A Jargon-Free Cybersecurity Glossary for Small Businesses

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Cybersecurity threats are an ever-present risk of doing business online, and they’re getting more frequent during COVID-19.

In March 2020, scams increased over 400 percent from the previous month and Google blocked over 18 million daily malware and phishing emails in April. But to protect your business, you need to know what each of these cybersecurity terms mean.

Our cybersecurity dictionary tells you what you need to know and how it applies to your business. Unlike a traditional dictionary, we listed the terms in the easiest order to understand, instead of alphabetically, to help you build your cybersecurity knowledge as you read.

Small business cybersecurity terms


Your business most likely uses a network, which is a group of computers virtually connected together, to share files, data, and applications. Cybersecurity centers around protecting your company network and data.


Each time a person or application accesses your network without permission, it’s referred to as a breach. If they also steal data while on your system, cybersecurity experts call it a data breach.


When someone hacks your network or a device, they are essentially breaking into your system. They take action that allows them into something they don’t have permission to access. Hackers usually have malicious intent, like stealing data, manipulating data, or releasing malware.


Every device connected to your networks — like laptops, printers, mobile devices, and point-of-sale hardware — is an endpoint that allows access to your network. Because cybercriminals and viruses use endpoints to gain unauthorized access, protecting each endpoint with unique passwords and anti-virus software is an important part of securing your business.


This refers to the weaknesses of your connected devices, network, and security systems, and the software that runs on them. These holes in your defense allow intruders to access your network, applications, or systems. As a business owner, you want to proactively identify any vulnerabilities and take action to protect your server.

Common mistakes include:

  • Devices (such as laptops) without antivirus software
  • Software not updated with the latest version
  • Missed firewall security updates


When talking about online purchases, fraud usually refers to someone trying to get goods or services without paying, or trying to get money from you that you don’t owe. A fraudster can use a stolen credit card or try to get a refund for a product they didn’t purchase from you. – Read more

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