A comprehensive A-Z of common cybersecurity industry acronyms, terminology, and IT security abbreviations
As a writer for all things cybersecurity, I work under the product marketing division here at TrueFort. Between marketing and cybersecurity, there is no more a perfect storm for TLA (three-letter acronym). As such, as I’ve been creating content over the last twelve months, I’ve begun to create a catalog of cybersecurity acronyms and abbreviations – from industry standards to job roles and positions – and I thought sharing this list as it may come in useful (as Tom Lahrer once said) “in a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances.” I’ll try to provide links to citations and official resources as appropriate, as I did with my recently collated post on 2023 Cybersecurity Statistics.
I have divided this into three general categories, and so three blog posts, of industry terms and abbreviations. Please check out the other posts for:
If you need to look something up, this is alphabetical or Control+F (PC)/Command+F (Mac) will open your local search in your browser.
General cybersecurity terms and acronyms
- 5G (Fifth Generation) – The latest generation of cellular network technology, providing faster data transfer rates, lower latency, and improved connectivity for IoT devices.
- AI (Artificial Intelligence) – The development of computer systems that can perform tasks typically requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and natural language understanding.
- API (Application Programming Interface) – A set of rules, protocols, and tools that allow software applications to communicate and share data with each other.
- Application-mesh – A framework that provides a scalable and resilient architecture for deploying, connecting, and managing microservices-based applications across a distributed network.
- APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) – A sophisticated, long-term cyberattack that remains undetected while targeting specific organizations or individuals, often conducted by nation-states or well-funded groups.
- BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) – A low-power wireless communication technology that allows IoT devices to communicate over short distances, often used for personal area networks, wearables, and smart home applications.
- CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker) – A security tool that provides visibility and control over cloud-based applications and data.
- CIRT (Computer Incident Response Team) – A group of information security professionals responsible for coordinating responses to cybersecurity incidents and providing guidance on preventing future incidents.
- CND (Computer Network Defense) – The practice of protecting computer networks from unauthorized access and data exfiltration .
- CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol) – A specialized web transfer protocol designed for use with constrained devices, such as IoT devices, that operate on low-power networks.
- CPS (Cyber-Physical Systems) – Engineered systems orchestrating sensing, computation, control, networking, and analytics to interact with the physical world (including humans). They enable safe, real-time, resilient, and adaptable performance when secure. In OT environments, an emerging focus on CPS asset discovery is maturing security beyond network centricity.
- CSRF (Cross-Site Request Forgery) – A type of web application vulnerability that exploits the trust relationship between a user and a website, tricking the user into performing unwanted actions.
- CTI (Cyber Threat Intelligence) – The collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about current and emerging cyber threats, used to inform and improve an organization’s cybersecurity strategy.
- CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) – A publicly accessible database of known cybersecurity vulnerabilities used to identify and address security risks in systems and software.
- DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) – A type of cyberattack that involves overwhelming a target system or network with a large volume of traffic, rendering it unavailable to users.
- DLP (Data Loss Prevention) – A security mechanism that prevents sensitive data from being leaked or lost.
- DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) – A network segment that acts as a buffer between an organization’s internal network and external networks, such as the Internet, providing an additional layer of security.
- EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) – A security solution that monitors endpoint devices, such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, for potential threats and provides real-time response to detected incidents.
- ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) – An independent, non-profit organization that develops and publishes telecommunications standards for European and global markets, including IoT technologies.
- FDE (Full Disk Encryption) – A security measure that encrypts the entire storage drive of a device, protecting data from unauthorized access if the device is lost or stolen.
- HIDS (Host-based Intrusion Detection System) – An intrusion detection system that monitors a single host or device for malicious activity instead of monitoring an entire network.
- Honeypot – A decoy system or network designed to attract and monitor potential attackers, providing valuable intelligence about their tactics and techniques. Also, an item of crockery commonly utilized by Winnie-the-Pooh.
- IAM (Identity and Access Management) – A framework for managing user identities and their access to various resources within an organization.
- ICS (Industrial Control System) – A system for controlling and automating industrial processes, often using OT technologies.
- IDS (Intrusion Detection System) – A security tool that monitors network traffic for signs of malicious activity and alerts security personnel.
- IoC (Indicator of Compromise) – Observable evidence of a security incident or potential cyberattack, such as unusual network traffic, suspicious file names, or unexpected system behavior.
- IoT (Internet of Things) – A network of interconnected devices, sensors, and machines that can communicate with each other and with the Internet.
- IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) – A security tool that monitors network traffic for signs of malicious activity and takes action to block or prevent such activity.
- IRP (Incident Response Plan) – A documented set of procedures and guidelines for identifying, responding to, and recovering from cybersecurity incidents.
- IT (Information Technology) – The use of computers, networking, and software to manage and process information.
- LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) – A low-power, long-range wireless communication protocol designed for IoT applications, providing secure, bi-directional communication between devices and gateways.
- LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) – A type of wireless communication network designed for long-range, low-power IoT devices, such as smart meters, environmental sensors, and asset trackers.
- MFA (Multi-factor Authentication) – A security mechanism that requires users to provide multiple forms of authentication before being granted access to a resource.
- Microsegmentation – A zero-trust disciple which transforms network security by breaking down the conventional perimeter-centric defense model. Instead of treating the entire network as a singular, interconnected entity, microsegmentation divides it into many more secure zones or “microsegments.”
- MITM/MiM (Man-in-the-Middle) – A type of cyberattack in which an attacker intercepts the communication between two parties, potentially altering or eavesdropping on the exchanged data.
- MITRE ATT&CK (Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge) – A framework for categorizing and describing cyber threats and their associated tactics and techniques.
- ML (Machine Learning) – A subset of artificial intelligence that focuses on the development of algorithms and models that enable computers to learn from and make predictions or decisions based on data.
- MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) – A lightweight messaging protocol for small sensors and mobile devices, often used in IoT applications to enable efficient communication between devices and servers.
- NAC (Network Access Control) – A security solution that ensures only authorized devices are allowed to access the network.
- NIDS (Network-based Intrusion Detection System) – An intrusion detection system that monitors network traffic for malicious activity instead of individual hosts or devices.
- NSX (Network Virtualization and Security) – A software-defined networking and security platform that enables microsegmentation and other security features in virtualized environments.
- OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) – The collection and analysis of publicly available information, such as social media posts, news articles, and online forums, to gather intelligence about potential cyber threats and adversaries.
- OT (Operational Technology) – The use of hardware and software to control and automate industrial processes, such as manufacturing, energy production, and transportation.
- OTA (Over-The-Air) – A method of wirelessly distributing software updates, configuration settings, or encryption keys to IoT devices, typically used to improve security and functionality.
- PII (Personally Identifiable Information) – Any information that can be used to identify a specific individual, such as name, Social Security number, or email address, which is often targeted in cyberattacks.
- PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) – A system that uses digital certificates and public and private keys to ensure secure communication and authentication.
- PT (Penetration Testing) – A security assessment that involves actively attempting to exploit vulnerabilities in a system or network to identify potential weaknesses and improve security.
- RAT (Remote Access Trojan) – A type of malware that allows an attacker to remotely control a compromised system, often used for data exfiltration or launching further attacks.
- RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) – A method of managing access to resources based on users’ roles within an organization rather than assigning permissions to individual users.
- RCE (Remote Code Execution) – A security vulnerability that allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code on a targeted system, often leading to unauthorized access and data exfiltration.
- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) – A wireless communication technology that uses radio waves to identify and track objects, often used in IoT applications for asset tracking and inventory management.
- SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) – A cloud-based security architecture that combines zero trust, microsegmentation, and other security features to provide secure access to applications and data.
- SDLC (Secure Development Lifecycle) – A systematic approach to software development that incorporates security best practices and risk management throughout the development process.
- SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) – A security solution that collects and analyzes security data from various sources to identify potential threats.
- SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security) – A protocol for encrypting internet traffic to ensure secure communication between devices.
- SOC (Security Operations Center) – A centralized facility where an organization’s cybersecurity team monitors, detects, and responds to security incidents and threats.
- TAC (Threat Analysis and Communication) – A process that involves identifying, assessing, and communicating potential threats to IoT devices and systems, in order to develop appropriate mitigation strategies.
- TTP (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) – The modus operandi of a threat actor, which includes their tactics (the overall strategy), techniques (the specific methods used), and procedures (the detailed steps taken) during a cyberattack.
- UEBA (User and Entity Behavior Analytics) – A security solution that analyzes user and entity behavior to detect anomalous activity and potential threats.
- UWB (Ultra-Wideband) – A wireless communication technology that uses a wide frequency range to transmit data at very low power, often used in IoT applications for precise positioning and secure communication.
- UTM (Unified Threat Management) – A security solution that combines various security features, such as firewall, antivirus, and intrusion prevention, into a single platform.
- VAPT (Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing) – A comprehensive approach to evaluating an organization’s cybersecurity posture, combining vulnerability assessment (identifying potential weaknesses) with penetration testing (actively exploiting those weaknesses).
- VPN (Virtual Private Network) – A technology that creates a secure, encrypted connection between two endpoints, often used to provide remote access to an organization’s network.
- WAF (Web Application Firewall) – A security tool that monitors and filters HTTP traffic to and from a web application.
- WoT (Web of Things) – An extension of the IoT concept that focuses on the integration of IoT devices and services with the World Wide Web, enabling seamless interaction and data exchange between devices, users, and applications.
- XSS (Cross-Site Scripting) – A type of web application vulnerability that enables attackers to inject malicious scripts into webpages viewed by other users, potentially leading to data theft or unauthorized actions.
- Zero-day – A previously unknown vulnerability in a system or software, which attackers can exploit before it is discovered and patched by the vendor.
- ZTA (Zero Trust Architecture) – A security framework that assumes that all users, devices, and applications are untrusted and require verification before being granted access to sensitive resources.
- ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access) – A security framework that requires all users, devices, and applications to authenticate and authorize themselves before being granted access to a network or application.
- Z-Wave – A wireless communication protocol designed for home automation and IoT applications, providing low-latency, low-power, and secure communication between devices.
Well, that was a labor of love to lay out in WordPress… As things change, as our industry regularly does, I’ll try to keep this list and links updated. However, I can only guarantee true accuracy at today’s original publication date. Apologies (not really) if some of my personal notes or links have crept into the text above.
This is split into three general categories and so three blog posts of industry terms and abbreviations. If you are looking for legal body abbreviations and cybersecurity standards or cybersecurity job role acronyms and IT security positions, these are detailed in separate posts. This is by no means a definitive list, but I very much hope it’s useful to someone – Google will probably penalize us for doing something like this, but what the heck.
If you see something I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments.