The Internet is an important and unavoidable destination that most people visit one or more times a day. Whether using a home computer with a built-in camera, a smartphone, or a tablet, there are more ways and reasons than ever to go online. From the Internet, you can contact almost anyone or access nearly anything. Unfortunately, there are also more real risks than ever. Regardless of whether they are other teens or adults, cybercriminals can damage your devices, steal, terrorize you, and even harm you. Fortunately, there are ways to boost your online security and stay safe online. For your safety and the protection of your personal data and devices, it’s important to first understand the language that’s typically associated with online safety.
Adware: A code or program that installs unsolicited ads on computers
Antivirus: Software that is designed to prevent malware from harming a computer. Its functions typically include checking all executable files for signs of malware infection and scanning the computer’s file system for potentially infected files.
Bot: A malicious program, or malware, that installs itself onto a computer without permission. Bots connect to a central server and can steal data such as passwords or financial information from a computer, log keystrokes, induce the computer to interfere with the normal operation of other networks, or send spam.
Cyberbullies: Bullies who attack their victims on the Internet are called cyberbullies. Their methods include stalking, threats, personal attacks and name-calling, betraying a victim’s sensitive and embarrassing information to the public for the purposes of ridicule, and defamation of character, including maliciously false accusations.
Cybercrime: Any activity that is a violation of the law and is carried out using computers and the Internet
Cyberstalking: The act of tracking, harassing, or otherwise stalking a person online
Firewall: Security software or hardware that serves as a protective shield for a computer or network. Its purpose is to filter all incoming and outgoing data to prevent malware or malicious information from entering the system and prevent the unauthorized distribution of information outside of the system.
Griefing: Bullying or harassment of players while playing online games
Hacker: A person who uses a computer or other online device to gain unauthorized access to data and/or control of computer systems or digital devices
Identity theft: A crime in which a person’s private and vital information, such as their banking information or Social Security number, is stolen and used, typically for financial gain. Viruses, online scams, and spyware are all common methods used in identity theft.
Malware: Programs created to compromise the security of a computer or network. Malware comes in many forms, including adware, browser-hijacking code, spyware, and worms. Malware can damage or delete important files or copy sensitive data, including passwords, Social Security numbers, and other personal information, and distribute it to unauthorized recipients.
Monitoring software: Software that enables parents to monitor their child’s Internet use, including emails and websites visited
Password: A secret code that a user must know in order to prove their identity and log into a network or system. It usually accompanies a username. Passwords are very important, as they are necessary for access to most computers and networks.
Pharming: The redirection of users from a legitimate site to a fake one that looks real, where scammers steal personal information
Phishing: A form of cybercrime that uses Internet-based or other electronic communications to fraudulently acquire personal information from a person. It involves tricking the intended victim into giving away critical details about their identity, account passwords, or access to financial assets, among other forms of sensitive information. Typical examples of phishing include scam emails, phone calls, or IMs or using fake websites to trick people into submitting vital information. Phishing is a form of social engineering.
Ransomware: A form of malware that makes your data unavailable until you pay a ransom to regain access
Scareware: Malware meant to scare computer users into purchasing and downloading dangerous software
Security software: Software such as antivirus and firewall programs that protects computers and their data against online threats
Sexting: Sending and receiving sexually explicit messages, images, and/or videos using digital devices. Sexting is common among tweens and teens but can be very dangerous to your future reputation.
Spam: Unsolicited email that is intended to sell something to the recipient or scam them
Spyware: Software that’s installed on a person’s computer without their consent or knowledge. Once installed, it gathers or tracks information on how the computer is used, then sends it back to the cybercriminal who created it.
Social Engineering: A method of psychological manipulation by which the perpetrator convinces someone to do something, often giving away important information that compromises security in some way. Examples include phishing, leaving malware-infected USB drives around for curious people to insert into their computers (baiting), and tricking businesses into divulging customer information (pretexting), which is a tool often used by private investigators as well as cybercriminals.
Trojan: A form of malware that pretends to be something benign and useful in order to access sensitive files and information, install spyware, or otherwise make a computer vulnerable to hackers
Virus: A self-replicating program that spreads from one computer to another, compromising the security of each one that it infects
Vulnerability: A flaw in a system that leaves it susceptible to infection or exploitation by hackers
Additional Resources for Staying Safe Online
General Internet Safety
- About Firewalls
- How Can I Protect My Computer With Antivirus Software?
- Malware: Viruses, Spyware, Adware, and Other Malicious Software
- Cybersecurity: Passwords
- Password Management
Keeping Kids Safe Online
- Keeping Kids Safe Online
- Keeping a Child Safe on the Internet
- Keeping Children Safe Online
- Stay Safe Online
Social Media Safety
- Securing Key Accounts and Devices: Social Media
- Social Networking Safety
- Social Media Safety
- Six Social Media Safety Tips