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ANDROID [An-droid]
A type of shared file space that works best for UNIX systems, also known as H: and I: drives, Courseware, NDAccess. Originally developed by Carnegie Mellon University, AFS stands for Andrew File System.

ANTI-VIRUS [An-tahy-vahy-ruh s]
A security program that can run on a computer or mobile device and protects you by identifying and stopping the spread of malware on your system. Anti-virus cannot detect all malware, so even if it is active, your system might still get infected. Anti-virus can also be used at the organizational level. For example, email servers may have anti-virus integrated with it to scan incoming or outgoing email. Sometimes anti-virus tools are called ‘anti-malware’, because these products are designed to defend against various types of malicious software.

AUTHENTICATION [Aw-then-ti-keyt-shun]
The process of identifying an individual, usually based on a username and password.

AUTHORIZATION [Aw-ther-uh-zey-shun]
The process of granting or denying access to a network resource. Most computer security systems are based on a two-step process. The first stage is authentication, which ensures that a user is who he or she claims to be. The second stage is authorization, which allows the user access to various resources based on the user’s identity.


BACKUP [Bak-uhp]
A backup is a copy of one or more files created as an alternate in case the original data is lost or becomes unusable. For example, you may save several copies of a research paper on your hard drive as backup files incase you decide to use a previous revision. 

BANDWIDTH [Band-width]
Bandwidth refers to how much data you can send through a network or modem connection. It is usually measured in bits per second, or “bps.”

BLOG [Blawg]
A blog is a personal journal published on the Web, consisting of posts by one or more authors, typically displayed in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first. Most good quality blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even reply to each other. This interactivity distinguishes a blog from other static websites.

BOT [Bot]
This is an automated software program that can execute certain commands when it receives a specific input (like a ro-“bot”). Bots are most often seen at work in the Internet-related areas of online chat and Web searching.

BROWSER [Brou-zer]
A Web browser is a software program used for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web. Some commonly used web browsers are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome.


CACHE [Kash]
A cache stores recently-used information in a place where it can be accessed extremely fast. For example, a Web browser like Internet Explorer uses a cache to store the pages, images, and URLs of recently visited Web sites on your hard drive.

CAPTCHA [Kap-chuh]
A captcha is a challenge-response test that determines whether a user is human or an automated bot. A typical captcha includes an image of distorted text and a form field for the user to enter the text.

CLOUD COMPUTING [Kloud Kuh m-pyoo-ting]
Cloud computing delivers computing as a service, where shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a metered service over the Internet. Cloud computing provides computation, software applications, data access, and storage resources, without requiring users to know the location of data or other detals of the computing infrastructure. 

CONFIGURATION [Kuh n-fig-yuh-rey-shuh n]
In the computing world, when people talk about their computer configuration, they are referring to the technical specifications, or the “tech specs” of their computer. These specs typically include processor speed, the amount of RAM, hard drive space, and the type of video card in the machine.


DATA [Dey-tuh]
Computer data is information processed or stored by a computer. This information may be in the form of text documents, images, audio clips, software programs, or other types of data. 

DATABASE [Dey-tuh-beys]
A database contains data stored in a structured format. It includes one or more tables, which each contain multiple fields. Each field is assigned a specific data type, such as a string or integer. These fields include data for each record that is entered into the database.

DEBUG [Dee-buhg]
Computer programmers, like everybody else, are not perfect. This means the programs they write sometimes have small errors, called “bugs,” in them. These bugs can be minor, such as not recognizing user input, or more serious, such as a memory leak that crashes the program. 

DOWNLOAD [doun-lohd]
Any time a user makes a local copy of information found online, the process of gathering this information is called downloading. This process is most frequently associated with downloading music, documents, or software files.

Domain Name System (DNS) is used by the Internet to translate device names into IP addresses.  Analogous to a phone book for the Internet.


E-COMMERCE [Ee-kom-ers]
E-commerce (electronic-commerce) refers to business over the Internet. Web sites such as,, and eBay are all e-commerce sites. The two major forms of e-commerce are Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B).

EMAIL [ee-meyl]
Electronic Mail. Email addresses hold mail for you until you log in to the account. All email addresses use the @ symbol — for instance, [email protected].

ENCRYPTION [En-krpt-shun]
Encryption is the coding or scrambling of information so that it can only be decoded and read by someone who has the correct decoding key. Encryption is used in secure Web sites as well as other mediums of data transfer. If a third party were to intercept the information you sent via an encrypted connection, they would not be able to read it.

ETHERNET [Ee-ther-net]
Ethernet is the standard wired network technology in use almost everywhere today. If your computer is connected to a network via a cable, it’s likely using an Ethernet cable. That cable plugs into an Ethernet port on your computer.

EXTRANET [Ek-struh-net]
An extranet actually combines both the Internet and an intranet. It extends an intranet, or internal network, to other users over the Internet. Most extranets can be accessed via a Web interface using a Web browser. Since secure or confidential information is often accessible within an intranet, extranets typically require authentication for users to access them.


FAVICON [Fav-e-kon]
A favicon is a small website icon. Just like software programs can have custom file icons, websites can have custom icons that show up in a web browser. 

FIBER OPTIC CABLE [Fahy-ber Op-tik Key-buh l]
This is a cable made up of super-thin filaments of glass or other transparent materials that can carry beams of light. Because a fiber-optic cable is light-based, data can be sent through it at the speed of light. Using a laser transmitter that encodes frequency signals into pulses of light, ones and zeros are sent through the cable. The receiving end of the transmission translates the light signals back into data which can be read by a computer.

FIREWALL [Fahyuh r-wawl]
A security barrier that is intended to protect your computer from hackers and viruses.

FIRMWARE [Furm-wair]
Firmware is a software program or set of instructions programmed on a hardware device. It provides the necessary instructions for how the device communicates with the other computer hardware.

FTP [F.T.P.]
Stands for “File Transfer Protocol.” It is a common method of transferring files via the Internet from one computer to another. Some common FTP programs are “Fetch” for the Mac, and “WS_FTP” for Windows. However, you can also use a Web browser like Netscape or Internet Explorer to access FTP servers. To do this, you need to type the URL of the server into the location field of the browser.


GATEWAY [geyt-wey]
A gateway is a device that routes traffic between networks. For example, at home, your router is your gateway. It provides a “gateway” between your LAN and WAN.

GEOFENCING [g-o-fen-sing]
Creating a virtual boundary in which a device, individual or asset can be tracked and monitored or detected if the boundary is violated. Examples are the tracking of pets, children and Alzheimer’s patients, criminals sentenced to home detention, trucks and high-value cargos.

GIGABYTE [Giguh-bahyt]
A gigabyte is 2 to the 30th power, or 1,073,741,824 bytes. A gigabyte is 1,024 megabytes and precedes the terabyte unit of measurement. Hard drive sizes are typically measured in gigabytes, such as a 160GB or 250GB drive.

GIGAHERTZ [Giguh-hurts]
One gigahertz is equal to 1,000 megahertz (MHz) or 1,000,000,000 Hz. It is commonly used to measure computer processing speeds.


HACKER [Hak-er]
Someone who can gain unauthorized access to other computers. A hacker can “hack” his or her way through the security levels of a computer system or network. This can be as simple as figuring out somebody else’s password or as complex as writing a custom program to break another computer’s security software. 

Stands for “Hyper-Text Markup Language.” This is the language that Web pages are written in. Also known as hypertext documents, Web pages must conform to the rules of HTML in order to be displayed correctly in a Web browser. 

The hypertext transfer protocol is the standard protocol modern web browsers and the web itself uses. FTP and BitTorrent are examples of alternative protocols.

Stands for “HyperText Transport Protocol Secure.” HTTPS is the same thing as HTTP, but uses a secure socket layer (SSL) for security purposes. Some examples of sites that use HTTPS include banking and investment websites, e-commerce websites, and most websites that require you to log in.

HYPERLINK [Hahy-per-lingk]
A hyperlink is a word, phrase, or image that you can click on to jump to a new document or a new section within the current document. Hyperlinks are found in nearly all Web pages, allowing users to click their way from page to page.


Internet Message Access Protocol is an email protocol in which email is received and held for you by your email server. You can view only the heading and the sender of the message and then decide whether to download the mail. IMAP requires continuous access to the server during the time you are working with your email.

IP ADDRESS [I.P. Uh-dres]
Every machine on a network has a unique identifier. Just as you would address a letter to send in the U. S. mail, computers use the unique identifier to send data to specific computers on a network. This is known as the Internet Protocol address, or IP address.

INTERNET [In-ter-net]
A vast computer network linking smaller computer networks worldwide. The Internet includes commercial, educational, government, and other networks, all of which use the same set of communications protocols.

INTRANET [In-truh-net]
An Intranet is an internal or private network that can only be accessed within the confines of a company, university, or organization. “Inter” means “between or among,” hence the difference between the Internet and an Intranet.

IOS [I.O.S.]
The operating system that runs on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.


JAVA [Jah-vuh]
The computer science world uses it to refer to a programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. The syntax of Java is much like that of C/C++, but it is object-oriented and structured around “classes” instead of functions.

JAVASCRIPT [Jah-vuh-skript]
While JavaScript is based on the Java syntax, it is a scripting language, and therefore cannot be used to create stand-alone programs. Instead, it is used mainly to create dynamic, interactive Web pages.

JPEG [Jey-peg]
a JPEG is a compressed image file format. JPEG images are not limited to a certain amount of color, like GIF images are. Therefore, the JPEG format is best for compressing photographic images. So if you see a large, colorful image on the Web, it is most likely a JPEG file.


KEYWORD [Kee-wurd]
Keywords are used on the Web in two different ways: 1) as search terms for search engines, and 2) words that identify the content of the website.


LAN [L.A.N.]
A local area network is a small network that’s confined to a local area. For example, your home network or an office network is a LAN.

LINK [Lingk]
A Web address or email address that is embedded on a Web page or within an email. It is a shortcut to another destination, and links you to another site.

LINUX [Linuh ks]
An open-source operating system that runs on a number of hardware platforms including PCs and Macintoshes. Linux is freely available over the Internet. 

LOCALHOST [Loh-kuh l-hohst]
The hostname “localhost” always corresponds to the device you’re using. This uses the loopback network interface — a network interface implemented in software — to connect directly to your own PC.


MAIL SERVER [Meyl Sur-ver]
A networked computer dedicated to supporting electronic mail. You use a client program like Microsoft Outlook for retrieving new mail from the server and for composing and sending messages. 

MALWARE [Mal-wair]
Malware stands for ‘malicious software’. It is any type of code or program cyber attackers use to perform malicious actions. Traditionally there have been different types of malware based on their capabilities and means of propagation, as we have listed below. However these technical distinctions are no longer relevant as modern malware combines the characteristics from each of these in a single program.

MODEM [Moh-duh m]
A device that enables a computer to send and receive information over a normal telephone line. Modems can either be external (a separate device) or internal (a board located inside the computer’s case) and are available with a variety of features such as error correction and data compression.

MULTIMEDIA [Muhl-tee-mee-dee-uh]
The delivery of information, usually to a personal computer, in a combination of different formats including text, graphics, animation, audio, and video. 


NATIVE FILE [Ney-tiv Fahyl]
When you save a file using a certain program, the file is often saved in a proprietary format only that program can recognize. For example, if you save a Microsoft Word document, it is saved as a Word document.

NETWORK [Net-wurk]
When you have two or more computers connected to each other, you have a network. The purpose of a network is to enable the sharing of files and information between multiple systems. 


OPERATING SYSTEM [Op-uh-rey-ting sis-tuh m]
The most important software that is installed on your computer. This program is like the “manager” of all the other computer programs. Examples:  Windows 7 or Macintosh OS X.


PATCH [Pach]
A patch is an update to a vulnerable program or system. A common practice to keep your computer and mobile devices secure is installing the latest vendor’s patches in a timely fashion. Some vendors release patches on a monthly or quarterly basis. Therefore, having a computer that is unpatched for even a few weeks could leave it vulnerable.

PHISHING [Fish-ing]
Phishing is a social engineering technique where cyber attackers attempt to fool you into taking an action in response to an email. Phishing was a term originally used to describe a specific attack scenario. Attackers would send out emails pretending to be a trusted bank or financial institution, their goal was to fool victims into clicking on a link in the email. Once clicked, victims were taken to a website that pretended to be the bank, but was really created and controlled by the attacker. If the victim attempted to login thinking they were at their bank, their login and password would then be stolen by the attacker. 

POP [P.O.P.]
Acronym for Post Office Protocol, a protocol used to retrieve email from a mail server. Your mail is saved for you in a single mailbox on the server.  When you read your mail, all of it is immediately delivered to your computer, and generally no longer maintained on the server.

PORT [Pawrt]
When an application wants to send or receive traffic, it has to use a numbered port between 1 to 65535. This is how you can have multiple applications on a computer using the network and each application knows which traffic is for it.

PROTOCOL [Proh-tuh-kawl]
A standard procedure for regulating data transmission between computers.


QUEUE [Kyoo]
A queue is a list of jobs that are awaiting to be processed. When a job is sent to a queue, it is simply added to the list of jobs. Computer programs often work with queues as a way to order tasks.

QUICKTIME [Kwik-Tahym]
This is a multimedia technology developed by our friends at Apple Computer. It is a popular format for creating and storing sound, graphics, and movie (.mov) files. Though it is an Apple technology, QuickTime software is available for both the Mac and the PC.


RAID [Reyd]
Stands for “Redundant Array of Independent Disks.” RAID is a method of storing data on multiple hard disks. When disks are arranged in a RAID configuration, the computer sees them all as one large disk. 

RAM [Ram]
Stands for “Random Access Memory,” and is pronounced like the male sheep. RAM is made up of small memory chips that form a memory module. These modules are installed in the RAM slots on the motherboard of your computer.

REMOTE ACCESS [Ri-moht Ak-ses]
The ability to access your computer from a remote location. Programs like PC Anywhere (Windows), Remote Access (Mac), and Timbuktu (Windows and Mac) allow users to control remote computers from their local machine.

REMOTE DESKTOP [Ri-moht Desk-top]
Remote desktop technology makes it possible to view another computer’s desktop on your computer. This means you can open folders, move files, and even run programs on the remote computer, right from your own desktop.

REMOTE USER [Ri-moht Yoo-zer]
A remote user is someone who works on a computer from a remote location. For example, if Bob leaves work and forgets to bring a file with him from his office computer, he might be able to connect to his work machine from his home computer and grab the file.

ROUTER [Rou-ter]
A router is a device that passes traffic back and forth. You likely have a home router. It’s that router’s job to pass outgoing traffic from your local devices to the Internet, and to pass incoming traffic from the Internet to your devices.


SEARCH ENGINE [Surch En-juh n]
Computer software that searches the Internet for specific information. Commonly used search engines include Google, Bing, or Yahoo.  

SECURITY TOKEN [Si-kyoo r-i-tee Toh-kuh n]
A small device used to provide an additional level of authorization to access a particular network service; the token itself may be embedded in some type of object like a key fob or on a smart card. Also referred to as an authentication token. 

SERVER [Sur-ver]
A computer that is responsible for responding to requests made by a client program (e.g., a web browser or an e-mail program) or computer. Also referred to as a “file server”. 

SMARTPHONE [Smahrt-fohn]
An advanced cell phone that can run a variety of applications, functioning much like a computer. Android phones and iPhones are the most popular smartphones on campus.

SPAM [Spam]
Unsolicited bulk or commercial email, electronic junk mail or junk newsgroup postings.

SSL [S.S.L.]
Secure Sockets Layer encrypts communications between the email servers and your computer so that your password is not sent in human-readable text.


TAPE DRIVE [Teyp Drahyv]
This is a removable storage device mainly used for backing up data. It is similar to a Zip Drive, but instead of Zip disks, it uses small tapes. The drive acts like a tape recorder, reading data from the computer and writing it onto the tape. 

TELECOMMUNICATIONS [Tel-i-kuh-myoo-ni-key-shuh nz]
Telecommunications is the transmission of analog or digital signals over a long distance. This includes telephone calls, radio and television broadcasts, and data transfers over the Internet. 

TERMINAL [Tur-muh-nl]
The word “terminal” comes from early computer systems that were used to send commands to other computers. Terminals often consist of just a keyboard and monitor, with a connection to another computer.

THIN CLIENT [Thin Klahy-uh nt]
Thin clients function as regular PCs, but lack hard drives and typically do not have extra I/O ports or other unnecessary features. Since they do not have hard drives, thin clients do not have any software installed on them. Instead, they run programs and access data from a server. 

TROUBLESHOOTING [Truhbuh l-shoot]
Computer troubleshooting may involve hardware or software and can sometimes involve both at the same time. The basic process of troubleshooting is to check the most general possible problems first, and then gradually check for more specific problems. This provides a logical approach to problem solving and can apply to multiple types of products.


UPLOAD [Uhp-lohd]
The process of transferring one or more files from your local computer to a remote computer. The opposite action is download. 

URL [U.R.L.]
A uniform resource locator, or URL, is also known as a web address. The current URL is displayed in your web browser’s address bar. For example, is an URL that tells your computer to use the hypertext transfer protocol HTTP to connect to the server at and ask for the file named article in the root directory. (The computer contacts its DNS server to find the IP address is associated with and connects using the TCP protocal on port 80.)

USB [U.S.B.]
A USB drive is a data storage device that uses flash memory with an integrated Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface. USB drives are typically removable and rewritable, and physically much smaller than a floppy disk. They also are called flash drives, jump drives, or thumb drives.


VIRTUALIZATION [Vur-choo-uh-lahyz]
Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as a hardware platform, operating system, a storage device or network resources. In hardware virtualization, the term host machine refers to the actual machine on which the virtualization takes place; the term guest machine, however, refers to the virtual machine. 

VIRUS [Vahy-ruh s]
A program intended to alter data on a computer in an invisible fashion, usually for mischievous or destructive purposes. Viruses are often transferred across the Internet as well as by infected diskettes and can affect almost every type of computer. Special antivirus programs are used to detect and eliminate them. 

Voice over Internet Protocol, or voice telephone over an Internet connection.

VPN [V.P.N.]
Virtual Private Network is a network access service that permits remote systems to access the ND network as if they were physically located on the ND campus network. In technical terms, a VPN allows remote systems to obtain a campus IP address for purposes of access to certain restricted on-campus systems. These systems use encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorized users can access the network and that the data cannot be intercepted.

VULNERABILITY [Vuhl-ner-uh-bil-i-tee]
This is any weakness that attackers or their malicious programs may be able to exploit. For example it can be a bug in a computer program or a misconfigured webserver. An attacker or malware may be able to take advantage of the vulnerability to gain unauthorized access to the affected system. However, vulnerabilities can also be a weakness in people or organizational processes.


WAN [W.A.N.]
A wide area network is a larger network that covers a wider area. Your ISP provides you with a connection to their own WAN, which connects to the Internet.

Wireless Local Area Network; the computers and devices that make up a wireless network. 

WAP [W.A.P.]
Wireless Application Protocol; a set of communication protocols for enabling wireless access to the Internet. 

WEBFILE [Web Fahyl]
WebFile is a way for you to access your Institutional File Space (IFS) using a Web browser. Institutional File Space at Notre Dame is also known as NetFile, AFS, H: and I: drives, Courseware, NDAccess, etc.

A wireless Internet connection.

WORM [Wurm]
A program that makes copies of itself and can spread outside your operating system worms can damage computer data and security in much the same way as viruses.

World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet. Originally all Web page addresses started with www, but most sites no longer require www, and some may not work if you use it in the Web address.


Stands for “Extensible Hypertext Markup Language.” Yes, apparently “Extensible” starts with an “X.” XHTML is a spinoff of the hypertext markup language (HTML) used for creating Web pages.

XML [X.M.L.]
Stands for “Extensible Markup Language.” (Yes, technically it should be EML). XML is used to define documents with a standard format that can be read by any XML-compatible application. 



A zip file (.zip) is a “zipped” or compressed file. For example, when you download a file, if the filename looks like this: “,” you are downloading a zipped file. 

A high capacity floppy disk drive from Iomega Corporation; the disks it uses are a little bit larger than a conventional diskette and are capable of holding 100 MB or 250 MB of data. 

Still have questions? Let one of our expert staff members answer any questions you still have.


Still have questions? Let one of our expert staff members answer any questions you still have.
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