The Name Game

  • Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Acronym: a word (such as NATO, radar or laser) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term. An abbreviation (such as FBI) formed from initial letters is also known as an initialism (Merriam-Webster).

The technology world LOVES its acronyms. There is initialism in everything cyber. What the heck? Is it too difficult to just say the entire name of the device, system or application? Do we really need to shorten everything? Maybe it is an attempt to save space in a written document or logo. Or maybe the acronym came first, because it was cool, and then the formal name had to be fit into each letter.

Ever wonder what some of those acronyms and industry terms mean in cybersecurity and technology? Here are a few of the most used buzz words and abbreviations. See how many you can identify.

  • 2FA: Two-factor authentication. Also referred to as two-step verification.
  • ACL: Access control list
  • APT: Advanced persistent threat
  • AV: Antivirus
  • C2, C2C: Command and control. This is the command center for which a virus will return information.
  • CAPTCHA: Completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart.
  • CVE: Common vulnerabilities and exposures
  • DDoS: Distributed denial of service. This cyber attack uses multiple systems to attack a target.
  • DNS: Domain name server
  • DoS: Denial of service. This cyber attack is intended to disrupt the service of a host connected to the Internet, making its network resources unavailable to the users. This is typically accomplished by flooding the targeted system to overload its resources.
  • HTTPS: Hypertext transfer protocol (secure). Used to preface a domain in the browser address bar. This will secure an encrypted connection. The use of HTTP is not considered a secure connection.
  • IDS/IPS: Intrusion detection system/Intrusion prevention system
  • IoT: Internet of things
  • IP: Internet protocol. Method by which data is sent from one device to another on the Internet. Each device has at least one IP address that uniquely identifies it.
  • MFA: Multi-factor authentication. Use of at least two or more verification methods.
  • Mitre Att&ck: Adversarial tactics, techniques and common knowledge. A matrix of tactics to gauge the risks within an organization.
  • SSL/TLS: Secure sockets layer/transfer layer security. Establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. Requires an SSL certificate.
  • TCP: Transmission control protocol. Communications protocol used to interconnect network devices on the Internet. Works with IP to define how computers send data to each other. Connection oriented, which provides an ordered and error-checked system of streaming packets over the network. Considered a more reliable method of ensuring packets are tracked so no data is lost or corrupted during transit.
  • UDP: User datagram protocol. Works similarly to TCP but without the error checking. Less reliable but can provide faster transmissions.
  • VPN: Virtual private network

Personally, I don't care for initialism. Though I may know what it is, I may not know the formal name. But, after all, when you work at MOREnet (Missouri Research and Education Network), you better be familiar with industry-driven acronyms.

If you want to read more about over 2400 acronyms in cybersecurity and technology:
Cyber & Security Abbreviations