Glossary of terms
acceptable use policy
Acceptable use policies are documents created by education systems or schools to outline what is acceptable behaviour when using computer facilities and other technologies such as mobile phones.
ADSL internet access
ADSL, short for 'asymmetric digital subscriber line', is a way of accessing the internet that allows more data to be sent over existing copper telephone lines than standard 'DSL'. Until recently, most Australian homes accessed broadband internet via an ADSL connection through their internet service provider (ISP).
With the ongoing rollout, consumers can now move to the National Broadband Network (NBN), which uses fibre optic cables and other technologies.
adult cyber abuse
Adult cyber abuse is behaviour that uses an online service or platform to menace, harass or offend someone with the intent to hurt them.
Adult cyber abuse can take place on social media, through online chats and messaging services, text messages, emails, on message boards and in online forums that allow people to comment publicly.
Find out more about adult cyber abuse.
Commercial enterprises (individuals, businesses or peak bodies) involved in the sale or purchase of sex-related entertainment services.
Adware is a form of spyware that records a user's web-surfing habits and displays advertisements targeted to their interests. Adware is sometimes offered in exchange for 'free' services, such as music downloads.
Some common virus signposts include:
- files and data have been deleted or file names are changed
- the computer takes longer to load programs or applications or web pages
- the computer takes longer to boot, continually restarts or does not start at all
- frequent system or program crashes.
The broad range of processes that can be used to establish or predict the age (or age range) of an individual.
Examples include self-reported (for example stating your year of birth), confirmation of age by another person (for example a parent or peer), use of biometric information (for example face, fingerprint or voice recognition), or use of behavioural or online signals (for example digital traces or gesture patterns).
A technical process that confirms the age of a person using their attributes or other confirmed sources of information. Examples include tokens or licences, third party verification, government e-ID systems.
Anonymity and identity shielding allow a user to hide or disguise their identifying information online.
Information like their real name, age, location and data-use can be hidden, which gives the user anonymity and protects their privacy. Anonymous communication is seen by many as a cornerstone of promoting freedom of speech, expression and privacy on the internet, but it can also be misused to control and abuse people.
Find out more about anonymity.
Short for 'application', an app is similar to a computer program, but is designed to work on the small screen of a smartphone or tablet. Some apps don't need the internet to work, but many apps do.
Avatars are icons or pictures used to represent participants in online chat, forums and games.
Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be sent through an internet connection. It is usually measured in bits-per-second (bps). The higher the bandwidth, the faster users can access web pages, stream videos or download files.
BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer (P2P) protocol — a way to communicate information — that enables internet users to share content like videos and audio files. It allows users to simultaneously upload and download parts of a file they want from several other internet users who are also sharing the same file.
blocking a user
Blocking a user refers to situations where one person stops another person from communicating with them on a website or online service by changing a setting. Many online forums and web-based email services provide the ability to 'block' users so that you cannot see their messages.
Blogposts are virtual journals created by individuals and stored on the internet. They generally consist of text and images and can appear in a chronological format.
Many online news services now also generate blogposts and encourage readers to follow them. A blogpost can follow a theme, for example 'Tips on parenting a 13-year-old boy' or provide a viewpoint on current news events.
Online bookmarks are similar to paper bookmarks in that they serve as placeholders to help you locate a page or website later. Web browsers let you ‘bookmark’ any page and use these bookmarks to go straight to the page at any time. Some browsers use the term ‘favourite’ instead of ‘bookmark’ for the same concept.
Bluetooth is a wireless networking technology that enables data to be transferred between devices that are close together but not physically connected, such as between a smartphone and a laptop computer, or between a smartphone and wireless headphones.
Sometimes referred to as high-speed internet, broadband is an 'always on' fast connection to the internet. It can be provided via fibre optic (as with the NBN), or ADSL, DSL or wireless infrastructure.
A browser is a program that lets users move around, or browse, the internet. Also known as a web browser, it is the main way to access the internet, and allows users to view and interact with information online. Some of the most popular browsers are Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Edge.
Web browsers hold copies of recently visited web files in the computer's memory. This disk memory space is called the cache. It offers the advantage of much quicker loading when files are stored on disk than when they must be transferred from the internet every time.
Catfishing involves luring someone into a relationship, via social media, using a fake online identity.
A chat room is a website or online service where people with similar interests can meet and communicate. Users need to register to join a chat room and any messages they post can be seen by everyone in that chat room. People can enter an unmoderated chat room without anyone checking that they are, who they say they are.
Problems can arise when chat room participants pretend to be someone they are not, such as an older adult pretending to be a child.
An attention-grabbing headline with a link that takes you to information that is misleading or not as interesting as it sounds, usually designed to show you advertising.
Put simply, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the internet instead of a computer's hard drive. The cloud is just another term for the internet. An example is an online service that allows you to upload and store photos online — in 'the cloud' — so you can access them as needed from a computer, smartphone, tablet or other device.
When you visit a website, the site sends a small file to your computer. This file — called a cookie — is then stored on your computer. Cookies help websites keep track of your visits and activity, which can be useful. For example, if you shop online a cookie can keep track of the items in your shopping cart. Without cookies, your shopping cart would empty each time you clicked a new link on the site.
Consent is when someone agrees to something. This agreement must be 'express' — which means it must be given clearly, (either verbally or in writing), it must be voluntary, and must be informed. Consent is an important legal concept which can be particularly challenging when it applies to children.
Consent can apply in a number of ways online. For example, if you are over 18 you might agree, or consent, to share an intimate photo of yourself with someone else. If you don’t consent, and someone shares or threatens to share that intimate image or video of you, it is considered image-based abuse.
Another example is when you complete forms online, including consent to receive emails and marketing materials, or to show that you understand a medical procedure.
Cyberbullying is the use of technology to bully someone — to deliberately and repeatedly engage in hostile behaviour to hurt them socially, psychologically or even physically.
This term specifically refers to the online abuse of children and young people aged 18 and under. Groups and individuals can be both the perpetrators and targets of cyberbullying, (which is also known as 'online bullying').
Cyberbullying can take place on social media, through online chat and messaging services, text messages, emails, on message boards and in online forums that allow people to comment publicly. Young people may also refer to this behaviour as 'creating drama' and 'saying mean things'.
See adult cyber abuse.
Dark social refers to social sharing that cannot be accurately tracked by web analytics, which is the collection, reporting and analysis of website data. This includes sharing website links by email, text message and direct message services.
It also includes sharing links via apps like those provided by Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and WhatsApp, and the in-game messaging found in games like Minecraft and Roblox.
The dark web is a collection of websites that are intentionally hidden from search engines and web browsers. These websites require specific software, configurations, encryption or authorisation to access them. The dark web forms a very small portion of the deep web and is typically used for illegal online activity.
A 'deepfake' is an extremely realistic — though fake — image or video that shows a real person doing or saying something that they did not actually do or say. Deepfakes are created using artificial intelligence software that draws on a large number of photos or recordings of the person. Deepfakes have been used to create fake news, celebrity pornographic videos and malicious hoaxes.
Find out more about deepfakes.
The deep web is below the 'surface' of the web that can be read by search engines. Content in the deep web is invisible to search engines. It holds things like the content of personal email accounts, social media accounts and online bank accounts.
digital environments, services and platforms
Online spaces that may allow access to and uploading, distribution and sharing of online content.
These include, but are not limited to, social media services, designated internet services, or relevant electronic services (as defined in the Online Safety Act 2021), as well as search engines and gaming platforms.
To download an online music file, video, document or photo means to transfer it from a website to your computer or other digital device.
Doxing is the intentional online exposure of an individual’s identity, private information or personal details without their consent.
Sharing the information publicly undermines the target’s privacy, security, safety and/or reputation. Often those responsible for doxing urge others to use the information to harass the person targeted.
Find out more about doxing.
The term 'emoticon' is derived from 'emotion' and 'icon'. Emoticons are a shorthand way of showing a feeling online using keyboard characters. For example :-) for a happy face or :-( for a sad face. Emojis have a similar function but use small pictures instead of keyboard characters.
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a method of secure communication that allows only the people communicating with each other to read the messages, images or files being exchanged.
Popular examples of interactive services that use E2EE are WhatsApp, Signal, Skype and Telegram — all cross-platform messaging and VoIP voice call services.
An end user is the person who actually uses a piece of software or an online service.
end user notice
In the context of eSafety's cyberbullying and image-based abuse complaints schemes, this is a formal legal notice issued by eSafety to a user who has posted cyberbullying material or intimate images without consent. The notice can require that the person remove the image or material, stop posting further cyberbullying material and apologise.
This is false information that has been created in a way that makes it look like a trustworthy news report.
Filters offer a way to manage access to online content. For example, a filter can restrict online access to certain times of day or restrict what users can view and download based on certain keywords or types of content. Some filters block specific information such as pornography.
Filters range from parental controls on home networks and digital devices to system-level filters that may be used by schools and other organisations.
This is a combination of the words 'fake' and 'insta' (short for Instagram). A 'finsta' is a secret or fake Instagram account that people use to post content that is different to their real Instagram account. This content may be more spontaneous, intimate or revealing. A 'finsta' can also be used to cyberbully others.
Freeware is software that is free to download.
GPS stands for 'global positioning system' — a system of worldwide navigation that uses satellites to pinpoint an exact location. GPS is essential to the function of location-based services and the ability to 'check in' on social media.
Grooming is when an adult deliberately establishes an emotional connection with a child in order to lower their inhibitions, to make it easier to have sexual contact with them. It may include adults posing as children in chat rooms or on social media sites to 'befriend' a child in order to meet with them in person.
Grooming by a sexual predator can include obtaining intimate images of young people. It is a criminal offence under Commonwealth law and in several states.
A hacker is someone who breaks into computer systems, usually to disrupt the system, steal information or carry out destructive or illegal acts.
Hardware, or computer hardware, is the physical component of a computer system, such as the circuitry, screen and keyboard (as opposed to software).
A hashtag is a word or phrase that starts with a # symbol. It identifies a post on a specific topic on social media, particularly Twitter. Popular hastags include #fashion and #photooftheday. Hashtags allow people to easily find and follow topics they are interested in.
hyperlink/ hypertext link
A hyperlink is any text or graphic on a website that, when you click on it, takes you to another part of the same web page or a different web page. Hyperlinks often appear as text in a different colour, or with an underline.
Image-based abuse means sharing or threatening to share intimate images or videos of a person without their consent. This can include photos, screenshots and photoshopped or fake content. Alternative terms for image-based abuse include 'non-consensual sharing of intimate images', 'revenge porn' or 'intimate image abuse'. Sextortion is a type of image-based abuse.
This type of abuse also includes digitally altering a photo or video (for example, by photoshopping) or depicting a person without religious or cultural attire which they would usually wear in public. Even threatening to share intimate images in this way is image-based abuse. It is a criminal offence under state and territory laws.
Immersive technologies enable a user to experience and interact in three-dimensions (3D) with digital content in a way that looks, sounds and feels almost real. These technologies include augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR) and haptics, (interaction involving touch).
Find out more about immersive technologies.
An influencer is a person with lots of followers on social media who uses their popularity to get others to copy them or their opinions, or buy the products and services they promote.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
ICT is the term used to describe all the hardware and software that allows data to be digitally processed, stored and communicated.
Instant messaging (IM)
Instant messaging refers to sending messages from one computer or device to another using small 'pop-up' windows. IMs are like instant email — usually sent between individuals. Some programs also allow messages to be shared with a group, like a private chat room.
International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI)
An IMEI is a 15-digit number which uniquely identifies a wireless device such as a mobile phone. The IMEI is usually found on a sticker inside the device or by entering *#06# on the keypad. To stop the device being used when lost or stolen, you can ask your service provider to block your IMEI.
The internet is a global computer network which allows a range of information to be shared across the world. It is also referred to as the 'web' or 'world wide web'.
Internet service provider (ISP)
An ISP is a company that provides access to the internet for home and business users. For a monthly fee, a service provider enables people to log onto the internet and, among other activities, browse the internet and send/receive email.
Keylogging is the use of either a hardware device installed on a keyboard or spyware software to record every keystroke (the sequence of keys pushed on a keyboard) on the computer. A keylogger records everything the user types in, including emails, usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and/or bank account websites in order to steal the information.
Keywords are words that describe the main content of a webpage.
Location-based services use GPS technology so users can report their physical location to others via social media or apps on their mobile phone. Some apps use location-based services to help users navigate a route, or find places like restaurants or the nearest ATM.
Sometimes, location services are turned on by default which means others can see where you are. This can be managed by changing the privacy and location settings.
To lurk is to listen in to a chat room or social media group without participating. Newcomers are sometimes encouraged to lurk for a while as they get the feel of a site and how it operates.
Malware tricks you into installing software that allows scammers to access your files and track what you are doing.
Information that has been created to make people believe something that is untrue or misleading.
A modem is an electronic device used to connect a computer to the internet. If the computer is part of a network — like a home wi-fi network — it connects to the modem via a network 'router'. The modem and router are often built into the same piece of equipment.
Some social media services and online chat rooms and forums use a moderator to check and manage the content of conversations, to ensure that users participate according to the site rules.
Moderators are often able to block both individual comments and users who do not participate appropriately. They aim to keep conversations on topic and free from offensive or derogatory comments.
A network is a group of computers that can communicate with one another. It can be as small as two computers, or as large as billions of devices.
Social enterprises, charities and other non-government organisations which provide social or human services or conduct related research that informs social policy. These include, but are not limited to, services that support the wellbeing of children and their families or carers.
Online forums provide people with the opportunity to ask questions or contribute to a discussion by leaving a comment. Thousands of topics are covered by online forums. They are useful for building online communities and bringing people together with similar interests. Moderated forums are the safest to use.
open source software
Open source software makes programming code available to users so they can read it, make changes (in line with the licensing agreement), and build new versions of the software incorporating those changes.
peer-to-peer (P2P) networking
Peer-to-peer applications run on a personal computer or other digital device and share files, such as music or videos, with other online users. Peer-to-peer networks connect individual computers together to share files instead of having to go through a central server.
Phishing is when emails — often claiming to be from a bank, online retailer or credit card company — are sent from false email addresses to try to obtain people's personal information.
Recipients are directed to what appears to be a website for the organisation which encourages them to reveal financial details such as credit card numbers, account names and passwords, or other personal information. Phishing is a common scam.
This refers to hardware that users can simply buy, bring home, plug in and start using. It has been designed to identify itself on most computers, so that installation is less complicated for the user.
A plug-in is a small piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software, for example an audio plug-in that allows your web browser to play music.
podcast and vodcast
A podcast is a digital audio file made available online to download to a digital device like a smartphone or computer. Podcast files can range from music files to specially-produced programs or segments of radio broadcasts. A vodcast is the video version of a podcast.
Pop-ups are small windows that appear (pop up) in the foreground of a page on a web browser. On some websites, they have been designed to serve a useful purpose, but in many cases they are used to display advertising that invites you to click on them. The links may lead to unsafe websites or pornography, or clicking on them may result in malware being installed.
Material that contains sexually explicit descriptions or displays that are intended to create sexual excitement, including actual sexual intercourse or other sexual activity.
portable hard disk drive
A portable hard disk drive is an external drive that is plugged into a port (connection point) on a computer. This is often a USB as these are the most common type of port used in current computers. Portable hard disks can store large amounts of data so users can backup or store important information and reduce storage space on an internal hard drive.
To post is to upload or 'share' photos, videos, text or other content online. This is commonly done on a social media site or a chat forum. The shared content itself is also known as a 'post'.
Online content considered ‘prohibited’ under Australia’s Broadcasting Services Act 1992 may include:
- images of child sexual abuse
- the promotion or instruction in paedophilic activity
- sexually explicit content
- gratuitous, detailed and high-impact depictions of real violence
- content that supports doing a terrorist act
- content providing detailed instruction about, or promoting, crime or violence.
Ransomware is a type of malware that blocks or limits access to your computer or files, and demands a ransom be paid to the scammer in return for the computer or file being unlocked.
revenge porn websites
These websites encourage users to upload intimate images of others without consent, often with information about the person in the images such as their name, address and links to personal profiles. Demands for payment may be made in exchange for removal of the images. This is a form of image-based abuse.
Safety by Design
Safety by Design (SbD) is an eSafety initiative that places the safety and rights of users at the centre of the design, development and deployment of online products and services.
The initiative, led in Australia by eSafety, aims to assist industry to take a proactive and consistent approach to user safety when developing online products and services. It seeks to create stronger, healthier and more positive communities online by driving-up standards of user safety.
Scams are dishonest schemes that seek to take advantage of people to gain benefits such as money or access to personal details.
A search engine is a tool that allows you to find information on the web. Google is currently the most popular; others include Bing and Yahoo.
A server is a computer that provides data, or computer information, to other computers. This could be over a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN).
sexting or sending nudes
Sexting — more commonly known as 'sending nudes' or sometimes 'naked selfies' — refers to the sending of intimate photos, messages, or videos, generally using a mobile phone. Nudes are generally sent via text, private messaging apps or social media.
Sexual extortion, sometimes known as sextortion, is a form of blackmail where a perpetrator threatens to reveal intimate images of their victim unless the victim gives in to their demands. These demands are typically for money, intimate images or sexual favours. This is a form of image-based abuse.
Find out more about sexual extortion.
Stands for 'short message service', which is a way of sending short text messages — or 'texts' — between mobile devices. MMS, which stands for 'multimedia message service', allows users to send images, audio or videos as well as text.
Smartphones are mobile phones that have the functionality of a computer, as well as allowing users to make telephone calls. They can be used to send and receive emails, view web pages, take photos and videos, play games, listen to music, stream videos and more.
Social networking is the communication and sharing that occurs on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Software, or computer software, is a collection of instructions that tell a computer how to work. This includes computer programs, libraries and online documents or digital media.
Unsolicited commercial electronic messages are known as spam. Under Australia's Spam Act 2003, spam is defined as including email, instant messaging, SMS and MMS (text and image-based mobile phone messaging) of a commercial nature. It does not cover faxes, internet pop-ups or voice telemarketing.
Spoofing is sending an email that pretends to be from a trusted source.
Spyware is a computer program designed to be installed on a computer, usually without the permission of the owner, to collect information and send it to another source — often an internet marketing, pornographic or gambling website. Spyware can also be used to steal sign-in details for secure websites such as online banking.
To 'stream' an audio or video file is to use an internet-connected computer or mobile device to listen to or watch material that is stored on a host site, without downloading it.
A tag is a word, or a group of words, used to describe and categorise a digitised item such as a picture, article or video clip. Tagging an item allows it to be found later by using a search engine.
Tagging is commonly used on social media sites and services but can also be used for other online content. For example, a user may 'tag' a photo to identify it with their name, or 'tag' an online news article with the word ‘news’ so they can retrieve it by using that search term. It is important to note that tagging does not use a set system of classifying information — tags are determined by users.
A thread is series of messages on the same subject. It consists of an original message and all the replies that follow. People can both respond to the original message or to each other in a 'threaded discussion'.
A trojan is a type of program that often looks genuine when downloaded but, when opened, is used by cyber criminals to gain access to your device. They can spy on the device or affect its performance, as well as steal or corrupt private data.
Trolling is when a user intentionally makes inflammatory comments in an online public forum in order to provoke anger or argument and disturb other users. Individuals who engage in trolling (called 'trolls') seek an emotional response from others, whether with malicious or humorous intent.
Responding to trolling comments can result in an escalation of inappropriate communication. The best response is to ignore, block and report this type of behaviour to site administrators.
An update or patch fixes a problem with a software program. Programmers design these to fix small bugs, glitches or operating system compatibility issues. In most cases these patches are free to people already using the program and the majority are simply downloaded from the internet.
To upload is to transfer a file from your computer or device to another computer or system via the internet.
URL stands for 'uniform resource locator', which is the digital address of a file or web page. For example, the URL for the eSafety homepage is https://www.esafety.gov.au
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is technology that allows you to connect an external electronic device to a computer. USBs are mostly used on personal computers but can also be used on devices such as smartphones, computer mice, keyboards, scanners, printers and digital cameras.
A username is the name a person chooses to be known by when using an online service. It is sometimes referred to as a 'handle'. When you sign up for a service such as an online gaming site or chat room, you are required to create a unique identifier — a 'username' — to identify yourself within that online environment.
Choosing something other than your own full name, such as 'maz123', helps to protect your identity.
Victim blaming is when the victim of a crime is seen as responsible for the harm they have experienced. For example, someone who has experienced image-based abuse may have consensually shared their intimate images with another person in the first place. However, it is not their fault if someone later shares or threatens to share their image without consent.
Virtual reality or VR is software that produces images and sounds to simulate a real three-dimensional world. Users wear a VR headset which generates the environment that they can interact with. Examples include 3D flight simulators or first-person games where you can explore a 3D 'world'.
Video sharing websites enable users to share personal videos. YouTube is a popular example of a video sharing website.
virus and anti-virus
A virus is a type of malicious software that is designed to copy itself and 'infect' computer programs. Viruses can lead to corrupted data and system failure.
Viruses are often disguised as something else so that they can be transferred from one computer to another without the users knowing. They can be hidden in emails, on CDs/USBs or in files that are shared across the internet. Anti-virus software can be installed on computers to help scan for, and remove, computer viruses.
'Voice over internet protocol' (VoIP) is a technology that allows voice to be transmitted using the same protocols — or sets of rules — that the internet uses. Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, for example, all use VoIP technology to allow users to make calls.
A VPN, or 'virtual private network', is a service that can allow you to have a private connection while you use a public network. They are often used to hide your location by providing a private pathway between your computer and the sites that you visit online — which means your location will not be visible when you are browsing online.
A web browser is a software program found on all computers and most internet-connected devices that allows you to browse the internet and look up websites. Some popular web browsers include Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari.
Surfing the web refers to moving from web page to web page — similar to channel surfing on television.
A webcam is a camera attached to a computer that can transmit real-time still and video images using the internet.
A website, or site, is a place on the internet where you can find information, pay bills, play games, share photos and stories with others, and more. Businesses, governments and even individuals can have a website.
Each website is made up of web pages which can show text, images, video and sound.
Web 2.0 is the general term to describe the second generation of the internet, which is focused on the ability for people to collaborate and share information online, rather than simply view static websites. Web 2.0 is based on communities of users with more open sharing of information, interests and personal information through web applications such as blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and micro-blogging.
wi-fi (wireless) internet access
Wi-fi is networking technology that uses radio waves to provide high-speed internet and network connections with no physical wired connection between sender and receiver.
Wikis are a group of online documents/web pages that users can add to and edit freely — the best known being online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. All wiki pages are co-created by a group of collaborating individuals, rather than a single author. Many people turn to wikis as their first port of call when checking facts online, as they can provide current information on a broad range of topics.
A good wiki will include references to reliable websites. Users should be aware though that because wikis are open to public editing, pages can be vandalised and meanings altered, and some information may be incorrect due to poor quality research.
A worm is a program that can copy itself (self replicate) and spread without anyone being involved. Worms often use computer networks to spread themselves and take advantage of security flaws on your computer or its operating system. Computer worms are commonly found in files that are attached to emails or instant messages.
You can generally avoid them by not opening suspicious emails with attachments or links, by keeping your computer system up to date and by using up to date anti-virus software.
www refers to the World Wide Web, which is a network of websites and web pages that you can access over the internet using a web browser.