Technology is constantly changing. And that means terminology used to talk about tech changes quickly, too. You may hear commonly used words and terms related to cybersecurity, but unless you really understand what they mean, it’s easy to get confused. This confusion can lead to mistakes or gaps in both personal and device security.

For those not familiar with technology, especially seniors who may be less comfortable with today’s technology, the confusion and frustration can put their security at risk.

To help reduce the confusion, here are explanations of some commonly used terms to help you better secure your information and your devices.

Terms and Definitions

Choose the correct term for each definition below.

1. The process of confirming your identity online, such as for a website or app.
Survey submitted.
1. The process of confirming your identity online, such as for a website or app.

The answer is authentication. Authentication is the process of confirming you are really you. The most common types are username and password, one-time passcode and biometric features like an eye scan or fingerprint.

2. A short prompt on a website in which you enter a series of characters or click on images to prove you are a human visitor to the site.
Survey submitted.
2. A short prompt on a website in which you enter a series of characters or click on images to prove you are a human visitor to the site.

The answer is CAPTCHA. CAPTCHA are words, characters or images used to confirm you are a human. It was designed to help prevent fraud on the internet and stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.”

3. The act of pretending to be someone else online to fool and scam people.
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3. The act of pretending to be someone else online to fool and scam people.

The answer is catfishing. Catfishing is someone pretending to be a different person online in the hope of getting something, most commonly money, from the people they fool.

4. Online storage space for your digital files such as photos, music, or documents.
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4. Online storage space for your digital files such as photos, music, or documents.

The answer is cloud. The cloud is a remote location on the internet where you can store your files and data. The cloud allows you to access your data from multiple devices and provides a location to back up information, so it is not only on your device.

5. This portion of the internet is not accessible through common, mainstream search engines.
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5. This portion of the internet is not accessible through common, mainstream search engines.

The answer is dark web. The dark web includes internet sites that are not visible to common search engines, like Google and Bing, and may require a special browser or authorization to access. Content on the dark web can be posted anonymously, which makes it attractive to bad guys trading illegal items or services.

6. This process keeps your data private from others by converting information into unreadable code.
Survey submitted.
6. This process keeps your data private from others by converting information into unreadable code.

The answer is encryption. Encryption translates data into unreadable code to keep that data private. Think of this as a secret code and only your device has the key to be able to read it.

7. A combination of words or a sentence used to get into an account.
Survey submitted.
7. A combination of words or a sentence used to get into an account.

The answer is passphrase. A passphrase is a longer combination of words or a sentence to replace short, less secure passwords. Passphrases can also be easier to remember.

8. Using email to impersonate a company or person you know and convince you to give up personal information.
Survey submitted.
8. Using email to impersonate a company or person you know and convince you to give up personal information..

The answer is phishing. Phishing is an email that uses information familiar to you, like a friend’s name or company logo, to trick you into sharing personal information for fraudulent purposes.

9. A unique combination of numbers to verify your identity.
Survey submitted.
9. A unique combination of numbers to verify your identity.

The answer is PIN. PIN stands for personal identification number and has a variety of possible uses, including to access your bank’s ATM or unlock your cell phone. It is often a part of authentication methods to verify your identity.

10. This identifies your phone so you can connect to your provider’s network. It allows you to call, text and access the internet.
Survey submitted.
10. This identifies your phone so you can connect to your provider’s network. It allows you to call, text and access the internet.

The answer is eSIM or SIM (SIM Card). An eSIM or SIM (SIM Card) is a digital or physical chip in your phone that connects the device to your carrier network, like AT&T, so you can receive calls, send text messages, and connect to the internet. SIM stands for “subscriber identity module.”

11. A text message made to trick you by looking like it came from a company or person.
Survey submitted.
11. A text message made to trick you by looking like it came from a company or person.

The answer is SMiShing. SMiShing is similar to phishing except this uses text messages instead of emails. (SMS – short message service – is the technical term for texting.) The message may include a phone number or link to a fake website that looks like a real company to get you to share your personal information.

12. Bad guys do this to hide their actual phone number and make it look like a familiar phone number.
Survey submitted.
12. Bad guys do this to hide their actual phone number and make it look like a familiar phone number.

The answer is spoofing. Bad guys use spoofing to “hide” their phone number by making the number displayed on your phone look like a familiar or legitimate phone number, like from your area code and prefix. They do this to try to get you to answer the call so they can try to scam you.

 

Tech Terms in Simple Terms
 

Authentication: The process of confirming you are really you. The most common types are username and password, one-time passcode and biometric features like an eye scan or fingerprint.

CAPTCHA: Words, characters or images used to confirm you are a human. It was designed to help prevent fraud on the internet and stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.”

Catfishing: Someone pretending to be a different person online in the hope of getting something, most commonly money, from the people they fool.

Cloud: A remote location on the internet where you can store your files and data. The cloud allows you to access your data from multiple devices and provides a location to back up information, so it is not only on your device.

Dark Web: Internet sites that are not visible to common search engines, like Google and Bing, and may require a special browser or authorization to access are said to be on the dark web. Content on the dark web can be posted anonymously, which makes it attractive to bad guys trading illegal items or services.  

Encryption: Encryption translates data into unreadable code to keep that data private. Think of this as a secret code and only your device has the key to be able to read it.

Passphrase: Using a longer combination of words or a sentence to replace short, less secure passwords. Passphrases can also be easier to remember.

Phishing: An email that uses information familiar to you, like a friend’s name or company logo, to trick you into sharing personal information for fraudulent purposes.

PIN: A personal identification number with a variety of possible uses, including to access your bank’s ATM or unlock your cell phone. It is often a part of authentication methods to verify your identity.

eSIM or SIM (SIM Card): A small card or virtual chip in your phone that connects the phone to your carrier network, like AT&T, so you can receive calls, send text messages, and connect to the internet. SIM stands for “subscriber identity module.”

SMiShing: Similar to phishing except text messages are used instead of emails. (SMS – short message service – is the technical term for texting.) The message may include a phone number or link to a fake website that looks like a real company to get you to share your personal information.

Spoofing: Bad guys “hide” their phone number by making the number displayed on your phone look like a familiar or legitimate phone number, like from your area code and prefix. They do this to try to get you to answer the call so they can try to scam you.

The first step in security is education – knowing the risks and the ways you can better protect yourself. To test your personal cybersecurity awareness, take the Cyber Aware Quiz.

To learn more about talking with older family members or friends about cybersecurity, check out these ways to empower tech caregivers to tackle online safety.

You can find more terms and definitions here.

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