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Here is an alphabetical list of common technical terms and words.


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.


Software that fundamentally disregards a user's choice about how his or her computer or network connection will be used. Some badware is specifically designed for criminal, political, and/or mischievous purposes (See Malware). Some badware is not malicious in its intent, but still fails to put the user in control.


A measure of the "speed" of an Internet connection.

Blocking Software

A program to filter content from the Internet and restrict access to sites or content based on specific criteria.


Short for "web log," a site where you regularly post personal observations.


A web browser feature that allows you to save the addresses of interesting or frequently used websites, so that you can readily revisit them.


A number of different methods used for high speed Internet access such as DSL, cable modems, fiber optics, and mobile wireless, all of which are permanently connected to the Internet through different means.


A program that allows a user to find, view, hear, and interacts with material on the Internet.

Browser Hijacker

A common spyware program that changes your web browser's home page without the user's knowledge, even if you change it back.

Buddy List

A list of people who you can chat with through an instant messaging program.


A form of computer memory that allows you to access stored information, such as web addresses you've recently typed into your browser, more quickly. Pronounced "cash."


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

An online space where you can meet and exchange information through messages displayed on the screens of others who are in the "room."


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 the site to remember information about you and your activities.


The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act; it gives parents control over what information websites can collect from their kids under 13.


Bullying or harassment that takes place online; includes posting embarrassing pictures or unkind comments on a person's profile or sending them via instant message or email.


Used to distinguish the physical world from the digital or computer-based world.


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.


To copy files from one computer to another over the Internet.

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.


Digital Subscriber Line: A type of high speed Internet using standard phone lines and the local telephone network. DSL is almost always slower than cable modem or fiber optics.

Dumpster Diving

Thieves rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper that includes your personal information.


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.


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).


Software that screens information on the Internet, classifies its content, and allows the user to block certain kinds of content.


Hardware or software that blocks unauthorized communications to or from your computer; helps keep hackers from using your computer to send out your personal information without your permission.


A measure of computer memory equaling 1,024 megabytes.


"Global Positioning System," a global navigation satellite system that is used in cars or phones to determine location and provide directions.


Someone who uses computers and the Internet to access other people's computers without permission.


Breaking into a computer or network by evading or disabling security measures.


The mechanical parts of a computer system, including the central processing unit (CPU), monitor, keyboard, and mouse, as well as other equipment like printers and speakers.

Instant Messaging (IM)

Enables two or more people to chat in real time, and notifies you when someone on your "friends list" is online.

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.


A computer programming language invented by Sun Microsystems that enables web pages to include animations, calculators, scrolling text, sound effects, and games.


Short-hand for "Joint Photographic Experts Group," a computer file format that reduces the size of graphics by using compression.

Keystroke Logger

A device or program that records each keystroke typed on a particular computer.

LAN (Local Area Network)

A network of connected computers that are generally located near each other, such as in an office or company.


Short for "malicious software;" includes viruses and spyware that steal personal information, send spam and commit fraud. (See Badware.)

Media Access Control (MAC) Address

A unique number that the manufacturer assigns to each computer or other device in a network.

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.


A group of two or more computers that are able to communicate with one another.

Online Profiling

Compiling information about consumers' preferences and interests by tracking their online movements and actions in order to create targeted ads.

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.


Software downloaded to fix or update a computer program.


Personal Digital Assistant; can be used as a mobile phone, web browser or portable media player.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File-Sharing

Allows you to share files online — like music, movies or games — through an informal network of computers running the same sharing software.


Pharming takes place when you type in a valid Web address and you are illegally redirected to a website that is not legitimate. These 'fake' websites ask for personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information.


When scam artists send spam, pop-ups or text messages to trick you into disclosing personal, financial or other sensitive information.

Pop-up Messages or Ads

Unsolicited advertising that appears as its own browser window.

Privacy Settings

Controls available on many social networking and other websites that you can set to limit who can access your profile and what information visitors can see.


A personal page you create on a social networking or other website to share information about yourself and communicate with others.


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.


A device that connects two or more networks. A router finds the best path for forwarding information across the networks.

Security Software

Identifies and protects against threats or vulnerabilities that may compromise your computer or your personal information; includes anti-virus and anti-spyware software and firewalls.

SEO Poisoning

Fraudsters are taking advantage of search engines popularity and use top search terms as a vehicle to drive consumers to malicious fake websites. They prey on search terms that are timely — like The Winter Olympics, Haiti Relief, or never ending celebrity drama. As soon as a malicious campaign is recognized and removed from search results, the attackers automatically redirect their botnets to another new timely, term.

Smart Phone

A mobile phone that offers advanced capabilities and features like a web connection and a portable media player.


This is a new scam in which you get a short text message on your cell/smart phone. It usually asks you to call a specific toll-free number. It's answered by a fake automated message and they will be trying to get your account information.


"Short Messaging Service"; technology that allows text messages to be sent from one mobile phone to another.

Social Engineering

The intent of manipulating people into carrying out actions or disclosing confidential information, rather than using technical hacking or breaking in a computer system.

Social Networking Site

A website that allows you to build a profile and connect with others.


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.


Unsolicited commercial email often sent in bulk quantities.


Someone who sends unsolicited commercial email, often in bulk quantities.

Spam Zombies

Home computers that have been taken over by spammers without the consent or knowledge of the computer owner. The computers are then used to send spam in a way that hides the true origin.

Spear Phishing

This is a sneaky attempt by scammers to hijack the personal computers of top-ranking executives such as CEO's and Board Members, basically high-worth individuals. A phishing technique that leverages Social Engineering and may contain personal details to trick individuals into thinking the email is genuine.


Spoofing is when an attacker masquerades as someone else by providing false data. Phishing has become the most common form of Web page spoofing. Another form of spoofing is URL spoofing. This happens when an attacker exploits bugs in your Web browser in order to display incorrect URLs in your browser location bar. Another form of spoofing is called "man-in-the-middle". This occurs when an attacker compromises the communication between you and another party on the Internet. Many firewalls can be updated or configured to significantly prevent this type of attack.


Loaded on to your computer unbeknownst to you, spyware is a type of program that watches what users do and forwards information to someone else. It is most often installed when you download free software on the Internet. Unfortunately hackers discovered this to be an effective means of sending sensitive information over the Internet. Moreover, they discovered that many free applications that use spyware for marketing purposes could be found on your machine, and attackers often use this existing spyware for their malicious means.


Programs that, when installed on your computer, enable unauthorized people to access it and sometimes to send spam from it.


Fraudsters like to get maximum impact for minimum effort and they are hitting the jackpot with social networking sites. The explosive growth of traffic on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and the nature of interactions on social sites lend themselves to infecting more people in a single stroke. The goal of the fraudsters is to trick the recipient into thinking they are getting something trusted from a friend.


To copy or send files or data from one computer to another.


Malware that sneaks onto your computer often through an email attachment — and then makes copies of itself.


Vishing is a type of phishing attack where the attacker uses a local phone number in the fake email as a means of obtaining your sensitive information. The goal is to fool you into believing the email is legitimate by instructing you that responding to the request by phone is safer than responding by email and shows authenticity. The unsuspecting caller is then tricked through an automated phone system to relinquish their sensitive information.


A video camera that can stream live video on the web; may be built into the computer or purchased separately.


This is a sneaky attempt by scammers to hijack the personal computers of top-ranking executives such as CEO's and Board Members, basically high-worth individuals. A phishing technique that leverages Social Engineering and may contain personal details to trick individuals into thinking the email is genuine.

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 accessing high speed Internet without the computer being linked by cables.

World Wide Web

An Internet system that distributes graphical, hyperlinked information through a browser.


A program that reproduces itself over a network and can use up your computer's resources and possibly shut your system down.