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TMA? Get Some Relief from Acronym Overload

I see and hear a variety of acronyms being used on a daily basis. I recently heard one tossed around with good humor that makes a point: TMA or Too Many Acronyms. Every once in a while, when I think I’ve embedded the definition and use of an acronym into my long-term memory (anything beyond an extended weekend), it seems as if either a new acronym was spawned, or it has been overloaded with a different meaning. My goal in this blog post is offer both a refresher on some topical acronyms that appear to be quite commonly circulated in security technology circles and media outlets. It is challenging to be a subject matter expert in every aspect of cyber security. Whether you are reading an article, joining a conversation or preparing for a presentation or certification in the realm of cyber security, you may not be completely perplexed by these acronyms when you come across them and become more familiar with them. For situational purposes, I organized the acronyms into categories where I have seen them used frequently and included related links for each of them.

Network Infrastructure

AAAAuthentication, Authorization, and Accounting. This is a set of actions that enable you to control over who is allowed access to the network, what services they are allowed to use once they have access, and track the services and network resources being accessed.

ACL/tACL/iACL/VACL/PACLAccess Control List. ACLs are used to filter traffic based upon a set of rules that you define. For ACLs listed with a prefix (for example, t=transit, i=infrastructure, V=VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network), P=Port)), these ACLs have special purposes to address a particular need within the network.

FW/NGFW/FWSM/ASASM: Firewall/Next Generation Firewall/Firewall Service Module/Adaptive Security Appliance Services Module. These products provide a set of security features designed to govern the communications via the network. Cisco provides firewall features as a dedicated appliance or hardware module that can be added to a network device such as a router.

IPS: Intrusion Prevention System. Typically, this is a network appliance that is used to examine network traffic for the purposes of protecting against targeted attacks, malware, and application and operating system vulnerabilities. In order to ensure the effectiveness of a Cisco IPS device, it  should be maintained using Cisco’s IPS subscription service.

DNSSECDomain Name System (DNS) Security Extensions. That’s right, we have an acronym within an acronym. These are the specifications for security characteristics that make it possible to verify the authenticity of information stored in DNS. This validation makes it possible to provide assurances to resolvers that when they request a particular piece of information from the DNS, that they receive the correct information published by the authoritative source. Read More »

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