Glossary terms and explanations used generally and within the Cybersmart Parents website.

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An attachement is a file that is sent with an email. It may contain text, photos, graphics, sound or video.

Acceptable use policy

Acceptable use policy - These are documents created by systems or schools to outline what is acceptable behaviour when using computer facilities and other technologies such as mobile phones.


The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) is a statutory authority within the Australian Government portfolio of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Authority.
The ACMA is responsible for the regulation of:

  • broadcasting
  • the internet
  • radiocommunications
  • telecommunications

As part of this role, the ACMA manages the Cybersmart Program. Cybersmart Program activities include:

  • undertaking targeted information and awareness-raising campaigns, activities and programs
  • developing cybersafety education materials for use in schools and at home
  • researching current trends in cybersafety.

ADSL internet access

ADSL internet access is short for asymmetric digital subscriber line, ADSL is a common technology that allows more data to be sent over existing copper telephone lines. Many Australian homes now access the internet via an ADSL connection through their internet service provider (ISP).


Avatar is used in online chat, in forums and in games as an icon or picture to represent the participant.



Bandwidth refers to how much data you can send through an internet connection. It is usually measured in bits-per-second (bps). The higher the bandwidth, the faster users can surf the web or download files.


BitTorrent is a peer to peer (P2P) protocol that enables internet users to share files (including videos and audio files) in a more efficient fashion than previous P2P file sharing protocols. It allows users to simultaneously upload and download parts of a file they want from several other internet users who are also sharing the same file.

Blocking a user

Blocking a user refers to situations where one person activates a function on a website or service to stop another person from communicating with them. Many online forums and web-based email services, for example, provide the ability for you to ‘block’ users so that you cannot read their messages.


Blog is derived from the combination of the words web and log. Blogs are virtual journals created by individuals and stored on the internet.

Blogs generally consist of text and images and can appear in a chronological format.

While there are dedicated blogging services, such as Google’s Blogger, many social networking services offer a blogging facility as part of their service. Many online news services now also generate blogs and encourage readers to follow them.

A blog can follow a theme, for example ‘Tips on parenting a 13 year old boy’ or ‘My cat blog’, or provide a viewpoint on current news events.


Internet bookmarks are similar to paper bookmarks in that they serve as a placeholder to help you locate a page or website later. Web browsers let you ‘bookmark’ any site and save these bookmarks in a file to recall at any time. Some browsers use the term ‘favourite’ instead of bookmark for the same concept.


Bluetooth is a wireless networking technology that enables data to easily transfer from one device to another, such as mobile phone to laptop computer, without the use of cords and wires.


Bounce-back refers to the return of an email message because of an error in its address or delivery.


Sometimes referred to as high-speed internet, broadband is an ‘always on’ fast connection to the internet. Today there are a wide variety of broadband technologies available in most areas of Australia. Broadband can be fibre optic, ADSL, DSL or wireless.



Web browsers hold copies of recently visited web files in the computer’s memory. This disk memory space is called the cache. It offers the advantage of much quicker loading when files are stored on disk than when they must be transferred from the web every time.

Case sensitive

Case sensitive is a term used to describe whether letters are typed in uppercase or lowercase. Some computer programs and passwords are ‘case sensitive’ meaning ‘ABC’ is considered different data to ‘abc’. Passwords that are case sensitive need to be typed in exactly the same way each time.


CD-ROM stands for Compact Disk–Read-Only Memory. A compact disk can store large amounts of information and is accessed by being inserted into a computer’s CD-ROM drive.


Chat is the informal ‘conversational’ communication between users of the internet while they are online. This can be direct one-on-one chat using tools such as instant messaging (IM), chat rooms or SMS. It can also be text-based group chat through mediums such as Internet Relay Chat, online forums and Wikis.

Chat room

A chat room a place on the internet where people with similar interests can meet and communicate together by typing messages on their computer. People can often enter an unmoderated chat room without any verification of who they are. Problems for students can arise with chat room participants pretending to be someone they are not.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing refers to the ability for people and organisations to access files, software, data and other services via the internet that are hosted remotely, typically by a third party organisation. An example would be an internet service which allows you to upload and store your files (e.g. audio, video and documents) online and access them later.

Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct is the behavioural rules a user must abide by when using a service such as an online forum or social networking website.


Cookies - are small files placed on your computer when you visit a website. The website saves a complementary file with a matching identification (ID) tag so it can recognise you by matching the cookie with the website’s copy.

Cookies address the need to keep track of information entered at a site. For example, if you submit a registration form or wish to complete online transactions, the site could match that information to your computer when you visit next time. It is important to note that while cookies can be turned off, they are not dangerous to users, and some websites may not operate correctly without the use of cookies.

Cookies can also be used by some organisations to collect information about your web browsing activities for purposes such as tailoring advertisements you see on web sites you visit.


Cyberbullying occurs when technology is used to deliberately and repeatedly engage in hostile behaviour to harm someone. Groups and individuals can be both the perpetrators and targets of bullying.


Cyberspace is a term used generally to describe the different experiences available and generated via the global online world of computer networks. For example, one might describe sending an email to their friend as sending it ‘through cyberspace’.



A database is a collection of data records. On web databases, records may consist of web pages, graphics, audio files, newspaper files, books, movies or anything from very general to very specific areas of interest. Database records are usually indexed and come with a search interface to find records of interest.

Demo software

Demo software is a trial version of a software program that allows people to use it for free while they decide whether or not to buy it. Generally, demo software can be downloaded directly from the manufacturer's website.

The most common ways to offer demo software is to allow customers to download a complete version that will expire in a set period of time. See also, Shareware.

Denial of Service (DoS)

DoS attacks involve cybercriminals using a variety of techniques to inundate an internet server with enormous amounts of ‘junk’ data in order to consume its resources. This can result in normal web users being unable to access a website or experiencing very slow access speeds.


To download a file means to transfer it from one computer to another. This can refer to a music file, document or photo, transferred from a website or the internet to a home or work computer.


A Digital Versatile Disk (DVD-ROM) is a media or data storage disk that closely resembles a CD or compact disk, but is formatted to hold far more data such as movies or a television series.



E-crime occurs where a computer or other electronic communications device, such as a mobile phone, is used to commit an offence, be the target of an offence or act as a storage device in an offence.


E-commerce refers to conducting business online.


E-security covers a range of activities to keep electronic information secure. This can include protecting a personal computer as well as protecting personal and sensitive information such as passwords and bank account details.

The ACMA plays an important role in e-security in Australia, gathering evidence and assisting in protecting Australians from computer fraud and identity theft. ACMA also regulates internet content issues and deals with internet content complaints.


Mail that is sent electronically from one computer to another is known as email. Email messages can be sent to anyone with an email address, anywhere in the world. Email is stored on a computer and can be read when the recipient checks their email inbox—just like a post mailbox.

As well as text, emails can include attachments such as pictures, music and video clips.

While emails can be lengthy and formal, they are generally more casual in style than a written letter.

Users either need email software, such as Outlook, or a web-based email service such as Gmail or Hotmail to create and send email.


Emoticon is derived from the two words—emotions and icons. Emoticons are a shorthand method of explaining a feeling on the internet. Emoticons can be used in any communication over the internet but are particularly popular in chat rooms and instant messaging. An example of an emoticon is :) which is a happy face (on the side!).


FAQ (frequently asked questions)

FAQ's are documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular subject.


Filters manage access to online content. A filter can restrict times when the internet can be accessed and also restrict what is viewed and downloaded based on certain key words or types of content. Some filters can also be instructed to specifically block information from being displayed. Types of filters range from those on home computers to filters used by a school on its server.


Flagging is reporting content you encounter online because you believe it is inappropriate – for example, you may ‘flag’ a post on an online forum for moderators to review.


Flaming is the sending of messages that includes bad language, or undesirable or obscene content. Flaming, also known as ‘flame wars’, generally occurs in unmoderated chat rooms. The majority of chat rooms remain ‘open’, where messages are posted automatically with no human intervention.


Freeware is software that is offered for free to download.



Gaming means 'playing an animated game'. Some games are available on CD-ROM or on video game consoles such as a Wii or Xbox, while others are available directly online and can be played by more than one user, simultaneously. The software is usually based on traditional game categories, such as adventure, role-playing or strategy.


A Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) is a device that uses a system of worldwide navigation via satellites to pin point an exact location.


Grooming occurs when an adult takes deliberate actions to befriend and establish an emotional connection with a child in order to lower the child's inhibitions with the intent of later having sexual contact. It may include situations where adults pose as children in chat rooms or social networking sites and 'befriend' children in order to make arrangements to meet with them in person.



A hacker is someone who breaks into systems and performs other destructive or illegal acts with computers and networks. Some hackers like to prove that they can break in to systems and leave a clue, while most prefer to leave no traces of their visits.

Hand-held device

A hand-held device is a computer or communications gadget that can be carried around, such as a mobile phone, BlackBerry, pager, laptop or smart phone.


The homepage is the first web page of a website.


A hyperlink is any text or graphics on a website that, when clicked on, will take you to another web page or another part of the same web page.


Identity theft

Identity theft is when personal information is stolen and used for fraudulent purposes.

Information and communications technology (ICT)

ICT is the term used to describe all the hardware (computers, mobile phones, cables, networks) and software (websites, computer programs) that allows data to be digitally processed, stored and communicated.

ICT can be used to access, process, manage and present information; model and control events; construct new understanding; and communicate with others.


Infrared is used to transmit data, infrared is a wireless technology that uses the range of invisible radiation wavelengths longer than the colour red in the visible spectrum. Infrared can be used to transmit files or documents, but the most common infrared technology is used in remote controls for television sets and other electronic devices.

Instant messaging (IM)

Instant messaging is sending real-time messages from one computer to another by means of small ‘pop-up’ windows. They are a form of ‘instant email’ and are very popular with students and adults alike. They are usually a one-to-one communication medium, although some programs allow many people to chat at the same time, like a private chat room.

International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI)

An IMEI is a 15 digit number which uniquely identifies a wireless device such as a mobile phone. The IMEI is usually found on a sticker inside the device or by entering *#06# on the keypad. To prevent the device being used when lost or stolen, you can ask your service provider to block your IMEI.


The Internet is a system of linked computer networks. It facilitates data transfer and communication services across the world. These include email and the World Wide Web.

Internet service provider (ISP)

An ISP is a company that provides access to the internet for home and business users. For a monthly fee, the service provider enables people to log onto the internet and, amongst other activities, browse the world wide web and send/ receive email.




Keylogging is the use of either a hardware device installed on a keyboard or spyware software to record every keystroke (the sequence of keys pushed on your keyboard) on the computer.

A keylogger records everything the user types in, including emails, log-in names, passwords, credit card numbers and/or bank account websites in order to steal the information.


Location-based services

Location-based services help you to find a location or to let others know where you are located. This technology can be used to find people, locations like restaurants, or services like ATMs. Location-based services are also used by social networking services to help you provide located-based information to status updates or photos.


Log-in is either the account name used to gain access to a computer system, or the act of connecting to a computer system by entering a username and password.


To Lurk is to listen in to a mailing list, chat room or newsgroup without participating. Newcomers are encouraged to lurk for a while as they get the feel of a site and how it operates.


Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG)

MMORPG are games that can be played over the internet, with multiple players located anywhere in the world. The games allow the user to play a role within the game, usually with an avatar to represent the player. MMORPGs include The Sims Online and World of Warcraft.

Mobile internet-enabled devices

Mobile internet-enabled devices include phones and PDAs that are able to access the internet, upload and download information, take photographs and sometimes record sound.


Modem is short for modulator/demodulator. A modem is used between a computer and a phone or coaxial cable line to convert the computer's digital signal to an analog signal for the line and vice versa. A modem is essential for a computer to access the internet.


A moderator is a person who screens online content for inappropriate messages.

MP3 players

MP3 players are used to play MP3 audio files. ‘MP3' is a type of compression technology that minimises the size of audio files. MP3 players can keep large amounts of music in the one convenient and portable location.

Micro-blogging websites

Micro-blogging websites are social networking websites that people can sign up for, and send out regular updates about their daily activities. One of the most popular micro-blogging sites is Twitter.

Users of micro-blogging sites can both share their updates and follow others’.



Netiquette is derived from two words—internet and etiquette. Netiquette describes ‘the rules’ for how people should act online, especially in forums and chat rooms. Netiquette can also be applied to emails.


A newbie is a newcomer to the internet. These people may reveal their inexperience through lack of knowledge of internet conventions such as internet vocabulary, netiquette and general know-how.


Online acronyms

Online acronyms are shorthand ways of communicating that are used specifically on the internet or mobile phones. They are popular because they save people time in preparing messages. It is quicker, for example, to type in one acronym that is easily understood, than a series of words. A list of common online acronyms is available.

Online content

Online content encompasses all forms of information including text, pictures, animation, video and sound recordings that could be accessed online. It may also include software.

Online forums

Online forums are also known as newsgroups, where people can contribute to a discussion by leaving a message of interest. Online forums exist on thousands of topics and are useful for building online communities and bringing people together with similar interests. Moderated forums are the safest to use.


Being ‘online’ means being connected to the internet. People communicate online by sending and receiving information via email, instant messaging or a chat room. Offline refers to activity when not connected to the internet.

Open source software

Open source software makes the programming code available to the users so that they may read it, make changes to it, and build new versions of the software incorporating their changes.



A password is used to gain access to areas on the internet where you may wish to protect or restrict access to personal information. Passwords should be carefully protected. Use long and random passwords for any application that provides access to your personal identity information, including logging onto your computer or your social networking profile. Don't use dictionary words as a password. Ideally, the password should be eight or more characters in length. Passwords should be changed regularly.

Personal digital assistant (PDA)

A PDA is a hand-held portable computer. These technologies may contain digital calendars, address books, a memo pad and other accessories for both business and personal use.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) networking

P2P is an application that runs on a personal computer and shares files, such as music files, with other users across the internet. P2P networks work by connecting individual computers together to share files instead of having to go through a central server.


Pharming is the act of redirecting a website’s traffic to another illegitimate site. Hackers establish these ‘fake sites’ to gain access to personal information, such as bank account details and passwords. Users may be able to avoid pharming by ensuring they use secure web connections to access websites that require personal information, such as your bank’s website.


Phishing is when emails are sent from falsified email addresses. Many phishing emails often claim to be from a bank, online retailer or credit card company. These emails direct recipients to a website that looks like the real website of a retailer or financial institution, which is designed to encourage the visitor to reveal financial details such as credit card numbers, account names and passwords, or other personal information.

Photo sharing

Photo sharing allows a user to transfer their digital images to a site on the internet so that they are able to share them with others privately or publicly.


Add-in hardware that has been designed for users to buy it, bring it home, plug it in and start playing. This is hardware that has been designed to identify itself on most computers, so that installation is less complicated for the user.


A plug-in is a small piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software, for example an audio plug-in that allows your web browser to play music.

Podcast and vodcast

A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the internet for downloading to a personal audio player, such as an MP3 player. Podcast files can range from music files to segments of radio broadcasts. Vodcasting is the video version of a podcast.


Small windows that appear in the foreground of an internet browser, pop-ups can be integrated into some websites for practical purposes, however they are often used to display advertising or pornography on the screen.

Portable hard disk-drive

An advanced version of the floppy disk, this is a disk drive that is plugged into an external port on a computer such as a USB. A portable hard disk allows the user to back up or store important information separate from the main internal hard drive, which could become compromised by online or offline activities. It is also capable of storing much more information than an internal hard drive.


To post is to put content up online, such as on a social networking website profile or a chat forum. Examples of content that can be posted include photos, status updates or blog content.

Privacy policy

A Privacy policy outlines the terms by which a company or website handles personal information from its visitors to the site. Privacy policies can often be found as a text link in the footer section of a web page.



Really simple syndication (RSS)

RSS, also called ‘newsfeeds’, allow web users to keep up to date with news headlines or blogs. With an RSS reader, you can scan hundreds of news headlines from one location.

Users subscribe to an RSS by clicking the RSS icon (an orange square with curved white lines in it ). Once subscribed, they receive a summary of any new content as it appears, without having to visit the site.

There are many ways to read an RSS feed. This can be through RSS software or an aggregator service which collects feeds in one place. An aggregator will check subscribed feeds regularly for updates and display the results. Popular aggregators include Google News, Bloglines and Netvibes.

Users can adjust their subscription settings so that they see only headlines or ask for a more detailed summary of the story to be displayed. This provides a fast way to scan through all the sites of interest and find the stories to read, without having to surf the web.

RSS feeds usually show quite a plain summary of a website, without the usual design and graphics that make surfing the net so attractive. Some people see this as an advantage, because it focuses on the information.


Safe zones

Safe zones are alternative to filtering or labelling. Labelling allows web developers to categorise online content on the basis of language, violence, sexual content etc. Safe zones are services providing access to a range of sites that are suitable for children.

Search engine

A search engine is a website that searches the information available on the internet.

Some search engines work by automatically searching the contents of the web and creating a database of the results. Other search engines contain only material manually approved for inclusion in a database and some combine the two approaches. Some of the most popular search engines in Australia are Google and Yahoo7.


Sexting refers to the sending of provocative or sexual photos, messages, or videos, generally using a mobile phone. It can also include posting this type of material online.


Shareware is software that is offered for free to download in the hope that the user will decide to keep it and pay a fee for it after trying it out.


Increasingly popular generation of mobile phones that not only allow users to make telephone calls but also provide additional functionality that is more akin to a computer - such as the ability to send and receive e-mail, view web pages, access video and sound files and edit documents.

Social networking

Social networking occurs via an online site where a user can create a profile and build a personal network of online ‘friends’. In the past five years, sites such as Facebook and Twitter have engaged tens of millions of internet users.

Social bookmarking

Social bookmarking is a way to collect, organise and store a list of web pages that interest a user. Other users can save bookmarks and make comments about the websites which enriches this collaborative online activity. Popular social bookmarking sites are Delicious, Furl and Twine.

Most social bookmarking sites give the owner control over who has access to their list of links. They can be open to the public or available to private groups only. Users are encouraged to label links with tags—short descriptions that describe the content of the page. A tag could be as simple as the word ’cat’ or it could be a phrase such as ’cat training tips’.

Users can subscribe to particular keywords, or combinations of words, to keep up to date with new links as they appear. Other users may be able to comment on the accuracy of these tags.


The sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages is known as Spam. Under the Spam Act 2003, spam is defined as including email, instant messaging, SMS and MMS (text and image-based mobile phone messaging) of a commercial nature. It does not cover faxes, internet pop-ups or voice telemarketing. ACMA is responsible for enforcing the Spam Act in Australia and actively works to fight spam.


A computer program that can be installed on personal computers, usually without the permission from the owner, and has the purpose of collecting information and sending it back to another source is spyware. This can often be an internet marketing, pornographic or gambling website. Spyware can also be used maliciously to steal your log-in and passwords for secure websites, such as online banking.

Streaming audio and video

To ‘stream’ an audio or video file is to listen to or watch audio or video in real-time as the content is transferred to your computer from a remote website.


Surfing the internet is to explore it with no specific purpose.



A tag is a word, or a group of words, assigned to a piece of information, such as a picture, article or video clip, that allows the user to describe the content of the item and to search and cross-reference information online. For example, users can ‘tag’ an article they read on a newspaper website with ‘news’, ‘funny’ or ‘car’. It is important to note that tagging does not use a centralised vocabulary for classifying information—tags are determined by users.

Tagging is also used on social networking websites such as Facebook to enable users to identify the people that appear in photos they upload.

Terms of Service

The terms a user must abide by to use a service, such as a social networking website or a photo sharing website.


A series of messages with the same subject is a thread. It consists of an original message and all the replies that follow. People can both respond to the original message or to each other in a ‘threaded discussion’.


A Torrent is a small file or descriptor that contains information to set up computer file sharing utilising peer-to-peer techniques (BitTorrent protocols). The exchange of non-sequential file pieces between multiple sources and destinations can then occur over a network (internet) simultaneously to complete the whole file transfer.


Trolling is when a user intentionally causes distress, anger or argument in an online public forum for the purpose of disturbing other users. Individuals who partake in trolling seek an emotional response from others, whether with malicious or humorous intent. Specific instances of trolling may constitute an offence under the Criminal Code Act 1995. Responding to trolling comments can result in an escalation of inappropriate communication. The best response is to ignore, block and report to site administrators.



A patch is an update that fixes problems with software programs. Programmers design these to fix small bugs, glitches or operating system compatibility issues.

In most cases these patches are free and the majority are simply downloaded from the internet.


To upload is to transfer a file from your computer system to another computer or system via the internet.


URL stands for ‘uniform resource locator’, which is the address of a file or content on the internet. They begin with www (world wide web), followed by the name of the company or product. For example, the URL for the Cybersmart website is www.cybersmart.gov.au.


A user of the internet or information and communication technologies. For example, people can be described as website users or computer users.


A username is the name for a person used specifically for the online world. It is sometimes referred to as a ‘handle’. When you sign up for a service such as Hotmail or a chat room, you are required to create a unique identifier—a ‘username’—that helps to protect your identity. For example, ‘maz123’.


Virtual reality

Virtual reality is a computer simulation of a real three-dimensional world, often supplemented by sound effects. Examples include 3D flight simulators or first-person games where you explore 3D ‘worlds’.

Video sharing

Video sharing websites enable users to share personal videos. YouTube is a popular example of a video sharing website.

Virus and anti-virus

A virus is a computer program that is designed to cause undesirable effects on computer systems. Viruses are often disguised as something else so that they can be transferred from one computer to another without the users knowing. They can be hidden in emails, on CDs or in files that are shared across the internet. Computer viruses can cause harm to computer systems and need to be avoided. Anti-virus software can be installed on computers to scan for and remove computer viruses.


Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is a technology that allows voice communication to be transmitted via the internet in the same way one might use a telephone to make a phone call. Popular use of VOIP technology is through the software Skype, which allows users to make video and phone calls via the internet for a relatively low cost to anywhere in the world.


Web browser

A web browser is a software program that allows you to browse the internet by simple ‘point and click’ navigation. The world wide web is made up of millions of sites that each have their own unique address (URL). The web browser interprets coded language and presents it in an easy-to-view form that allows us to read text, view images, watch movies and listen to sound on a website.

Web page

A web page is a file or content accessible on the internet by requesting a single URL.


A webcam is a camera attached to a computer that can transmit real-time still and video images to others via the internet.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is the general term given to describe the second generation of the internet, which is focused on the ability for people to collaborate and share information online, rather than simply view static websites.

Web 2.0 is based on communities of users with more open sharing of information, interests and personal information through web applications such as blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and micro-blogging.


The Webmaster is a person who designs, develops or operates a website.

Wi-Fi (wireless) internet access

Wi-Fi (wireless) internet access is wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide wireless high-speed internet and network connections.

Wi-Fi works with no physical wired connection between sender and receiver by using radio frequency technology. In order to connect to an access point and join a wireless network, computers and devices must be equipped with wireless network adapters.


Wikis are an online group of documents/web pages that many different users can add to and edit freely online. Wikis allow users to create new pages on subjects that interest them. The most famous wiki is the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. There are also many wikis for more specific subject areas.

All wiki pages are co-created by a group of collaborating individuals, rather than a single author. As current information covering a broad range of topics, many people turn to wikis as their first port of call when checking facts online. A good wiki will include references to reliable websites, so users can immediately check all the claims made within the article.

Because wikis are open to public editing, pages can be vandalised and meanings can be altered to fit a particular point-of-view. Facts can be incorrect due to bad research by untrained researchers. The quality of writing may also be poor.

World wide web

The World wide web or ‘web’ as it is more commonly called, is a collection of pages on the internet that can be read accessed with any web enable devise such as mobile phone, PDA and computers. Users need an internet connection, a computer, a web browser, in order to access and interact with the online information that forms part of the web.




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