11 cybersecurity buzzwords you should stop using right now

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Cybersecurity buzzwords and buzz phrases are a dime a dozen. Used to simplify complex terminology or boost sales and marketing campaigns, buzzwords are an inescapable reality for an innovative and fast-paced industry like information security. However, such terms are not always helpful and can be inaccurate, outdated, misleading, or even risk causing harm. For example, a buzzword that exploits fear, uncertainty and doubt to maximize a profit-led agenda can be damaging, while a legitimate, once-useful term may become outdated, with continued use and reliance upon it hampering more evolved understandings of the root issue.

Here are the 11 cybersecurity buzzwords and phrases that should be laid to rest in 2021.

  1. Ransomware
  2. Zero trust
  3. Whitelist and blacklist
  4. AI-powered security
  5. Cyber 9/11
  6. Digital transformation
  7. SIEM
  8. People are the weakest link
  9. Cybersecurity awareness
  10. Cyber kill chain
  11. Hacker

1. Ransomware

Despite being one of the most used terms in discussions around common cyberattacks, ransomware is technically an inappropriate definition no longer fit for purpose, says Charl van der Walt, head of security research at Orange Cyberdefense. Its hard to escape mentions of ransomware in the current news agenda, but while it suffices to describe the overarching subject, it falls short of wholly capturing what is in fact a complex and evolving issue.

Ransomwares real meaning is getting lost in translation, and it is now being used to define a far wider set of cyberattacks than its real definitionmalware that holds the data of a computer to ransomencompasses, van der Walt says. This creates confusion between malware that does encryption, general malware thats used by ransomware actors, and the ransomware actors themselves. At the center of ransomware is the act of extortion and cybercriminals see companies as easy targets for extortionyou only have to look at data suggesting how many companies now pay ransom demands as proof.

As this threat evolves, van der Walt proposes a new term: cyber extortion (or Cy-X). He says this better encapsulates the history, current form, and potential future of this crime wave, as well as making the distinction between extortion as the crime and ransomware as the tool used to commit it.

2. Zero trust

Zero trust describes a trust nothing by default approach to securing users and devices. It has become one of the biggest marketing buzz terms of the last few years, exacerbated by the mass shift to remote working and subsequent need for more effective methods of security for remote network access. However, for Quentyn Taylor, director of information security at Canon Europe, the term zero trust is too amorphous. Its impossible to know if youve actually reached it, and indeed I dont believe anyone has or could do. What annoys me an awful lot about the concept is that a lot of people talk about it as if its new, when in reality weve been talking about deperimeterization for years. Zero trust is just a new marketing term for what weve been attempting to do for a long time.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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