Confusing IT jargon cheat sheet

Confusing IT jargon cheat sheet

IT jargon is confusing and frustrating. When Athens Technicians deliver tech support, we try to speak in plain English at all times. However, there are times when it is difficult to get around using industry terms. We’ve put together a list of the most commonly misunderstood IT terms to help you understand what it takes to maintain profitable technology investments. If you’re looking for a term that isn’t on this list, contact us and we’ll answer you directly!

Breach notification: In the state of Georgia, a business must inform its customers if its network security has been compromised and it stores any of the following data: social security numbers, driver's license numbers, credit/debit card numbers, passwords, or other access codes. Notification must happen as soon as possible via mail, telephone, or electronic communication.

Break/fix services: This IT support model is activated only after there is a problem that needs the attention of an outside technician. Few businesses still use it since there is no incentive for break/fix providers to administer proactive maintenance of long-term solutions.

Bring your own device (BYOD): A BYOD or bring your own device policy permits employees to bring their own laptops, tablets, and smartphones to the workplace and use these instead of or in addition to company-owned devices. BYOD policies became more widespread in recent years, providing employees with greater flexibility and boosting their productivity.

Cloud computing: This is the practice of accessing IT resources — such as hard drive space or processing power — over the internet. You can maintain all the benefits of a robust technology infrastructure and replace upfront investments in hardware and office space with low-cost monthly subscriptions. A common example is Office 365, which can be accessed via a web browser and doesn’t require any hard drive space to run programs and store documents.

Disaster recovery plan (DRP): As an essential business continuity strategy, DRPs document step-by-step processes that must be followed for your business to resume operations following a variety of disasters. DRPs should contain information about restoring backups, connecting employees off-site, and IT support contact information.

Encryption: This system of complex mathematical algorithms encodes user data so only recipients can read it. It enhances the security of a message or a file by scrambling the content and avoiding interference by intruders.

Firewall: A firewall, which can be hardware, software, or both, is a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a defined set of security rules. It is the first line of defense in a business’s security system and typically functions as a barrier between a trusted and an untrusted external network, like the internet.

Help desk: An IT help desk is a single point of contact for anyone in your organization who needs help with a technology issue. As internet speeds have risen, outsourced IT providers such as Athens Micro have begun offering off-site help desk services that are staffed by several technicians to ensure your employee support requests are always answered within certain timeframes.

HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 is a United States law that protects health information by establishing industry-wide standards for handling such. In particular, the HIPAA Privacy Rule safeguards protected health information (PHI) in general, while the HIPAA Security Rule protects electronic protected health information (ePHI). HIPAA is also required for any business associate of a healthcare provider.

Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud computing environment integrates private (on-premises) and public (third-party) cloud services. This allows an organization to move workloads and resources between private and public clouds depending on its computing needs, allowing for greater flexibility and efficiency.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This is a cloud computing model that allows customers to access computing resources on-demand via the internet. In this model, the cloud services provider hosts the computing resources and manages the servers, storage, and networking hardware.

IDS/IPS: IDS (intrusion detection system) and IPS (intrusion protection system) inspect network traffic for any anomalies or suspicious behavior that could indicate an attack. IPS takes it a step further by automatically blocking potentially dangerous payloads. Both systems work with firewalls to add an extra layer of protection to your network perimeter.

Malware: A portmanteau of “malicious software,” this is any type of software that’s been built to inflict damage upon a computer and other like hardware. What separates malware from software bugs is intent: the latter only causes unintentional harm because of programming deficiencies.

Prominent examples of malware include:

  • Computer viruses (self-replicating software that modifies other computer programs, resulting in undesired effects such as the corruption of files)
  • Ransomware (software that locks users out of their data unless a ransom is paid)
  • Worms (computer programs that self-replicate to spread to other computers and consume processing and network bandwidth)

Managed services provider (MSP): An MSP is an IT services firm that delivers managed services, i.e., IT processes and functions, for a client, either under a subscription or pay-as-you-go model to optimize that client’s operations and reduce their expenses. MSPs have the IT expertise and resources at large economies of scale that enable them to provide high-quality services at lower prices and minimized risk.

Mobile device management (MDM): This is a security software that enables administrators to control, monitor, and enforce security policies on company-registered mobile devices from a central management console. MDM is used to prevent remote workers from accessing sensitive files in unsecured areas and wipe devices completely if they’re lost or stolen.

Network monitoring: This involves scanning network components like routers, switches, firewalls, and servers for any performance and security issues. The best MSPs provide proactive network monitoring services to uncover problems early and prevent prolonged periods of downtime.

Network security: This refers to any solution and service designed to protect the integrity and availability of a company’s network perimeter and data. Solutions that fall under this category include firewalls, network monitoring, email filtering software, and user authentication system (i.e., passwords).

PCI-DSS: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a security mandate for companies that process, manage, transmit, and store credit card information. PCI-DSS compliance requires companies to prevent unauthorized access, modification, and misuse of cardholders’ personal information. Noncompliance results in hefty fees, lawsuits, and reputational damage.

Ransomware: A form of malware, ransomware denies users access to their data and systems unless a ransom is paid. Phishing emails are its primary vector, but it can be also be delivered through exploit kits.

Remote backup: This is a method of copying and archiving an organization’s computer data in a data center that is separate from that organization’s data center. Remote backups are created in case original data sets — and their in-house copies — are lost and need to be restored.

Service license agreement (SLA): When it comes to managed IT services, an SLA defines certain minimums that an MSP has promised to meet. For example, a support request may require acknowledgement within a certain number of minutes, or a particular system may a 99.9% uptime guarantee; these will be spelled out in the MSP-client SLA.

Social engineering: In IT security, social engineering refers to any act that dupes a person into taking a desired action, which usually involves volunteering sensitive information to gain access to computers or networks. Phishing is a common social engineering scam where a malicious party sends a fraudulent email that appears to come from a trusted, legitimate source, like a bank. The email may contain a message that tricks the recipient into sharing personal information or a link that, when clicked, installs malware on the recipient’s device.

Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS is a distribution model that makes computer programs available over the internet instead of being installed on and accessed from local machines. Access to SaaS apps is paid for as a monthly subscription rather than a lump-sum purchase.

Spam/email filtering: Spam or email filtering is the process of organizing email based on specific criteria, aimed at preventing unwanted or dangers emails from reaching your inbox. This may also be used to prioritize and inspect suspicious outgoing emails.

Two-factor authentication (TFA)/multifactor authentication (MFA): TFA/MFA is a security system that requires a user to verify their identity by inputting at least two pieces of information in order to log into a device or network. If a user cannot supply these or provides incorrect information, they will be denied access and the device or system and the data it contains will remain secure. TFA/MFA eliminates the possibility of a breach arising from a leaked password.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): A service that enables voice communications and multimedia sessions (e.g., video chat and video conferencing) over the internet or other Internet Protocol networks.

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