Glossary of Internet Terms

©2007 by Walt Howe

Select the first character of the term you want to look up or use the Search link below.

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Letter S

Storage Area Network. A high speed network of shared storage devices.

search engine
A utility that will search the Internet, an Intranet, a site, or a database for terms that you select. Search engines on the web consist of four elements:

  • a program that roams the area to be searched, collecting data records (typically, web pages) and links to more data. These are variously known as spiders, worms, crawlers, or other colorful names. Commercial databases, on the other hand, may collect data records in other ways, such as systematically entering the full text of newspapers or journals.
  • a database or collection of records recovered by the spiders or other type of collector
  • an index of the database collected to enable fast access to terms that you search for and their supporting records. Indexes may be enhanced by controlled vocabularies. See metadata and XML.
  • A search interface–the form in which you enter your search terms and the software behind it that queries the index, retrieves matches, and ranks for relevance and organizes the data for follow-on searches.

Each of the major search engines differs in its approach to these four elements.

A computer in a network that provides access to other computers in the network to programs, web pages, data, or other files and services, such as printer access or communications access. A server may also authenticate requests for files and services before providing them. See also proxy server and client-server architecture.
Acronym for Standard Graphics Markup Language. It was adopted in 1986 as an international standard (ISO 8879) for the creation, management, storage, and delivery of information products. HTML and its possible successor, XML, are both subsets of SGML. See the SGML/XML Home Page for more information.
Software that is offered for free download in hopes that the user will decide to keep it and pay a fee for it after trying it out. See freeware.
shell account
An Internet account, usually unix based, that provides the Internet software for you. In contrast, SLIP, PPP, and ethernet accounts give you a connection where you run your own Internet software, such as browsers, gopher, telnet, e-mail, and so on. Shell accounts run these for you, and usually only provide text modes without graphics. Most shell accounts require some knowledge of unix commands, although many functions can be set up in friendly menu structures. A shell account can be based in VMS, as well, such as Delphi Internet Service’s older text side access.
A host on the Internet which allows remote access by such protocols as httpftptelnet, or gopher. A site may consist of a single page or many pages under a common site name. Whether two addresses with a common site name are one site or more than one may vary depending on your point of view. For example, to some, all pages at the Internet Service Provider might be considered one site. But an individual who has set up personal web pages at will refer to his or her pages as “my web site.”

slam, slamming
Slamming is the practice of telephone companies shifting you to their long-distance service without your permission or obtaining your permission deceptively.

Serial Line Interface Protocol. Along with the newer PPP, a protocol that can be used with a dialup connection to an ISP to complete a TCP/IP Internet connection.

smiley face
A happy face or other expression formed with typed characters, usually viewed by tilting your head to the left. These are used in place of real facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice when writing. Also known as “emoticon.”


🙂 😉 8-( =|:-)=
the basic smiley a wink unhappy,
with glasses
Uncle Sam


There are many, many more.


Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. The protocol used to send mail between servers and to send mail from your client to a mail server. Your address to send mail using software like Eudora, Pegasus, or the mail clients in Netscape and MSIE will often begin with smtp. For Delphi, the address to send mail through is See POP.

social engineering
cracker term for tricking users of a system to reveal passwords so that the cracker can gain entry to the system. A common technique is to contact users in chat or e-mail on a system, pretend that they are employees of the system performing security checks, and insist that the users give their password to prove who they are or their account will be closed. Such requests are never legitimate! Social engineering schemes can be quite ingenious and convincing and more subtle than the simple technique above. Never reveal a password or even give hints what it may be.

Traditionally, spam is flooding message boards, newsgroups, mailing lists, or your mailbox with unwanted, unsolicited off-topic messages–usually ads or promotions or deliberate disruptions. It is a major violation of netiquette, and it violates member agreements in most places and can lead to account cancellation. While spam is usually viewed as large numbers of messages, to the individual, one unwanted message is spam. The term was inspired by an old Monty Python sketch about a repetitive menu with spam, spam, eggs, and spam.
A software robot that serves a search engine by exploring the net, collecting web page addresses and page contents, and following links from them to other addresses to collect still more web information. Also known as a worm or crawler. See search engine.

Spam sent by instant messaging.

Software planted on your system to capture and reveal information to someone outside your system. It can do such things as capture your keystrokes while typing passwords, read and track your e-mail, record what sites you visit, pass along credit card numbers and so on. It can be planted by Trojan horses or viruses, installed as part of freeware or shareware programs you download and run, installed by an employer to track your computer usage, or even planted by advertising agencies to assist in feeding you targeted ads.
Secure Sockets Layer. A security protocol developed by Netscape for commercial transactions on the Internet. Using public-key cryptography, it provides server authentication, data encryption, and data integrity. You can recognize its use with URLs beginning https instead of http.

A network configuration (topology) in which all computers and devices are connected by direct cables to a central hub.

Stopwords are very commonly used words that are normally excluded from automated searches. Examples: a, an, the, for, to, in, on, and, etc.
streaming audio, streaming video
Technologies which permit listening and watching continuously as the signal is transferred to your system from a remote web site. It requires a high degree of compression to transfer audio or video (or both) at 28.8 Kbps or 14.4 Kbps speeds and still retain quality music and non-jerky video. If stereo sound is desired, there is a trade-off in the sound quality. These technologies are continually improving and the sound and video sampling and compression techniques are getting better. Faster connection speeds are needed to improve quality substantially, and the speed must be maintained over the entire path between the transmitting and receiving systems. The systems generally use a few seconds buffering, but signal slowdowns or interruptions longer than that break the flow.
To explore the nets without any more specific a purpose than to see what is out there.
Scalable Vector Graphics. A proposed format by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for web page graphics based on vectors, rather than bitmap formats. These files will normally be smaller than bitmap files and will scale to different size screens. See the W3C Scalable Vector Graphics page.

(last updated 22 October 2012)