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Hello World! Introducing the Bishop Fox Cybersecurity Style Guide

Pamphlet of the cybersecurity style guide


Our newest revision, Version 1.1, is now available.

How do you pronounce SQL? Should you write denial of service with hyphens? Is it pen testing or pentesting? In the evolving world of information security, it’s hard to know who to turn to for answers to questions like these.

Through research and internal discussions over the last two years, we’ve come to a consensus about how to answer these kinds of questions for ourselves. We’ve compiled 1,775 security terms into one document that we’re calling the Cybersecurity Style Guide, and we’re very excited to share Version 1 of that guide with you today.

This style guide is not a dictionary—our goal here is to give guidance about usage, not to define the terms in detail. Each term in the guide earned its place by being unintuitive in some way:

  • It may be a homonym of a non-technical word (front door, Julia, pickling),
  • it may be uniquely written (BeEF, LaTeX, RESTful),
  • it may not follow a clear pattern (web page vs. website),
  • it may have a very specific technical distinction (invalidated vs. unvalidated),
  • or its meaning may differ depending on the audience and the day (crypto, insecure, PoC).

From malicious viruses to viral memes, our guide reflects the terms that security researchers are likely to use in their technical reports, blogs, and presentations—including the contentious use of cyber- in our very own style guide title:

Exert of cybersecurity  style guide

In addition to the mighty word list, the style guide offers advice on how to standardize your own terms, what terms to put in a monospace font, and where to go to learn more about these topics.

We hope that the guide is helpful to you, but this is just the beginning.

Brianne Hughes presented on the need for a style guide in cybersecurity at CactusCon 2017.

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Brianne Hughes

About the author, Brianne Hughes

Technical Marketing Writer

Brianne Hughes, a Bishop Fox alumna, is a technical marketing writer. Brianne led the compilation and curation of the Bishop Fox Cybersecurity Style Guide. She has spoken at CactusCon, SOURCE Mesa, and DSNA-21 about the guide. She designed and hosted SpellCheck: The Hacker Spelling Bee (based on the style guide) at The Circle of HOPE in 2018 and DEF CON 26. Brianne pursues research on cutthroat compound words and shares her linguistic findings at conferences. She is Assistant Executive Secretary for the Dictionary Society of North America (DSNA), an Odd Salon Fellow, and is on the board of directors for Wordnik Society, Inc.

Prior to joining Bishop Fox, Brianne worked as a freelance copy editor and as a technical editor for IHS Inc. Brianne holds a Master of Linguistics from the University of York.

More by Brianne

Catherine Lu

About the author, Catherine Lu

Technical Editor

Catherine Lu is a Technical Editor at Bishop Fox, where she edits client deliverables as well as internal documents. Catherine is a contributor and editor for the Bishop Fox Cybersecurity Style Guide and led the creation of the its spell check dictionary cyber.dic. She cohosted and helped plan SpellCheck: The Hacker Spelling Bee at DEF CON 26 and 27.

More by Catherine

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