Adware - A type of software that often comes with free downloads. Some adware displays ads on your computer, while some monitors your computer use (including websites visited) and displays targeted ads based on your use.
Anti-virus Software - Protects your computer from viruses that can destroy your data, slow your computer's performance, cause a crash, or even allow spammers to send email through your account.
ARPA - This stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense, and the agency that created the ARPANet.
ARPANet - A network started in the 1960’s by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to connect several research institutions and laboratories. The goal was twofold: first, to coordinate research among similar labs and second, to create a completely decentralized network. The Defense Department wanted a network that could withstand a nuclear attack on the U.S. Because the Net is decentralized, there is no central computer to knock out.
ASCII - The American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a standard way of representing text. ASCII text contains no formatting. This makes it handy for sending among computers on multiple platforms e.g., between IBMs and Macs. ASCII is the standard language of Internet e-mail and newsgroup text, among other things.
Bandwidth - A measure of the “speed” of an Internet connection.
Bizopps - Shorthand for “business opportunity;” some schemes involve extravagant and unfounded earnings claims and are actually fraudulent business ventures.
Blog - Blogs started primarily as an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog, Web log. Typically updated daily, Blogs often reflect the personality of the author and are now commonly used by businesses too.
Bookmark - An online function that lets you access your favorite websites quickly.
Browser - A special software that allows you to navigate several areas of the Internet and view a website.
Browser Hijacker - A common spyware program that changes your web browser's home page automatically, even if you change it back.
Bulletin Board / Newsgroups - Places to leave an electronic message or share news that anyone can read and respond to. Marketers or others can get your e-mail address from bulletin boards and newsgroups.
Cache - The Cache file in your browser remembers every Web site you have been to. This enables you to keep clicking on the browser’s “BACK” button to go to the pages you were at previously. If you are not going to use the information in this file after you log off, it is a good idea to get in the habit of clearing out the Cache at the end of every session. Many browsers also allow you to determine the Cache size.
CAN-SPAM Act - A law that prohibits senders of unsolicited commercial email from using false or misleading header information or deceptive subject lines, and requires they identify each email as an advertisement, among other provisions.
Chat Room - A place for people to converse online by typing messages to each other. (Once you're in a chat room, others can contact you by e-mail. Some online services monitor their chat rooms and encourage children to report offensive chatter. Some allow parents to deny access to chat rooms altogether.)
Chatting - A way for a group of people to converse online in real-time by typing messages to each other.
Cookies - A small text file that a website can place on your computer's hard drive to collect information about your activities on the site or to allow other capabilities on the site. If you revisit the site, the “cookie” file allows the website to identify you as a “return” guest — and offer you products tailored to your interests or tastes. You can set your online preferences to limit or let you know about “cookies” that a website places on your computer.
Cyberspace - Another name for the Internet.
Domain - A segment of Internet space, denoted by the function or type of information it includes; current domains include “.com” for commercial sites, “.gov” for governmental ones, and “.org” for non-commercial organizations.
Download - The transfer of files or software from a remote computer to your computer.
DNS - The Domain Name System, a standard way of stating Internet addresses. The system generally works like this: first, there is the name of the scheme with which you’re accessing the Net. For example, HTTP. Then a colon and two slashes, followed by the URL of the site you want to visit. There are specific ending addresses (called “top-level domains”, such as “com” in the above example) depending upon what the address refers to.
Drive-by Download - Software that installs on your computer without your knowledge when you visit certain websites. To avoid drive-by downloads, make sure to update your operating system and Web browser regularly.
DSL - Digital Subscriber Line: A means of accessing the Internet at high speed using standard phone lines.
E-MAIL - Computer-to-computer messages between one or more individuals via the Internet.
Emoticon (”Smiley”) - Certain characters that some people believe help express emotion in e-mail. The most common is :-). With a little imagination and a tilt of your head, you may see that this is a smiley face. All of these faces are to express different emotions. It is important when you email, that you use emoticons to relay the tone of your e-mail. If you crack a joke and don’t utilize a smiley, the other party may not know you are joking and may misinterpret your e-mail. Remember that those you e-mail do not have eye contact, tone of voice or body language normally used to set the tone in a conversation.
Encryption - The scrambling of data into a secret code that can be read only by software set to decode the information.
End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) - A provider's legal terms. You, as the “end user,” may be required to “click” to accept before you can download software.
Exposure - When sensitive data is released to someone without authorization.
Extended Service Set Identifier (ESSID) - The name a manufacturer assigns to a router. It may be a standard, default name assigned by the manufacturer to all hardware of that model. Users can improve security by changing to a unique name. Similar to a Service Set Identifier (SSID).
FAQ - Stands for Frequently Asked Questions and is a common term used on the Internet. When visiting a site looking for information the first place to check out is the FAQ. Most likely many of your questions, which have been asked by previous visitors will be listed for your reference.
Flame - A very harsh message from one person to another, normally in a newsgroup. They are often directed at newbies. The harshness in them is usually not intelligent commentary on a debate opponent’s opinion. Normally, it is just an insult hurled by a jerk. Huge “flame wars” can often erupt around volatile issues. It is always best to avoid these situations.
Filter - Software you can buy that lets you block access to websites and content that you may find unsuitable.
FTP - The File Transfer Protocol. This is one standardized way of transmitting files on the Internet. As with most services on the Internet, there are specific FTP servers containing specific types of files. FTP has become a verb. As an example you will hear people say “FTP it to your computer”.
Firewall - Hardware or software that helps keep hackers from using your computer to send out your personal information without your permission. Firewalls watch for outside attempts to access your system and block communications to and from sources you don't permit.
Gigabyte - A measure of computer memory equaling 1,024 megabytes.
Hacker - Someone who uses the Internet to access computers without permission.
Hardware - The mechanical parts of a computer system, including the central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, and mouse, as well as other equipment like printers and speakers.
Hidden Dialers - Programs that you may unknowingly download that can use your computer to silently dial expensive phone calls which later show up on your phone bill.
Home Page - A space on the World Wide Web. Many people and businesses refer to their Web Sites as their Home Page. Although recently, home page is not more likely to be used in the context of a personal noncommercial web site.
HTML - The Hypertext Markup Language, the standard way in which all World Wide Web pages are written. It is read using browsers such as Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer.
HTTP - The Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Much like FTP, this is just another way of sending material across the Net. HTTP is specifically used to send World Wide Web pages across the Net.
Instant Message (IM) - Technology, similar to a chat room, which notifies a user when a friend is online, allowing them to “converse” by exchanging text messages.
Internet Protocol (IP) - The computer language that allows computer programs to communicate over the Internet.
IP Address - A computer's “address,” it consists of a series of numbers separated by periods.
IRC - Internet Relay Chat, a method of conducting live chats on the Net. It is much like a CB radio, in that people can choose whichever channel they want and then chat with whoever is on that channel. This can mean thousands of people chatting at once. At times this is unmanageable. Many Web sites now offer Chats where additional software or plugins are not necessary.
Internet - The universal network that allows computers to talk to other computers in words, text, graphics, and sound, anywhere in the world.
ISP (Internet Service Provider) - A service that allows you to connect to the Internet. When you sign up (it takes special software and a modem), you'll be asked to enter a screen name, a secret password and your credit card number. Usually, online charges are billed to your credit card. Most providers allow you to review your monthly expenses online instead of sending you a separate itemized bill. If you note unexpected charges from your ISP, call for an explanation. If you're not satisfied with the explanation, or think you may be the victim of fraud, write a letter to your credit card company and your state Attorney General.
Java - A computer programming language invented by Sun Microsystems that enables web pages to include animations, calculators, scrolling text, sound effects, and games.
JPEG - Short-hand for “Joint Photographic Experts Group,” a computer file format that reduces the size of graphics by using compression.
Junk E-mail - Unsolicited commercial e-mail; also known as “spam.” Usually junk e-mail doesn't contain the recipient's address on the “To” line. Instead, the addressee is a made-up name, such as “email@example.com.” Or the address on the “To” line is identical to the one on the “From” line.
Keystroke Logger - A device or program that records each keystroke typed on a particular computer.
Keyword - A word you enter into a search engine to begin the search for specific information or websites.
Links - Highlighted words on a website that allow you to connect to other parts of the same website or to other websites.
Listserv - An online mailing list that allows individuals or organizations to send e-mail to groups of people at one time.
LAN (Local Area Network) - A network of connected computers that are generally located near each other, such as in an office or company.
Mailing List - A subject discussion area that is much like a newsgroup. The main difference between a mailing list and a newsgroup is that a mailing list is performed by e-mail, while newsgroups are not. People send messages about topics to a central computer, and then the mailing list program distributes the message to everyone else on the list.
Malware - Criminals sometimes use malware – programs like viruses and spyware – to get into your computer. Once there, they can steal information, send spam, and commit fraud. Learn to spot the signs of malware and what you can do to reclaim your computer and your electronic information.
Media Access Control (MAC) Address - A unique number that the manufacturer assigns to each computer or other device in a network.
MIME - Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, a protocol for attaching non-text files (e.g., graphics or programs) to e-mail messages. The only caveat to sending a MIME message is that the person receiving the message must have a MIME-compatible mail program (or MIME decoder), as well. Not all mail programs support MIME.
Modem - An internal or external device that connects your computer to a phone line and, if you wish, to a company that can link you to the Internet.
Monitoring Software - Programs that allow a parent or caregiver to monitor the websites a child visits or email messages he or she reads, without blocking access.
NCSA - The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Netizen - A term used to describe an Internet user who is aware of the culture and rules governing the Internet.
NETiquette - The Internet is a self-governing society. Knowing what is tolerated and/or allowed by the Internet Community will help you avoid being flamed. If you tour the Clinic and absorb the information contained herein you will be just fine. ;-)
Network - A group of two or more computers that are able to communicate with one another.
Newbie - A derogatory term on the Net meaning an inexperienced and obnoxious new user. The term refers to the brand of user who is unschooled in the Internets traditions, takes little time to learn them, and acts rudely.
Newsgroups / Groups - Another area on the Internet where you can post questions or join discussions. When joining a new newsgroup, watch the flow of messages for a few days to discern the group’s customs before contributing messages. This is called lurking.
NSF - The National Science Foundation, the agency which founded the NSFNET.
NSFNet - One of the “backbone networks” of the Internet.
Online Profiling - Compiling information about consumers' preferences and interests by tracking their online movements and actions in order to create targeted ads.
Online Service - An ISP with added information, entertainment and shopping features.
Operating System - The main program that runs on a computer. An operating system allows other software to run and prevents unauthorized users from accessing the system. Major operating systems include UNIX, Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
Opt-in - When a user explicitly permits a website to collect, use, or share his or her information.
Opt-out - When a user expressly requests that his/her information not be collected, used and/or shared. Sometimes a user's failure to “opt-out” is interpreted as “opting in.”
P2P, Peer-to-Peer - An informal network that allows users to share music, games, software, or other files with other users online.
Parental Controls - Tools that allow parents to prevent their children from accessing certain Internet content that they might find inappropriate.
Password - A personal code that you use to access your account with your ISP.
Phishing - Phishing is a scam that uses spam to deceive consumers into disclosing their personal information. Phishing is considered a two-step scam. First it steals a company’s identity and then uses it to victimize consumers by stealing their credit identities.
PPP - An abbreviation for Point-to-Point Protocol, a standard for connecting modems, specifically, to the Internet. It is the successor to SLIP.
Pop-up Messages or Ads - Unsolicited advertising that appears as its own browser window.
Public-Domain - While freeware is cost-free, the actual code to Public-Domain Software is available to anyone who wants it. Public-Domain software has been refined and modified possibly hundreds of times by people who have the ability to improve it.
RAM - Short-hand for “Random Access Memory,” it's the hardware inside your computer that retains memory on a short-term basis and stores information while you work.
Router - A device that connects two or more networks. A router finds the best path for forwarding information across the networks.
Screen Name - The name you call yourself when you communicate online. You may want to abbreviate your name or make up a name. Your ISP may allow you to use several screen names.
Search Engine - A function that lets you search for information and websites. Using a search engine is like accessing the main card file in a library, only easier. A few keywords can lead you almost anywhere on the Internet. You can find search engines or a search function on many websites.
Server - A central computer from which a particular service takes place. For example, there are FTP servers, Gopher servers, and WAIS servers. Servers are accessed by clients.
Sext - Text sex. Like phone sex but through text messages. (via sexually explicit pictures and dirty talking). To send suggestive text messages back and forth. Like cybersex, but with text. Sexting - A combination of the terms sex and texting) is the act of sending or posting sexually explicit photographs via cellular phones or over the Internet.
Shareware - Software for which users must pay a fee, after a certain trial period. The trial period is usually 30 days, and the fee is normally lower than the cost of commercial software. Most unregistered shareware is only available in a less-powerful version, with the full version available upon registration.
SLIP - An abbreviation for Serial Line Interface Protocol. SLIP is a standard for connecting modems, specifically, to the Internet. It has rapidly been succeeded by PPP.
Snail Mail - The online reference to U.S. Postal Mail.
Social Networking Sites - Websites that allow users to build online profiles; share information, including personal information, photographs, blog entries, and music clips; and connect with other users, whether it be to find friends or land a job.
Sock Puppet - A secret alias used by a member of an Internet community, but not acknowledged by that person.
Software - A computer program with instructions that enable the computer hardware to work. System software — such as Windows or MacOS — operate the machine itself, and applications software — such as spreadsheet or word processing programs — provide specific functionality.
Spam - This term refers to multiple e-mails sent to those who are not interested in what they have to offer. Compare spam to the junk mail you receive in your snail mail box. The Doctor strongly suggests you never send unsolicited e-mail to anyone. You WILL get flamed, you may even lose your ISP account as many Internet Service Providers will disconnect you when they receive complaints about you Spamming. Other Netizens will complain to your ISP. This practice is not tolerated by the Internet Community as a whole. How do you know when you have received SPAM?
Spammer - Someone who sends unsolicited commercial email, often in bulk quantities.
Spam Zombies - Home computers that have been taken over by spammers who then use them to send spam in a way that hides the true origin.
Spyware - A software program that may be installed on your computer without your consent to monitor your use, send pop-up ads, redirect your computer to certain websites, or record keystrokes, which could lead to identity theft.
Status Bar - This bar at the bottom of your browser’s window always indicates the status of your request. It indicates what percentage of the page, file or graphic is downloaded. Will reflect as “Done” when the downloading is completed.
TCP/IP - The standard for communication among computers connected to the Internet and stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. While it is a relatively slow protocol, it works wonders for intercommunication among different systems.
Trojans - Programs that, when installed on your computer, enable unauthorized people to access it and sometimes to send spam from it.
Troll - A Troll is an oiling troublemaker. What these onliners gain pleasure in doing is to do is posting inflammatory stuff to Blogs and discussion boards just to get people upset. They then sit back and watch everyone get mad and start posting emotional replies.
Unix - A standard for network operating systems. Unix has been around for 25 years, and comes in many flavors.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator) - The address that lets you locate a particular site. For example, http://www.ftc.gov is the URL for the Federal Trade Commission. All government URLs end in .gov. Non-profit organizations and trade associations end in .org. For example, http://www.naag.org is the URL for the National Association of Attorneys General. Commercial companies now end in .com, although additional suffixes or domains may be used as the number of businesses on the Internet grows. Other countries use different endings.
USENET Newsgroup - A place on the Internet where people can discuss any topic that comes to their heads. There are approximately 40,000 newsgroups, ranging from “alt.fan.rush-limbaugh” to “alt.fishing” to “chi.general.” See Newsgroups above for more information.
UUEncode/UUDecode - A method of putting binary files (graphics and/or programs) into an Internet e-mail or newsgroup message.
Upload - To copy or send files or data from one computer to another.
Virus - A file maliciously planted in your computer that can damage files and disrupt your system.
Website - An Internet destination where you can look at and retrieve data. All the websites in the world, linked together, make up the World Wide Web or the “Web.”
Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) - A security protocol developed to fix flaws in WEP. Encrypts data sent to and from wireless devices within a network.
Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) - A security protocol that encrypts data sent to and from wireless devices within a network. Not as strong as WPA encryption.
Wireless Network - A method of connecting a computer to other computers or to the Internet without linking them by cables.
World Wide Web - An Internet system which distributes graphical, hyperlinked information through a browser.
Worm - A program that reproduces itself over a network and can use up your computer's resources and possibly shut your system down.