IT Glossary

This is a collection of IT terms, buzzwords and acronyms that are helpful in understanding the world of computers and networks.  They are alphabetical in ascending order.

Term

Definition

All-in-Ones

Desk-based PCs that have the monitor housed within the system casing. The monitor is a flat screen, which can be a touchscreen. Examples include Apple’s iMac, HP’s TouchSmart, Lenovo’s ThinkCentre Edge, Dell’s Inspiron One, Acer’s Z5801, Asus’ E-Top and Sony’s VAIO VPC.

AP

Access Point.  A network access point in a wireless local area network (WLAN), consisting of a transmitter/receiver and a network connection, enabling WLAN computers to access network resources connected to a home or enterprise network.

Application

App.  It is a computer program designed to perform a group of coordinated functions, tasks, or activities for the benefit of the user.

Bit

A bit (short for binary digit) is the smallest unit of data in a computer. A bit has a single binary value, either 0 or 1. Although computers usually provide instructions that can test and manipulate bits, they generally are designed to store data and execute instructions in bit multiples called bytes.

BitCoin

Bitcoins are a form of Cryptocurrency, meaning they do not have a physical representation.  Instead they are stored in an online exchange in anonymous wallets.  They can be transferred anywhere in the world via the Internet.  They can be paid from anywhere, to anywhere with total anonymity.  The long and short of it is they are the ideal form of payment for illicit activities, and hackers.  At this time a bitcoin is worth roughly $230.

Blue Tooth

Is a low-power wireless networking technology operating in the 2.4 GHz band. There are two classes of Bluetooth device — Class 1 devices have higher output power and a range of about 100 meters, and Class 2 devices have lower power and a range of about 10 meters. Bluetooth enables networking of up to eight devices (supporting voice and data). Bluetooth Version 2.1, supports data rates of up to 3 Mbps, and simplified “pairing” — the process used for securely linking one Bluetooth device to another. It also reduced power consumption, doubling the battery life of headsets and other mobile devices for which the Bluetooth radio consumes a large percentage of the power budget. Version 3.0 (“Seattle”)  supports data rates of up to 24 Mbps

Broadband

Information channels carried on coaxial or fiber-optic cables that have a wider bandwidth than conventional telephone lines, giving them the ability to carry video, voice and data simultaneously. Cable modems and digital subscriber line (DSL) technologies are examples of broadband connectivity.

Browser

Is a software program used to locate and display information on the Internet or an intranet. Browsers are most often used to access Web pages. Most can display graphics, photographs and text; multimedia information (e.g., sound and video) may require additional software, often referred to as “plug-ins.”

Byte

The byte is a unit of digital information that most commonly consists of eight bits. Historically, the byte was the number of bits used to encode a single character of text in a computer and for this reason it is the smallest addressable unit of memory in many computer architectures.

Download

The process of bringing a file down to a computer through a network and typically from a server, or some other computing device. Download times can be greatly affected by the method of connection to the network.

DSL

A technology for high-speed network or Internet access over voice lines. There are various types, including asymmetric DSL (ADSL), high-bit-rate DSL (HDSL), symmetric DSL (SDSL) and very-high-bit-rate DSL (VDSL). The whole group is sometimes referred to as “xDSL.”

Encryption

Is the process of systematically encoding a bit stream of information before transmission so that an unauthorized party cannot decipher it if it is intercepted.

Ethernet

A local-area network (LAN) specification originally developed by Xerox.  It is often used to describe wired network (as opposed to wireless) connections containing 8 wires in twisted pairs.

Firewall

Is an application or an entire computer (e.g., an Internet gateway server) that controls access to the network and monitors the flow of network traffic. A firewall can screen and keep out unwanted network traffic and ward off outside intrusion into a private network. This is particularly important when a local network connects to the Internet. Firewalls have become critical applications as use of the Internet has increased.

FTP

A Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) standard used to log onto a network, list directories and copy files on a remote host. It is the preferred method of transferring large files.

Gateway

A device that sits between different networks or applications. The gateway converts information, data or other communications from one protocol or format to another. A router may perform some of the functions of a gateway. An Internet gateway can transfer communications between an enterprise network and the Internet. Because enterprises often use protocols on their local-area networks (LANs) that differ from those of the Internet, a gateway will often act as a protocol converter so that users can send and receive communications over the Internet.

Gigabyte

One billion (109) bytes.

GUI

Graphical User Interface.  A graphics-based operating system interface that uses icons, menus and a mouse to manage interaction with the system. Developed by Xerox, the GUI was popularized by the Apple Macintosh in the 1980s. At the time, Microsoft’s operating system, MS-DOS, required the user to type specific commands, but the company’s GUI, Microsoft Windows, is now the dominant user interface for personal computers  Application program conformance with a single user interface style is the primary determinant of ease of learning and use, and thus, of application effectiveness and user productivity.

Hacker

A person who secretly gets access to a computer system in order to get information, cause damage, etc.  This is usually a person who hacks into a computer system to illegally gain access to and sometimes tamper with information.

Internet

The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link billions of devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and peer-to-peer networks for file sharing. The origins of the Internet date back to research and development commissioned by the United States government, the United Kingdom government and the government of France in the 1960s to build robust, fault-tolerant communication via computer networks.  This work, led to the primary precursor network, the ARPANET.  The interconnection of regional academic networks in the 1980s marks the beginning of the transition to the modern Internet.  From the late 1980s onward, the network experienced sustained exponential growth as generations of institutional, personal, and mobile computers were connected to it.

ISP

Internet Service Provider.  These companies provide access to the Internet. Examples are Cox, Time Warner, ATT etc.

Kilobytes

One thousand (103) bytes.

LAN

Local Area Network.  It is a computer network that spans a relatively small area. Most often, a LAN is confined to a single room, building or group of buildings, however, one LAN can be connected to other LANs over any distance via telephone lines and radio waves.  Can be wired or wireless. 

Linux

Linux is a Unix-based computer operating system and was originally designed as free software for open-source development. Its source code can be freely modified, used and redistributed by anyone under the GNU Public License. Several GUIs run on top of Linux, including K Desktop Environment and GNU Network Object Model Environment. Of the many distributions of Linux, the most-popular enterprise versions include those from Red Hat (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), Novell (SUSE Enterprise Linux), Ubuntu and Debian.

Megabyte

One million (106) bytes.

Modem

Modulator-Demodulator.  It is a network hardware device that modulates one or more carrier wave signals to encode digital information for transmission and demodulates signals to decode the transmitted information. The goal is to produce a signal that can be transmitted easily and decoded to reproduce the original digital data.  Modems are often provided by an ISP to convert from cable or DSL to Ethernet.

Network

Any number of computers (e.g., PCs and servers) and devices (e.g., printers and modems) joined together by a physical communications link. In the enterprise context, networks allow information to be passed between computers, irrespective of where those computers are located. Networks provide the roads for information traffic (e.g., sending files and e-mail) within a corporate environment, and allow users to access databases and share applications residing on servers. If a network does not go outside of a company building, or campus, then it is known as a local-area network (LAN). If it has a bridge to other outside networks, usually via lines owned by public telecommunications carriers like AT&T, then it is known as a wide-area network (WAN).

Open Source

Open source describes software that comes with permission to use, copy and distribute, either as is or with modifications, and that may be offered either free or with a charge. The source code must be made available.

OS

Operating System.  An OS is software that, after being loaded into the computer by an initial boot program, manages a computer’s resources, controlling the flow of information into and from a main processor. OSs perform complex tasks, such as memory management, control of displays and other input/output peripheral devices, networking and file management, and other resource allocation functions between software and system components. The OS provides the foundation on which applications, middleware and other infrastructure components function.  The most prevalent are Microsoft Windows, UNIX and Apple IOS.

P2P

Peer-to-Peer.  A style of networking in which computers communicate directly with one another rather than routing traffic through managed central servers and networks.

Phishing

Phishing is a form of fraud in which the attacker tries to learn information such as login credentials or account information by masquerading as a reputable entity or person in email, IM or other communication channels.

POP

Post Office Protocol.  In computing, the Post Office Protocol is an Internet standard protocol used by local programs to retrieve e-mail from a remote server over a TCP/IP connection.  POP has been developed through several versions, with version 3 (POP3) being the last standard in common use before largely made obsolete by the more advanced IMAP.

RFID

Radio Frequency Indentification.  is the wireless use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. Some tags are powered by electromagnetic induction from magnetic fields produced near the reader. Some types collect energy from the interrogating radio waves and act as a passive transponder. Other types have a local power source such as a battery and may operate at hundreds of meters from the reader. Unlike a barcode, the tag does not necessarily need to be within line of sight of the reader and may be embedded in the tracked object. RFID is one method for Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC).[1]

 

RFID tags are used in many industries, for example, an RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line; RFID-tagged pharmaceuticals can be tracked through warehouses; and implanting RFID microchips in livestock and pets allows positive identification of animals.

 

Since RFID tags can be attached to cash, clothing, and possessions, or implanted in animals and people, the possibility of reading personally-linked information without consent has raised serious privacy concerns.[2]

Router

A router is a networking device that forwards data packets between computer networks. Routers perform the "traffic directing" functions on the Internet. A data packet is typically forwarded from one router to another through the networks that constitute the internetwork until it reaches its destination node.

 

A router is connected to two or more data lines from different networks (as opposed to a network switch, which connects data lines from one single network). When a data packet comes in on one of the lines, the router reads the address information in the packet to determine its ultimate destination. Then, using information in its routing table or routing policy, it directs the packet to the next network on its journey. This creates an overlay internetwork.

 

The most familiar type of routers are home and small office routers that simply pass data, such as web pages, email, IM, and videos between the home computers and the Internet. An example of a router would be the owner's cable or DSL router, which connects to the Internet through an ISP.

SAN

Storage Area Network.  It consists of two tiers: The first tier — the storage plumbing tier — provides connectivity between nodes in a network and transports device-oriented commands and status. At least one storage node must be connected to this network. The second tier — the software tier — uses software to provide value-added services that operate over the first tier.

SMTP

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.  A messaging protocol governing electronic-mail transmission in Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) networks. It is used to transfer e-mail between computers. It is a server-to-server protocol. SMTP supports only text and cannot handle attachments.

Streaming

Technique that supports the continuous, one-way transmission of audio and/or video data via the Internet and, more recently, via a mobile network. In contrast to audio (for example, MP3) and movie (for example, MPEG) files that must first be downloaded, streaming media begins playing within a few seconds of the request. To compensate for variations in network quality and latency, the client buffers a few seconds of audio or video before beginning delivery, then tries to stay ahead during playback. Examples of streaming systems include Windows Media, QuickTime and RealPlayer.

TCP/IP

A set of protocols covering (approximately) the network and transport layers of the seven-layer Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) network model. TCP/IP was developed during a 15-year period under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Defense. It has achieved de facto standard status, particularly as higher-level layers over Ethernet.

Terabyte

One trillion (1012) bytes.

URL

Uniform resource Locator. This is the character string that identifies an Internet document’s exact name and location.

USB

Universal Serial Bus.  It is an industry standard developed in the mid-1990s that defines the cables, connectors and communications protocols used in a bus for connection, communication, and power supply between computers and electronic devices. It is currently developed by the USB Implementers Forum.

 

USB was designed to standardize the connection of computer peripherals (including keyboards, pointing devices, digital cameras, printers, portable media players, disk drives and network adapters) to personal computers, both to communicate and to supply electric power. It has become commonplace on other devices, such as smartphones, PDAs and video game consoles.[3] USB has effectively replaced a variety of earlier interfaces, such as serial and parallel ports, as well as separate power chargers for portable devices.

Virtual Machine

A virtual machine (VM) is a software implementation of a hardware-like architecture, which executes predefined instructions in a fashion similar to a physical central processing unit (CPU). A VM can be used to create a cross-platform computing environment that loads and runs on computers independently of their underlying CPUs and operating systems. A notable example is the Java Virtual Machine, the environment created on a host computer to run Java applets. Although VMs have existed longer than Java, Java has made VMs highly visible.

Web Email

An e-mail option that requires only a browser. A user can walk up to any Internet-connected device (e.g., a PC or airport kiosk), launch a browser, connect to a Web mail server, enter a user name and password and check e-mail.

Web Hosting

A service in which a vendor offers the housing of business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce websites via vendor-owned shared or dedicated servers and applications for enterprises at the provider-controlled facilities. The vendor is responsible for all day-to-day operations and maintenance of the website. The customer is responsible for the content.

Website

A website is a collection of files accessed through a web address, covering a particular theme or subject, and managed by a particular person or organization. Its opening page is called a home page. A website resides on servers connected to the web network and is able to format and send information requested by worldwide users 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Websites typically use HTML to format and present information and to provide navigational facilities that make it easy for the user to move within the site and around the web.

Wifi

Certification mark issued by the Wi-Fi Alliance to certify that a product conforms to the 802.11b, g and a standards for WLANs.

WWW

World Wide Web.  The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a nonprofit group based in the U.S. that develops and recommends standards for the internet.