Hacker vocabulary 101

It’s pretty safe to assume most people understand that “getting hacked” is a bad thing. After all, the phrase itself sounds rather macabre.   In reality, rank-and-file citizens are largely left in the dark when it comes to understanding the rudimentary watchwords of cyber-attacks. This happens, in part, because we as I.T. experts make the mistake of assuming people know more about technology than they really do.  It’s the same phenomenon that happens when auto mechanics are surprised to learn that most car owners don’t know the size of their vehicle’s engine nor do they care to know.

Most I.T. folks bear the responsibility of protecting a company’s computer system(s) from cyber-attacks.  This assignment gets a little tricky when working for a large organization with a large number of employees, many of whom give the deer-in-the-headlight look anytime a technology conversation begins.

When training employees on the dangers of cyber-attacks, always assume your audience KNOWS NOTHING about cyber crime.  Treat the class as if it  s the first time they’ve heard the terms “hacking” and “phishing”.  Never ask questions like, “Does anyone here not know what a phishing attack is?”  You’ll always hear crickets and unfortunately assume everyone does know when in fact many do not.

As part of your training, consider distributing and discussion a “Hacker Vocabulary List” with some of the more common terms associated with the cyber-crime world.

Here are 8 terms to get you started.

(Definitions from Dictionary.com)

  1. Phishing: to try to obtain financial or other confidential information from Internet users, typically by sending an email that looks as if it is from a legitimate organization, usually a financial institution, but contains a link to a fake website that replicates the real one.
  2. Malware: software intended to damage a computer, mobile device, computer system, or computer network, or to take partial control over its operation:
  3. Smishing: to stealthily collect personal information via text message sent to a mobile device, usually instructing the user to call a toll-free number:
  4. Ransomware: malware planted illegally in a computer or mobile device that disables its operation or access to its data until the owner or operator pays to regain control or access.
  5. Adware: software that displays advertisements and is integrated into another program offered at no charge or at low cost.
  6. Bot: a device or piece of software that can execute commands, reply to messages, or perform routine tasks, as online searches, either automatically or with minimal human intervention
  7. Firewall: an integrated collection of security measures designed to prevent unauthorized electronic access to a networked computer system.
  8. Spam: disruptive online messages, especially commercial messages posted on a computer network or sent as email (often used attributively):

Educate the next generation of I.T. professionals

I.T. professionals perform heroic work every day as they protect organizations from daily cyber-attacks. The demand for well-informed, tech-savvy I.T. recruits is high.  It’s never too early for students to begin honing their skills for this in-demand career.  Cutting-edge companies like Melaleuca, Powr, and Vimeo are among a growing list of outfits that either host their own I.T. “boot camps” or hire directly from these types of training experiences.  Each year after hosting its own I.T. boot camp, Melaleuca reviews its graduates and gives helpful coaching for “next-steps” that could possibly lead to an entry-level employment experience.

Thank you, fellow I.T. champions, for helping the less-informed become more-informed.  Information truly is power!