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Common IT Terms Explained

You know you need managed IT services for your growing business. Managing your technology needs is eating away at the time you could be investing in finding new clients, new products, and new revenue streams.

But something is holding you back from scheduling that much-needed meeting. You don’t understand the most common IT terminology and trying to tackle this aspect of your business seems overwhelming.

It can feel embarrassing to be in a meeting where you don’t understand the subject matter, and the ever-changing world of technology can be confusing. But we’re here to help! Here’s a cheat sheet for some of the most common terms used in the information technology services world and understanding them can make a huge difference for you and your business.


This term has gotten a lot of attention in recent years. “The cloud” is shorthand for cloud computing systems, and it simply refers to software and services that run on the internet instead of your computer. Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Flickr, Dropbox, and Netflix are all cloud-based services.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

This tool has gained considerable attention lately as well. It allows a user to remain anonymous while securely accessing resources through the internet by masking their location and encrypting traffic.

IP Address

This is especially important in tracking users who may attack your network in some way. This code is like a home address for your computer. When a computer wants to connect to another computer, it connects to that computer’s IP address.


This is where the need for world-class security comes into play.

Like breaching the wall of a fortress, a breach is when a hacker successfully exploits a vulnerability in a computer or device and gains access to its files and network. When this happens to very large companies, it usually makes the evening news as a headline story.


For managed IT service providers, this is the best line of defense attack a cyber attack.

Your firewall is a defensive technology designed to keep out anyone who’s not authorized to have access to your data. This traffic block can be either hardware or software.


You’ve seen this term dozens of times, and most likely as a pop-up box on your computer that your malware protection has expired.

Malware is an umbrella term describing any forms of malicious software intended to cause chaos on a computer. Viruses, trojans, and ransomware are all types of malware.


Have you ever opened a spam email by mistake and then needed to run to your nearest computer score? You probably allowed a virus to escape into your computer.

A virus is a program intended to invisibly alter data on a computer, usually for mischievous or destructive purposes. They can travel either across the internet or through hardware like diskettes.


This type of malware holds your data hostage for an attacker until you pay some sort of ransom. Typically, this type of attack will encrypt your data or files and demand a ransom be paid to have them decrypted or recovered.


This type of malware does exactly what it sounds like. Spyware allows a user to spy on your activity without your knowledge and can lead to activity monitoring, collecting keystrokes, and data harvesting.


This term is also known as spear phishing and refers to a technique used by hackers to obtain sensitive information by using hand-crafted email messages designed to trick people into divulging personal or confidential data. This can include such confidential information as passwords and bank account information.

Disaster Recovery

When disaster strikes, you need a plan.

After natural or human-induced harm (like a computer virus, a hacker attack, a fire, or natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods), disaster recovery is used to keep all aspects of a business functioning during a disruption. Disaster recovery in particular focuses on the IT or technology systems that support the functions of your business.


This term has made its way into pop culture, but the world of IT defines it simply as the measurement of the amount of data that can be transmitted over a network at any given time.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

In a pandemic world, many of us have come to appreciate working from home using our own equipment. However, for those bouncing back and forth between working from the office and home, continuity is crucial. But there is still a need to effectively manage personal devices used within a business to mitigate security risks, so a BYOD policy exists to set restrictions and boundaries on whether or not a personal device is allowed access to a corporate network.

Content Management

While content is king in today’s marketing world, you need a system to manage it. Enter content management – the tools, software, and processes that allow you to collect, manage, and publish information on any medium.

Two-Factor Authentication

This extra level of security may seem like an annoyance, but it’s going a long way to keep your data and network safe. It’s achieved when users receive a unique personal identification number (PIN) on their device following entering a standard username and password to gain access to a particular network.

Managed IT services designed for leaders in any industry

The world of information technology can be confusing, so let us navigate this ever-changing field so you can focus on your business. At Elemental Technology Solutions, we understand the unique needs of your industry and we know how to provide difference-making solutions so your team can get back to addressing the needs of your clients.

If you are ready to provide elite customer service, save money for your business, and increase your efficiency, it’s time to seek out a Tennessee-based managed IT provider. Elemental Technology Solutions handles all facets of your IT infrastructure, including IT support, voice solutions, network security, and compliance. ETS serves a wide range of industries, including banks and financial institutions, and healthcare-related organizations. Contact our Nashville or Knoxville, Tennessee, managed IT offices today to find out how to improve your company’s bottom line, free yourself of recruitment hassles, and increase the agility of your organization. Reach us online or by calling (888) 499-5898.