Internet Quick Reference Q & A for the Beginner

If you are new to using the Internet, then you might want to skim through the following quick reference to make sense of some of the commonly referred terms and features.

Internet Overview

1. The Internet (Net)

The Internet is the broad term used for the interconnected hardware and networks of millions of devices, from desktop computers to servers, mainframes, mobile devices, smartphones, cash dispensing machines or car alarm systems, which require connectivity to the Internet to accomplish basic tasks.

The Internet connects users across verticals, from government and military to private and non-profit organizations.

On top of the infrastructure layer, rests the Internet protocol layer, which enables communication between devices. Popular Internet protocols include World Wide Web, FTP, Telnet, and Email.

2. The World Wide Web (WWW)

The World Wide Web, just referred to as the “Web” is the collective term for the digital content served by the Internet hardware. Users access this content through browsers.

3. Internet Service Provider (ISP)

An ISP is a private organization that enables you to connect to the Internet by providing the necessary hardware and software for a specific fee. The different services offered by an ISP, apart from Internet access, include email, web hosting, and blog hosting.

4. Router

A router is a hardware component of a network that performs the functions of traffic redirection, as well as acts as a defense mechanism from hackers. In order to ensure fast and secure services from routers, their optimal configuration is crucial.

internet basics

5. Ports

Data travels in and out of networks through thousands of information lanes called ports, often controlled by routers. When specific network ports are opened, the technique is referred to as “port forwarding”, which is usually employed to enable high speeds for downloads, gaming or conferencing.

6. Downloading

Downloading is the broad term to refer to the process of copying a web resource and making it available on your personal computer. Users commonly download anything from music, videos to software files. Downloads can happen within minutes or may take hours, depending on the file size and Internet connection speed.

7. Keywords

Search terms used to locate a document or resource on the Internet is referred to as a keyword. A keyword might be a single word or a group of words separated by commas. Keywords sometimes exist as Tags in Internet content and perform the function of crosslinking related content.

8. Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP)

The language that web pages use to communicate is called HTTP and is used to display elements on the pages including images, text and links in the intended manner through a browser.

The secure form of HTTP is HTTPS which contains a special encryption mechanism for user’s personal information. Secure HTTP is usually employed for exchanging sensitive information such as banking transactions.

9. Browser

A browser, usually available as a free download enables you to view web content in the form of web pages containing multiple elements from images and text to links or even complex content. Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox are some of the most popular browsers available.

10. Add-Ons and Plugins

Add-Ons and plugins are custom software, available either free or for a fee, that help improve the power of web browsers or application software. A custom toolbar installed on a browser is an example of an add-on. Plugins are special types of add-ons. Adobe Flash or Shockwave player, and Adobe PDF reader are all examples of plug-ins.

11. Bookmark

A bookmark can be attached to a web page to mark a particular resource on the Internet with the idea of coming back to that particular resource later or for the referring it to some other user. Toolbars available in your browser allow bookmarking of your favorite resources on the Internet.

12. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

HTML is the programming standard for web pages, which directs the web page to display content in the form of text and graphics, in a precise manner. HTML does this through the use of tags to specify the look and feel of the different elements present in a web page. Some of the commonly used tags in web pages are the <body></body> tags and the <title></title> tags, each featuring an opening and a closing part and enclosing content for rendering as a web page.

13. eXtensible Markup Language (XML)

XML works by creating content databases or catalogues using meaningful tags such as <address> or <city> to describe data contained in the XML document. XHTML is an extension of the HTML language but is based on the XML standard.

14. Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

A URL is used to define the precise location of a page or file on the Internet. A URL and IP address define the exact location of an Internet resource. A URL has three parts, the protocol, followed by the symbol “://” and the host computer name along with the page name. An example URL might be written as

15. IP Address

Every computer that connects to the network consists of an IP address, which has four to eight parts to identify a system on a network and enable traceability uniquely. Examples of IP addresses include or or 2001:4569:1FE3::4569:1FE2

16. Email

Email or short for Electronic Mail allows sending and receiving messages between computer systems. Webmail services like Gmail or Yahoo Mail or locally installed software like Microsoft Outlook provide the necessary features to enable Email messages. Emails can sometimes be compressed into message groups with standard features and stored as archives.

17. Cloud Computing and Software As a Service (SaaS)

Cloud computing refers to the activity of borrowing space online instead of purchasing and installing a software. Users rely on cloud computing for a number of services from emails to online applications. SaaS is a cloud computing model that allows people to access software from the cloud instead of owning it, making it available for a modest fee and cutting down on costs considerably.

18. Apps and Applets

Small applications, much lower than conventional software, with many useful functions, are used as part of mobile platforms including Apple iPhone or Google Android. Examples of apps include language translators and GPS software.

Networking and Sharing on the Internet

19. Blogs

A writer’s column on the Internet appears as a blog, written for a broad range of topics, offering opinion pieces on different topics. Blogs can also be used to share reviews about products. Blog publishing websites attract consistent income by selling advertising on their pages which are frequented by a large user base.

20. Social Media

Users interact online using social media tools that allow instant messaging, chatting, video and photo sharing. Common social media sites include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, and Digg. Users recommend websites to other users through tagging, a trend also referred to as social bookmarking.

21. Instant Messaging (IM)

IM is the activity of sending instant short messages and is also referred to as online chatting. IM software can connect you to thousands of Internet users. IM users can be identified through IM nicknames. IM software programs also allow sharing of attachments and links.

22. Peer-to-Peer File Sharing (P2P)

P2P is the activity of cooperatively sharing files on the Internet. P2P is accomplished by installing software that allows the voluntary sharing of movies, music, software or books. Sharing in the form of uploading and downloading can enable users to exchange files ranging from 1MB to 5MB in size.

Internet Security and Online Transactions

23. Malware

Malware is collectively used to refer to malicious software including viruses, trojans, keyloggers, zombies or adware. These malicious software programs might take control of your computer, steal private data or manipulate your actions to extract money unlawfully.

24. Social Engineering

Social engineering is the malicious activity of trying to convince users into divulging private information on the pretext that the person asking for the information is a legitimate authority. Social engineering can happen through email, phone calls or even face to face.

25. Phishing and Whaling

Phishing is the use of convincing emails to make users divulge private and confidential information such as financial data into fake web pages. Similar to phishing, whaling is the act of tricking high-profile users to divulge an organization’s private and confidential data.

26. Trojan

A Trojan is a special hacker program that must be activated by the user to accomplish a malicious activity. The Trojan uses a cover-up to look like a legitimate file or program which performs an attack when users try to run it.

27. Spamming

Spamming is usually used to refer to some form of unsolicited email, either with the purpose of accomplishing an advertising activity or in the form of phishing attacks. To curtail spamming, users use filtering mechanisms which rely on keyword combinations to transfer suspected messages into designated folders, usually the “Spam” folder.

28. Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce)

E-Commerce involves buying and selling online. The World Wide Web allows for the exchange of transactions involving billions of dollars carried out between businesses or individuals. To enable secure Internet transactions, some security measures on different levels must be enacted.

29. Encryption and Authentication

Encryption refers to data scrambling with the objective of protecting again spying. Mathematical formulas called “ciphers” convert private data into unreadable text, allowing secure transactions from e-Commerce to online banking or credit card purchase. The mechanism of authentication enables the identification of a particular user and closely works with encryption mechanisms.

30. Firewall

A firewall is a hardware or software barrier that protects against hackers and viruses. Firewall solutions might come as either simple to complex packages.

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