In the expression “cyber crime” it’s clearly a standalone word rather than a prefix, so it’s not that much of a stretch.
Trump’s rhetoric has a wider tendency to use “the X” idiosyncratically, notably with social groups in a manner that sounds jarring.
“Cyberspace” is a general usage term to refer to the Internet (the physical communication backbones and the TCP/IP protocol that runs upon them, the World Wide Web (that is, the Internet-accessible information resources made available through Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and other application protocols), and the so-called “Internet of Things”, e.g. appliances which are accessible and controllable over the Internet. Trump is correct in the sense that a broken clock tells the time right twice a day; security of data, services, and especially devices controllable over the Internet is something we need to be heavily focused upon, and it is a tough problem, albeit largely because the existing protocols were not developed with security in mind and largely transmit data openly or using security protocols that are highly vulnerable to intrusion. The actual damage that could be done by a concerted cyberattack by a technically competent attacker could conceivably reach the tens of billions of dollars as critical services are shut down or overloaded, and without regular security assessments and upgrades our Internet-accessible services and devices will be about as secure as Windows 98.
Trump’s actual message, on the other hand, is purely word salad and he clearly has no understanding of the threat or intent to do anything about it. Actually securing against cyberwarfare attacks is something that crosses military, civilian government, and commercial interests and would frankly justify standing up a new Cabinet position and department-level agency to coordinate efforts, though if the Department of Homeland Security is any example it would be run as a jobs program for incompetents giving out mult-million dollar contracts to businesses providing farcical technology solutions to largely imagined problems while genuine threats go unaddressed.
The military (and hence their high tech contractors) is very much guilty of abbreviating all things related to computer warfare as “cyber”. Offense, defense, intel, counterintel, encryption, code-breaking, snooping, sniffing, etc. You name it and “cyber” is the DoD catchall word for it.
Much as “space” stands not for the airless void 100+ miles up , but for any and all military assets and missions there. e.g. “General Smith is our chief of Space.”
So now Admiral Jones is the chief of Cyber.
I’m not suggesting the DoD is doing something linguistically sound with that use of “cyber”. But they absolutely are using it that way.
It’s akin to, but not quite as weird as, USAF’s fixation on the word “air” after they first achieved independence from the Army in 1947. They’re not “police”, they’re “air police.” It’s not “training command”, it’s “Air training command”. etc.
I work in the cybersecurity world. I never hear anyone at my organization, from the most technical guys (black hat analysts) to the most non-technical (sales) use the word “cyber” by itself. Much like previous posters, it leaves the mind hanging on what SHOULD follow, like cyber-threat or cyber-security.
But, unfortunately, for our President Elect, this counts as one of his minor slayings of the language.
It broadly confirms my suspicion that although there may be a specialist, techie jargon use of the term, Trump’s use of the term is likely to be through unfamiliarity with the whole internet thing (which we of course know is different to the internet of things).
I have heard there is a current trend to adopt prefixes and adjectives as real words. Can’t track down the source, but I’m looking at you, “creatives”, as a prime example. I wish my job was an adjective, instead of a noun.