a wireless keyboard sitting in front of a white tablet with Google on the screen

10 Basic Cybersecurity Terms That Everyone Online Should Know

Cybersecurity has been a hot topic for years in the business and political world, but a lot of people still aren’t taking it as seriously as they should be. Even the biggest, most technologically advanced companies in the world can fall victim to cyber attacks! So it’s important for everyone to remain vigilant. That said, it’s hard to protect yourself from something you don’t know a lot about. We’ve already written up some of our favorite cybersecurity tips for everyday users, but we also want to make sure that you have some foundational knowledge as well.

Understanding the foundations of cybersecurity starts with the language. But don’t get too intimidated! You may be surprised to find that you’ve already heard some of these words before and didn’t even realize they could be cybersecurity terms. And if these are all new to you, don’t fret, it’s never too late to learn more about your devices and increase your cybersecurity! Let get started.

1. Software

A program or group of programs designed to make a computer complete an action or perform a function. For example, Microsoft Office or even Spotify!

2. Hardware

In the context of computers, hardware refers to the physical components like your monitor, the keyboard, or your phone itself.

3. Malware “the bad guy”

A type of software that does harm to computers usually at the service of cybercriminals, some examples include trojans, ransomware, or viruses.

4. Domain

A group of computers, printers, and/or devices that connected and governed as a whole. For example, all of the laptops and/or other devices at your job are likely in the same domain.

5. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A digital tool that masks a user’s location and encrypts their traffic while browsing the internet—essentially allowing someone to remain anonymous online.

6. IP Address

Think of your IP address as your digital home address, it essentially identifies your computer when it connects to a network like a stamp that you were there.

7. Breach

This refers to the act of or moment when a cyber attacker (or hacker) gains access to files and network by exploiting a vulnerability in a device, essentially a digital break-in.

8. Firewall

A digital defense mechanism, that can be either hardware or software-based, meant to keep cyber attacks out.

9. Bot

A type of software that performs certain tasks on command that could allow an attacker to remotely control an affected computer.

10. Encryption

The operation of encoding data to ensure that is only accessible via a specific key and therefore preventing cyber attackers access to it.