The topic of internet security comes with a ton of complex concepts and topics, and understanding them all can be a real challenge. We recognize this challenge and have decided to help you out with a glossary of relevant terms, abbreviations, acronyms, and their definitions.

Ad blocker

An Adblocker is a tool designed to block any intrusive advertisements, often in the form of pop-ups. Ad blockers can also come as browser extensions and can also work in tandem with a content blocker. While the ad blocker handles the ads, the content blocker can block ads and cookies.


AES is an acronym that stands for Advanced Encryption Standard. It refers to a technique used to encrypt the communication of data between any devices. It is thus a way to achieve a much safer form of digital communication. AES comes in “key sizes” namely 128, 156, and 192 bits, and gets used often in encrypting VPN connections.


To be regarded as anonymous or to have anonymity is to have your name withheld on public domains. You are also anonymous if it is difficult or impossible to identify you from a group of users.

Anonymous email

An anonymous email is a kind of email address with an untraceable owner. It is a kind of email address that can forward messages to the actual email address automatically. There are a good number of places where one can create an email like this.


Anti-spam refers to a kind of technique, hardware, or software whose function is to block spam. Spam refers to unsolicited mass messaging. Thus, anti-spam tools keep any junk mail or spam from your email account. It does this by detecting and weeding out any emails it regards as undesirable or harmful such as phishing emails.

Asymmetric encryption

In this type of encryption, two different types of keys are used. These asymmetric keys are private and public. The private key can only be assessed by the owner while the public key is available to the general public. Furthermore, the public key encrypts while the private key decrypts.


Backdoors are a form of hidden entrances built into software that grants one a way past encryption and security features. These backdoors are installed intentionally during the design stage. The bad thing is hackers can also utilize these backdoors to gain access to your devices.


Bandwidth refers to the highest possible amount of data your network can send across a communication channel. ISPs often measure bandwidth speeds in:

  • Bps (bits per second)
  • Kbps (kilobits per second)
  • Mbps (megabits per second)
  • Gbps (gigabits per second)

Each of these speeds is higher than the one before it and if the speed increases, you’ll be able to download data faster.


Bitcoin is a very popular cryptocurrency, often characterized by its mode of exchange — it operates on a decentralized system. All bitcoin transactions work through the blockchain and are encrypted, making it an anonymous payment method.


BitTorrent is a communication protocol used for peer-to-peer file sharing. It is often used to share software, music, and movies.

Browser extension

Browser extensions are a kind of software that affords your browser and devices a bunch of extra functionalities. Browser extension’s functionalities range from protecting your privacy to ad blocking and even saving your passwords.

Browser fingerprinting

Browser fingerprinting refers to a technique used to identify the user of a computer. With browser fingerprinting, a third party can keep track of your online activities. It is considerably difficult to get full protection from browser fingerprinting.

Bug bounty program

A bug bounty program is a project designed by an organization to reward third-party individuals for finding security bugs in their software. These kinds of individuals are often known as “white hat hackers” and will document any bugs or threats they encounter to help with assessment and assigning a threat level — all of which determine the amount of payment.


Catfishing is a social engineering scam in which the perpetrator creates a false online profile to target their victims on social media platforms. The catfish can do this for a variety of reasons like spying on people unnoticed, manipulating the victims, or kickstarting targeted harassment.

Certificate authority

Certificate authority refers to a body that can give digital certificates. The digital certificates show that the holder has ownership of a public cryptographic key.


A cipher is a tool used to decrypt encrypted data. Also known as an encryption algorithm, ciphers consist of a mathematical algorithm. Hackers treat ciphers like a lock to crack while security experts aim to improve the cipher.

Connection methods

A “connection” is established when two or more devices communicate with one another. With VPN, a connection method would then refer to the method through which a device connects with a server. The types of VPN connection methods are quite a few, including L2TP, PPTP, and OpenVPN — with each of these methods having their traits.


Cookies refer to a file that consists of a small text document and is created by any website you visit. These ‘cookies’ are then forwarded to your browser. Cookies contain really sensitive data about you, including the username on specific sites, the kind of stuff you shop, and your website preferences — all of which make it easy to identify you.


Cyberbullying is a form of cyberstalking and refers to the harmful actions involved with it. It takes a variety of forms including sharing harmful content about someone, thereby exposing them to public humiliation.


Cyberstalking refers to a type of harassment where the attacker utilizes digital tools to stalk their victims. These tools include email, location trackers, etc. Cyberstalking often devolves into crimes such as doxxing, physical threats, identity theft, and blackmail.

Dark web

The dark web is a sub-part of a much larger place known as the deep web. The deep web holds a ton of websites that exist outside any search engine’s index. You can only gain access to these websites using a secret password.

The dark web is characterized by numerous illicit and fraudulent websites which often trade in taboo content.


DD-WRT is an open-source alternative firmware designed for routers. It is Linux-based and available for a lot of different types of routers. Thanks to its many nifty features like creating VPN compatibility in routers that otherwise would not support a VPN, DD-WRT has ballooned in popularity.


Decryption refers to the conversion of encrypted data into readable information whether to be read by humans or computers. It is the reverse of encryption. Encryption turns data into ciphertext while decryption converts it into plaintext.

Dedicated IP

This refers to a unique IP address specifically assigned to your hosting websites and account. It is often provided by a network administrator or an ISP. Dedicated IP addresses are primarily used for websites that run on the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) verification.


Deepface is a kind of synthetic media that utilizes machine learning and artificial intelligence(AI) to create hyper-realistic and often altered visual and audio material. Deepfake merges altered visuals and audio files to trick people into believing that the portrayed final image is authentic.

Digital footprint

A user’s digital footprint is a series of online activities that leave behind visible traces. Digital footprints are either passive or active. Passive digital footprints encompass browsing activity and data files such as cookies, while active digital footprints are social media posts, accounts, and other intentional activities.

While a digital footprint is a great way to build an online reputation, it is also a serious privacy concern. It leaves you open to tailored ads and even exposes you to cyberstalking.


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act a.k.a DMCA, is a piece of American legislation instituted to protect intellectual property. The DMCA prohibits the creation and distribution of any software whose purpose is bypassing digital security protocols.

Since it protects copyright as well, the DMCA affords creators the right to demand their content be taken off a website and its servers or risk a lawsuit. This is often accomplished with the use of a subpoena known as a DMCA takedown notice.


DNS is an acronym for Domain Name System which is a collection of servers. These servers serve as a directory of domain names. With DNS, you can easily translate domain names into readable, usable IP addresses to connect you with the right server.

DNS Leak

A DNS leak occurs when a user connected to a VPN unintentionally visits a website outside of the VPN’s servers — using the DNS server.

Download fine

Download fines are issued as punishment when an individual downloads any copyrighted content from unofficial sources. The fine is dependent on the laws regarding copyright in the specific location.

Dynamic IP

Dynamic IP is a kind of IP that undergoes a lot of frequent changes. It is the IP assigned to a node or computing device when either of them is connected to a network.


Eavesdropping refers to the covert interception of unencrypted information flowing between two points. Hackers are famous for utilizing this technique to steal tokens or glean other sensitive data.


Encryption refers to the use of a cipher to encode information such that only users with authorization can access the information. Encrypted data is often distorted to keep its content a secret, except for those with a key to decrypt it into sensible information.

End-to-end encryption

End-to-end encryption refers to a type of encryption that keeps the data protected from the “start” to the “end”. For services that don’t use this type of encryption, data is decrypted before it reaches the user. Hackers can hijack this flaw and steal data.


Ethernet is the commonly utilized ‘wired networking technology’ that allows multiple devices to communicate within a local area network. The connection is aided by fiber optic cables to transfer information.

Ethical hacking

This type of hacking seeks only to identify any weaknesses in a network, or software. An ethical hacker is often a cybersecurity expert who is allowed to legally hack their client to uncover any vulnerabilities and is expected to proffer solutions to prevent the exploitation of those flaws.

Evil twin

Evil twin cyberattacks involve the act of setting up a fake Wi-Fi network made to resemble a real network to steal user data.

Factory reset

A factory reset refers to a method of data cleaning that aids in the total erasure of data from a device.

A factory reset restores the device to the state it was when it was originally bought, meaning you lose apps and settings images.


A firewall is a form of security measure put in place to control and/or monitor network traffic. They are used to block any unauthorized access which may be deemed harmful or untrustworthy.

The Five Eyes

The Five Eyes is a group consisting of five countries that have come together in a collaborative effort to aid the improvement of their individual and collective espionage activities. The five eyes are the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.


Government Communications Headquarters, also known as GCHQ, is the United Kingdom’s version of the American Intelligence Agency (NSA). They caught everyone’s attention recently thanks to the Tempora program which is capable of tracking and storing around 60% of global internet traffic.


Geofencing is a type of tech used to create virtual boundaries in real life with the use of Wi-Fi, cellular data, RFID, or GPS. when a device enters or leaves this pre-defined area, the software is alerted to that, and a pre-programmed action is taken.

Geographic restrictions

Geographic restrictions refer to measures taken to ensure certain online content is only accessible within specific locations. You can use a VPN to bypass these “geo-blocks”.


A handshake in IT terms refers to the process by which SSL/TLS verifies and exchanges certificates. A handshake occurs when two or more devices have an encrypted connection.


Not to be confused with an HTTP connection, a HTTPS connection differs in the choice of protocol. HTTPS connections primarily run on an encrypted SSL protocol for added security. HTTPS is used to securely exchange data, ensuring sensitive information stays private.


Internet Key Exchange version 2 or IKEv2 is a method of exchanging encryption keys within the IPsec protocol.

IP Address

Your IP address, or Internet Protocol address is an identification code used to set up internet connections. With your IP address, your real location, and your identity. A VPN can keep your IP hidden from any snoopers or hackers.

IP binding

IP binding refers to a technique that activates programs only when you use a particular IP address. The IP is often connected to a VPN service. With IP binding, programs in your computer get blocked from unintentionally connecting to the internet — unless via a safe IP address, often provided by the VPN.


IPsec which stands for Internet Protocol Security, is a kind of security protocol that helps with encrypting and authenticating data right before it gets transmitted over the Internet. It also has end-to-end encryption.

IP surveillance

IP surveillance works thusly, an IP camera takes a video and then transmits it through an IP network using a LAN.


IPv4 refers to Internet Protocol version 4 and is the default system used for the creation of IP addresses. Unfortunately, there are only a limited number of IPv4 addresses remaining due to the internet’s rapid growth.


IPv6 refers to Internet Protocol version 6 and is a sequel to the IPv4 protocol. The IP addresses created by IPv6 are 128-bit ensuring the possible amount of addresses is 2^128 — enough to cover for when we run out of IPv4 addresses.


ISP stands for Internet Service Provider and refers to the company in charge of providing users with an Internet connection. The ISP caters to all kinds of internet connections.


Jailbreaking refers to the act of removing restrictions on the iPhone and other constrained devices. Jailbreaking helps users make much-needed tweaks to their devices and also use third-party applications. It is legal but Apple frowns upon it as it violates the device warranty.


A keylogger is a piece of hardware with which a hacker stores each stroke made by the user without them ever knowing. A keylogger is perfectly legal but since it is mostly used for malicious activity, it is frowned upon.

Kill switch

A kill switch is a nifty feature that comes with most VPNs. it must shut down internet connections if it senses the VPN connection has failed. A kill switch is important because VPN connections are not 100% consistent and can experience failure at any time. The switch aids IP/DNS leak protection.


A killware is a kind of cyberattack designed to inflict real and serious physical harm and even result in the death of the target. An example of a killware is an attack on hospitals, banks, and other sectors that affect human life and means of livelihood.


L2TP stands for Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol and it is a tool that VPNs use for encrypting and authenticating data. This protocol can not solely set up VPN connections so it works in collaboration with IPsec.


The L2TP/IPsec combines the L2TP and IPsec to make for a more secure VPN connection protocol.


When a computer is acting as a virtual server while executing a program, it is referred to as a local host. In this setup, the computer can still be referred to or identified using its IP address.


A Log is a file that is stored by your device, ISP, websites, and VPN providers. The storage of logs has multiple uses, like identifying an individual for example.

Mac address

A MAC address is an alphanumeric code used as a means of device identification. This code comprises 12 characters in 6 groups of pairs e.g. 0A:1B:2C:3A:44:5C. This code comes with the interface card on the device and it helps users connect to the internet seamlessly.


Metadata refers to the traits associated with information like text documents, websites, and images. Metadata describes three key things: the time a file was used, by whom it was used, and how long ago it has been since it was used. Metadata does not bode well for any privacy concerns.

Network sniffing

The process of recording, investigating, and observing data packets as they move through a network is known as network sniffing. It is a method often utilized by network administrators to check for any problems or maybe just monitor bandwidth consumption. Hackers can hijack this process for more nefarious purposes as well — stealing sensitive data before they even get to their destination.


The NSA, or National Security Agency, is the agency charged to monitor, gather, and process data for intelligence.


The act of intentionally concealing or distorting code to keep it from any form of tampering is known as obfuscation. The programs designed to achieve obfuscation are fully functional but very difficult to notice, block, or even tweak.

Onion domain

A .onion domain refers to a kind of website only accessible using the Tor browser. The domain uses a vast relay of proxy servers making it too difficult for regular browsers to adequately navigate.

Open-source software

If the software is open-source, it means that its source code is open to the public for no extra cost. Open-source software is thus subject to external contributions and tweaks. It also encourages quicker bug fixes.


OpenVPN is one of the most secure VPN encryption protocols and is utilized often to establish encrypted connections. It is also open-source.


P2P refers to the nature of a connection between two users. It stands for peer-to-peer, especially in the context of file exchange, often torrents.

P2P connections do not use servers, and as such, whatever is transmitted is smoothly sent from one peer to the other with zero server interference. BitTorrent is a famous P2P network but its users should be aware that without a VPN, they are easy to track.

Packet sniffing

Packet sniffing refers to inspecting the flow of online traffic across a network. A packet sniffer can either be hardware or software. The act of packet sniffing is perfectly legal and serves as a means to ascertain the health of a network. It can, however, be used for nefarious purposes.

Password manager

Password managers are programs designed to help with the generation of unique and secure passwords, and also save those passwords securely.


A Ping refers to a tool for testing the existence and reachability of an IP address. It functions by first sending a small data packet to the desired device and when the data packet is sent back, the quality and responsiveness of the device (its ping) can be defined.


PPTP refers to the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol. It is an outdated VPN protocol that is currently unsafe to use.


PGP means Pretty Good Privacy which works as an email message encryption protocol. PGP encrypts both the texts and any file attached, but can not encrypt the email header — which contains metadata, raising privacy concerns.


A proxy refers to a server that acts as a stand-in server between your device and the internet. With proxy servers, you can alter your virtual location. However, since proxy servers do not encrypt any user data, you can not trust them to protect your privacy.

QR code phishing

A QR code phishing scam is a social engineering cyber attack in which unsuspecting victims are tricked into using a QR code that in turn robs them of sensitive information.


Routers are devices responsible for the forwarding of data between user devices and the internet. Routers work thusly; they receive data packets from a network of connected devices, then they read the address of that network and ‘route’ the data packets to another network. The process continues until it gets to the final destination.


SmartDNS is a VPN service that helps users get around geo-blocking. A SmartDNS utilizes a virtual location to help replace the original location to circumvent any geographical restrictions.


Spyware refers to any kind of malware used to obtain data from one device and relay it to a third party, all without the owner’s consent or knowledge. Spyware technology can be utilized by hackers, snoopers and even law enforcement. 


SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and works as a cryptographic protocol designed to encrypt communication from one device to another. SSL can encrypt websites, messages, VoIP, and email.

Static IP

This kind of IP does not vary with time, once the ISP issues it, it stays linked to the device for life regardless of any modifications.


Telemetry refers to the process of collecting data from a considerable distance. For tech, this can mean any kind of data collection where the collector is miles away like via browsers and operating systems.


TLS or Transport Layer Security is a kind of encryption used to secure digital communication. It is the successor to SSL.


Tor or The Onion Router is an internet network that helps users browse the web anonymously. The way it works is similar to the onion’s structure; with each connection being a layer of the onion. Data packets are then sent through these layers in tiny bits, making it difficult to track or intercept the data.

The Tor network can be used to keep yourself safe while surfing the web but also has the potential for illegal activity.

Two-factor authentication (2FA)

2FA is a means by which a user’s identity is verified. The verification often involves providing two tiers of proof of one’s identity. This two-stage verification makes it hard for anyone else to access your accounts or data.


A URL or Uniform Resource Locator, is the usable address with which we can access any website. The alphanumeric address also contains info about IP and can be exploited for private data.


VoIP is a unique mode of calls that utilizes internet connections. Regular calls often occur over traditional analog infrastructure but VoIP calls can be made on a smartphone, desktop, IP phone, or even a virtual phone simulator.


A VPN or Virtual Private Network is software used to set up a private network inside of a public network. VPNs can encrypt all kinds of online traffic, ensuring that none of your online activities are readable.

VPN connection

A VPN connection refers to the established link between the user and their choice of VPN server. It is secured by formidable encryption.

VPN client

A VPN client refers to software that grants users an easier connection to the VPN service. This client can either be free or part of a paid service. Some of its functions include selecting the right or selected VPN protocol and setting up a connection.

VPN protocol

A VPN protocol is the type of encryption/authentication used to set up a secure VPN connection. There is a large variety of VPN protocols that can be used. The most widely known protocols are OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP.

VPN server

A VPN server is owned and maintained by a VPN service to ensure maximum safety and anonymity. A VPN server is an intermediate point from which data comes out encrypted before it gets to the internet.

VPN tunnel

A VPN tunnel refers to a securely encrypted virtual connection, often one between the user’s device and a VPN server.


A whistleblower is any individual who exposes unsavory or illegal activities occurring within an organization. The organization can be public, private, or government-owned. Whistleblowing often reveals helpful information to punish crime that had previously been hidden from the public.

Wi-Fi hotspot

A Wi-Fi hotspot refers to a public wireless network with which provides access to the Internet. Wi-fi hotspots can be found in public places everywhere, from cafes to hotels and even libraries.


VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. A VPS server is one out from the much bigger server network bought for private usage.

Yellow hat hacker

A yellow hat hacker is a type of hacker who primarily focuses on social media accounts. They of course do this with criminal or malicious intent like the distribution of harmful software, embarrassing files, or data theft.

Zero client

A Zero client is a kind of computing device that operates without a hard drive, software, processing power, or even memory. This minimalistic device relies on remote servers, is low maintenance, and is secure for accessing complex virtual desktop infrastructure.


The Narrowband is a mode of communication that utilizes a narrow range of frequencies with which it transmits data. This type of communication is of limited capacity, making use of limited bandwidth and thus making transmitting data over a long distance much easier.