Firewall: A flaming necessity. Software or hardware that sits between the Internet and a company network preventing unauthorised access. Firewalls effectively function as bouncers, preventing undesirables from gaining access to your network. They come in many flavours depending upon how they filter information, but all essentially perform the same role.
FTP: eff-tee-pee. The sixth tent in a hippie commune. See transfer protocol.
Hacker: A computer enthusiast who delights in obtaining unauthorised access to others' digital property. Although glamorised in films such as ‘The Matrix’, it is rare for a hacker to have flawless skin and attract beautiful women, though many do possess long black leather coats.
Host: To provide the infrastructure over which services are run. The next step on from co-location. A common hosting agreement is for ISPs and telecoms companies to host the websites and applications of other firms on their own machines, rather than just provide space for the business’ server in their rack. Such a relationship benefits companies by providing them with access to 24 hour monitoring and more robust systems unlikely to be crashed by the boss' son playing computer games.
HTML: aitch-tee-em-el. See transfer protocol.
HTTP: aitch-tee-tee-pee. See transfer protocol.
Hyperlink: The useful underlined blue words in documents or on websites that link you to more information.
Internet: The Internet is a massive interconnected network of computers, it differs from the World Wide Web which is a layer of software that runs on top of it and is based on HTML. Pedants may extract pleasure from pointing out that the two are not the same, however this line rarely wins the ladies.
Internet Protocol (IP): eye-pee. Internet Protocol is the digital equivalent of the postal service, though more reliable. It allows you to address individual packets of data (discrete chunks of information) and send them off across the Internet without establishing a physical connection with the receiving computer.
IP address: See DNS.
IP Sec: eye-pee-sek. A type of encryption applied to data sent over a VPN to keep it safe from prying eyes. Generally used to secure confidential company information.
IP transit: The leasing of capacity on another operator’s network for running IP services – see Fibre network.
IDS: eye-dee-ess. An intrusion detection system, the quiet man of Internet security. Similar to, and used in combination with, firewalls. In contrast to a firewall which functions like a bouncer, an IDS works rather like its MP namesake, staying discreetly in the background. An IDS doesn't necessarily prevent attacks, but instead may trigger an alarm and record the activity. Unlike Mr Smith it is very effective at preventing backstabbing attacks from within the system.
ISDN: eye-ess-dee-en. Integrated Services Digital Network is a dial-up technology, which uses a dedicated digital phone line for faster data transmission. Increasingly replaced by ‘always-on’ Broadband especially DSL, which tends to be cheaper and faster.
ISP: eye-ess-pee. Internet Service Provider – if Internet Protocol is the digital equivalent of the postal service then your ISP is the Royal Mail. ISPs provide you with a connection into the Internet, and usually take care of the delivery of your email and the hosting of your website.
LAN: lann. Local Area Network, a network of computers confined to a small area – generally an office. Many LANs can be connected together to form a wide area network or WAN. An example would be the corporate network of a high street bank, with each branch having its own LAN and being part of the WAN. The most common protocol to transmit data over a LAN is ethernet – see transfer
protocol for more on how these work.
Leased line: A permanent telecommunications connection between two points. Generally the local telephone exchange and a business with heavy telecoms use. It is the motorway to the standard telephone wire's 'B' road.
Mailbox: This is the space assigned to you into which your emails are sent. It can be hosted externally by an ISP, or locally on your server or PC.
Mail server: See server.
Malware: Short for mailicious software, includes things such as viruses, trojan horses and worms. All of which circulate freely on the Internet and through spam email, and try to subvert your computer to their programmers' will. See Virus.
Network: A system of computers interconnected to share information. See LAN and Internet.
Packet: A discrete chunk of information transmitted over a network, usually incorporating the destination address. See IP.
Peer to peer: Known to its friends as P2P, this is a type of network architecture where all computers are equal, with equivalent capabities and responsibilities. Like Marxism the fans of this system enjoy cultivating beards.
Ping: A method of determining whether an IP address is open or not. This is a small packet of data sent to an address with the instructions to send a reply straight back. Often used to troubleshoot problematic Internet connections. Rather like shouting "Can you hear me?"
PKI: pee-kay-eye. Public Key Infrastructure. A variety of encryption technologies all designed to validate and authenticate parties involved in transactions occuring over the Internet. Unfortunately there's no commonly agreed system yet, and most agree this is holding up the development of e-commerce.
POP: pop not pee-oh-pee. Point of presence – an access point to the Internet. In the same way stations such as Tottenham Court Road connect London Underground to the outside world, so too do POPs provide an opportunity to plug into the Internet. Typically owned by ISPs the availability of a POP in your area will determine the availability of various telecoms services.