Cybersecurity from A to Z

Often we get asked to breakdown cybersecurity information using more lay-man’s terms. FixMeStick is designed to be an easy-to-use solution, so we don’t want you to have to jump through hoops to understand things. That’s why we created this handy glossary of terms.

Think we missed something? Leave it in the comments below so we can add it!


Adware – Any piece of software or application that displays advertisements on your computer.

AdBlocker – A piece of software designed to prevent advertisements from appearing on a web page.

Antivirus – A security program designed to monitor a system for malicious software.


BIOS – Basic Input/Output System – is the program a personal computer’s microprocessor uses to get the computer system started after you turn it on. It also manages data flow between the computer’s operating system and attached devices such as the hard disk, video adapter, keyboard, mouse and printer.

BOOT – The boot menu is a menu accessible when a computer is first starting up. It can contain a number of different device options to boot to, including CDs, DVDs, flash drive, or hard drives, and a LAN (network)

Broadband – Allows users to access the Internet and its related services at higher speeds

Bug – A bug refers to an error, fault or flaw in a computer program that may cause it to unexpectedly quit or behave in an unintended manner.


Cloud storage –  The cloud refers to storing and accessing data and program over the Internet instead of them saved on your computer’s hard drive.

Cookies – A small text file (up to 4KB) created by a website that is stored in the user’s computer either temporarily for that session only or permanently on the hard disk (persistent cookie). Cookies provide a way for the website to recognize you and keep track of your preferences.

Cyberattack – An attempt to gain illegal access to a computer or computer system for the purpose of causing damage or harm



Encryption – The process of converting information or data into a code, especially to prevent unauthorized access.

Ethernet Cable – One of the most common types of network cables used for wired networks.


Firewall – 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.



Hard Disk Drive (HDD) – This is what stores all your data. It houses the hard disk, where all your files and folders are physically located.


Identity cloning – also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable information, such as Social Security or driver’s license numbers, in order to impersonate someone else.




LAN – A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers and peripheral devices that share a common communications line or wireless link to a server within a distinct geographic area.


Malware – Any code written for the specific purpose of causing harm, disclosing information or otherwise violating the security or stability of a system. Malware includes a wide range of types of malicious programs including: virus, worm, Trojan horse, rootkit, ransomware and spyware/adware.



Operating System – An operating system (OS) is a software program that enables the computer hardware to communicate and operate with the computer software.


Phishing – A form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person through email or other communication channels.

Private Browser – An internet mode where all the privacy features of the Web browser are activated without having to manually set them individually, such as setting cookies to off and clearing the browsing history. When using private browsing mode none of this data is stored.

Proxy Server – A computer system or router that functions as a relay between client and server. It helps prevent an attacker from invading a private network and is one of several tools used to build a firewall.



Ransomware – A form of malware that monitors user activities and reports them to an external their party. Spyware can be legitimate in that it is operated by an advertising and marketing agency for the purpose of gathering customer demographics.

Rootkit – A rootkit is a program or, more often, a collection of software tools that gives a threat actor remote access to and control over a computer or other system.


Search engine – A program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user, used especially for finding particular sites on the World Wide Web.

Spam – A form of unwanted or unsolicited messages or communications typically received via e-mail but also occurring through text messaging, social networks or VoIP.

Spoof – The act of disguising a communication from an unknown source as being from a known, trusted source. Email spoofing is one of the best known spoofs.

Spyware – A form of malware that monitors user activities and reports them to an external their party. Spyware can be legitimate in that it is operated by an advertising and marketing agency for the purpose of gathering customer demographics. 

Solid-State Drive – An SSD is a type of mass storage device similar to a hard disk drive (HDD). It supports reading and writing data and maintains stored data in a permanent state even without power.

System Restore – A feature in Windows. It allows users to restore their computers to a previous state without losing personal data files.


Trojan Horse – A form of malware where a malicious payload is imbedded inside of a benign host file. The victim is tricked into believing that the only file being retrieved is the viewable benign host. However, when the victim uses the host file, the malicious payload is automatically deposited onto their computer system.

Two-Factor Authentication – Proving identity using two authentication factors usually considered stronger than any single factor authentication. A form of multi-factor authentication.



VPN (Virtual Private Network) – Programming that creates a safe and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the public internet.

Virus – A virus is typically designed to damage or destroy data, but different viruses implement their attack at different rates, speeds or targets.


Worm – A computer worm is a self-replicating malware that duplicates itself to spread to uninfected computers.




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