this, companies must monitor their networks in real-time and block unauthorized logins immediately. They should also remove unused accounts. This will prevent attackers from gaining easy access to sensitive data.

Malware Analysis

Malware analysis is the process of examining malware to understand its functionality and behavior. This helps in understanding the impact and facilitating detection and mitigation. Security experts can analyze malware samples in one of two ways: Static analysis examines the suspicious file without actually executing it. This includes examining infrastructure files like libraries, packing, and reviewing a suspect sample’s hash and string lines. Dynamic analysis is more in-depth and involves executing a suspect sample inside a virtual environment (a sandbox). This allows analysts to observe the specimen’s activities in real time without putting any systems at risk. This includes studying memory writes, registry changes, and API calls.

Malware Prevention

Most malware infections result from a user clicking an infected link or downloading an infected file. Malware is programmed to perform malicious activities such as spying on browser activity, stealing financial information, irreversibly encrypting data, and demanding ransom. Cybercriminals create malware for various reasons, from making money to launching politically motivated cyberattacks. Some of the most common types of malware include viruses, worms, spyware, and Trojans. Viruses and worms work like their biological namesakes, infecting an endpoint and multiplying to spread infection. Other types of malware require back-and-forth communication with attackers to enact their attack plan, such as Trojans that download secondary infections.