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Glossary of online terms

Baffled by browsers? Vexed by viruses? Our glossary of online terms explains what they mean.


Helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software.


Software that detects and prevents known viruses from attacking your computer.

Apps (applications)

A type of computer program that you can download for your computer, tablet or mobile phone. There are hundreds of different apps available, some for free, which do lots of different things, from playing games and puzzles, to helping you remember to take your medications, or allowing you to access your bank account.


Files, such as photos, documents or programs, which are sent along with an email.


The computer software or app you use to access the internet. Examples include Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Safari.


An attempt to gain unauthorised access to a computer or account.


Malware is short for ‘malicious software’. A general term used to refer to hostile or intrusive software.

Operating system

The software that manages different programs on a computer.


An attempt at identity theft in which criminals direct users to a counterfeit website to trick them into disclosing private information, such as usernames or passwords.


A small window that suddenly appears (or ‘pops up’) on a webpage, usually an advertisement or an alert.


A description that may include your personal details and is used to identify you on a social networking website. This can be set as public (viewed by everyone) or private (only viewed by certain people).


A device that connects your computer to a broadband-enabled telephone line and emits your home internet signal.


A mobile phone which, as well as making calls and sending texts, can connect to the internet, send emails, and do a number of other functions like a computer.

Social networking website

An online community where you can connect with friends, family and other people who share your interests. Examples include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


A commercial email that you did not request, also known as junk mail.


An unwanted program that runs on your computer, which can make it slow and unreliable or even make you a target for online criminals.


A larger handheld device with a touchscreen which can connect to the internet and be used as a portable computer.


Programs that spread from one computer to another by email or through malicious websites. They can slow your computer down, display unwanted pop-up messages and even delete files.

Wireless network

Also known as wi-fi, this is a way for your computer to connect to the internet without using wires or cables.

Age NI Advice Service

Every year our Advice Service deals with thousands of calls from older people in need. Call us today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.

Call freephone 0808 808 7575
Monday - Friday 9am – 5pm 

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Last updated: May 25 2021

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