Norton UK Blog

« Back to Norton Blog

The beginners guide to internet safety: A glossary

by Brian Cody

Keeping safe online is a big deal. While we all want to take it seriously, sometimes the vocabulary can be very complicated—especially if you’re not the most tech savvy. What exactly do all those phrases mean?

Maybe you can find your way around computers and the internet pretty well but you just don’t know what things are called.

To make it easier, we’ve put together a quick glossary of important terms:


A type of malicious software (or malware) that causes extra ads to pop up on your screen. These often link out to sites with inappropriate content or pop-ups.

Antivirus software

A program you install on your computer or phone to keep it safe from viruses or malware that might steal your information or damage your device.


A peer-to-peer (P2P) service where people can share files with each other; usually movies, music, and TV shows. Game of Thrones is the most torrented show of all time.


Software that comes packaged with additional features that you probably don’t want or need. The term is often used to describe manufacturer software that comes pre-installed on your computer.


The program you use to browse the web e.g. Internet Explorer or Safari.


Not a biscuit. A cookie is a small file sent to a web browser that keeps track of information like location, shopping choices, and other decisions you make. Cookies are an important part of online advertising and how you’re targeted for ads.


Someone who uses the internet to bully people e.g. sending mean messages on social media.

Find out more about the effects cyberbullying has on young lives:


A small digital image or icon that expresses something—usually a feeling. The heart is the most popular hashtag emoji on Instagram.


A chat room or online message board where people talk about stuff.


Someone who uses code to change or modify an existing website. They can use their powers for good or evil. Crackers are much the same as hackers, except they are the bad guys who create malware and hack other people/computers/companies.

Identity theft

Stealing someone’s identity online, usually by phishing when they provide personal information like bank account details.


Malicious software—a program that will cause trouble or damage to your computer, phone, or device. Comes in several varieties e.g. a virus or a worm.


The best way to behave on the net/online.

Parental controls/filters

Settings on a computer or phone that parents can change to determine what content their kids can see and how long they can spend online.


Trying to steal someone’s information via a spoof/fake website e.g. a fake PayPal site.


Tricking someone into giving over personal information by sending fake emails or messages. Never click a link in an email if you don’t know who it’s from or where it’s going.


Social network where users share videos and photos, as well as watch short newsbites from companies like Buzzfeed and Vice. Content disappears after 24 hours.


Unwanted comments or emails selling or saying things that aren’t of any interest to you. Also a song from Monty Python.

Spoofing of websites

Making a fake version of a real site e.g. PayPal with the intention of stealing someone’s personal details.


A type of software that spies on you, stealing your data and passwords


Viewing or listening to media online without downloading it first. Particularly popular for watching films and football.


Downloading media (usually without paying for it) from a P2P site. Pop over here to a guide on how torrenting works.


Someone who says mean things on the internet to get a reaction out of other people.

Trojan horse

Named after the Greek myth, a Trojan horse often takes the shape of a useful program, but will cause damage if you run it.


A line of code used to represent an emoji. Can often be seen on sites like YouTube in the comments section if your browser doesn’t support emojis.


Social networking site where users create and share six second long videos. Popular Viners like Nash Grier and Cameron Dallas have millions of subscribers and are internet celebrities.


Software that can do harmful things to your computer like stealing data, deleting files, or taking your computer over. Viruses are usually accidentally downloaded and installed from a file on the internet.


A chat service. Uses data instead of costing money like text messages do.


Social media platform where users share videos in the form of sketches, vlogs, or freeform content. YouTube has hundreds of celebrity users e.g. Zoe Suggs (Zoella) and Felix Kjellberg (PewdiePie) who release lines of merchandise, books, and appear on TV.


A type of malware that replicates (clones) itself so it can spread to other computers. They usually travel across a computer network and infect multiple computers.

Now that your armed with the basics of recognising some of the terminology of the internet, discover how to keep safe from social media threats.

Cyberbullying can be a challenging topic to talk about, but it doesn’t have to be. When children become involved with cyberbullies, they want help, but may be afraid to ask, or might feel shame or guilt. Download our eBook to help you identify the signs of cyberbullying, and learn how to start the conversation with your child when the time is right. #RaiseOurVoices


Stealing your identity can be easy. Good thing calling us is too.

Help with identity theft starts here. Trusted by millions of customers around the globe. Get Antivirus, Online Privacy, and in case of identity theft, Identity restoration support.

Get our award winning Norton protection

PC Mag:

A trademark of Ziff Davis, LLC. Used under license. Reprinted with permission. © 2022 Ziff Davis, LLC. All Rights Reserved

No one can prevent all cybercrime or identity theft.

The Norton brand is part of NortonLifeLock Inc.

Copyright © 2023 NortonLifeLock Inc. All rights reserved. NortonLifeLock, the NortonLifeLock Logo, the Checkmark Logo, Norton, LifeLock, and the LockMan Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of NortonLifeLock Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and other countries. Firefox is a trademark of Mozilla Foundation. Android, Google Chrome, Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google, LLC. Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Alexa and all related logos are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates. Microsoft and the Window logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.


Follow us for all the latest news, tips and updates.