Computing security is an interesting space. One of the main aspects that makes it interesting is that there are many security terms that are ambiguous. With some words, we have no idea why we’ve come to use them! While these buzzwords aren’t going away any time soon, here is a list of buzzwords that most of the security industry loves to hate:
Your security is only as good as your weakest link. It’s obvious to the current security world that there is no such thing as 100% secure. However, some organizations guarantee on their website that they are indeed 100% secure. This may seem like a good marketing strategy to attract customers who may not know much about security. It’s also asking for trouble when security professionals notice a claim like this. It is best to steer clear of this term.
When we think of a hacker by that name, a criminal computer nerd comes to mind. You know, the dark shadowy figure in a hoodie that’s sitting behind a fancy laptop. The same figure who steals bank account details with the intention of reeking high-tech havoc.
In reality, a hacker is contrary to this connotation. Hackers are people who think of ways to use software and applications beyond their intended purpose. They invent and create without following the rules. Ethical hackers, while they don’t follow the rules, do abide by the law.
The term “cyber” is often overused and ambiguous. It can refer to the Internet, digital, IT, computers, and even virtual reality. It doesn’t really have a strong meaning of its own. Since it refers to a broad range of other things, avoid using such an amorphous term within the security space.
Discussing the “cloud” isn’t only disliked by security folks, but also by the majority of people in tech. The term is highly overused. It’s much clearer to refer to it as Software as a Service (SaaS) rather than discussing cloud computation.
When you hear this term, you probably imagine video games. However, when using this term in a professional setting, many organization’s aren’t interested in adopting gamification. The term is associated with fun, not with work.
The actual meaning of gamification is to motivate and engage someone to do something that is considered not so interesting to do. It is often misunderstood, and actually pretty appealing, if you ask me. Fun, games, and productivity? Why not!
Every industry has buzzwords. While most are nice and catchy, there are also the dated, meaningless, and overused words. Be wary of the confusing terms that demand clarification. Beware of the misleading and unattractive terms. There’s a time and place for buzzwords. In the security industry, stick to unambiguous terms that suit such a scientific industry.
Sakthi Mohan is a security consultant at Synopsys. She recently received her master's in computing security from Rochester Institute of Technology. Sakthi is an emerging security professional specializing in architecture risk analysis, Web application security, and network security.