From A to ZSK: Taming IT Acronyms Gone Wild

NIST's New Guide Deciphers IT-Centric Abbreviations
From A to ZSK: Taming IT Acronyms Gone Wild
Except, perhaps for the military, no one seems more enamored with abbreviations and acronyms than IT professionals.

So, it shouldn't be surprising that NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) on Thursday unveiled NISTIR (NIST Interagency Report) 7581, System and Network Security Acronyms and Abbreviations. (Click here for a copy of the report.)

From A (address resource record type) to ZSK (zone signing key), the report lists 19 pages of abbreviations and acronyms commonly and uncommonly used within IT circles.

NIST says capitalization, spelling and definitions of acronyms and abbreviations frequently vary among publications. According to the report:

It is easy to understand why this happens. While some acronyms and abbreviations (e.g., WWW) have one universally recognized and understood definition within the domain of system and network security, others (e.g., IA, MAC) have multiple valid definitions depending upon the context in which they are used. Some acronyms bear little resemblance to their definitions, such as Modes of Operation Validation System for the Triple DES Algorithm (TMOVS). Others use unexpected capitalization or spelling (e.g., Electronic Business using eXtensible Markup Language [ebXML] and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD]).
As a result, acronyms, abbreviations, and their definitions may be inaccurately or inconsistently defined by authors, perpetuating errors and confusing or misleading readers.

NIST sees the report as helping reduce errors and confusion by furnishing the generally accepted or preferred definitions of a list of frequently used acronyms and abbreviations.

The only one-letter abbreviation to make the list - besides "a" - is "m" for meter.

The longest is nine letters: MMCmobile (MultiMediaCard Mobile).

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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