At a time when information security has gone beyond the standard protection of the home and individuals’ physical property, it is no secret that the term ‘cybersecurity’ is front and center in the Information Technology (IT) realm. It has become a symbol of modern technological advances of paramount interest, and in most cases, a focal point of discussion among individuals, small businesses and large corporate companies.
While there have been remarkable convergent views relating to certain grammatical usage that has to do with the internet/information technology, nothing has been more controversial than the terms; ‘Cybersecurity’ and ‘Cyber Security.’
But one may ask: what is the bone of contention?
The Source of the ‘Cyber-confusion’
When researching the term ‘security’ on the internet, it is common to come across lots of technically divergent views relating to whether criminal, defensive or offensive cyber activities in the scope of information technology should be called “Cybersecurity (one word) or Cyber Security (two words).” However, the reality is that ‘Cybersecurity’ and ‘Cyber Security’ mean the same thing.
For instance, According to TechTarget, the term: “Cybersecurity (which is based outright on American grammar/spelling choice) is the body of technologies, practices, and processes designed to protect computers, programs, networks and data from damage, attacks or unauthorized access. In the context of computing, the term security implies cybersecurity.”
On the other hand, Cyber Security is defined by the Economictimes (based on British grammar/spelling style) to mean: “the techniques of protecting computers, networks, programs and data from unauthorized access or attacks that are aimed at exploitation.”
From the above two definitions, both terms—Cybersecurity and Cyber Security—have the same meaning about Information Technology (IT).
So what is the source of the confusion?
Well, looking critically at the above two definitions, it is understood that while the TechTarget’s definition uses the single word pronunciation “Cybersecurity,” which is the American English version of the word, the Economictimes uses the two-word pronunciation “Cyber Security” which is the UK English version of the term.
Thus, the confusion relating to whether it should be “Cybersecurity or Cyber Security” purely emanates from trivial opinions among grammarians whose linguistic allegiance or choice of words are confined to the two dominant types of English pronunciation, spelling and word usage—the UK English version and the American English version. It is strictly a matter of personal bias.
That said, when should we use Cybersecurity or when should we use Cyber Security? The following illustration provides a possible answer.
When to use Cybersecurity or Cyber Security
Although both terms practically have the same meaning, the classic Military Cryptanalytics rule of solving technical writing as lay down by William Friedman and Lambros Callimahos suggest that ‘Cybersecurity’ and ‘Cyber Security’ have separate and independent usage.
Now, in applying the Friedman and Callimahos technical rule, the single word was only used when it was an adjective, and the two words were ONLY used when the word was the object of a noun.
Using ‘plaintext’ or ‘plain text’, you would see the following sentences;
According to Wikipedia,
- Plain text is public, standardized, and universally readable.
- Plaintext or cleartextis unencrypted information,
Now, using similar approach on ‘Cybersecurity’ and ‘Cyber Security,’ we would have;
- The Cybersecurity roadmap
- Cyber Security is vital for the availability and reliability of the essential infrastructure
But there are other examples such as the term smartphone. Originally, the term ‘smartphone‘ was written as two words, ‘smart phone.’ Today, the smartphone is correctly utilized as one word.
My personal thought, as an American with a grammatical preference, is I really like one word, ‘cybersecurity,’ rather than ‘cyber security’ or ‘cyber-security.’ I’m trying to make all of my writing be the same, so at least people will know my preference. I wonder if one of the terms will ever be agreed upon.
Linda Rawson, is the CEO, and Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, (http://DynaGrace.com) which is a Women-Owned, 8(a) Minority, Small Business. She is also the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts.
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