I.T. Dictionary

Technical Terms Explained in Plain English

AdWare: software that displays advertising and/or pop-ups on your computer. Adware can be legitimate software, but is often installed maliciously without the consent of the end-user. This software can slow down your computer and internet browsing experience.

ASP: Application Service Provider, a third-party company that manages and distributes software-based services and solutions to their customers over a wide-area network, usually the Internet.

BDR: Backup and Disaster Recovery Server, a hardware appliance physically housed at the client’s office. This “server” takes “snapshot” backups of the office servers as often as every 15 minutes and sends a copy of these backups offsite every day. These backups are image-based and can be used to perform a bare-metal restore to get your network up and running fast.

Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES): a software and service that connects to messaging and collaboration software (Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, Novell GroupWise) on enterprise networks and redirects emails and synchronizes contacts and calendaring information between servers, workstations and BlackBerry mobile devices. Newer Blackberry devices aren’t relying as heavily on Blackberry Enterprise Servers and are now offering “active sync” to communicate directly with Microsoft Exchange.

Browser Hijacker: malicious software that changes your default homepage and search engine without your permission.

BYOD: Bring Your Own Device, the concept of using non-company-owned assets to access a company-owned resource. An example of this would be end-users accessing a corporate network via personal tablets or smart phones. Security is a major concern where BYOD is allowed (see MDM).

Cloud Computing: internet based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, as with the electricity grid.

Content Filtering: software that prevents users from accessing objectionable content via your network. Although this usually refers to Web content, some programs also screen inbound and outbound e-mails for offensive information. This software is not designed for virus, worm, or hacker prevention.

Cookie: a file placed on your computer to allow websites to remember something. Originally designed to be helpful, cookies can save and share information such as your purchasing habits, your location, and even your identity. Cookies aren’t actually capable of damaging your computer, but they can compromise your identity.

CPU: Central Processing Unit, the brains of a computer (see processor below).

DHCP: Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, a method for dynamically assigning IP addresses to devices on request, rather than explicitly programming an IP address into each device. If you have a server on your network, configuring that server as a DHCP server will make it much easier to add or reconfigure individual workstations on the network.

Default Gateway: in a TCP/IP network, this is the gateway that computers on that network use to send data to, and receive it from, computers and networks outside of the local network. Typically, this is the router or firewall that connects the local network to the public Internet, although it might also be a router that connects to another remote server or computer within the same company.

DMZ: Demilitarized Zone, a separate area of your network that is isolated from both the Internet and your protected internal network. A DMZ is usually created by your firewall to provide a location for devices such as Web servers that you want to be accessible from the public Internet.

DNS: Domain Name System (or Server), an Internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses. Even though most domain names are alphabetic, hardware devices (like your PC) can only send data to a specific IP address. When you type www.microsoft.com into your Web browser, or send an e-mail message to someone@business.com, your Web browser and e-mail server have to be able to look up the IP address that corresponds to the microsoft.com Web server, or to the mail server that receives e-mail for business.com. DNS is the mechanism for doing this lookup.

DSL: Digital Subscriber Line, a high-speed Internet service delivered over a telephone line. Compared to newer services, DSL is usually considered to be a slower technology.

Firewall: a device or software program designed to protect your network from unauthorized access over the Internet. It prevents traffic from coming into your network unless that traffic was requested by an internal source. It may also provide Network Address Translation (NAT) and Virtual Private Network (VPN) functionality.

Fractional T-1: one or more channels of a T-1 service. A complete T-1 carrier contains 24 channels, each of which provides 64 Kbps. Most phone companies also sell fractional T-1 lines, which provide less bandwidth but are less expensive. See T-1.