As you read through these guides, you will encounter a number of technical terms. We have defined many of them below:
Android: A Linux-based open-source operating system for smartphones and tablet devices, developed by Google.
APG: FOSS app for Android smartphones which facilitates OpenPGP encryption. It can be integrated with K9 Mail.
.apk file: The file extension used for Android apps.
App Store: The default repository from which iPhone applications can be found and downloaded.
Avast: A freeware anti-virus tool
Basic Input/Output System (BIOS): The first and deepest level of software on a computer. The BIOS allows you to set many advanced preferences related to the computer's hardware, including a start-up password
Blacklist: A list of blocked websites and other Internet services that can not be accessed due to a restrictive filtering policy
Bluetooth: A physical wireless communications standard for exchanging data over short distances from fixed and mobile devices. Bluetooth uses short wavelength radio transmissions.
Booting: The act of starting up a computer
CCleaner: A freeware tool that removes temporary files and potentially sensitive traces left on your hard drive by programs that you have used recently and by the Windows operating system itself
CD Burner: A computer CD-ROM drive that can write data on blank CDs. DVD burners can do the same with blank DVDs. CD-RW and DVD-RW drives can delete and rewrite information more than once on the same CD-RW or DVD-RW disc.
Circumvention: The act of bypassing Internet filters to access blocked websites and other Internet services
ClamWin: A FOSS Anti-virus program for Windows
Cobian Backup: A FOSS backup tool. The most recent version of Cobian is closed-source freeware, but prior versions are released as FOSS.
Cookie: A small file, saved on your computer by your browser, that can be used to store information for, or identify you to, a particular website
Digital signature: A way of using encryption to prove that a particular file or message was truly sent by the person who claims to have sent it
Domain name: www.securityinabox.org
Domain Name Service (DNS): The distributed service that converts domain names into IP addresses like 22.214.171.124
EDGE, GPRS, UMTS: Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution, General Packet Radio Service, and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System – technologies which allow mobile devices to connect to the internet.
Encryption: A way of using clever mathematics to encrypt, or scramble, information so that it can only be decrypted and read by someone who has a particular piece of information, such as a password or an encryption key
Enigmail: An add-on for the Thunderbird email program that allows it to send and receive encrypted and digitally signed email
Eraser: A tool that securely and permanently deletes information from your computer or removable storage device
F-Droid: An alternative repository from which many FOSS Android applications can be found and downloaded.
Firefox: A popular FOSS Web browser that provides an alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer
Firewall: A tool that protects your computer from untrusted connections to or from local networks and the Internet
Free and Open Source Software (FOSS): This family of software is available free of charge and has no legal restrictions to prevent a user from testing, sharing or modifying it
Freeware: Includes software that is free of charge but subject to legal or technical restrictions that prevent users from accessing the source code used to create it
ChatSecure: A FOSS app for Android which facilitates secure chats over XMPP protocol (used also by Google Talk). It is compatible with Off-the-Record and, when used in conjunction with Orbot, can route chats through the Tor network.
Google Play: The default repository from which Android applications can be found and downloaded.
GNU/Linux: A FOSS operating system that provides an alternative to Microsoft Windows
Global Positioning System (GPS): A space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an (almost) unobstructed sky view.
Guardian Project: An organisation which creates smartphone apps, mobile devices operating system enhancements and customisations with privacy and security in mind.
Hacker: In this context, a malicious computer criminal who may be trying to access your sensitive information or take control of your computer. Traditionally, anyone who interacts with technology in unexpected ways in order to learn more about it.
iPhone: A brand of smartphones designed by Apple which run the Apple's iOS operating system.
Internet Protocol address (IP address): A unique identifier assigned to your computer when it is connected to the Internet
Internet Service Provider (ISP): The company or organisation that provides your initial link to the Internet. The governments of many countries exert control over the Internet, using means such as filtering and surveillance, through the ISPs that operate in those countries.
Infrared Data Association (IrDA): A physical wireless communications standard for the short-range exchange of data using infrared spectrum light. IrDA is replaced by Bluetooth in modern devices.
Java Applications (Applets): Small programs that can run under many operating systems, are cross-platform. They are frequently used to provide improved functionalities within web pages.
Jailbreaking: The process of unlocking features on an iPhone which are otherwise blocked by the manufacturer or mobile carrier in order to gain full access to the operating system.
K9 Mail: A FOSS e-mail client for Android smartphones, which enables OpenPGP encryption when used with the APG app.
Keylogger: A type of spyware that records which keys you have typed on your computer's keyboard and sends this information to a third party. Keyloggers are frequently used to steal email and other passwords.
KeePassX: A freeware secure password database
LiveCD: A CD that allows your computer to run a different operating system temporarily.
LiveUSB: A USB memory stick that allows your computer to run a different operating system temporarily.
Malware: A general term for all malicious software, including viruses, spyware, trojans, and other such threats
Metadata: who is talking to whom, where the participants are located, when they communicate, etc.
Mnemonic device: A simple trick that can help you remember complex passwords
NoScript: A security add-on for the Firefox browser that protects you from malicious programs that might be present in unfamiliar webpages
Obscuracam: A FOSS app for Android smartphones, which protects identity of people by facilitating editions such as face-blurring to photographs.
Orbot: A FOSS app for Android smartphones which enables apps such as Orweb and Gibberbot to connect to the Tor network.
Orweb: A FOSS web browser for Android smartphones which, when used in conjunction with Orbot, facilitates browsing over the Tor network.
Off the Record (OTR): An encryption plugin for the Pidgin instant messaging program
Peacefire: Subscribers to this free service receive periodical emails containing an updated list of circumvention proxies, which can be used to bypass Internet censorship
Physical threat: In this context, any threat to your sensitive information that results from other people having direct physical access your computer hardware or from other physical risks, such as breakage, accidents or natural disasters
Phishing attack: An attempt to trick the target into opening an infected file, clicking a malicious link or submitting private information to an untrusted third party
Pidgin: A FOSS instant messaging tool that supports an encryption plugin called Off the Record (OTR)
Proxy: An intermediary service through which you can channel some or all of your Internet communication and that can be used to bypass Internet censorship. A proxy may be public, or you may need to log in with a username and password to access it. Only some proxies are secure, which means that they use encryption to protect the privacy of the information that passes between your computer and the Internet services to which you connect through the proxy.
Proprietary software: The opposite of Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS). These applications are usually commercial, but can also be freeware with restrictive license requirements.
Riseup: A email service run by and for activists that can be accessed securely either through webmail or using an email client such as Mozilla Thunderbird
Rooting: The process of unlocking features on an Android Phone which are otherwise blocked by the manufacturer or mobile carrier in order to gain full access to the operating system. Can expose that device up to additional threats.
Router: A piece of networking equipment through which computers connect to their local networks and through which various local networks access the Internet. Switches, gateways and hubs perform similar tasks, as do wireless access points for computers that are properly equipped to use them
Secure password database: A tool that can encrypt and store your passwords using a single master password
Secure Shell (SSH): A technology that can be used to create an encrypted "tunnels," from one device to another, over a local network or over the Internet.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): The technology that permits you to maintain a secure, encrypted connection between your computer and some of the websites and Internet services that you visit. When you are connected to a website through SSL, the address of the website will begin with HTTPS rather than HTTP. SSL is the old name for TLS.
Security certificate: A way for secure websites and other Internet services to prove, using encryption, that they are who they claim to be. In order for your browser to accept a security certificate as valid, however, the service must pay for a digital signature from a trusted organization. Because this costs money that some service operators are unwilling or unable to spend, however, you will occasionally see a security certificate error even when visiting a valid service.
Security policy: A written document that describes how your organization can best protect itself from various threats, including a list of steps to be taken should certain security-related events take place
Security cable: A locking cable that can be used to secure a laptop or other piece of hardware, including external hard drives and some desktop computers, to a wall or a desk in order to prevent it from being physically removed
Server: A computer that remains on and connected to the Internet in order to provide some service, such as hosting a webpage or sending and receiving email, to other computers
SIM card: A small, removable card that can be inserted into a mobile phone in order to provide service with a particular mobile phone company. SIM cards can also store phone numbers and text messages.
Skype: A closed-source, freeware Voice over IP (VoIP) tool that allows you to speak with other Skype users for free and to call telephones for a fee. Skype also supports instant messaging.
SOCKS proxy: A particular type of proxy that can be configured to support encryption, to proxy DNS requests properly and to relay traffic for various applications (not just Web browsers).
Source code: The underlying code, written by computer programmers, that allows software to be created. The source code for a given tool will reveal how it works and whether it may be insecure or malicious.
Spybot: A freeware anti-malware tool that scans for, removes and helps protect your computer from spyware
Steganography: Any method of disguising sensitive information so that it appears to be something else, in order to avoid drawing unwanted attention to it
Swap file: A file on your computer to which information, some of which may be sensitive, is occasionally saved in order to improve performance
Thunderbird: A FOSS email program with a number of security features, including support for the Enigmail encryption add-on
Tor: An anonymity tool that allows you to bypass Internet censorship and hide the websites and Internet services you vist from anyone who may be monitoring your Internet connection, while also disguising your own location from those websites
Transport Layer Security (TLS): The technology that allows you to maintain a secure, encrypted connection between your computer and some of the websites and Internet services that you visit. When you are connected to a website through TLS, the address of the website will begin with HTTPS rather than HTTP. TLS is the new name for SSL.
TrueCrypt: A discontinued, unmaintained and now insecure file encryption tool. The predecessor of VeraCrypt
Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS): A piece of equipment that allows your critical computing hardware to continue operating, or to shut down gracefully, in the event of a brief loss of power
VeraCrypt: A FOSS file encryption tool that allows you to store sensitive information securely
Virtual Private Network: Software that creates an encrypted "tunnel" from your device to a server run by your VPN service provider. Websites and other online services will receive your requests from — and return their responses to — the IP address of that server rather than your actual IP address.
Voice over IP (VoIP): The technology that allows you to use the Internet for voice communication with other VoIP users and telephones
Whitelist: A list of websites or Internet services to which some form of access is permitted, when other sites are automatically blocked
Wiping: The process of deleting information securely and permanently. Does not always work on solid state drive (SSD) storage devices and flash memory
Your-Freedom: A freeware circumvention tool that allows you to bypass filtering by connecting to the Internet through a private proxy. If Your-Freedom is configured properly, your connection to these proxies will be encrypted in order to protect the privacy of your communication.