The Continuing Evolution of Cyber

I don’t think there is another word in the English language that provokes as much of an emotional response from information security professionals as much as ‘cyber’. In fact, half of the people who just read that last sentence are like yeah, but cyber is not a word it’s a prefix. (The other half probably just started giggling.) Unfortunately for them Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary have both recently listed cyber as a stand-alone word as an adjective with the definition ‘of, relating to, or involving computers or computer networks’ which to me is an extremely broad definition. The Cambridge, Macmillan and Longman dictionaries all still lists cyber as a prefix but I am sure they will upgrade it to full word status soon. Can official use as a noun, the cyber, be far behind?

Cyber is generally understood to have originated in the Greek word ‘ΚUßερυητης’ or ‘kybernetes‘ which originally meant helmsman, as on a ship, which came to mean ‘to steer’ and eventually ‘to govern’. Norbert Wiener chose this word when, in 1948, he entitled his book Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine It was Wiener’s work on the automatic aiming and firing of anti-aircraft guns during World War II that caused Wiener to investigate information theory. This was the first documented use of the word ‘cybernetics’ in English.

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