How to talk like an IT geek without really trying

How to talk like an IT geek without really trying

Are you confused by the language of information technology (IT) experts? Do you feel like an astronaut talking to aliens whenever you confront them? Don’t you wish there was a better way to understand what they’re talking about without getting a degree in computer science?

Fear not, dear reader, for help is at hand. We know IT can be difficult to understand, especially for small-business owners who have no technical background. That’s the reason we’ve put together this mini glossary of common IT terms for your reference.

Keep this glossary nearby and consult it from time to time in case a technology geek leaves you dazed and confused. This article won’t magically transform you into an IT expert, but it’s guaranteed to help you talk the talk and make you sound like one.

Cybersecurity – also called IT security or electronic information security. This means defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks.

Hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) – similar to leasing or licensing hardware. In a nutshell, this means that hardware belonging to a managed services provider (MSP) is installed at the client’s site and the responsibilities of both parties are contained in a service level agreement (SLA). This is different from managed hosting and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) where the hardware sits at the MSP’s site.

The HaaS model is a great way for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to acquire state-of-the-art hardware at a fraction of the cost. This may involve a monthly fee or it may be incorporated into the other services of the MSP.

What happens if the hardware breaks down or becomes outdated? The MSP decommissions or replaces it. Depending on the terms of the SLA, decommissioning may include wiping data, destroying hard drives, and recycling old equipment. For details, go to

Malicious attack – refers to any attempt to abuse or take advantage of someone's computer. This can be done using computer viruses, phishing, or other forms of social engineering (see below). For more information on online threats, visit

Managed services provider (MSP) – an outsourced third party that manages a customer’s day-to-day activities to improve operations. The overall managerial control remains with the client, who chooses which services will be outsourced and which will remain with the in-house staff.

In the typical break/fix model, companies call IT professionals only when there is a problem or when an upgrade is needed. Break/Fix companies charge organizations for consultations, repairs, and hourly labor that can add up to a large amount. What’s more, there is no way to prevent future problems since preventive measures may not be included.

MSPs often handle time-consuming, repetitive, or complex work and are used by large companies as well as SMBs. Their areas of expertise include IT, payroll, workforce management, procurement, and sourcing.

This service has become popular in recent years for many reasons. MSPs have the best tools, technology, and resources to streamline and update processes. They also have the knowledge and expertise to enhance productivity, reduce risks and liabilities, and help companies comply with government regulations and industry standards.

But the best part is MSPs allow business owners to save money. For a fixed monthly fee, they will take care of a company’s IT needs, reduce the dedicated workforce, provide 24/7 support and monitoring, keep the network safe from cybercriminals, and prevent costly downtimes that can cripple an organization. For more information, go to

Social engineering – a technique used by cybercriminals to trick people into giving confidential information like passwords or bank information. This can also be done when hackers install malicious software to control the user’s PC.

Social engineering attacks come in many forms. The ones responsible for 93% of successful data breaches are phishing attacks. These supposedly originate from a trusted source and tell a convincing story to compel the reader to divulge login credentials or sensitive information.

For example, you may get an email purportedly from a friend or relative who claims to have been robbed or is confined in a hospital in another country. The criminal then asks for help and tells the victim to send money.

Or the email looks like it came from your bank or another legitimate institution and requires you to verify information by clicking a link. This will lead you to a fake site where you are asked to fill out a form and provide personal or confidential information.

Another phishing attack will tell you that you won the lottery or another contest and must provide information like your bank details, address, phone number, or email to claim your prize. These are also called “greed phishes” because most victims want what is offered and fall for this ploy.

Capstone IT provides highly responsive computer IT network support, strategic guidance, managed services, and cloud services to organizations in Rochester and Buffalo in New York, and West Palm Beach, and the Treasure Coast in Florida. Email us at [email protected] to schedule a complimentary network consultation or contact us at

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