What are all these cyber acronyms? (And why should you care?)

MSP, AI, ML, phishing, quishing… It seems like tech workers make up a new phrase or acronym every time they go to lunch. And can you blame them? The cyber landscape is always evolving, and new inventions are hitting the headlines at a breakneck pace. To help you keep up, here are some basic terms that you might hear on your next IT call.

Welcome to Cyberspeak 101

  • AI – Artificial Intelligence. An umbrella term for technology that can interpret data and teach itself to perform tasks. It refers to artificial general intelligence (AGI), large language models (LLM), machine learning (ML) and deep learning, among other things! As cybercriminals deploy AI in their attacks, companies are being forced to use their own AI systems to keep up.
  • HTTPS – Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. Seeing HTTPS in a domain name (instead of just HTTP) is a good sign. It means the site you’re on is encoding your information, so you can trust any information you enter isn’t being stolen by a third party.
  • IP – Internet Protocol. An IP address is a number, and every device has one. (There are more than 4 billion available!) Your IP address is how the Internet knows where to send your email and other data, so it’s important to keep it private.
  • MSP – Managed Service Provider. The company that’s responsible for a business’s information technology and cybersecurity. (We know a good one if you’re interested!)
  • MFA – Multifactor Authentication. A process that requires users to pass a series of tests to access data. For instance, an app might ask for a fingerprint and the answer to a security question. Or you may have to enter a password on one device and receive an access code on a second. 
  • Phishing – Sending fake emails that try to trick employees into downloading malware or revealing secrets. (Trust us, your CEO doesn’t need you to go buy 10 gift cards and email him or her the numbers!)
  • Quishing – Like phishing, but with QR codes. (You might want to ask for a paper menu the next time you visit your favorite restaurant.)
  • VPN – Virtual Private Network. Lets you remotely access a private network, like the one at your office. It disguises any data you transfer, as well as your IP address, so it can’t be stolen. If you ever use the public wifi at a hotel or coffeeshop, a VPN is a must!

Knowing terms like these will help you communicate with your IT department and your MSP. But why should you care in the first place?

Without cybersecurity, most companies can’t do business at all.

You’re in business to serve people. Profit or non-profit, it doesn’t matter. And if your team can’t work, then products go undelivered. Services go unutilized. And clients and customers are forced to turn somewhere else.

A single thoughtless click can take down your network, make you vulnerable to ransom demands, and paralyze your business. The true cost is almost impossible to calculate.

So here’s one more cyber term for you: risk mitigation. 

From an IT glitch to a major hack, your business faces cyberthreats on a minute-by-minute basis. So educating your staff and fortifying your network are as essential as hanging up your shingle and paying your taxes.

If you want to read up on more IT terms, go for it! You might laugh a bit and learn how to protect your people, reputation, and profits. But if you don’t, that’s okay. As long as you remember that a good IT partner can help you mitigate risk and, ultimately, stay in business.