Cybersecurity Terms & Definitions

Making sure that remote learning is safe can require picking up a whole new vocabulary with unfamiliar words. Understanding what the most commonly used terms mean can help students, parents and teachers use tools to protect themselves and their schools online.

Adware: Software or code that shows unwanted ads such as pop-ups on a device

Anti-virus software: Software that tries to stop viruses or malware from attacking a computer or other device

Blog/blogging (or weblog):  A website that lets users keep a journal or diary on any subject they like and leave comments on other users' posts

Bookmark: A saved website that is part of a group or folder of other favorite websites on a browser

Browser: A website or program that lets users look around the internet (e.g., Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome)

Chatroom: A website or program that allows users to talk with lots of people at once, like texting on the internet instead of the phone

Cookie: A small packet of software that lets a website or browser track users by storing some of their information, such as what clothing online shoppers like  

Cyberbullies/cyberbullying: Harmful actions such as repeatedly making fun of and intimidating others online through email, texting, social media and even gaming apps

Cybercrime: Any illegal activity done on the internet

Cybersecurity: Anything done to protect computers, devices and software from cybercrimes 

Discussion boards: Websites that allow users to post comments and have conversations with other users, for example, in online classes 

Domain name: The part of an internet address after the final period that identifies the type of organization using a website (e.g., .gov or .com)

Download: Using the internet to send a copy of a file from one website, system, program, computer or device to another

Electronic footprint: An online record of all the websites a user visits and the emails a user sends, which can stay even after deleting their browser history and emails 

Electronic mail (e-mail): Letters and messages sent from one computer or device to another computer or device

File sharing: Software or a program that allows many users to access a computer file at the same time (e.g., Google Drive and Dropbox)

Firewall: A security system usually made up of hardware and software that blocks hackers, viruses and other malicious threats from a computer

Gamer tag: A user name or nickname a person uses while playing games online

Gaming: Playing games on the internet by oneself or with other players

Griefers: Internet gamers who intentionally cause problems and/or cyberbully other gamers

Hardware: Physical computer equipment and related machines and parts

History: A record of all the websites visited kept by a browser 

Homepage: The introductory page of a website

Identity theft: A crime in which personal information, such as credit card numbers and social security numbers, is stolen, often to take money

Instant message/messaging (IM): Private, real-time text conversations among users

Internet: The giant collection of computer networks that connects people and information all over the world

Internet service provider (ISP): A company that connects users to the internet

Malware: Malicious software or code used to steal information and damage devices 

Modem: An internal or external device that connects a computer to cables or other lines that let users access the internet 

Parental controls: Tools for parents, teachers and schools to manage how kids use the internet, such as blocking certain sites 

Phishing: A type of cyberattack in which someone pretends to be a trustworthy person, website or organization to get victims to share their username, password or other personal information 

Post: Putting information on the internet, whether through a video, discussion board, comment or other means

Search engine: A website used to search the internet (e.g., Google and Bing) 

Short message service (SMS): A form of text messaging between cell phones and sometimes between computers and cell phones

Social media: A program, app or website that allows users to share ideas, information and work together

Software: A program that runs on a computer

Spam: Any unwelcome and unwanted e-mail or junk mail, including repeated comments on another's post

Spyware: Software put on a computer to spy and collect and send information to cybercriminals 

Surfing: Looking around the internet, also called browsing

Texting: Sending short messages between computers and devices

Uniform resource locator (URL): The web address of a person, place or thing

Upload: Sending information from one device to another

Username: The name a person chooses to use to be recognized and identified online 

Virus: Code or software that can replicate itself, is usually sent through email attachments and can damage computers and hard drives

Webcam: A camera built into or attached to a computer that can send video online

Wireless: Connection between a computer and a modem on radio frequencies that allows accessing the internet without being connected to wires

(Source: Internet Safety 101)