Short lexicon of Internet security terms

5 min.

Are you confused at times by technical terms relating to the Internet, social media and information security? Consult this lexicon to gain a better understanding and identify the different concepts you need to know.

Adopting safe online conduct is essential to stay protected from fraud attempts by online criminals who try to get hold of your personal information. However, it can be hard to find your way through the related technical vocabulary. As the security and confidentiality of your data is important to us, we have decided to give you a helping hand!

Inspired by many websites and glossaries, including Government of Canada, the following lexicon lists keys terms, expressions and concepts linked to Internet security which are often little known or sometimes not properly understood by people. Enjoy reading!

Devices and tools

Smart device: A device which transmits information gathered from its immediate surroundings using sensors, software and processors connected to the Internet. Smart devices communicate with one another (machine to machine) and with us through our smartphones.

Mobile device: A handheld computer device which can be used autonomously when the user moves. Mobile devices are small and most are pocket-sized. They include mobile telephones, tablets (iPad), personal assistant devices, MP3 players, digital cameras, handheld game consoles (Sony PSP, Nintendo DS), digital players (iPod, Zune).

Smartphone: A mobile phone that offers capabilities and features like a web connection and a portable media player.


Bluetooth: An industry standard for short-range wireless connections between devices like mobile phones, headsets, computers and smart devices.

http: The abbreviation HTTP literally means “HyperText Transfer Protocol”. A protocol for transmission that enables the user to access web pages via a browser.

https: The abbreviation HTTPS literally means "HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure". The https protocol is a guarantee for a user that a website observes confidentiality rules.

URL: Synonym for website address. The abbreviation URL means “Uniform Resource Locator”.

WiFi: A wireless connection which lets a user connect to the Internet without needing to use wires. Private WiFi is similar to a cordless home telephone and extends your Internet coverage from a base. Public WiFi, like mobile telephones, lets you connect to the Internet in the street or public places.

Cyber security:

Firewall: Hardware or software used to put a barrier between the Internet and a network to increase network security.

Cyber attack: Deliberate, offensive or malicious maneuver carried out in cyberspace that attempts to cause damage to information and information systems, which can harm supported activities.

Online criminal: a person who commits an offence which causes harm to one or more individuals, on or via a computer system generally connected to a network. Unlike traditional forms of crime, cyber crime takes place in a virtual place, “cyberspace”.

Cyber security: All computer security measures applied to data in transit on the Internet. Internet security.

Scareware: Malware which intimidates the user by displaying a false pop-up warning message that his or her computer has a security problem or to give him or her other false information.

Phishing: Phishing is a technique used by fraudsters to obtain personal information for the purpose of perpetrating identity theft by making the victim believe they are a trustworthy entity (bank, administration, etc.) to gain personal information.

Smishing: Fraudulent SMS messages designed to induce users to reveal personal or financial information via their mobile phone.

Voice phishing or vishing: Voice phishing is the criminal practice of using social engineering over a telephone system to contact people for the purpose of frauding them. Voice phishing is typically used to steal credit card numbers or other personal information used in identity theft schemes from individuals.

Social engineering: Social engineering is a manipulation technique used by online criminals to trick people into sharing confidential information. It relies on the basic human instinct of trust to steal personal and corporate information that can be used to commit further cyber crimes.

Spyware: Software that aims to collect information about computer users’ habits, including especially Internet users. Spyware invades users’ privacy as it is used without their knowledge.

Malware: Malicious software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system. Common forms of malware include computer viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware and adware.

Ransomware: Ransonware is a type of malware that takes a computer or a telephone and all content hostage until a ransom is paid. It is typically spread through phishing campaigns.


Terms of Use: Text providing details on the general running of a website, the terms and conditions of use of the website and rules to be observed by users. Terms of Use are displayed in a window or on a dedicated web page which are required to be read, often in small character size, at the user’s discretion on creating an account or when participating on the website. Terms of Use are most often accepted by ticking a box.

Data leak: Unwanted disclosure of information affecting companies, owners of websites or applications, institutions and sometimes even individuals. The disclosed data may involve financial information (theft of credit card details), professional information (theft of passwords to access the website administration), industrial information (theft of important company documents) or personal information (email or physical address, personal health information, etc.).

Identity theft: Identity theft occurs when someone deliberately uses another living person's identity, generally for the purpose of committing commercial, civil or criminal fraud. Business identity theft has now emerged where individuals set up false subsidiaries of established companies to perpetrate fraud.

We hope that this lexicon helps you to gain a better understanding and be better equipped to benefit from advantages of using the Internet while staying safe. For more information on how iA Financial Group safely stores your data click here!


Find an advisor

Our financial advisors abide by all compliance laws, taking a professional approach that ensures your peace of mind.

Advantages of working with an advisorarrow_forward


Advice Zone and economic news

The following tools will help you better understand our hiring process.

Financial compassarrow_forward

Jobs and careers at iA Financial grouparrow_forward