What is cyber? Definition and examples

The term ‘cyber’ is an adjective or prefix which means relating to or characteristic of information technology, virtual reality, and computers. If I say that today we live in a ‘cyber age,’ I mean an age of computers, virtual reality, or information technology.

When cyber is short for ‘cybernetics,’ it refers to the science of communications and automatic control in devices (machines) as well as living things. In fact, it originated in the 1980s as an abbreviation of cybernetics.

A cybernetic organism or cyborg, for example, is a living thing. A cybernetic organism is a being that has both organic and biomechatronic body parts. Biomechatronics means it integrates biology, mechanics, and electronics.

The Oxford Living Dictionaries has the following definition of cyber:

“Relating to or characteristic of the culture of computers, information technology, and virtual reality.”

Virtual reality is special computer software that creates simulations, i.e., pretend environments. Users wear helmets, googles, and sometimes special gloves with sensors and enter those virtual environments.

When ‘cyber’ is a separate word, it is an adjective, when it is part of a word, it is a prefix.

A prefix or adjective for many terms

‘Cyber’ is a prefix or adjective for many terms. A prefix, in this context, is a letter, group of letters, or word which we add to the beginning of a word. For example, if we add the prefix ‘in‘ to the word ‘dependent,’ we get ‘independent.’

When the term is a word on its own, before another word, it is an adjective, when it is part of a word, it is a prefix. For example, it is an adjective in the term ‘cyber space‘ and a prefix in the word ‘cyberspace.’

Below are some terms and their meanings which have the word as a prefix, adjective, or both.


Cyberspace or cyber space is the notional environment where communication over computer networks happens. It is the interconnected technology environment.

Initially, the term entered the popular culture from science fiction. Today, however, many people, including technology strategists, industry leaders, security professionals, and the military use it.

We use it to describe the domain of the worldwide technology environment.

Cyber attack

A cyber attack or cyberattack is any kind of offensive maneuver that targets computer information systems or computer networks.

A cyberattack may also affect personal devices, medical devices, and infrastructures. Laptops, mobile phones, and tablets, for example, are personal devices.

The person who initiates the attack, i.e., the cyberattacker, has malevolent intent. In other words, he or she intends to cause harm. In most cases, they are breaking the law. They aim to alter, steal, or destroy a specific target by hacking into a system.

Somebody who initiates a cyberattack is a hacker. Hackers are people who gain access to computers and systems by breaking password codes. They do this without authorization.

An e-mail bomb, for example, is a type of cyberattack. The attacker sends a massive number of emails to one system, literally ‘bombing’ it. The attack overwhelms the mailbox so that it shuts down.

Cyber crime

A cyber crime or cybercrime is a crime in which the criminal uses a computer and a network. The criminal may have used the computer to carry out the crime. He or she may also have targeted a computer.

Cybercrimes may threaten a country’s security. They may also threaten an entity’s financial health or even its very existence.

TechTerms.com has the following definition of cybercrime:

“Cybercrime is criminal activity done using computers and the Internet. This includes anything from downloading illegal music files to stealing millions of dollars from online bank accounts.”

“Cybercrime also includes non-monetary offenses, such as creating and distributing viruses on other computers or posting confidential business information on the Internet.”

Cyber Café

A Cyber Café or Internet Café is a café that also provides Internet access to customers. In most cases, the customer must pay a fee. The fee may be, for example, $10 for the first hour, $5 for the second, etc.

In some places, as long as you continue buying food and drinks, the Internet connection is complimentary.

The Electronic Café, in Seoul, South Korea, was the world’s first Internet café. It opened in March 1988.

As more people globally get full Internet connection and services with their smartphones, Internet cafés have lost their appeal.

There are hundreds of words

Today, there are hundreds of words in the English language with the prefix ‘cyber.’

Wiktionary lists the following words among more than 500: cyberactivism, cyberactivist cyberactivity, cyberaddict, cyberaddiction, cyberadvocacy, cyberaffair, cyberage, cyberagent, and cyberaggression.

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