ABCs of Cybersecurity

These ABCs of Cybersecurity will help expand your vocabulary and broaden your knowledge of the practice of defending computers and data from threats.

Back to school season may be for the kids, but it is never too late to expand your vocabulary. When it comes to cybersecurity and technology in general, there is no shortage of jargon. The list below identifies one cybersecurity term for each letter of the English alphabet.


A – APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) Testing

An APT attack is where a bad actor gains access to a system and stays unnoticed for months or even years, collecting data before it is detected. APT testing is a rigorous assessment that simulates an actual attack and results in a more robust security posture supported by best-practice cyber processes and prevention and detection technologies.


B- Bot Attack

A bot attack uses automated web requests to manipulate, defraud, or disrupt a website, application, API, or end-user. In automated bot attacks, hackers write scripts of code designed to evade detection by replicating normal system behavior. These scripts might vary how long an episode lasts or how frequently the bot accesses its target. There could be anywhere from one user to entire malicious organizations comprising multiple groups behind any bot attack.


C- Cybersecurity as a Service (CSaaS)

The primary goal of CSaaS is to decrease complexity and lower the cost of cybersecurity assessments and mitigation methods. The result is a strengthened security posture and user security awareness at a fraction of the cost of the machinery, software, recruitment, and training required for an in-house cybersecurity program.


D- Data Segregation

In environments that house multiple types of information, setting Identity and Access Management (IAM) permissions at the bucket and object levels restricts access to only employees who need such data. If an employee’s credentials are compromised, the bad actor will have access to only limited sets of data under data segregation.


E- Encryption

Encryption obfuscates data into another creating an indecipherable code. The only way to understand encrypted data is to translate it back with a decryption key or cipher.


F- Framework-based Risk Assessment

Evolving cyber threats, regulations, and industry standards require strong controls and processes. Limited resources, legacy systems, disruptive technologies, and the many frameworks to choose from create challenges to establishing a consistent security program.

A framework-based risk assessment reviews people, processes, and technologies. Common best practice frameworks include:

  • National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication  800-53
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication  800-30
  • International Organization for Standardization 27001/27002
  • Center for Internet Security 20
  • Control Objectives for Information Technologies
  • Committee of Sponsoring Organizations


G- Governance

IT governance increases efficiency and accountability, drives ROI, and effectively manages resources and investments by aligning IT operations with business strategy. Well-developed IT governance programs incorporate risk management and regulatory compliance, providing organizations with the framework to strategically leverage IT systems and personnel to achieve business objectives and promote continual growth.


H- Hardened Network Assessment

“Hardening” is a term used to describe the act of implementing best practices, controls, techniques, and tools to secure networks and systems and reduce IT security vulnerabilities and risks. A Hardened Network Assessment identifies which of these technologies are most vulnerable to malicious attacks and at substantial risk for compromise.


I – IT Audit

IT audits help enterprises make informed business decisions and get the most of their technology investments, comply with industry regulations, and control costs.


J- J. Random Hacker

J. Random Hacker is not an actual person but rather a mythical character of a hacker archetype. The nickname began in the 1960s and is still substituted as a pseudonym, similar to how “John Doe” is used as a common placeholder name.


K- Key Risk Indicator

A key risk indicator measures the probability of an event and its consequence against an organization’s risk appetite. Events with a potentially high impact on the ability to be successful indicate high risk.


L- Least Privilege

Least Privilege is a security concept where users have only the minimum access and permissions to perform job functions, limiting exposure to sensitive data and network assets. This is a key component to Zero Trust Architecture.


M- Maturity Model

A maturity model is a framework of security practices and controls that provide a roadmap for adequate security and compliance. For example, CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) is a security framework developed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to defend national infrastructure from cyber threats. Companies should compile their risk profiles and compare them to the cybersecurity maturity model that best fits their environment.


N- National Institute for Standards & Technology Cyber Security Framework (NIST CSF)

NIST created a standardized cybersecurity framework for the U.S. Government that helps ensure the security of critical infrastructure systems and is also used by corporate organizations. The NIST CSF provides standardized language to quantify security and industries.


O- Ongoing Management

Ongoing Management is part of diligent cybersecurity, especially system hardening. Ongoing management can include performing regular vulnerability assessments, annual external audits, and continuous security awareness training.


P- Penetration Testing

A penetration test uses automated tools, exploits, and methodologies of real hackers to simulate an attack. Security professionals use this method to discover flaws and vulnerabilities. The results inform the next steps for securing an enterprise’s network.


Q- Quantitative and Qualitative Risk Assessment

Qualitative risk assessment attempts to identify the likelihood of risks becoming realized based on the learned experiences of stakeholders. Assessors assign numerical values to risks estimating their impact on internal processes and other factors. Quantitative security risk assessments use measurable facts to calculate the probability or impact of risk. Assessors use this approach to calculate financial loss or other precise numerical results.


R- Risk Assessment

The process of evaluating the state of risk of an organization. Risk assessments are often initiated by inventorying all assets, assigning each purchase a value, and then considering potential threats against each asset.


S- Social Engineering

Social engineering is an attack aiming to access information or a network by tricking users into clicking a malware link, revealing their account credentials, or otherwise unwillingly playing a role in a data breach of confidential information. Examples include phishing, smishing, vishing, and spoofing.


T- Threat Assessment

The process of evaluating the actions, events, and behaviors that can cause harm to an asset or organization. Threat assessment is an element of risk assessment and management. (Also known as threat modeling and threat inventory.)


U- User Security Awareness Training

Increased security awareness allows employees to become a part of the overall cybersecurity strategy. Most threats start with social engineering attempts and can be thwarted from the start by an informed employee.


V- Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO)

A vCISO provides executive-level advisory services at a fraction of the cost of finding and hiring a full-time, on-site IT security employee or security team.


W- Wi-Fi Security

Wi-Fi security protects the routers, devices, and networks connected in a wireless environment. Examples of security measures for Wi-Fi include WPA3 or WPA2 encryption, secure passwords, unique router credentials, firewalls, and separate guest networks.


X- Xerography Security

Xerography is the technique used in laser printers, photocopiers, and fax machines to copy and print documents. Xerography security measures include selecting protocols with print job encryption, multi-factor authentication, digital signatures, and limiting print access.


Y- Yak Shaving

In technology, “Yak Shaving” often refers to the focus on minor tasks needed to move a project forward. In cybersecurity, yak shaving may refer to losing focus on risk management to overly complex functions that do not serve to mitigate the most likely risks. An example would be perfecting a strict security policy for employees with limited access while leaving a significant window of exposure open on the firewall.


Z- Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA)

ZTA is a security framework that helps mitigate the risk of cyberattacks by treating all users and devices as potential threats. All users, inside or outside the network, must be authenticated, authorized, and verified before accessing applications and data.


Securance Can Help with A-Z

At Securance, our senior-level consultants can help accomplish your organization’s specific business and IT goals. Whether your business needs an IT risk management strategy, compliance support, training, or assistance streamlining IT controls, we can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.