Okay, let’s just say it: The topic of Internet safety is not exactly glamorous. It rarely makes headlines until after a safety breech rattles your family. Moreover, the topic is loaded with ever-evolving tech terms that can leave your head spinning. Still the fact remains that understanding Internet safety in today’s wired world is just as critical as taking a personal safety course if you live in a big city.
A lack of “street smarts” may give a green light to scammers, cyber bullies, predators and anyone else looking to exploit the digital streets you (or your children) travel each day.
Here are some terms that will help to build up your knowledge base. If you have a few more minutes, you can read a more exhaustive list of Internet safety terms.
Adware: Adware is a legitimate, non-replicating program designed to display ads to the end user. It is often based on monitoring of browsing habits and often in exchange for the right to use a program without paying for it (a take on the shareware concept).
Anti-Virus Software: Anti-virus software scans a computer’s memory and disk drives for viruses. If it finds a virus, the application informs the user and may clean, delete, or quarantine any files, directories, or disks affected by the malicious code.
Browser: A program—such as Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome—that lets a user search, find, view and hear material on web pages.
Cookie: A piece of information that documents your visit to a website that some websites record automatically on your computer. By using a cookie, a website operator can determine a lot of information about you and your computer. Cookies are not always used for unlawful practices.
Cybersex: This term refers to virtual, online sexual encounters between two or more people.
Cyberstalking: When an individual uses tactics to track, lure, or harasses another person online.
Encrypted Virus: An encrypted virus’s code begins with a decryption algorithm and continues with scrambled or encrypted code for the remainder of the virus. Each time it infects, it automatically encodes itself differently, so its code is never the same. Through this method, the virus tries to avoid detection by anti-virus software.
Internet Filtering: Filtering that allows you to block certain types of content from being displayed on your computer or mobile device. Internet Filtering software screens for language, sexual content and violence. Filtering options are available through parental control software. A trust worthy parental control software should do more than just block sites, it should monitor time, social networks, usage, programs, and be flexible to the user.
Geolocation Services: Mobile phone users may use these services or apps to share their locations with friends or with other users. Examples of these services include: Facebook Places® Gowalla® and Foursquare®
Grooming: The process predators use to manipulate minors into sexual relationships or into creating and sharing sexual images of themselves. Grooming often includes the predator giving compliments or gifts to the minor.
Griefers: Internet gamers who deliberately cause problems and/or cyberbully other gamers.
Malware: Malware is malicious software or any harmful codesuch as: Trojan horses, worms, spyware, and adware—that are designed to damage the computer or illegally collect information on a user.
Mousetrapping: Technique used (frequently by pornographic websites) to keep people from leaving their sites. They do this by launching a series of pop-up ads for other sites or re-launching their websites each time someone attempts to close out of a website.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Networking: This is a distributed system of file sharing where any PC on the network can see any other PC on the network. Users access each other’s hard drives to download files. This type of file sharing is valuable, brings up copyright issues for music, movies, and other shared media files. Users are also vulnerable to viruses.
Pharming: An online scam that attacks the browser’s address bar. Pharming allows a hacker to redirect a legitimate web site’s traffic to a counterfeit web site. The spoofed site is designed to steal personal information such as usernames, passwords, and account information.
Phishing: An online scam that uses e-mail to “fish” for users’ private information by imitating legitimate companies. Phishing is a form of criminal activity using social engineering techniques through email or instant messaging. Phishers attempt to fraudulently acquire other people’s personal information, such as passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business in an apparently official electronic communication.
Piracy: Illegally copying copyrighted software, music, or movies.
Sexting: The use of cell phones to send sexual messages, pictures and videos.
SMS: Stands for “Short Message Service,” a form of text messaging on cell phones, frequently used between computers and cell phones.
Sniffer: A sniffer is a software program that monitors network traffic. Hackers use sniffers to capture data transmitted over a network.
Trojan Horse: A malicious program that pretends to be a harmless application. It intentionally does something that the user does not expect. Trojans are not viruses since they do not replicate, but they can be just as destructive.
Typosquatting: Websites that use misspellings and other mistakes when inputting a web address to redirect users to an alternative, often inappropriate, website.
Virus: A self-replicating software program that typically arrives through e-mail attachments which multiplies on the hard drive, quickly exhausting the computer’s memory.
Sextortion: The digital version of extortion in which a predator lures a child or teen to send a sexual photo that the predator then uses to extort the victim into sending more photos. The predator will often threaten a victim that he or she will send the original image to a victim’s family, school or post it online if the victim does not comply with the demand for more pictures