Deciphering Tech Jargon – What is the “Cloud” and Other Common Tech Terms

Deciphering Tech Jargon – What is the “Cloud” and Other Common Tech Terms

In any industry, there are common words that are used so frequently that they are hardly ever explained. Here are some of those ideas explained:

2 Factor Authentication

2 Factor Authentication (or 2FA) is a way to make giving access more secure. There are 5 different types of factors: knowledge, possession, inherence, location, and time. The first three are usually the types used in 2FA and the other two are added in Multi-Factor Authentication.

  • Knowledge factors are ones that the user must know to gain access. This would include usernames, passwords, PINs, and other personal information.
  • Possession factors use items that must be in the user’s possession. This would include sending a code to a phone to prove the phone is in the user’s possession, or sending an email and requiring the user to verify the email.
  • Inherence factors come from the user directly. Using a fingerprint or a facial scan to identify the user when they log in falls into this category.
  • Location factors check the location of the user when logging in. For example, say there were two different login attempts: one in the country that the user has logged in before, and then one in a county across the world. If they were within an amount of time that the user couldn’t get to the second location, then that login is suspicious and most likely a hacking attempt.
  • Time factors, similar to location factors, check the time when the user is logging in. If the website knows what time zone the user works in, and the time when they work, it can flag a suspicious login attempt outside of the normal times.

For it to be 2FA the website or application must use at least two of the above factors. Most of the time the first factor is knowledge: knowing the username and password. Having an extra layer of security greatly decreases the risk of an attack.

The Cloud

The Cloud is a global network of servers that store information and data that can be accessed from anywhere. It removes the hassle of having to move files around using a hard drive or a USB. As long as a user has access to the internet, they can access their files.

Some examples of this are Google Drive, Dropbox, and Netflix. In all of these, the files that the user is accessing are not physically located on their hard drive. They don’t even need to download what they want to access. This is because the documents are sourced on the server, so they just need to load. It works in the same way as social media; you don’t have to download a picture or a status to view it.

There is a difference of opinion on where the name comes from. It could be because the idea is similar to a cloud: it exists and we can access it, but we don’t really have control over it. Most people believe that it comes from the fact that the old symbol we used to use to represent the internet was a cloud. Wherever the word came from, the cloud is essential for our current way of living.


This article was written by Heather Bowers, a graduate of West Chester University, who is interning with Kistler Tiffany Benefits.