The Definitive Guide to Technology Words And Phrases (Part 2)

We've defined common technology phrases and terms to cut through the confusion of industry jargon.

Articles published October 12, 2017 by Kai Johnson

The technology industry is buzzing with shorthand, lingo, and acronyms that can be confusing and complicated to non-IT professionals. A few months ago, we defined 20 technology words and phrases to help provide the knowledge and insight needed to navigate conversations with IT advisors. Now, we’re back with Part 2 of that series, with 15 additional technology phrases and terms to help you navigate future technology discussions.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication, often referred to as 2FA, is a process designed to ensure the security of sensitive information by requiring two forms of identification when attempting to access an account. The first form might be something the user knows, like a password, and the second form might be something like a one-time token or a fingerprint. An example of this is when users get a security code sent to their mobile device. Two-factor authentication is just another way to ensure that the individual accessing an account is the right person.

Big Data

Organizations today are accumulating more data than ever before. Sources may include traditional data sets, like customer transactions and accounting information, as well as digital data, like website statistics and social media interaction. Big data refers to those extremely large data sets, which are often categorized by the volume, variety, and velocity of that data. Robust applications and infrastructure are used to help analyze massive amounts of data to identify trends and assist with strategic decision making.


Short for Customer Relationship Management, “CRM” is a frequently used acronym in the workplace. A CRM system or application helps organizations track and manage customer and prospect data. Some CRM systems provide features for marketing automation, customer support, contract management, and invoicing (among other things).

Disaster Recovery

How you deal with a network outage, recover from it, and the steps you take to prevent that issue from occurring again are crucial factors for your organization. Disaster recovery is how you recover from a disaster that has actually happened. With a goal of resuming mission-critical operations as quickly as possible after a disaster, disaster recovery outlines the essential steps you need to take to get your organization back to normal. 

When discussing disaster recovery, you might hear vendors refer to response time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). RTO refers to how quickly you want to be back up and running after a disaster, while RPO identifies the timing of your data backups to coincide with resuming mission-critical operations after a disaster occurs. Make sure your organization sets both objectives, so there is a standard to adhere to and follow.


A firewall is the foundation for protecting your network from unauthorized access. As a network security system, a firewall manages incoming and outgoing traffic and acts as a shield from unwanted and untrusted networks or intruders.

Hardware as a Service 

Hardware as a Service, or HaaS, is a procurement model where a managed services provider offers hardware and related maintenance services for a monthly fee. The hardware is installed by the provider and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are established to determine the responsibilities. If there are any issues or updates with the hardware, the managed services provider takes care of it. HaaS can be a simple way to get access to state-of-the-art hardware with a consistent and predictable monthly cost.

Infrastructure as a Service

Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS, is a cloud platform for organizations that don’t want to build and maintain a data center. IaaS provides virtualized hardware that’s already configured and ready to use, and makes it easy for expansion or contraction. IaaS providers typically handle the storage, servers, networking, and virtualization, and you manage the operating system, security, and applications.

Platform as a Service

Platform as a Service, or PaaS, is a cloud computing service that provides a computing platform, allowing you to develop, test, and manage your applications. Think of it like your own operating system, where you manage your applications and your data, but don’t have to purchase or maintain the underlying infrastructure.

Software as a Service

Software as a Service, or SaaS, is a hosted cloud application made available over the internet, allowing you to use the software without having to purchase, manage, or maintain the IT infrastructure. Do you have a personal email account, such as Gmail? If so, then you’re utilizing SaaS. 

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, often shortened to IoT, is the concept of connecting various products and devices to the internet, and to each other. This is more than just the devices you’d expect, like cell phones and tablets, but everything from smart TVs, to lamps, to your thermostat. For instance, with smart devices connected through IoT, when you wake up in the morning, your alarm clock could notify your coffee maker to start brewing a fresh pot.

Operating System

Operating system, often shortened simply to OS, is a common term that refers to your device’s operating system, such as Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X. An OS manages all the hardware and software on a computer and is essential to device functionality, 


Phishing scams are appropriately named. Simply put, they are email scams that try to lure people into clicking on links that have viruses, much like someone trying to lure fish with bait. The email will offer something lucrative and tempting. It will likely disguise a link to a site you’re seemingly familiar with, in order to get you to click or download malicious software. Phishing attacks can be extremely detrimental, but there are a number of ways to identify and avoid them


SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management. SIEM is a security management tool that gives a holistic view of an organization’s IT infrastructure and security. It helps organizations look at their data from a consolidated view, so that any abnormal trends or patterns can be spotted easily. SIEM software can be used to assist in validating and meeting specific compliance requirements, like HIPAA or PCI.

Social Engineering

Social engineering attacks are an ever-present danger for organizations, because they target the one thing that is the hardest to control: employees.

These attacks manipulate the target into taking some form of action, which often includes providing confidential information. Common examples of social engineering attacks include emails that look normal but actually contain hidden links with viruses (phishing emails), pretexting phone calls where the cyber criminal acts like a trusted source and then engages the employee to divulge sensitive information, and searching unlocked trash and recycling bins to discover valuable information that could be used in a future attack.


SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is the security that creates an encrypted connection between a server and a web browser. If you’ve ever accessed a website that had a lock icon next to the URL, then you’ve been on a site that is SSL certified. This gives you peace of mind that your browsing and data is safe and protected. 

Although this isn’t a comprehensive list of technology words and phrases, we hope it provides you with a basic knowledge base for your organization to use in the future. If you’re interested in learning more technology phrases and terms, read Part 1 in the series.  

About The Author

Kai Johnson is an experienced technology consultant who is passionate about leveraging technology tools to help organizations solve critical business challenges. With a focus in Unified Communications, managed services, network security, business continuity, and network and cloud solutions, he is ... read more

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