Download the Bishop Fox Cybersecurity Style Guide (Version One) Here

How do you pronounce SQL? Should you write denial of service with hyphens? Is it pen testing or pentesting? In the evolving world of information security, it’s hard to know who to turn to for answers to questions like these.

Through research and internal discussions over the last two years, we’ve come to a consensus about how to answer these kinds of questions for ourselves. We’ve compiled 1,775 security terms into one document that we’re calling the Cybersecurity Style Guide, and we’re very excited to share Version 1 of that guide with you today.

This style guide is not a dictionary—our goal here is to give guidance about usage, not to define the terms in detail. Each term in the guide earned its place by being unintuitive in some way:

  • It may be a homonym of a non-technical word (front door, Julia, pickling),
  • it may be uniquely written (BeEF, LaTeX, RESTful),
  • it may not follow a clear pattern (web page vs. website),
  • it may have a very specific technical distinction (invalidated vs. unvalidated),
  • or its meaning may differ depending on the audience and the day (crypto, insecure, PoC).

From malicious viruses to viral memes, our guide reflects the terms that security researchers are likely to use in their technical reports, blogs, and presentations—including the contentious use of cyber- in our very own style guide title:

In addition to the mighty word list, the style guide offers advice on how to standardize your own terms, what terms to put in a monospace font, and where to go to learn more about these topics. 

We hope that the guide is helpful to you, but this is just the beginning. There will be a Version 2, so please continue the conversation by emailing suggestions and improvements to [email protected].

Brianne Hughes presented on the need for a style guide in cybersecurity at CactusCon 2017. 
Brianne Hughes is a Technical Editor at Bishop Fox, a security consulting firm providing services to the Fortune 500, global financial institutions, and high-tech startups. Between deadlines, she and her fellow editors develop internal reference materials and provide ongoing training to consultants. Brianne holds a Master of Linguistics from the University of York. She continues to pursue her research on compound morphology and has shared her linguistic findings with Ignite Portland, SHEL/DSNA, and Odd Salon.