25 Common IT Terms Every Business Should Know

 IT Terms

25 Common IT Terms Every Business Should Know

A list of 25 general IT, MSP, and cybersecurity terms your business needs to know.

Information technology (IT) is the collective hardware and software systems that share data using the internet. IT plays such an integral role in our personal and professional lives that it’s near impossible to function without it. From communicating with friends and loved ones to working with customers and clients, IT facilitates every aspect of keeping businesses and people connected with others. With IT so intertwined in our everyday lives, it’s essential to have a strong understanding of its primary parts. Here are 25 common IT terms that can help you better understand physical and conceptual elements you use for fun, work, and anything in between.

General IT terms

1. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is when a machine, computer, or program creates the resemblance of human intelligence processes. Tools like Microsoft Copilot and OpenAI's ChatGPT are newer examples of generative AI that can make text, images, audio, and other outputs.

2. Backup

A backup is a data set copied and saved in another location. Backups can contain full or partial data sets, and they should be created and tested regularly as part of a proper storage approach.

3. Business continuity and disaster recovery

Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) refers to preparations and processes that keep a business running during and after an operational disruption. Hurricanes and other severe weather events can lead to costly consequences if your company lacks a comprehensive BCDR plan. Most plans leverage the cloud and backups to guarantee your best chance at resiliency and recovery.

4. Cloud computing

Cloud computing is any program or service delivered through the internet. The cloud is intertwined with everyday life and exists in different models, with some offering more cost benefits than others.

5. Compliance

Compliance is when your business operates within industry standards governing your IT. Healthcare providers must achieve and maintain compliance with HIPAA when handling patient data, while public safety agencies follow CJIS guidelines, and service organizations must follow SOC compliance.

6. Endpoint

An endpoint refers to any device that connects to a network. Common examples of endpoints include computers, mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices that share data through the internet. The person who uses an endpoint is commonly referred to as the end-user.

Man working on client site

7. Infrastructure

In IT, an infrastructure is the collective system of hardware, software, and other tech components that equip your business with IT capabilities. While some hardware components are required, many companies rely on cloud infrastructure for their resilience.

8. Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of objects that use the internet to connect and share information. IoT devices often use sensors and software to collect and share data without human involvement.

9. Internet Protocol address

An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a number assigned to a device or network with an internet connection. You can find your device's IP address by typing "What is my IP address?" in an internet browser or searching your device's Wi-Fi settings.

10. Network

A network is part of your IT infrastructure and refers to the connection that carries transmitted data and resources between devices and programs. Networks can be as minimal as two computers or as all-encompassing as the entire internet.

11. Server

A server is a physical device, virtual machine, or dedicated software that routes, processes, and stores data for other computers or programs. While computers that share resources can be considered servers, they're more typically depicted as larger towers of hardware mounted on racks.

12. Virtual machine

A virtual machine (VM) is software that runs operating systems or programs like a physical computer would. VMs are often used to run operating systems on your computer that differ from what's installed, like a Mac running a Windows system.

13. Voice over Internet Protocol

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that enables you to make voice calls through various devices using an internet connection instead of a landline. Companies like Zoom offer VoIP services so businesses can manage multiple phone numbers.

MSP terms

14. Managed service provider

A managed service provider (MSP) is a third-party company that offers cost-effective, proactive solutions and support as an external IT department. MSPs come in different sizes, capabilities, and specialties, and their services range from partial support to full-blown managed IT.

15. Help desk

An IT help desk is a service where managed IT companies offer technical support to a business. There are various help desk models and alternatives, but most focus on resolving day-to-day issues that cause downtime and lost productivity.

Woman working on databases

16. Penetration test

A penetration test, also called a pen test, is an IT security assessment where ethical hackers conduct an authorized cyberattack on a business or organization's network. MSPs frequently use pen testing to ensure their cybersecurity measures thoroughly protect themselves and their clients.

17. Service level agreement

A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract-like document used by MSPs to outline the types and quality of support they offer clients. Typical SLAs detail timelines for service deliveries, applicable exclusions to what an MSP can provide, and how those services are reported and assessed.

Cybersecurity terms

18. Advanced threat protection

Advanced threat protection (ATP) is a type of solution built to protect your organization's data from more complex cyberattacks. For example, Microsoft Defender for Office 365 offers ATP solutions that promote security in email, Teams, and other Office 365 programs.

19. Antivirus

Antivirus software is a security program that conducts background scans of your device to mitigate cybersecurity risks such as viruses and malware. While antivirus can be used alone, it's often included as part of a security package that offers additional services with advanced coverage.

20. Cyberattack

A cyberattack is an unauthorized attempt to access your data with malicious intent by leveraging some form of IT security failure or vulnerability. Common cyberattack trends include ransomware, social engineering, and other tactics to wreak havoc on businesses.

21. Encryption

Encryption converts sensitive information into a secret code to protect its true meaning. Financial transactions and other business operations often involve encrypted data to prevent issues related to unauthorized access or data breaches.

Tech support

22. Firewall

A firewall is a security component that prevents unauthorized access to your network. While computers often have built-in firewalls, businesses use them as an additional measure to reinforce their overall cybersecurity posture.

23. Multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the process of logging into an account by providing multiple authentication elements from different sources. MFA typically uses a combination of passwords, one-time security tokens, and biometrics to ensure the person accessing the account is who they say they are.

24. Security information and event management

Security information and event management (SIEM) systems offer a central way to detect, analyze, and respond to potential network security threats. Programs like Microsoft Sentinel, a cloud-native SIEM, allow businesses to filter a high volume of data and prioritize alerts as needed.

25. Zero trust

Zero trust is a security approach commonly used with networks that only grants users access to the resources they need for their roles. Additionally, anyone on a company's customer or employee side must prove their identity through authentication in every session and access attempt.

Leave IT to the Wizards!

While this list is a helpful resource, it only scratches the surface of the various IT words and phrases that pertain to your business. Past the words themselves, thoroughly implementing each aspect to boost your efficiency and bolster your cybersecurity is no easy feat. Working with an MSP can be an effective solution, but many providers use "tech speak" in talking down to those asking for help while inconsistently delivering solutions.

At Bit-Wizards, our Managed IT Services (MITS) bring the human touch your business needs and deserves from your IT support partner. Our real-life Wizards are here to help whenever you need us, from fixing an employee's minor email issue to assessing and updating your company's BCDR plan. We pride ourselves on providing expert guidance and insights to our clients and transforming their perception of standard IT support.

Ready to experience magical managed IT for yourself? Contact us today.


Natalie Ewing, Content Writer
Natalie C. Ewing

Content Writer