Definition - Network-Related
When a computer is connected to a network, it's a whole different game, as the security threats increase exponentially. Usually network connectivity means having access to the Internet, as it is quite rare today to find a computer that is connected with other computers, without also being part of a larger group.
Although you've probably heard and used the term Internet, it's good to define it here properly and provide some background information on it. The Internet is a network of computers linking the United States with the rest of the world. Originally developed as a way for U.S. research scientists to communicate with each other, by the mid 1990s the Internet had become a popular form of telecommunication for personal computer users. West's Encyclopedia of American Law (2005 edition) provides a quite good definition on this term: "The Internet, popularly called the Net, was created in 1969 for the U.S. defense department. Funding from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) allowed researchers to experiment with methods for computers to communicate with each other. Their creation, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), originally linked only four separate computer sites at U.S. universities and research institutes, where it was used primarily by scientists." So, it is the means through which all your emails and webpages travel and are stored, every time you use your browser or your email program. Also, as it is something global, the Internet provides a user with access to computers all over the world.
Another important term is that of Phishing (which is different to fishing). Encyclopedia.com defines it as "a term used to describe e-mail scams that attempt to trick consumers into disclosing personal and/or financial information. The e-mail messages appear to be from legitimate sources, such as banks, credit card issuers, or well-known Internet sites (such as America Online, Paypal, and eBay). The content of the messages varies, but often they tell the consumer that he needs to update personal information or that there is a problem with the consumer's account. The messages usually contain links to fake Web sites. When the user clicks the link, they are taken to Web sites that look official, and may even include images from the legitimate Web sites. These fake Web sites often instruct the unsuspecting user to enter credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank personal identification numbers (PINs), and other valuable information. Once the user enters that information, the violators use it or sell it." In other words, whenever someone tries to get personal info from you, without having any authority to do so, they are performing phishing. Remember that banks, online accounts (such as Alertpay) and any self-respecting organization will not contact you to ask you what your password is, for "verification purposes" or any other seemingly legit reason. A scammer masquarading as an organization might do so though, and they may go into great lengths to accomplish their task.
When dealing with sensitive information online, a website often employs a security sockets layer, to make sure that it remains safe. "Security Sockets Layer (SSL)", according to the Gale Encyclopedia of E-Commerce (2002 edition), is "a public-key encryption scheme widely used in client-to-server applications, was developed by Netscape and was supported by both Netscape and Microsoft browsers." You can spot when SSL is used as it reflects on the URL of the web page viewed, which instead of starting with http:// it starts with https://, plus it is usually a bit slower than a non-secure web page (because of the encryption/decryption that takes place).
Firewall is another netword-related term. According to the Encyclopedia of Small Business (2007 edition), the term refers to "a computer security device that is situated between a small business's internal network and the Internet. It can work at either the software or the hardware level to prevent unwanted outside access to the company's computer system." Firewalls can pinpoint potential intruders and block them, though they can also stop outbound Internet traffic as well (e.g. access to adult websites or anonymizers).