The news that the US Department of Homeland Security has decided to compile a dictionary of computer weaknesses is good in three ways.
First, there is a pressing need for a common language in computer security. Biologists are still suffering from a 18th-century lack of agreement on how to name species; we can't afford to wait that long to sort out our own monstrous zoo. Then, there is no better way to fully understand a subject than to write a book about it — the insights the compilers are winning by creating the dictionary will help researchers for years to come. Finally, it's evidence that there are sane, intelligent beings inside the Department of Homeland Security, the subject of much heated debate among observers.
Such an excellent idea should be extended into other aspects of our industry, where diversity can so often lead to confusion. To that end, we are pleased to present our top ten list of new definitions for the 2007 Dictionary of Modern IT.
Bug Testing: The process of giving users software that bugs them and tests their patience to the limits
Cyber-terrorism: Controlling populations through online terror spread by marketing departments
Digital Rights Management: You lose your digits if you impose your rights on our management
Failsafe: Safe to assume that it will, at some point, fail
List: Ruse used by websites to generate traffic without the need for research or reality
Hacking: The type of cough developed by IT managers in poorly ventilated data centres when irritants seep through the firewall
Open Software: Proof that an infinite number of monkeys can write Hamlet, if you replace their typewriters with terminals
Open Standard: One that is open for all to use, provided they pay the standard fee
Viral marketing: Scare stories put out by security companies
Vista: Distant landscape that doesn't even come close
While this is a poor imitation of the Bible of all true IT reference works, the Devil's DP Dictionary, we feel the time is ripe to update the genre. Your contributions via Talkback will be greatly appreciated.