IT Terminology List for Michigan Business Owners

Being a business owner means that you have to make technology-related decisions, even if you have an IT team. Knowledge is power, so let’s dive into some IT terminology that every savvy Michigan business owner should have in their toolkit:

co-workers around table using business technologyCloud Computing

Services—like storage, servers, databases, and software—available through the Internet. A popular offering, cloud-based storage makes it possible to save files to a remote database and retrieve them on demand. 


A network security device that monitors both incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic according to a set of security rules. It’s like the Mackinac Bridge toll booth, checking and controlling what is allowed to cross.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN is a technology that creates a safe and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the internet. When using a VPN, your data and browsing history are hidden from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), making it a crucial tool for maintaining online privacy. 

Particularly for remote workers, a VPN is advantageous as it allows them to securely access the company’s internal network from outside the office, mitigating potential cybersecurity risks. This gives employees the flexibility to work from any location while effectively protecting sensitive company data from possible threats, such as hackers or malware.


Short for malicious software, this is any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client, or computer network. There are numerous kinds of malware and understanding the IT terminology for the most prevalent types can empower you to better protect your organization. Here’s a quick guide: 

Viruses are one of the most common forms. As the name suggests, these have the ability to replicate themselves and spread from host to host, causing damage by deleting files or corrupting systems. 

Trojans, named after the Trojan horse from Greek mythology, appear harmless but carry malicious codes. Unlike viruses, they don’t replicate themselves but pave the way for other malware to enter the system.

Spyware operates silently in the background, monitoring user activity and collecting personal data, posing severe privacy concerns.

Ransomware encrypts the user’s data and demands a ransom for its release. Even if the ransom is paid, there is not guarantee the bad actor will return the data. 

Recognizing malware usually involves noticing unexpected system slowdowns, frequent crashes, and unsolicited pop-ups. Regularly updating your operating system and applications, running up-to-date antivirus software, and being cautious about unsolicited attachments can help protect against such threats.


Phishing is a cybercrime that involves tricking individuals into revealing sensitive information or installing malware by sending fraudulent emails or text messages. These messages often appear to be from legitimate sources, such as banks or other businesses, and request personal information, such as login credentials or credit card details.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

A user-friendly security process in which the user provides two different authentication factors (like a texted code or biometric data) to verify themselves. This method adds an additional layer of security and is akin to having both a key and a security code to access a safe.


Encryption converts data into a code to prevent unauthorized access. Encryption is essential for protecting sensitive data, such as credit card numbers or personal information, from being stolen or manipulated. It’s like writing a secret message in code that only the intended recipient can decipher.

Solid-State Drive (SSD)

A type of mass storage device similar to a hard disk drive (HDD). SSDs, however, use flash-based memory, which is much faster.  This results in improved performance, faster boot times, and quicker file transfers. 


Refers to the amount of data that can be sent over a network connection in a given amount of time. Higher bandwidth allows data to be transferred at a faster rate and is like adding more lanes to a highway, reducing traffic and ensuring faster travel times.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Think smartwatches, smart homes, a connected car—these objects use sensors, software, and other technologies to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet. 

IoT has become so prevalent that it’s estimated there will be over 41.6 billion connected devices by 2025. From smart homes and wearables to industrial machinery and vehicles, the IoT has transformed the way we interact with technology. 

Software as a Service (SaaS)

A method of software delivery and licensing in which software is accessed online via a subscription, rather than bought and installed on individual computers. 

Instead of buying expensive software and dealing with updates and maintenance, businesses can subscribe to SaaS applications and access them from any device with an internet connection. This model has become increasingly popular as it offers flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.

Application Programming Interface (API)

A set of protocols for building and integrating application software. APIs allow different applications to communicate with each other, enabling developers to create new products and services by leveraging existing technology. 

APIs are crucial for modern businesses as they facilitate seamless integration of processes and systems, leading to increased efficiency and productivity.

Data Breach

Of course, we all know this IT term, but it’s still worth mentioning as a reminder of the importance of cybersecurity. A data breach occurs when sensitive information is accessed or disclosed without authorization. It could be due to hacking, phishing, malware attacks, or even employee negligence. 

Data breaches can have far-reaching consequences for businesses and individuals alike, including financial losses, legal implications, and damage to reputation.

User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX)

UI refers to the visual elements of a program or website, while UX is about the overall feel of the experience. Good UI/UX design is crucial for creating positive user interactions and experiences with products and brands, leading to increased satisfaction and customer loyalty.


It’s like a filing cabinet for your digital files, storing and managing data for your business, and leaving them available for you to access when needed.

Common Angle Helps Michigan Businesses Succeed 

When you have a grasp on basic IT terminology, you can make better decisions for your company’s growth and overall well-being. So, if you’re ready to navigate the IT landscape like a seasoned Michigander navigates lake-effect snow, consider partnering with Common Angle to keep your business tech-savvy and running smoothly.

As Michigan natives, we’re dedicated to helping our fellow business owners thrive in the ever-evolving world of technology. Contact us today to learn more about our IT services and how we can help you use technology to your advantage.