The Internet: What is it? What do you care? How to stay safe in cyberspace!


What is the Internet?

  • According to Webopedia, The Internet is a massive network of networks, a networking infrastructure. It connects millions of computers together globally, forming a network in which any computer can communicate with any other computer as long as they are both connected to the Internet. Information that travels over the Internet does so via a variety of languages known as protocols.
  • It is a physical nothingness in cyberspace; composed of ideas, sales pitches, mis-information and information.
  • The bits and pieces of the Internet are stored on countless computers all over the world.
  • It was designed by the US military to maintain communications with military bases and universities after the bomb.
  • It was designed to work in tatters and have no central authority.
  • The Internet is used to send email from computer to computer.

The World Wide Web is the entity many people mean when they speak of the Internet.

  • According to Webopedia, the WWW is a system of Internet servers that support specially formatted documents.
  • The documents are formatted in a markup language called HTML (HyperText Markup Language) that supports links to other documents, as well as graphics, audio, and video files. This means you can jump from one document to another simply by clicking on hot spots.
  • Not all Internet servers are part of the World Wide Web.
  • There are several applications called Web browsers that make it easy to access the World Wide Web; Two of the most popular being Netscape Navigator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
  • The World Wide Web, or simply Web, is a way of accessing information over the medium of the Internet. It is an information-sharing model that is built on top of the Internet. The Web uses the HTTP protocol, only one of the languages spoken over the Internet, to transmit data. Web services, which use HTTP to allow applications to communicate in order to exchange business logic, use the the Web to share information. The Web also utilizes browsers, such as Internet Explorer or Netscape, to access Web documents called Web pages that are linked to each other via hyperlinks. Web documents also contain graphics, sounds, text and video.
  • The World Wide Web was created by Tim Berners-Lee while working at the CERN.

Why do you care?

Because you can use the Web and the Internet to:

How to stay safe in cyberspace?

In your email:

  • Keep your virus software and definitions up to date
  • Never open attachments that you are not expecting, even if they are from people you know. They might contain viruses.
  • Don't be a "phish." A phishing attach is an email that looks like it comes from your bank, credit card company, eBay, or other trusted source. They ask you to click on a link to verify your account number and pin/password. DO NOT DO IT!!! Your bank, credit card comapny, etc. already know your account information and pin/password. They will never ask you for your information in this fashion. The "phishers" put a fake link in the email that will take you to their website and get your information as you try to log in. You can report at phish attach at fish2Image from
  • NEVER email your personal information, especailly your credit card information. Your email is about as private as a postcard. It might be read any where along the route.
  • Never respond to SPAM - unsoliticed business email. It just encourages them and lets them know a "live-one" is on the line.

A word about passwords:

  • Change them occasionally. Changing them often, is recommended.
  • Do not share your password with anyone you do not trust with your bank account.
  • Do not use easily guessed words as your passwords. In fact, it is better not to use a word at all. If it is in the dictionary it is easy for a hacker to crack. It is much better to use a combination of numbers and letters to make it harder to guess or be cracked by a hacker.
  • If you are afraid you'll forget them, write them down and store the paper in a safe place (not right next to the computer).
  • You can use a phrase to make them easier to remember or substitute numbers for some letters.

On the Web:

  • Look for the "lock" to be sure a shopping website is secure before entering personal information and your credit card number. Look at the return policy and shipping charges before purchasing. I recommend finding the physical address of the eShop before buying. Remember you can always call or mail in an order. 
  • You should consider using privacy software which you can get with your virus protection with a product like McAfee Security suite or Norton Internet Security.  You can also get free security - PC World reviews of the top 5 free anti-virus programs, the Top 10 paid anti-virus programs, and the top Internet security suites.
  • Only sign up at Websites you trust. Read the privacy policies before signing up.
  • Use spyware removal tools, especially after long Websessions.
  • A byte of cookies
    • Defined by - Cookie(s): A funny name for a noun that describes a small piece of information about you (about your computer, actually). It is a small file that a Web server automatically sends to your PC when you browse certain Web sites. Cookies are stored as text files on your hard drive so servers can access them when you return to Web sites you've visited before.
    • If you are shopping on line you will need to allow the cookies or the site can't track your shopping cart.
    • You can set your browser to various levels of cookie acceptance.
    • Some cookies are spyware that report back to the advertisers your "movements."
    • You can delete them when you want. You can also use spyware removal tools to remove malicious cookies.

On the road: Wi-Fi

PCWorld Seven Hints to Stay Safe Online

© Nancy Hartman & the West Lafayette Public Library 2005 - 2012 URL: