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This is the Glossary for Totem’s course How the Internet works

Anonymity: When the interactions of a user on the Internet protect his or her identity (name, IPs, browser fingerprints, etc.) from being shared with another user or with a third party. Anonymity can be implemented to make it very difficult to find out the real author.

Attacker (or Adversary): An opponent who wants to undermine your security on the Internet.

Business model: The particular way in which an organization ensures that it makes money.

Cable: An internet cable is a metal wire form which uses the same infrastructure as a cable television to provide connectivity from the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to an end user, you!

Cipher text: Encrypted text. Plain text is what you have before encryption, cipher text is the encrypted result.

Computer: A device, usually electronic, that processes data according to a set of instructions. We refer here to the laptop or desktop computer that you might be using to access this Totem course.

Data: Individual facts, statistics or items of information. Everything you send across the internet is data like names, IP address, etc.

Device: A machine or tool used for a specific task, like a computer or a mobile phone.

Decryption: The act of combining cypher text and a key to convert it back to plain text.

Encryption: The act of taking plain text and a key and converting it into cypher text.

Encryption Key: A random string created explicitly for scrambling and unscrambling data.

Hardware: The physical equipment used in a computer system, such as the central processing unit, peripheral devices, and memory.

Hovering: Placing a mouse over a link without clicking.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP): This is the protocol that allows you to surf the internet. This set of rules that allows communication between different systems. Often used to transfer data from a server to a browser in order to view webpages.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS): The set of rules that uses a SSL-certificate to create a secure encrypted connection between the server and the browser.

Information Security: A process of maintaining confidentiality, ensuring integrity and assuring availability of data you want to protect.

Internet: A global system of interconnected computer networks that use protocols to link devices enabling them to receive, or transmit information.

Internet Exchange Point (IXP): The physical infrastructure through which Internet service providers (ISPs) exchange Internet traffic between their networks.

Internet Service Provider (ISP): A company that provides internet access.

Internet Protocol (IP): The method or protocol by which data is sent from one computer to another over the internet. Each computer (known as a node) on the internet has at least one IP address that is unique and differs from all other computers’ IP addresses on the internet.

Internet Protocol address (IP address):  All devices and objects that are connected to the internet have an IP address assigned to them (like Otherwise, the internet doesn’t know where to find websites, information or you.

Mail provider: A provider of email hosting that implements email servers to send, receive, accept, and store email (like Gmail, ProtonMail, etc.).

Metadata: Data that describes other data, as in describing the origin, structure, or characteristics of computer files, webpages, databases, or other digital resources. If the data is the content of your email (the text), the meta data is the identity of the sender and receiver, the email addresses, the time and place it was sent, etc. Metadata can be much more revealing than data, especially when collected in large quantities.

Network: A collection of nodes capable of receiving and transmitting information. The internet is a network of global exchanges - including private, public, business, academic and government networks.

Nodes: All nodes together form a network. A physical network node is an active electronic device that is attached to a network such as a modem, a printer or a computer.

Obfuscate: To confuse, make unclear, cloud.

Plain text: Not encrypted text; text that is readable.

Protocol: A set of established rules that dictates how to format, transmit and receive data so network devices - such as servers and routers - can communicate regardless  of the differences in their underlying infrastructures, designs or standard.

Server: A computer that makes services. A website for example is hosted on a server.

Software: Anything that is not hardware but is used with hardware, i.e. programs that can be used with a particular computer system.

Tor Browser: A type of internet browser (like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) that bounces communication through several computers around the world to hide your identity and activity.

Transport Layer Security (TLS): A cryptographic protocol that provides communications security over a computer network to establish an encrypted link between a server and a browser. HTTP + TLS = HTTPS.

User: A person who uses a computer, a smartphone, an application, an online service or a platform.

Virtual Private Network (VPN): A private network across a public network, which enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their devices were directly connected to the private network.

Wifi: The wireless technology that provides high-speed Internet and network connection.

Wifi/Router: Or a wireless router is a device that is used to provide access to the Internet or a private computer network.