Tech Slang & Jargon: A Fun Little Primer

Tech Slang & Jargon: A Fun Little Primer

We get it. Information Technology is broad and often confusing, with seemingly endless facts to absorb just to grasp what happens inside all those wires and up in that cloud. But besides all the facts – which require years of continuing education (just ask our techs) – complicating matters even further is that IT has a language unto itself.

And, even if the words look somewhat familiar, the lexicon of IT is enough to make the uninitiated scratch their heads.

For example, if you think a “white hat” is something you’d wear with a white tuxedo, well, you’d be right only if you weren’t speaking to IT professionals. To them, a “white hat” describes a person – a hacker – who identifies a security weakness in a computer network but, instead of taking malicious advantage of it, exposes the weakness so that the system’s developer can fix it before the cyber-criminals (also knowns as “black hats”) can inflict their damage.

White hats might employ “fuzz testing” or “fuzzing,” a software testing technique used to discover coding errors and security loopholes in software, operating systems or networks. Those using the technique input massive amounts of random data – called fuzz – into the system in an attempt to make it crash.

So, today, as a public service – and to bolster your IT vocabulary – here is a smattering of other IT jargon.

A war dialer is a computer program used to identify the phone numbers that can successfully make a connection with a computer modem. The program automatically dials a defined range of phone numbers and logs and enters in a database those numbers that successfully connect to the modem.

Pen-tester has nothing to do with ball-points, but is short for penetration tester, someone who tries to break into a security system to test its effectiveness.

Abandonware is slang for software still under copyright but no longer distributed, sold or supported. But someone has it. And it’s probably not working.

Bloatware may sound like something you put on after a big dinner, but it’s actually slang for software that has lots of mostly useless features and requires considerable space and memory to install and run. It’s particularly pervasive now because, since the cost of RAM and disk storage has decreased, software developers disregard the size of their apps, and viola, bloatware.

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