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Top 30 Internet & Tech Terms for Dummies

tech terms, computer and internet terms explained for dummies

With so much information these days and so busy life, it’s only natural not to know lots of things. There’s always more to learn, as every passing second adds to the complexity and vastness of the information available on the internet. But to be educated about modern tech terms, especially having something to do with the internet, is vital today.

In this post, we gathered the most popular tech terms about the internet, including essential computer terms, and explained them in plain language for ‘dummies’. You will finally clarify for yourself what is VoIP, protocols, SSL certificate, the difference between HTTP & HTTPS and much more.

Here’s our list of 30 most popular tech terms on the internet today, with helpful links for further reading.

1. The distinction between the internet and the web

We’ll start with the most popular tech term on the internet concerning, well, the internet.

The internet was first recognized as a project in American military in 1960s. Since then, it became well renowned in the massive public through which no single organization takes full control or ownership of it. It is simply defined as the broad computer network interconnection and comprised of countless computing devices.

Another popular tech term nowadays is Word Wide Web, or simply web. It refers to the extremely known portion of the internet and can be viewed through browser software called web browser.

The internet and the web are arguably the most popular computer and tech terms people become often confused about.

The internet, or sometimes referred to as net, has reached the spectacular world of private sectors, entrepreneurial broadcasters, government agencies and institutions, and non-profit organizations. The internet is the home to all kinds of information.

2. ISP

An Internet Service Provider, or ISP, is one of the internet terms that is also used by IT companies. Such companies are capable of providing users with an internet access right from the computer devices.

ISP makes the internet useful. Thus, users must subscribe with an internet service provider in order to have an internet connection. ISP maintains cabling, network services, and numerous technicians for various subscribers.

ISP serves as a gateway to the internet connection. Once the connection has been set up and activated, users can start shopping online, researching, sending emails and more. It is the link between the computer and other internet servers.

In order to provide you with online access, however, your ISP is able to see the data you obtain from whatever websites you visit. This data can be potentially used against you.

The problem is that ISP snoops on you and all your online activities. So it’s never a bad idea to educate yourself on what you can do to protect your online privacy.

3. Broadband connection

Broadband connection is one of the contemporary tech terms that people often encounter online. A broadband connection is a high-speed data transmission wherein single cables carry a huge data amount at once. Cable modems and DSL modems are the most popular forms of internet broadband connections.

A broadband has numerous channel capacities and it replaced baseband, or single-channel technology.

4. Routers

Our next computer term is routers, also known as router-modem combinations. Routers are hardware devices that serve as a traffic cop to achieve network signs into a home-based connection. They are available in wireless and wired or both. They provide redirection services of identifying which printer or computer must obtain signals into the home. At the same time, they are useful in preventing hacking attempts from other sources.

If a router-modem or router has been configured accordingly, the speed of the internet becomes fast while hackers are then locked out. However, if the router has been poorly configured, there will be sluggish network and hackers may have a chance for an intrusion.

5. IP address

Tech term: what is IP address

One of the most popular internet terms for beginners is IP address. An IP address has been one of the best products of advanced computer technology. IP is the abbreviation for internet protocol which refers to the set of rules facilitating various action completions and governing internet activities on the web. It makes 2-way communications more possible regardless of the destinations and devices used.

It has been developed to allow a computer device or any digital device to get connected to another device using the internet. With an IP address, digital device locations connected to the internet will be differentiated and pinpointed from some devices.

An IP address can be classified as dynamic or static. A static IP address does not change. It is the permanent internet address that gives reliable and simple means of contacting you. Static IP addresses are there to reveal some basic details such as the city, region, country and continent.

A dynamic IP address is only temporary and it is assigned whenever a computer tries having an access to the internet. It is borrowed from various IP addresses that have been shared with distinct computers. In fact, dynamic IP addresses are more secured as compared to static IP addresses. It is due to the reason that they provide easier tracking of data mining purposes.

6. DNS

Surely you hear this tech term a lot, but do you actually know what it means?

As computer devices communicate via the internet, DNS are sending messages to one another just like any postal services. Thus, they also require the address that they are about to send the information to.

DNS is simply defined as a process transmitting things that cannot be understood on the internet. It acts as a distributed and huge database. There are many DNS servers working in a system while there are a limited number of root servers available. Today, there are several companies that provide services to connect DNS to people’s gaming servers or home web servers. They make the process easy and hassle free.

There are also certain issues encountered in dealing with DNS. In order to resolve them, the Domain Name System (DNS) has been set up. Today, it is a major service used to fulfill the use of internet and make web browsing quicker, more convenient and more reliable. Many ISPs have operated local DNS servers. These DNS servers can store copies of an IP address for a particular website that the customer visits.

7. Ports and port forwarding

Network ports have been the collection of numerous tiny electronic lanes. These comprise the network connection. Each computer device got 65,536 tiny ports. In these ports, internetworking data will travel back and forth.

Through the use of a port management tool, such as hardware routers, users have the opportunity of taking a full control over their port access. In this way, they can obtain better protection against hackers.

In addition, port forwarding refers to a semi-complex technique used in opening specific ports in the network. It is important that port forwarding is performed in increasing the speed level of online connections and downloading. Once everything is set up, it will be easier for you to use teleconferencing and gaming.

8. Protocols

Computer term: Internet protocol

Protocols are the specific sets of rules in communications. They exist whenever computers try to communicate with one another. There is a need for a common set of instructions and rules that a computer should follow. Since there are various methods of communicating via computer devices, there are also various protocols available. Some examples include HTTP, FTP, TCP/IP, and SLIP. Other extremely popular protocols include instant messaging, email, Telnet, and World Wide Web.

9. Voice Over Internet Protocol

Voice Over Internet Protocol is simply known as VoIP. It is the telephone connection performed over the internet. Instead of analog telephone lines, the data will be sent through an internet protocol.

To utilize VoIP, it requires a computer device, a good internet connection, and some VoIP software. Other essential things include analog telephone adapter, VoIP telephone, or microphone. There are distinct VoIP programs around and they may ask for different requirements.

VoIP is also called as internet telephony, digital phone, and IP telephony. At present, there are several VoIP service providers that come in free and charged service programs.

10. DHCP

Another interesting term among internet terms is the DHCP. This is short for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. This is the protocol that will automatically assign unique IP address to the device connecting to the network. DHCP has its widespread support and is easy to use.

11. HTTP

HTTP is a short term for HyperText Transfer Protocol. Such protocol has been used in transferring data across the World Wide Web. This is the reason why each website address comes with “http://”. Every time users type the URL into their browsers and press Enter, the computer device will be sending HTTP requests to the right web server. A web server handles all HTTP requests and sends to the users the corresponding webpage.


Internet term: SSL encryption, the difference between HTTP & HTTPS

HyperText Transport Protocol Secure, or simply HTTPS, is closely similar to HTTP. However, this time, HTTPS makes use of SSL (secure socket layer). It is used for high level of security purposes. There are websites that make use of HTTPS, such as investment and banking sites and e-commerce sites.

Websites using standard HTTP protocols are receiving and transmitting data in unsecured processes. It implies that someone might have an access to the data transferred between a web server and a user. HTTPS protocol is used by secured websites for encrypting data that are sent back and forth using SSL encryption.

13. Some facts about SSL

The SSL certificate is also known as the secure certificate. This refers to the file installed on the secure web server that distinguishes the site. A digital certificate creates authenticity and identity of a merchant or company. In this way, online shoppers will feel confident that a particular site is safe, secured and reliable.

The digital certificate is there to verify the current status of the company. Thus, they will not last for a lifetime. On the other hand, the SSL certificates will expire in 1 to 3 years. Once a certificate has not been renewed, there will be an alert box seen and it indicates “This website’s certificate has expired”.

14. The proxy server

Proxy server, or simply proxy, is an essential term from computer vocabulary A–Z every modern user should know because proxy plays a crucial role in the online industry.

The proxy server refers to the computer designed to provide computer network services. It allows users to perform indirect connections within the network to the rest of the network services. The users will connect to a proxy server and request for file, connection or other resources on distinct servers.

One of the most typical proxy applications is the caching web proxy. It is offering nearby files and webpage cache that can be found on some remote web servers. It then allows local network users to have an access to it reliably and quickly.

In addition, web proxies are capable of filtering webpage content served. Certain censorware applications are designed to block any offense website content and these are implemented as the web proxy.

CGI proxies are the special cases of web proxies. These are basically websites allowing users to have an access to the website through them. In general, they are using CGI or PHP for implementing proxy functionality.

15. P2P

P2P stands for peer-to-peer and this is the most voluminous activity online in this present generation. P2P file sharing is about the cooperative file trading which involve numerous individual users. The participants will initially install special software on any computer device. Then, they will be sharing music, ebooks, software files or movies with one another. Users can trade files from one megabyte up to several gigabytes by means of downloading and uploading.

Such activity is completely a legitimate past time; however, it is also controversial. This is due to the reason that there are various copyrighted movies and songs trade hands using P2P file sharing.

16. Cookies

Cookies is another vaguely understood term from basic computer terminology for beginners. Cookies are the small data amounts that are generated by a particular site and are saved by the web browser. Cookies are developed with the main purpose of remembering details about the user. This acts closely like the preference file developed by the software applications.

A cookie can perform various functions but the most common one is storing login details for a certain website. There are websites that save both the password and username in the cookie. In addition, they are also capable of storing user preferences on specific sites. For example, some financial sites have been using cookies in order to save all recently browsed stock quotes.

The browser cookies are classified into two: persistent and session. The session cookies have been temporary only and they can be deleted whenever a browser does not work. Such kinds of cookies have been typically utilized by sites that are focused on e-commerce. With this type, they can store items in the shopping cart.

The persistent cookies have been developed for an extended period of data storage. Every persistent cookie will have its expiration date. After reaching the date of expiration, cookies will be automatically deleted. The persistent cookie will allow sites to remember the user for weeks, months or any extended amount of time.

17. Captcha

Internet terms: Captcha example

The captcha refers to the program used in verifying a human person that enters the data than computer devices. It is typically viewed at the final portion of certain online forms. It requires users to enter the texts from the distorted images.

A captcha response is required to help webmasters prevent some automated programs which are also known as “bots”. These bots may fill out the forms online. Captchas can definitely prevent spam from getting sent to web forms. At the same time, they guarantee that wiki will be edited by real humans. These can be minor convenience to the users, however, they help webmasters from getting rid of hassle.

The word “captcha” has been derived from “capture” because it basically captures the responses of real human. At times, CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.

18. HTML

HTML is a popular technical term among web designers and web developers. It’s an abbreviation for Hyper-Text Markup Language which is the kind of language used for webpages. Such webpages are called hypertext documents. They need to conform to HTML rules to be showed correctly in the browser. HTML syntax relies on the tags list describing the format of the pages such as the information displayed on a website page.

HTML language can be learned on easily. Most programs for website development permit users to make webpages through graphical interfaces. Such programs are available for placing texts and objects on a page while HTML code will be written.

19. URL

URL, or Uniform Resource Locators, is one of the most popular mystery of internet terminology and definitions typically encountered by users online.

URL is actually a web address found on the files and pages of the internet. The URL works with an IP address to help users bookmark, locate and name certain files and pages for the web browsers.

There are three common parts used by URL in addressing a file or a page. These are the protocol (‘//:’), host computer (e.g.: .com), and pagename or filename itself.

20. VPN

Tech term: What is VPN or Virtual Private Network

A VPN or virtual private network is the network technology creating secure network connections over the public network. Such networks can be private networks or internet owned and operated by the service providers. VPN technology is often used by government agencies, educational institutions, and large corporations to allow remote users have a secure connection to a certain private network.

Users who want to have access in a private network should be authenticated with the use of unique password and identification. There will be authentication token used in having an access to any private network using PIN (personal identification number). PIN is the unique authentication code and it changes depending on the specific frequency.

To learn more about what is VPN, how it works and why you should use it, check out our detailed article here.

To compare different VPNs and choose one that suits you best, make sure to read our reviews here and here.

21. Authentication and encryption

Encryption is about mathematical data scrambling to hide it from hackers. It makes use of complex mathematical formulas (or ciphers) in order to turn any private data into a meaningless thing on the web.

This is actually the basis for the way people use public internet connection as a channel to perform trusted businesses. These may involve purchasing of credit cards online and online banking.

Authentication plays a vital role in encryption and it is a complex method for computer systems to make verifications to the information entered.

22. Cloud computing

Cloud computing is centered on the services and applications provided over the web. Such services will be provided from various data centers across the globe. These are then called as “cloud”. Such metaphor is representing an intangible yet universal internet nature.

“Cloud” encompasses computer systems and network connections included in some online services. Most network diagrams apply cloud image in representing the internet. It then symbolizes the broad reach of the internet while simplifying the level of complexity.

There are numerous kinds of cloud computing. Some of them are social networking services, personal data services, online applications and online backup services. Cloud computing may also be about hardware services including redundant servers, internet-based clusters, and mirrored sites.

23. Firewall

In today’s world, it’s essential to know what another computer term firewall means. A typical firewall that people know is composed of steel, brick or any inflammable materials. It is used to prevent the fire from constant spreading in the building.

However, diving into computer networking for beginners, we can find out that in the field of computing, the firewall may also serve as the barrier between your computer and an outside connection or trusted network or system like the internet. The computer firewall acts more like a filter and allows trusted data to pass through.

The firewall may come into software or hardware. Most organizations and businesses rely on hardware firewall to protect and save the internal networks of their business. The double or single firewall is used in creating DMS or demilitarized zone. It is capable of preventing any untrusted data or files from reaching LAN (local access network).

On the other hand, software firewalls have been popular among individual clients. These are custom configured using software interface. A firewall may be configured into various methods. Many of them apply combined rules in filtering traffic. In addition, it is also capable of restricting any outgoing traffic in order to get rid of spam and block hacking attempts.

Software firewalls have been exclusively designed for clients that usually include some fundamental default settings. There are firewalls that also “learn” in the long run and develop filtering rules on their own. As a result, they become strong enough to block any unwanted connection without performing manual customizations.

24. Malware

Computer term: What is malware

One of the most popular internet terms is malware because of its connection to hackers. A malware refers to the broad term that describes malicious software that has been developed by hackers. Some examples of malware are keyloggers, Trojans, viruses, zombie programs, ratware, or any software that allows one to do unnecessary things.

Such undesirable things include manipulating users into buying something, stealing private information, vandalizing computer in any way, or taking remote control of the computer device. These malware programs serve as wicked minions and time bombs of most dishonest programmers.

25. Trojan

So you already have learned about the meaning of the malware, and here’s another important internet term concerning malicious software and online security.

The Trojan refers to the special type of hacker program. It initially depends on the user whether he or she will be active and welcome it. In fact, it has been named after the renowned tale of the Trojan horse. This is the Trojan program that masquerades as a reliable and legitimate software program or file.

In some circumstances, this may appear as an innocent-looking file. Sometimes, people may perceive it as an installer pretending to be an actual anti-hacking software. Its power attacks may be taken from the users who naively run and download it.

26. Whaling and phishing

Phishing is the technical term for the modern-day online activity that some individuals perform in order to defraud users of their personal accounts. This works by using some convincing webpages and emails to lure people into entering their passwords/PINs as well as account numbers.

Phishing attacks are really convincing to people who are not trained well about identifying nay subtle clue. Smart users should not just trust email links saying “You must login here and confirm this.”

27. Filtering and spamming

Another important internet terms that you should learn include spamming and filtering. Spam has two different meanings. One is that it could mean a rapid keyboard command repetition. But commonly, this is recognized as a jargon name for “unsolicited or unwanted email.”

Spam emails are typically composed of 2 subcategories: high volume advertising and hackers that attempt to lure people into entering their passwords.

Filtering refers to a popular yet imperfect defense to prevent spam. It makes use of software that is specially designed to read the incoming emails for certain keyword combinations. It may quarantine or delete messages that seem to appear as spam.

28. Instant messaging

Tech term: What is IM or instant messaging

Instant messaging is a technical term which is also recognized as I.M. or IM. It is the form of online chatting in a modern generation. This is similar to texting or email. It makes use of specialized software that is free of charge. To start enjoying its benefits, users need to install it on their computer or mobile device.

IM software will connect the device with other instant messaging users across the web. After that, users can find their close friends and invite other friends to chat and connect.

29. Plugins and add-ons

Add-ons and plugins are two internet terms that people should be familiar with. Add-ons refer to custom software modifications which are basically used for improving the office software power or web browser performance. These can be downloaded directly from the web.

On the other hand, plugins have been defined as a specific type of web browser add-ons. They have been typically requiring add-ons for those who want to view more specialized pages (for example, pages with Flash content).

30. Applets and applications

Here’s the last couple of items on our A to Z technology terms list. Applets and apps are terms that refer to smaller software applications. These have been designed to become smaller as compared to typical computer software. However, they will still give useful functions. Recently, apps have become popular among mobile platforms users.

In conclusion

Nowadays ignorance can be dangerous, especially considering the volume of hacker attacks and malware online. At Safetyholic, we do our best to provide you with the vital online and computer security knowledge. Hopefully, this list of 30 internet terms for dummies was informative and helpful.

Because sometimes the only thing that stands between you and a hacker or a virus intruding into your system is knowing the meaning of some popular but vague tech term.

Did we skip some computer terms you’d like to learn about? Do you still have questions? Share them in comments below.