Artificial Intelligence (AI) – A branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers, where the most common form of AI used are algorithms.

Bot – A software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet. Also known as a web robot or Internet robot (hence the name “bot”).

Botnet – A number of Internet-connected devices, each of which is running one or more bots. Botnets can be used to perform distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack), steal data, or send spam, and allows the attacker to access the device and its connection.

Censorship – The suppression of speech, public communication, or other information on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or “inconvenient.”

Cryptography – The practice and study of techniques for secure communication. 

Copyleft – License granting general permission to copy and reproduce intellectual property. The opposite license to copyright. 

Copyright – A form of intellectual property licensing that grants the creator of an original creative work the exclusive legal right to determine whether and under what conditions the original work may be copied, reproduced, (re)published, sold, distributed, and/or used by others, usually for a limited term of years.

Cryptocurrency – A digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.

Cybercrime – Criminal activities carried out by means of computers or the Internet.

Data leak – The unauthorised transmission of data from within an organisation to an external destination or recipient.

Decryption – The process of taking encoded or encrypted text or other data and converting it back into text that a user or the computer can read and understand.

Denial-of-service (DoS) attack and Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack – A denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) is a cyber-attack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services of a host connected to the Internet. Denial of service is typically accomplished by flooding the targeted machine or resource with superfluous requests in an attempt to overload systems and prevent some or all legitimate requests from being fulfilled. In a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack), the incoming traffic flooding the victim originates from many different sources. This effectively makes it impossible to stop the attack simply by blocking a single source.

Digital citizenship  Engaging in appropriate and responsible behavior when using technology. It encompasses digital literacy, ethics and etiquette.

Digital commons – An online resource that is collaboratively developed and managed by a community. Examples of digital commons include wikis, such as Wikipedia, open licensing organisations, such as the Creative Commons, open-source software repositories, such as SourceForge, and open-source software communities, such as the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) and the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

Digital literacy – Often used interchangeably with the term “media literacy,” digital literacy refers to an individual’s ability to use information and communications technologies (ICTs) in order to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, often employing both critical thinking and technical skills.

Digital rights –Human rights in the Internet era, e.g., access to information, the right to online privacy, freedom of expression online, and the extension of the equal and inalienable rights laid out in the United Nation Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation – The more more precise words for the widely overused and highly problematic term “fake news” – a description that has been co-opted by authoritarians, undermines journalism, and endangers journalists/media workers. Misinformation is considered as more of a reporting ‘mistake’ that may or may not be spread intentionally, while disinformation is always purposefully and maliciously disseminated, often in the form of propaganda.

Encryption – A method of protecting information and communications so that only those for whom the information is intended can access it.

Facial recognition system – A technology capable of identifying or verifying a person from a digital image or a video frame. This technology uses biometrics to map facial features from a photograph or video.

Filter algorithms – Mechanisms that control and filter the flow of online content on the Internet such as pieces of code that provide shadow instructions.

Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) –Computer programs or applications that have licenses that allow users to freely run the program for any purpose, modify the program as they want, and to freely distribute copies of either the original version or their own modified version.

Hacker – A person with advanced technical skills who can read, write and manipulate computer code and uses their abilities either for positive social good (e.g., to strengthen a network’s security measures, expose and patch security flaws, help protect journalists online, etc.), or for malicious actions (e.g., extort money, steal information, spy on or monitor an individual, etc.

Information warfare – Conflict or struggle between two or more groups in the information ecosystem.

Internet – An interconnected network of networks that connects computer systems around the world. 

Internet Governance – The development and application of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet. *For more information about how to get involved in Internet governance, check out this guide ( and this resource centre (*

Malware – Malicious software that is designed to be silently installed on a victim’s computer or phone with the intent to steal private information or perform other forms of fraud or espionage.

Metadata – Data about data. It includes a description and the context of the data, but not the actual message contents.

Network neutrality – The principle according to which the Internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all Internet communications equally and not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, platform, application, type of equipment, or method of communication.

Online privacy – The level of privacy protection an individual has while connected to the Internet. It covers the way  personal data is used, collected, shared, and stored.

Ransomeware – Ransom malware, or ransomware, is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their system or personal files and demands ransom payment in order to regain access.

Software piracy – The act of copying, distributing, or using software illegally. 

Spyware – A type of malware that is designed to spy on the victim’s computer or phone, continuously monitor communications and steal private information and files. 

Threat ignorance – Threat ignorance is a concept used by security professionals to determine the level of vulnerability a company or user’s computer or system has to an attack. The idea of threat ignorance stems from a lack of understanding about how to take basic security precautions on the part of the user. Additionally, some common types of cyberattacks prey on users with high levels of threat ignorance. 

Virtual Private Network (VPN) – A private network across a public network that enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.

Whistleblower – A person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal or unethical within an organisation that is either private or public. This person, who could be an employee of a company or a government agency, discloses information to the public or some higher authority about any wrongdoing, which could be in the form of fraud, corruption, etc.

Zero-trust model (zero trust network) – The zero trust model is a security model used by information technology (IT) professionals that requires strict identity and device verification regardless of the user’s location in relation to the network perimeter. By limiting which parties have privileged access to each segment of a network, or each machine in a secure organisation, the number of opportunities for a hacker to gain access -to secure content is greatly reduced. 

For more info, see DiploFoundation’s glossary
or ICANN’s glossary