What are you Talking About?

An IT dictionary for physical security pros


One of the most valuable skills for a security professional is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Effective communications begin with an understanding of topics being discussed or presented. Every industry has its own unique collection of terms, phrases and acronyms. Physical security professionals are familiar with terms like “bollard” and acronyms like CPTED. And now with convergence, physical security professionals must learn the language of the information technology professional as well.

For many, the thought of learning computer terminology conjures up images of very dry, highly technical manuals. Although reading such manuals is an option, it isn’t much fun, even for geeks. Fortunately, you can learn computer terminology quickly and easily, simply by using computer technology.

Use the Resources at Your Fingertips
You can start by using the “define” search parameter in Google. Simply type the following into the Google search box: define:unknown word. So if you heard someone use the acronym NIC, you would type define:NIC into Google, hit Enter and wait for the results. In very short order you would learn that NIC is short for network interface card, the integrated circuit board in your computer that lets it connect to the network. You will also discover that NIC is short for National Intelligence Council and network information center. Lesson: It is important to search through the results carefully instead of simply picking the first definition.

Another excellent source of definitions for technology terms is www.netlingo.com. The site features an alphabetical listing of terms, phrases and acronyms as well as a search capability. For those of you that would like to have a handier reference, you can purchase the dictionary of terms as an e-book or order the book NetLingo from Amazon.com. Another on-line resource is www.webopedia.com.

An alternative to these online resources would be to find a friendly IT professional and take him to lunch. Or better yet, take him out for a beer. He will get really animated and tell incredibly odd stories about technology and his favorite Star Wars character.

For those of you who find this to be an unacceptable method of learning technology terms, here is a collection of terms and their definitions to get you started.

DHCP n : dynamic host configuration protocol. This protocol provides IP addresses to computers that connect to a network. Most networks use DHCP to assign addresses, instead of manually configuring IP addresses on each system. If you want to continually connect to a particular device on a network, that device must have a static, or permanently assigned, IP address. If you use a dynamically assigned address through DHCP, you may not consistently be able to connect to the device.

giga•byte n : This term, like megabyte, terabyte and petabyte, is used to describe quantities of data on storage devices. Abbreviated GB. One GB is 1024MB, the equivalent of 694 floppy disks.
Security professionals need to understand that there are cheap, portable data storage devices that will store this much information and can be used to remove proprietary information from an organization.

geek n : someone who seems to inherently know and understand all IT-related terminology. Often used by unsophisticated computer users as a derogatory term. But geeks like being geeks, and highly technical geeks wear their geekiness as a badge of honor. As convergence progresses, physical security professionals should befriend one or two geeks to help them with the transition.

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