As a business owner, you hear IT terminology almost daily. Some of these terms may sound familiar, but their definitions might remain elusive. Without expert technicians, businesses often have to figure things out on their own. This IT term glossary lists some of the most common IT terms and explains what they mean.

Backup/Disaster Recovery

Policies, tools, and procedures that help businesses recover vital data after a disaster, whether it be natural or human-based. Most data recovery options assume that the original data is compromised, and use backups to recover the information.

Break/Fix Providers

IT services provided and billed on an as-needed basis. The main purpose of break/fix providers is to maintain the current IT infrastructure for a business.


A storage area on your computer that allows for faster processing the next time you use that website. If you’ve ever noticed that the second time you visit a website it seems to load faster, it’s probably because some of the information on the website has been ‘cached’ somewhere on your computer or in the cloud.


The cloud is a remote data storage system or server that is accessible via a network. There are both free and paid services that will allow you to work or store data ‘in the cloud’ instead of on your personal computer.


A small text file containing information that a web server leaves on a person’s computer after they access a site. They’re useful because they allow websites to recognize returning users, but they also track your activity across different websites to provide targeted advertisements.


The practice of defending your computer, device, and network from cyberattacks. This can be implemented using a variety of methods such as upgraded firewalls, multi-factor authentication, cloud solutions, and antivirus software.

Data Analytics

The process of examining raw data to form useful conclusions. These examinations can be descriptive, diagnostic, prescriptive, or predictive depending on the overall goal.


The amount of time a website, computer, or server has not been working. This can be planned for times when systems or devices are not in use, but can also be unplanned, causing a negative effect on productivity and business processes.


A security technique that converts electronic data to an unrecognizable or encrypted form so that it cannot be easily understood by unauthorized parties.


A method of preventing unwanted and unauthorized access to and from a particular network. Firewalls can come as software or hardware, and work to protect the network from malware without inhibiting users from working regularly.


The two primary parts of a computer system. Hardware refers to physical components of a computer, for example a keyboard, monitor, and internal chips.

Software is the non-physical code that will perform various tasks. Software can include anything from e-mail, spreadsheets, and word processing.

Help Desk

An information and assistance resource run by computer or IT experts who assist users with issues related to software, hardware, and networks. Businesses will oftentimes provide help desk support to their employees and customers via a phone number, website, or e-mail. 

To learn more about our services, please click here.

IP (Internet Protocol) Address

The unique identifying number that every computer connected to the Internet has, usually relying on geographical location. Some companies will set up firewalls that will only allow certain IP addresses to access information in an attempt to limit data breaches.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Refers to the millions of physical devices that connect to other devices through the Internet, all collecting and sharing data. Examples of IoT include “smart home” systems, vehicles, and security systems.


A general term referring to all software that is made with malicious intent. Malware is software designed for adverse effects or criminal purposes. This umbrella term also applies to viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, and ransomware.

Ransomware is a type of malware specifically designed to threaten a user or company with adverse action, holding confidential data hostage until a ransom is paid.

Managed Service Provider (MSP)

A third-party IT provider that can provide a variety of services, offering to aid businesses in areas like:

  • Project management
  • Network operations
  • Backup and disaster recovery
  • Cloud services
  • Printing solutions

 To learn more about how an MSP can help your business succeed, click here.


Data that describes other data. This can refer to the content, structure, interrelationships, and other data elements.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

A login procedure that requires a username, password, and at least one secondary verification check. The most common MFA includes a temporary access code sent to another device that you will be asked in order to authenticate your identity.

Open Source

A type of software that allows public access to the source code. Most open-source software is free and developed by groups or communities of people. Open-source programs include access to their source code, which allows for customization in a collaborative public manner. 

Operating System

Software that manages all of a computer’s processes and allows programs and applications to run. The most prominent operating systems used by businesses are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

Security standards governing the proper usage, processing, storage, and transmission of credit card information. Businesses must adhere to PCI DSS to avoid fines and penalties.


Phishing is a type of cyberattack that tries to trick users into revealing personal or sensitive information via fraudulent emails and other schemes.

  • Spear phishing is a type of phishing that is meant to target a person specifically.
  • Whaling is a type of spear phishing that targets high-profile individuals from a company or organization.

Has your company been the target of a phishing scheme? Learn more about how to respond to these attacks in our step-by-step article.


Servers that function as an intermediate link between a client application (like a web browser) and a real server. The proxy server intercepts requests for information from the real server and whenever possible, fills the request. When it is unable to do so, the request is forwarded to the real server. 

Random Access Memory (RAM)

A designated amount of short-term memory that can be used by a computer processor to access information for programs. The more RAM a computer has, the faster it will run.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

A software delivery model that centrally hosts software and associated data on the cloud. It’s subscription-based, which means that the users can access them through a web browser on an as-needed basis.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A method of extending a private network remotely. This gives users the ability to securely access resources and data on a remote server through the Internet or other network.

Work With Innovative Network Solutions

If you need help with your cybersecurity, contact the experts at Innovative Network Solutions. We help businesses protect their most vital information and keep things running smoothly. With INS, you can rest easy knowing your information and privacy are in capable hands. Get in touch today.