A way of controlling who has access to equipment, data, information, systems or applications.
This can include physical controls, such as locks on doors, PIN entry systems, turnstiles and
window bars, as well as logical controls such as user names, passwords and file permissions for
access to computer systems and networks.
Always-on technologies such as broadband can receive data constantly, rather than having to
use a modem to dial up each time access is required. This kind of access is paid for on a rental or
leased-line basis, rather than according to the amount of time spent using the connection.
Software that scans internal/external drives, emails and attachments for malicious viruses and
worms, and removes them or prevents them entering your computer system. Because of the rate
at which new viruses emerge you should select software that is capable of being updated on a
regular basis, usually by means of a download from the manufacturer's website.
A small application, written in the programming language Java, that is intended for use within a
web browser and cannot be run as a stand-alone application. Typically an applet extends the
capabilities of the browser by providing interactive animations or other simple tasks.
Application service provider (ASP)
An ASP builds, hosts, runs and sells access to applications over the Internet. This allows
individuals and companies to outsource various functions by leasing or renting applications and
Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL)
An always-on technology for transmitting digital information at high bandwidths using existing
phone lines. It is asymmetric because it can receive information faster than it sends it on the
basis that most users download more information than they upload.
Business to business - a term that describes businesses that sell direct to other businesses. This
kind of terminology encompasses a whole range of acronyms where B=business, C=consumer,
E=employee, G=government, and P=person/peer.
The capacity of data that a line or channel can carry in a given amount of time. Digital bandwidth
is measured in bps or bits per second. The bandwidth of your Internet connection will have a
significant impact upon your download times. For example a typical webpage will take
approximately 14 seconds to download using a standard 56kbps modem, compared with 3
seconds for a 256kbps broadband connection.
Bits per second (bps)
The unit used to measure the speed of data transfer. It is often normally expressed in thousands,
kbps, or millions, mbps.
A method of connecting mobile electronic devices that uses radio waves without the need for
Any system of connection to the Internet that is characterised as high-speed - ie can carry data at
speeds of more than 128kbps.
Software that enables users to search and view information on the Internet.
A mistake in a computer program that results in the program or system not working correctly.
Later versions of the program typically contain corrections or fixes.
Central processing unit (CPU)
The electronic chip at the heart of your computer.
A network that has a powerful central computer - the server or file server, which acts as a data
store and controls resources that can be accessed by a string of desktop PCs or workstations
commonly referred to as clients.
Contact management software
Software that compiles all of your information on contact names, dates, places and times, and
how they relate to staff, customers, meetings, deliveries and sales in an accessible and practical
Content management system (CMS)
A system used to manage the content of a website or intranet. Typically a CMS allows staff to
amend and add information and content to a website using a set of templates without the need for
specialist knowledge of HTML or other web-authoring software.
A file downloaded from a web server to the PC of a visitor to a website. This can be retrieved by
the server when the website is subsequently revisited. The file contains details on the user's
preferences and information on previous visits, all of which can be used to personalise the
content for returning visitors.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
The process of targeting, acquiring, transacting, servicing, retaining and building long-term
relationships with customers. CRM strategies involve improving the people, processes and
technology associated with marketing, sales and services in order to increase customer
Digital rights management
Software-based technologies aimed at protecting the copyright of data available via the Internet,
by enabling secure distribution and/or disabling illegal distribution of the data. Digital rights
management protects intellectual property by either encrypting the data so that it can only be
accessed by authorised users or marking the content with a digital watermark, or similar method,
so that the content cannot be freely distributed.
The process of adding an electronic marker to the information to validate both the content and the
originator of the data. Digital signatures are easily transportable, cannot be imitated by someone
else, and can be automatically time-stamped. The ability to ensure that the original signed
message arrived means that the sender cannot easily refuse to accept it later. A digital signature
can be used with any kind of message, whether it is encrypted or not, simply so that the receiver
can be sure of the sender's identity.
The unique name that identifies a website, and is also used to describe the name to the right of
the @ sign in an email address, eg email@example.com and www.businesslink.gov.uk.
Domain Name System (DNS)
The mechanism used to convert a website domain name to the unique IP address of the server it
is housed on. This allows users to locate a remote server by its name, which is easier to
remember than its somewhat obscure IP address that is made up of digits. You will often see the
IP address displayed by your browser when you are connecting to a particular website.
The conduct of business on the Internet. It includes promotion and marketing, buying and selling
goods and services, collaborative design, managing relationships with trading partners and online
recruitment. It also applies to internal processes, such as the integration of office systems or HR
Using digital technologies such as the Internet, email and mobile phones to market your
Using Internet technologies to help find and buy new services - from using email to place orders,
to taking part in Internet auctions and marketplaces.
The sale of products and services on the Internet, ordinarily used to refer to the sale of consumer
Electronic data interchange (EDI)
The method of exchanging messages between computer systems over an electronic
communications network nationally and internationally.
Scrambling information to prevent unauthorised disclosure or modification using mathematical
techniques. Techniques normally use an encryption algorithm with a key to ensure that only the
intended recipient can read the information.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
A software system that handles all of a business' departments and functions in one seamless
process. It will typically incorporate fully integrated packaged software applications, including
product planning, purchasing parts, maintaining inventories, interacting with suppliers, providing
customer service, and tracking orders.
A local area network protocol supporting the connection of devices such as computers, printers,
workstations, terminals and servers within the same office or building.
A restricted-access website, accessible to selected external partners (such as trading partners)
for exchanging data and applications and sharing specific business information. The users of the
extranet are a well defined group and access should be protected by rigorous security features.
A hardware or software security device that blocks unwanted data and traffic to a computer
network based on set security guidelines. It controls access to the Internet by internal users and
prevents outside parties gaining access to systems and information on the internal network.
Based on the IEEE 1394 standard for connecting high-speed external devices to a computer,
such as video and audio-editing devices. It is a complementary technology to Universal Serial
Bus, but with a higher bandwidth.
A software product that allows users to produce websites with high quality animation, graphics
and interactivity. Most browsers support Flash but a Flash plug-in can be downloaded free of
A disk that is the main storage unit of a computer and is used to store its permanent memory
even when the computer itself is switched off.
A computer that houses, serves and maintains files for a website. A critical element in any hosting
solution is a fast connection to the Internet.
An applet that can be embedded in any HTML file such as a web page, and which is designed to
be malicious or cause damage when it is downloaded onto an IT system.
Any location where Wi-Fi network access (usually Internet access) is made publicly available.
Hotspots can often be found in airports, hotels, coffee shops, and other places where
business-people tend to congregate. They enable a user with a laptop equipped for Wi-Fi to
contact a local hotspot and get connected through its network to reach the Internet. If required, a
user can access their own business remotely with a secure connection.
The central point of a network where circuits are connected, with data arriving from one or more
directions then being forwarded out in one or more directions. Network hubs act as junction
boxes, permitting new computers to be connected to the network as easily as plugging a power
cord into an electrical socket.
A link on which a user can click in order to access related information on the same webpage,
different pages within the same website, or to a different site altogether, making navigation much
easier. The hyperlink is normally indicated by underlined or coloured text.
Hypertext mark-up language (HTML)
The authoring software language used on the Internet for the creation of webpages. It uses a set
of markup symbols or codes that tell the web browser how to display a webpage's words and
images for the user. Each individual markup code is commonly referred to as a tag.
Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP)
HTTP is the standard way of transferring information across the Internet and the world wide web.
It supports a variety of different media and file formats, across a variety of platforms, and is
invisible to the user.
Method of exchanging information between enabled devices such as mobile phones and personal
digital assistants (PDAs) without the need for cables.
Integrated services digital network (ISDN)
A set of international standards for a high speed digital network used for transmitting digital voice
and data over telephone lines at speeds up to 128kbps.
Internet protocol security (IPsec)
A protocol that provides encryption, and authenticates the sender of the information. IPsec is
most commonly used in the implementation of VPNs (virtual private networks) and for remote
user access through dial-up connection to private networks.
Internet service provider (ISP)
A company that provides its customers with access to the Internet. Some ISPs also offer a
number of email addresses and web space on which customers can house their own websites.
A privately maintained computer network, using the same browser technology and network
protocols as the Internet, that can be accessed only by authorised users, typically employees of
the organisation that owns it.
An internationally agreed standard for the compression and decompression of still images, such
as photographs. The compression rates used do not compromise the quality of the image and
their fast transfer rate and high quality make them ideal for use on the Internet. JPEGs can be
recognised by the file extensions .jpg and .jpeg.
Local area network (LAN)
A communications network that links together computers that are close to each other, for
example in the same office or floor of a building. This enables them to share facilities such as
printers, exchange files or access the Internet through a single connection.
A file that tracks the access activity for a host computer or server. For example a log file may
contain information about people accessing your website or attempting to gain access to your
corporate network. Log files can be used to gather information on usage patterns, for
troubleshooting purposes, or to spot suspicious activity.
Management information system
A type of computer system used by managers to support the functions of planning, controlling
and decision making by providing summaries and reports on the business' basic operations.
Term used to represent 1,000,000 bytes worth of information or computer memory.
A definition or description of data, in effect "data about data". Metadata is commonly used in
content management systems and data warehouses, with tags or descriptors added to
information to help with its subsequent retrieval.
Modulator/demodulator - a device that converts the digital signals from computers into analogue
signals and vice versa, so they can be transmitted over phone lines.
Applications combining the use of more than one media, such as data, voice and video.
A computer network is used to connect all types of computers and related equipment such as
terminals, printers and modems. There are local area networks (LANs) that exist in a limited
geographical area such as an office or building, or wide area networks (WANs) that connect
computers over large geographic areas, perhaps even internationally.
Any computer or device connected to a network.
The socket on a computer that a printer usually plugs in to.
A network in which each computer node has equal abilities. A computer can serve as both a server and a user, and each computer has access to all the network's resources on an equal
Any device that is not part of the main computer but that is situated relatively close by, for example a printer or scanner.
Personal digital assistant (PDA)
A small, handheld computer with, typically, diary and address book applications and, increasingly,
mobile phone connections built-in (also known as Palmtops).
Term used to describe the use of bogus e-mails and websites to trick the user into supplying
confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers, PINs or passwords.
A specialised software program that is used to expand the capability of a web browser. It is
generally used to provide interactivity and functions (such as moving and animated objects and
live audio) that make use of the computer's sound or video cards.
A computer (server) that sits between a client application (for example, a web browser) and a real
server. The proxy intercepts all requests to the real server to see if it can fulfil the requests itself.
If not, it forwards the request to the real server.
Radio frequency identification (RFID)
Technology that enables the tracking of goods and assets, particularly in the retail supply chain. It
is increasingly used as an alternative to the bar code, with major retailers using RFID tags for the
pallets and cases they distribute. The data held on the tag can be transmitted wirelessly to a
receiver via radio waves enabling its identity, position and state to be established.
Random access memory (RAM)
A computer's main working memory, where the operating system, applications programs and
data in current use are kept. It retains memory for as long as the computer is running, but loses
its data as soon as the computer is turned off.
The connection of a device through communications lines such as phone lines, wide area
networks (WANs) or virtual private networks (VPNs) in order to access applications and
information hosted elsewhere.
A communications device that connects two networks, for example a local area network to the
Internet. A router sends its traffic by reading the destination addresses of the blocks of data
(packets) and deciding on the best route to send them so that they arrive at the correct network
The ability to expand the number of users or increase the capabilities of a computing solution,
without making major changes to the systems or application software. Essential to prevent a
technology solution from being a stumbling block to organisational growth.
A tool that creates indices of websites, usually based upon their content and key words. The
search engine has an interface that allows the user to key in specific search terms and then
presents them with a list of those web addresses that meet the specified requirement. The list is
presented in hypertext form which means that the user can click on any item in the list and go
directly to that website.
Secure sockets layer (SSL)
A network protocol that provides security to web-based network traffic via authentication,
encryption and message integrity services. It is used in e-commerce to prevent hackers from
stealing sensitive information contained in electronic transactions.
A socket on a computer that is used for serial communication (one bit at a time) between a computer and another device. The serial port is normally used for the connection of a modem.
A powerful computer on a network that acts as a store for data and software. It also controls
access to workstations, printers and other parts of the network.
Service level agreement (SLA)
A contract between a service provider and a customer that specifies, in measurable terms, what
services the provider will deliver to the customer. Typically used by commercial service providers
such as ISPs and outsourcing companies. The agreement is likely to include the percentage of
time that a specified service should be available (the up-time), performance benchmarks against
which actual system performance can be measured, and the expected response times for dealing
with a variety of technical issues and problems.
Unsolicited emails sent to large numbers of recipients.
Term used to describe an online imposter who is pretending to be someone or something they
are not. The most common form of spoofing is the forging of an email header so that the
message appears to have come from someone other than the actual source. This approach is
frequently used by distributors of spam.
Program that causes unexpected and undesirable effects when installed or run by an
unsuspecting user. These effects may be immediate or they may wait for some predetermined
time or condition before they are triggered.
Uniform resource locator (URL)
A standard form for addresses on the Internet. A URL can lead you to a file on any computer
connected to the Internet anywhere in the world. Usually this is a page of a website (frequently
the home page) but it can also be a downloadable file or an audio or video stream.
Universal serial bus (USB)
Fast becoming the usual way to plug additional devices such as printers and cameras into a PC.
USB is cabled in a daisy-chain fashion and up to 127 devices can be supported from a single
User acceptance testing
A phase of software development in which the software is tested in the "real world". It can be
undertaken in-house but increasingly the test version is made available for downloading and free
trial over the web. User comments are fed back to the developers who make final changes before
releasing the software commercially.
Virtual private network (VPN)
A VPN is a private data network that makes use of a public network such as the Internet. VPNs
maintain privacy through the use of tunnelling protocol (which provides a secure point-to-point
"tunnel" for data transfer) and other security procedures, particularly data encryption. They are a
significantly cheaper option than a dedicated private network.
A malicious computer program that can cause damage to systems and potential corruption or
destruction of information. These can be contracted through loading software, opening
attachments in unchecked emails and downloading programs or documents from websites. You
should always use up-to-date anti-virus software to detect viruses, prevent access to infected files
and help eliminate the infection.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
Uses the Internet to make phone calls across computer networks. It allows you to integrate call handling and reporting with other business processes, and can be used in individual office networks or between sites.
Wireless fidelity - a high frequency, wireless, local area network (LAN) that operates over a short
Wide area network (WAN)
A network that spans a large geographical distance. Increasingly it may be made up of cable,
satellite and microwave technologies.
Wireless application protocol (WAP)
A carrier-independent, transaction-oriented protocol for wireless data networks that allows
Internet access over wireless devices such as mobile phones.
Wireless local area network - a local network that allows devices to connect to each other using
radio wave technology rather than conventional cabling or fibre optics.
Similar to viruses but they do not need a carrier program or document. They typically spread themselves without any action by a computer user. Worms simply create exact copies of
themselves and travel between connected computers by exploiting security "holes" in the computer's operating system. As the worm spreads, it can create a lot of traffic on the Internet,
slow down communications or cause computers to crash. A worm may carry a virus, but it more
commonly causes computer tasks to slow down or completely halt.
Extensible markup language - used extensively in e-commerce, XML is a standard for data
formats that is designed to enable different computer programs, including business software