In the Know: Cyber vernacular

By Gavin Smith, Valeska Bloch
Cybersecurity & Privacy Data Financial Services Health Media, Advertising & Marketing Technology Telecommunications

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has recently considered an early draft of a document defining a new 'cyber lexicon' at a roundtable hosted by Alastair MacGibbon, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security. The document, titled 'Words Matter: Australia's Cyber Security Lexicon' aims to improve clarity in government communications about cyber security.1

The draft considers 'contentious' cyber security terms that belong to the commonly used, but perhaps not properly understood, cyber vernacular, including: cyberattack, cyber terrorism, cyber warfare, cyber war, cyber weapons and active cyber defence. The draft recognises that these terms are sometimes sensationalist, confusing and have been used to describe a wide variety of activity with differing sophistication and impact.

The draft also addressed whether 'cyber' could be used as a noun or verb, preferring that the term be limited to use as an adjective or a prefix. One point that the roundtable clearly agreed upon was that hyphens have no place in the cyber vernacular.


  1. Stilgherrian, 'Australia to try taming unruly cyber words' ZDNet, 14 August 2017.