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Internet Basics  - What is the Internet?

Internet basics  -, what is the internet, internet basics what is the internet.

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Internet Basics: What is the Internet?

Lesson 1: what is the internet, introduction.

The Internet is an increasingly important part of everyday life for people around the world. But if you've never used the Internet before, all of this new information might feel a bit confusing at first.

Throughout this tutorial, we'll try to answer some basic questions you may have about the Internet and how it's used. When you're done, you'll have a good understanding of how the Internet works , how to connect to the Internet , and how to browse the Web .

The Internet is a global network of billions of computers and other electronic devices. With the Internet, it's possible to access almost any information, communicate with anyone else in the world, and do much more.

You can do all of this by connecting a computer to the Internet, which is also called going online . When someone says a computer is online, it's just another way of saying it's connected to the Internet.

Computers wirelessly connecting to the Internet

What is the Web?

The World Wide Web —usually called the Web for short—is a collection of different websites you can access through the Internet. A website is made up of related text, images, and other resources. Websites can resemble other forms of media—like newspaper articles or television programs—or they can be interactive in a way that's unique to computers.

The purpose of a website can be almost anything: a news platform, an advertisement, an online library, a forum for sharing images, or an educational site like us!

A learner browsing GCFLearnFree.org

Once you are connected to the Internet, you can access and view websites using a type of application called a web browser . Just keep in mind that the web browser itself is not the Internet; it only displays websites that are stored on the Internet.

How does the Internet work?

At this point you may be wondering, how does the Internet work? The exact answer is pretty complicated and would take a while to explain. Instead, let's look at some of the most important things you should know.

It's important to realize that the Internet is a global network of physical cables , which can include copper telephone wires, TV cables, and fiber optic cables. Even wireless connections like Wi-Fi and 3G/4G rely on these physical cables to access the Internet.

When you visit a website, your computer sends a request over these wires to a server . A server is where websites are stored, and it works a lot like your computer's hard drive. Once the request arrives, the server retrieves the website and sends the correct data back to your computer. What's amazing is that this all happens in just a few seconds!

Watch the video below from Tata Communications to learn more about how the Internet functions.

Other things you can do on the Internet

One of the best features of the Internet is the ability to communicate almost instantly with anyone in the world. Email is one of the oldest and most universal ways to communicate and share information on the Internet, and billions of people use it. Social media allows people to connect in a variety of ways and build communities online.

People communicating on the Internet.

There are many other things you can do on the Internet. There are thousands of ways to keep up with news or shop for anything online. You can pay your bills, manage your bank accounts , meet new people, watch TV , or learn new skills. You can learn or do almost anything online.



Brief History of the Internet

Introduction, published 1997.

Barry M. Leiner, Vinton G. Cerf, David D. Clark, Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Daniel C. Lynch, Jon Postel, Larry G. Roberts, Stephen Wolff

The Internet has revolutionized the computer and communications world like nothing before. The invention of the telegraph, telephone, radio, and computer set the stage for this unprecedented integration of capabilities. The Internet is at once a world-wide broadcasting capability, a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard for geographic location. The Internet represents one of the most successful examples of the benefits of sustained investment and commitment to research and development of information infrastructure. Beginning with the early research in packet switching, the government, industry and academia have been partners in evolving and deploying this exciting new technology. Today, terms like “ [email protected] ” and “http://www.acm.org” trip lightly off the tongue of the random person on the street.  1

This is intended to be a brief, necessarily cursory and incomplete history. Much material currently exists about the Internet, covering history, technology, and usage. A trip to almost any bookstore will find shelves of material written about the Internet.  2

Learn more about how we are building a bigger, stronger Internet in 2021.

In this paper, 3  several of us involved in the development and evolution of the Internet share our views of its origins and history. This history revolves around four distinct aspects. There is the technological evolution that began with early research on packet switching and the ARPANET (and related technologies), and where current research continues to expand the horizons of the infrastructure along several dimensions, such as scale, performance, and higher-level functionality. There is the operations and management aspect of a global and complex operational infrastructure. There is the social aspect, which resulted in a broad community of Internauts working together to create and evolve the technology. And there is the commercialization aspect, resulting in an extremely effective transition of research results into a broadly deployed and available information infrastructure.

The Internet today is a widespread information infrastructure, the initial prototype of what is often called the National (or Global or Galactic) Information Infrastructure. Its history is complex and involves many aspects – technological, organizational, and community. And its influence reaches not only to the technical fields of computer communications but throughout society as we move toward increasing use of online tools to accomplish electronic commerce, information acquisition, and community operations.

Origins of the Internet

The first recorded description of the social interactions that could be enabled through networking was a  series of memos  written by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in August 1962 discussing his “Galactic Network” concept. He envisioned a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programs from any site. In spirit, the concept was very much like the Internet of today. Licklider was the first head of the computer research program at DARPA, 4  starting in October 1962. While at DARPA he convinced his successors at DARPA, Ivan Sutherland, Bob Taylor, and MIT researcher Lawrence G. Roberts, of the importance of this networking concept.

Leonard Kleinrock at MIT published the  first paper on packet switching theory  in July 1961 and the  first book on the subject  in 1964. Kleinrock convinced Roberts of the theoretical feasibility of communications using packets rather than circuits, which was a major step along the path towards computer networking. The other key step was to make the computers talk together. To explore this, in 1965 working with Thomas Merrill, Roberts connected the TX-2 computer in Mass. to the Q-32 in California with a low speed dial-up telephone line creating the  first (however small) wide-area computer network ever built . The result of this experiment was the realization that the time-shared computers could work well together, running programs and retrieving data as necessary on the remote machine, but that the circuit switched telephone system was totally inadequate for the job. Kleinrock’s conviction of the need for packet switching was confirmed.

In late 1966 Roberts went to DARPA to develop the computer network concept and quickly put together his  plan for the “ARPANET” , publishing it in 1967. At the conference where he presented the paper, there was also a paper on a packet network concept from the UK by Donald Davies and Roger Scantlebury of NPL. Scantlebury told Roberts about the NPL work as well as that of Paul Baran and others at RAND. The RAND group had written a  paper on packet switching networks for secure voice  in the military in 1964. It happened that the work at MIT (1961-1967), at RAND (1962-1965), and at NPL (1964-1967) had all proceeded in parallel without any of the researchers knowing about the other work. The word “packet” was adopted from the work at NPL and the proposed line speed to be used in the ARPANET design was upgraded from 2.4 kbps to 50 kbps.  5

In August 1968, after Roberts and the DARPA funded community had refined the overall structure and specifications for the ARPANET, an RFQ was released by DARPA for the development of one of the key components, the packet switches called Interface Message Processors (IMP’s). The RFQ was won in December 1968 by a group headed by Frank Heart at Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN). As the BBN team worked on the IMP’s with Bob Kahn playing a major role in the overall ARPANET architectural design, the network topology and economics were designed and optimized by Roberts working with Howard Frank and his team at Network Analysis Corporation, and the network measurement system was prepared by Kleinrock’s team at UCLA.  6

Due to Kleinrock’s early development of packet switching theory and his focus on analysis, design and measurement, his Network Measurement Center at UCLA was selected to be the first node on the ARPANET. All this came together in September 1969 when BBN installed the first IMP at UCLA and the first host computer was connected. Doug Engelbart’s project on “Augmentation of Human Intellect” (which included NLS, an early hypertext system) at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) provided a second node. SRI supported the Network Information Center, led by Elizabeth (Jake) Feinler and including functions such as maintaining tables of host name to address mapping as well as a directory of the RFC’s.

One month later, when SRI was connected to the ARPANET, the first host-to-host message was sent from Kleinrock’s laboratory to SRI. Two more nodes were added at UC Santa Barbara and University of Utah. These last two nodes incorporated application visualization projects, with Glen Culler and Burton Fried at UCSB investigating methods for display of mathematical functions using storage displays to deal with the problem of refresh over the net, and Robert Taylor and Ivan Sutherland at Utah investigating methods of 3-D representations over the net. Thus, by the end of 1969, four host computers were connected together into the initial ARPANET, and the budding Internet was off the ground. Even at this early stage, it should be noted that the networking research incorporated both work on the underlying network and work on how to utilize the network. This tradition continues to this day.

Computers were added quickly to the ARPANET during the following years, and work proceeded on completing a functionally complete Host-to-Host protocol and other network software. In December 1970 the Network Working Group (NWG) working under S. Crocker finished the initial ARPANET Host-to-Host protocol, called the Network Control Protocol (NCP). As the ARPANET sites completed implementing NCP during the period 1971-1972, the network users finally could begin to develop applications.

In October 1972, Kahn organized a large, very successful demonstration of the ARPANET at the International Computer Communication Conference (ICCC). This was the first public demonstration of this new network technology to the public. It was also in 1972 that the initial “hot” application, electronic mail, was introduced. In March Ray Tomlinson at BBN wrote the basic email message send and read software, motivated by the need of the ARPANET developers for an easy coordination mechanism. In July, Roberts expanded its utility by writing the first email utility program to list, selectively read, file, forward, and respond to messages. From there email took off as the largest network application for over a decade. This was a harbinger of the kind of activity we see on the World Wide Web today, namely, the enormous growth of all kinds of “people-to-people” traffic.

The Initial Internetting Concepts

The original ARPANET grew into the Internet. Internet was based on the idea that there would be multiple independent networks of rather arbitrary design, beginning with the ARPANET as the pioneering packet switching network, but soon to include packet satellite networks, ground-based packet radio networks and other networks. The Internet as we now know it embodies a key underlying technical idea, namely that of open architecture networking. In this approach, the choice of any individual network technology was not dictated by a particular network architecture but rather could be selected freely by a provider and made to interwork with the other networks through a meta-level “Internetworking Architecture”. Up until that time there was only one general method for federating networks. This was the traditional circuit switching method where networks would interconnect at the circuit level, passing individual bits on a synchronous basis along a portion of an end-to-end circuit between a pair of end locations. Recall that Kleinrock had shown in 1961 that packet switching was a more efficient switching method. Along with packet switching, special purpose interconnection arrangements between networks were another possibility. While there were other limited ways to interconnect different networks, they required that one be used as a component of the other, rather than acting as a peer of the other in offering end-to-end service.

In an open-architecture network, the individual networks may be separately designed and developed and each may have its own unique interface which it may offer to users and/or other providers. including other Internet providers. Each network can be designed in accordance with the specific environment and user requirements of that network. There are generally no constraints on the types of network that can be included or on their geographic scope, although certain pragmatic considerations will dictate what makes sense to offer.

The idea of open-architecture networking was first introduced by Kahn shortly after having arrived at DARPA in 1972. This work was originally part of the packet radio program, but subsequently became a separate program in its own right. At the time, the program was called “Internetting”. Key to making the packet radio system work was a reliable end-end protocol that could maintain effective communication in the face of jamming and other radio interference, or withstand intermittent blackout such as caused by being in a tunnel or blocked by the local terrain. Kahn first contemplated developing a protocol local only to the packet radio network, since that would avoid having to deal with the multitude of different operating systems, and continuing to use NCP.

However, NCP did not have the ability to address networks (and machines) further downstream than a destination IMP on the ARPANET and thus some change to NCP would also be required. (The assumption was that the ARPANET was not changeable in this regard). NCP relied on ARPANET to provide end-to-end reliability. If any packets were lost, the protocol (and presumably any applications it supported) would come to a grinding halt. In this model NCP had no end-end host error control, since the ARPANET was to be the only network in existence and it would be so reliable that no error control would be required on the part of the hosts. Thus, Kahn decided to develop a new version of the protocol which could meet the needs of an open-architecture network environment. This protocol would eventually be called the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). While NCP tended to act like a device driver, the new protocol would be more like a communications protocol.

Four ground rules were critical to Kahn’s early thinking:

Other key issues that needed to be addressed were:

Kahn began work on a communications-oriented set of operating system principles while at BBN and documented some of his early thoughts in an internal BBN memorandum entitled “ Communications Principles for Operating Systems “. At this point he realized it would be necessary to learn the implementation details of each operating system to have a chance to embed any new protocols in an efficient way. Thus, in the spring of 1973, after starting the internetting effort, he asked Vint Cerf (then at Stanford) to work with him on the detailed design of the protocol. Cerf had been intimately involved in the original NCP design and development and already had the knowledge about interfacing to existing operating systems. So armed with Kahn’s architectural approach to the communications side and with Cerf’s NCP experience, they teamed up to spell out the details of what became TCP/IP.

The give and take was highly productive and the first written version of the resulting approach was distributed as INWG#39 at a special meeting of the International Network Working Group (INWG) at Sussex University in September 1973. Subsequently a refined version was published in 1974 7 . The INWG was created at the October 1972 International Computer Communications Conference organized by Bob Kahn, et al, and Cerf was invited to chair this group.

Some basic approaches emerged from this collaboration between Kahn and Cerf:

The original Cerf/Kahn paper on the Internet described one protocol, called TCP, which provided all the transport and forwarding services in the Internet. Kahn had intended that the TCP protocol support a range of transport services, from the totally reliable sequenced delivery of data (virtual circuit model) to a datagram service in which the application made direct use of the underlying network service, which might imply occasional lost, corrupted or reordered packets. However, the initial effort to implement TCP resulted in a version that only allowed for virtual circuits. This model worked fine for file transfer and remote login applications, but some of the early work on advanced network applications, in particular packet voice in the 1970s, made clear that in some cases packet losses should not be corrected by TCP, but should be left to the application to deal with. This led to a reorganization of the original TCP into two protocols, the simple IP which provided only for addressing and forwarding of individual packets, and the separate TCP, which was concerned with service features such as flow control and recovery from lost packets. For those applications that did not want the services of TCP, an alternative called the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) was added in order to provide direct access to the basic service of IP.

A major initial motivation for both the ARPANET and the Internet was resource sharing – for example allowing users on the packet radio networks to access the time sharing systems attached to the ARPANET. Connecting the two together was far more economical that duplicating these very expensive computers. However, while file transfer and remote login (Telnet) were very important applications, electronic mail has probably had the most significant impact of the innovations from that era. Email provided a new model of how people could communicate with each other, and changed the nature of collaboration, first in the building of the Internet itself (as is discussed below) and later for much of society.

There were other applications proposed in the early days of the Internet, including packet based voice communication (the precursor of Internet telephony), various models of file and disk sharing, and early “worm” programs that showed the concept of agents (and, of course, viruses). A key concept of the Internet is that it was not designed for just one application, but as a general infrastructure on which new applications could be conceived, as illustrated later by the emergence of the World Wide Web. It is the general purpose nature of the service provided by TCP and IP that makes this possible.

Proving the Ideas

DARPA let three contracts to Stanford (Cerf), BBN (Ray Tomlinson) and UCL (Peter Kirstein) to implement TCP/IP (it was simply called TCP in the Cerf/Kahn paper but contained both components). The Stanford team, led by Cerf, produced the detailed specification and within about a year there were three independent implementations of TCP that could interoperate.

This was the beginning of long term experimentation and development to evolve and mature the Internet concepts and technology. Beginning with the first three networks (ARPANET, Packet Radio, and Packet Satellite) and their initial research communities, the experimental environment has grown to incorporate essentially every form of network and a very broad-based research and development community.  [REK78]  With each expansion has come new challenges.

The early implementations of TCP were done for large time sharing systems such as Tenex and TOPS 20. When desktop computers first appeared, it was thought by some that TCP was too big and complex to run on a personal computer. David Clark and his research group at MIT set out to show that a compact and simple implementation of TCP was possible. They produced an implementation, first for the Xerox Alto (the early personal workstation developed at Xerox PARC) and then for the IBM PC. That implementation was fully interoperable with other TCPs, but was tailored to the application suite and performance objectives of the personal computer, and showed that workstations, as well as large time-sharing systems, could be a part of the Internet. In 1976, Kleinrock published the  first book on the ARPANET . It included an emphasis on the complexity of protocols and the pitfalls they often introduce. This book was influential in spreading the lore of packet switching networks to a very wide community.

Widespread development of LANS, PCs and workstations in the 1980s allowed the nascent Internet to flourish. Ethernet technology, developed by Bob Metcalfe at Xerox PARC in 1973, is now probably the dominant network technology in the Internet and PCs and workstations the dominant computers. This change from having a few networks with a modest number of time-shared hosts (the original ARPANET model) to having many networks has resulted in a number of new concepts and changes to the underlying technology. First, it resulted in the definition of three network classes (A, B, and C) to accommodate the range of networks. Class A represented large national scale networks (small number of networks with large numbers of hosts); Class B represented regional scale networks; and Class C represented local area networks (large number of networks with relatively few hosts).

A major shift occurred as a result of the increase in scale of the Internet and its associated management issues. To make it easy for people to use the network, hosts were assigned names, so that it was not necessary to remember the numeric addresses. Originally, there were a fairly limited number of hosts, so it was feasible to maintain a single table of all the hosts and their associated names and addresses. The shift to having a large number of independently managed networks (e.g., LANs) meant that having a single table of hosts was no longer feasible, and the Domain Name System (DNS) was invented by Paul Mockapetris of USC/ISI. The DNS permitted a scalable distributed mechanism for resolving hierarchical host names (e.g.  www.acm.org ) into an Internet address.

The increase in the size of the Internet also challenged the capabilities of the routers. Originally, there was a single distributed algorithm for routing that was implemented uniformly by all the routers in the Internet. As the number of networks in the Internet exploded, this initial design could not expand as necessary, so it was replaced by a hierarchical model of routing, with an Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP) used inside each region of the Internet, and an Exterior Gateway Protocol (EGP) used to tie the regions together. This design permitted different regions to use a different IGP, so that different requirements for cost, rapid reconfiguration, robustness and scale could be accommodated. Not only the routing algorithm, but the size of the addressing tables, stressed the capacity of the routers. New approaches for address aggregation, in particular classless inter-domain routing (CIDR), have recently been introduced to control the size of router tables.

As the Internet evolved, one of the major challenges was how to propagate the changes to the software, particularly the host software. DARPA supported UC Berkeley to investigate modifications to the Unix operating system, including incorporating TCP/IP developed at BBN. Although Berkeley later rewrote the BBN code to more efficiently fit into the Unix system and kernel, the incorporation of TCP/IP into the Unix BSD system releases proved to be a critical element in dispersion of the protocols to the research community. Much of the CS research community began to use Unix BSD for their day-to-day computing environment. Looking back, the strategy of incorporating Internet protocols into a supported operating system for the research community was one of the key elements in the successful widespread adoption of the Internet.

One of the more interesting challenges was the transition of the ARPANET host protocol from NCP to TCP/IP as of January 1, 1983. This was a “flag-day” style transition, requiring all hosts to convert simultaneously or be left having to communicate via rather ad-hoc mechanisms. This transition was carefully planned within the community over several years before it actually took place and went surprisingly smoothly (but resulted in a distribution of buttons saying “I survived the TCP/IP transition”).

TCP/IP was adopted as a defense standard three years earlier in 1980. This enabled defense to begin sharing in the DARPA Internet technology base and led directly to the eventual partitioning of the military and non- military communities. By 1983, ARPANET was being used by a significant number of defense R&D and operational organizations. The transition of ARPANET from NCP to TCP/IP permitted it to be split into a MILNET supporting operational requirements and an ARPANET supporting research needs.

Thus, by 1985, Internet was already well established as a technology supporting a broad community of researchers and developers, and was beginning to be used by other communities for daily computer communications. Electronic mail was being used broadly across several communities, often with different systems, but interconnection between different mail systems was demonstrating the utility of broad based electronic communications between people.

Transition to Widespread Infrastructure

At the same time that the Internet technology was being experimentally validated and widely used amongst a subset of computer science researchers, other networks and networking technologies were being pursued. The usefulness of computer networking – especially electronic mail – demonstrated by DARPA and Department of Defense contractors on the ARPANET was not lost on other communities and disciplines, so that by the mid-1970s computer networks had begun to spring up wherever funding could be found for the purpose. The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) established MFENet for its researchers in Magnetic Fusion Energy, whereupon DoE’s High Energy Physicists responded by building HEPNet. NASA Space Physicists followed with SPAN, and Rick Adrion, David Farber, and Larry Landweber established CSNET for the (academic and industrial) Computer Science community with an initial grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). AT&T’s free-wheeling dissemination of the UNIX computer operating system spawned USENET, based on UNIX’ built-in UUCP communication protocols, and in 1981 Ira Fuchs and Greydon Freeman devised BITNET, which linked academic mainframe computers in an “email as card images” paradigm.

With the exception of BITNET and USENET, these early networks (including ARPANET) were purpose-built – i.e., they were intended for, and largely restricted to, closed communities of scholars; there was hence little pressure for the individual networks to be compatible and, indeed, they largely were not. In addition, alternate technologies were being pursued in the commercial sector, including XNS from Xerox, DECNet, and IBM’s SNA. 8  It remained for the British JANET (1984) and U.S. NSFNET (1985) programs to explicitly announce their intent to serve the entire higher education community, regardless of discipline. Indeed, a condition for a U.S. university to receive NSF funding for an Internet connection was that “… the connection must be made available to ALL qualified users on campus.”

In 1985, Dennis Jennings came from Ireland to spend a year at NSF leading the NSFNET program. He worked with the community to help NSF make a critical decision – that TCP/IP would be mandatory for the NSFNET program. When Steve Wolff took over the NSFNET program in 1986, he recognized the need for a wide area networking infrastructure to support the general academic and research community, along with the need to develop a strategy for establishing such infrastructure on a basis ultimately independent of direct federal funding. Policies and strategies were adopted (see below) to achieve that end.

NSF also elected to support DARPA’s existing Internet organizational infrastructure, hierarchically arranged under the (then) Internet Activities Board (IAB). The public declaration of this choice was the joint authorship by the IAB’s Internet Engineering and Architecture Task Forces and by NSF’s Network Technical Advisory Group of RFC 985 (Requirements for Internet Gateways ), which formally ensured interoperability of DARPA’s and NSF’s pieces of the Internet.

In addition to the selection of TCP/IP for the NSFNET program, Federal agencies made and implemented several other policy decisions which shaped the Internet of today.

The backbone had made the transition from a network built from routers out of the research community (the “Fuzzball” routers from David Mills) to commercial equipment. In its 8 1/2 year lifetime, the Backbone had grown from six nodes with 56 kbps links to 21 nodes with multiple 45 Mbps links. It had seen the Internet grow to over 50,000 networks on all seven continents and outer space, with approximately 29,000 networks in the United States.

Such was the weight of the NSFNET program’s ecumenism and funding ($200 million from 1986 to 1995) – and the quality of the protocols themselves – that by 1990 when the ARPANET itself was finally decommissioned 10 , TCP/IP had supplanted or marginalized most other wide-area computer network protocols worldwide, and IP was well on its way to becoming THE bearer service for the Global Information Infrastructure.

The Role of Documentation

A key to the rapid growth of the Internet has been the free and open access to the basic documents, especially the specifications of the protocols.

The beginnings of the ARPANET and the Internet in the university research community promoted the academic tradition of open publication of ideas and results. However, the normal cycle of traditional academic publication was too formal and too slow for the dynamic exchange of ideas essential to creating networks.

In 1969 a key step was taken by S. Crocker (then at UCLA) in establishing the  Request for Comments  (or RFC) series of notes. These memos were intended to be an informal fast distribution way to share ideas with other network researchers. At first the RFCs were printed on paper and distributed via snail mail. As the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) came into use, the RFCs were prepared as online files and accessed via FTP. Now, of course, the RFCs are easily accessed via the World Wide Web at dozens of sites around the world. SRI, in its role as Network Information Center, maintained the online directories. Jon Postel acted as RFC Editor as well as managing the centralized administration of required protocol number assignments, roles that he continued to play until his death, October 16, 1998.

The effect of the RFCs was to create a positive feedback loop, with ideas or proposals presented in one RFC triggering another RFC with additional ideas, and so on. When some consensus (or a least a consistent set of ideas) had come together a specification document would be prepared. Such a specification would then be used as the base for implementations by the various research teams.

Over time, the RFCs have become more focused on protocol standards (the “official” specifications), though there are still informational RFCs that describe alternate approaches, or provide background information on protocols and engineering issues. The RFCs are now viewed as the “documents of record” in the Internet engineering and standards community.

The open access to the RFCs (for free, if you have any kind of a connection to the Internet) promotes the growth of the Internet because it allows the actual specifications to be used for examples in college classes and by entrepreneurs developing new systems.

Email has been a significant factor in all areas of the Internet, and that is certainly true in the development of protocol specifications, technical standards, and Internet engineering. The very early RFCs often presented a set of ideas developed by the researchers at one location to the rest of the community. After email came into use, the authorship pattern changed – RFCs were presented by joint authors with common view independent of their locations.

The use of specialized email mailing lists has been long used in the development of protocol specifications, and continues to be an important tool. The IETF now has in excess of 75 working groups, each working on a different aspect of Internet engineering. Each of these working groups has a mailing list to discuss one or more draft documents under development. When consensus is reached on a draft document it may be distributed as an RFC.

As the current rapid expansion of the Internet is fueled by the realization of its capability to promote information sharing, we should understand that the network’s first role in information sharing was sharing the information about its own design and operation through the RFC documents. This unique method for evolving new capabilities in the network will continue to be critical to future evolution of the Internet.

Formation of the Broad Community

The Internet is as much a collection of communities as a collection of technologies, and its success is largely attributable to both satisfying basic community needs as well as utilizing the community in an effective way to push the infrastructure forward. This community spirit has a long history beginning with the early ARPANET. The early ARPANET researchers worked as a close-knit community to accomplish the initial demonstrations of packet switching technology described earlier. Likewise, the Packet Satellite, Packet Radio and several other DARPA computer science research programs were multi-contractor collaborative activities that heavily used whatever available mechanisms there were to coordinate their efforts, starting with electronic mail and adding file sharing, remote access, and eventually World Wide Web capabilities. Each of these programs formed a working group, starting with the ARPANET Network Working Group. Because of the unique role that ARPANET played as an infrastructure supporting the various research programs, as the Internet started to evolve, the Network Working Group evolved into Internet Working Group.

In the late 1970s, recognizing that the growth of the Internet was accompanied by a growth in the size of the interested research community and therefore an increased need for coordination mechanisms, Vint Cerf, then manager of the Internet Program at DARPA, formed several coordination bodies – an International Cooperation Board (ICB), chaired by Peter Kirstein of UCL, to coordinate activities with some cooperating European countries centered on Packet Satellite research, an Internet Research Group which was an inclusive group providing an environment for general exchange of information, and an Internet Configuration Control Board (ICCB), chaired by Clark. The ICCB was an invitational body to assist Cerf in managing the burgeoning Internet activity.

In 1983, when Barry Leiner took over management of the Internet research program at DARPA, he and Clark recognized that the continuing growth of the Internet community demanded a restructuring of the coordination mechanisms. The ICCB was disbanded and in its place a structure of Task Forces was formed, each focused on a particular area of the technology (e.g. routers, end-to-end protocols, etc.). The Internet Activities Board (IAB) was formed from the chairs of the Task Forces.

It of course was only a coincidence that the chairs of the Task Forces were the same people as the members of the old ICCB, and Dave Clark continued to act as chair. After some changing membership on the IAB, Phill Gross became chair of a revitalized Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), at the time merely one of the IAB Task Forces. As we saw above, by 1985 there was a tremendous growth in the more practical/engineering side of the Internet. This growth resulted in an explosion in the attendance at the IETF meetings, and Gross was compelled to create substructure to the IETF in the form of working groups.

This growth was complemented by a major expansion in the community. No longer was DARPA the only major player in the funding of the Internet. In addition to NSFNet and the various US and international government-funded activities, interest in the commercial sector was beginning to grow. Also in 1985, both Kahn and Leiner left DARPA and there was a significant decrease in Internet activity at DARPA. As a result, the IAB was left without a primary sponsor and increasingly assumed the mantle of leadership.

The growth continued, resulting in even further substructure within both the IAB and IETF. The IETF combined Working Groups into Areas, and designated Area Directors. An Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) was formed of the Area Directors. The IAB recognized the increasing importance of the IETF, and restructured the standards process to explicitly recognize the IESG as the major review body for standards. The IAB also restructured so that the rest of the Task Forces (other than the IETF) were combined into an Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) chaired by Postel, with the old task forces renamed as research groups.

The growth in the commercial sector brought with it increased concern regarding the standards process itself. Starting in the early 1980’s and continuing to this day, the Internet grew beyond its primarily research roots to include both a broad user community and increased commercial activity. Increased attention was paid to making the process open and fair. This coupled with a recognized need for community support of the Internet eventually led to the formation of the Internet Society in 1991, under the auspices of Kahn’s Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) and the leadership of Cerf, then with CNRI.

In 1992, yet another reorganization took place. In 1992, the Internet Activities Board was re-organized and re-named the Internet Architecture Board operating under the auspices of the Internet Society. A more “peer” relationship was defined between the new IAB and IESG, with the IETF and IESG taking a larger responsibility for the approval of standards. Ultimately, a cooperative and mutually supportive relationship was formed between the IAB, IETF, and Internet Society, with the Internet Society taking on as a goal the provision of service and other measures which would facilitate the work of the IETF.

The recent development and widespread deployment of the World Wide Web has brought with it a new community, as many of the people working on the WWW have not thought of themselves as primarily network researchers and developers. A new coordination organization was formed, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Initially led from MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science by Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the WWW) and Al Vezza, W3C has taken on the responsibility for evolving the various protocols and standards associated with the Web.

Thus, through the over two decades of Internet activity, we have seen a steady evolution of organizational structures designed to support and facilitate an ever-increasing community working collaboratively on Internet issues.

Commercialization of the Technology

Commercialization of the Internet involved not only the development of competitive, private network services, but also the development of commercial products implementing the Internet technology. In the early 1980s, dozens of vendors were incorporating TCP/IP into their products because they saw buyers for that approach to networking. Unfortunately they lacked both real information about how the technology was supposed to work and how the customers planned on using this approach to networking. Many saw it as a nuisance add-on that had to be glued on to their own proprietary networking solutions: SNA, DECNet, Netware, NetBios. The DoD had mandated the use of TCP/IP in many of its purchases but gave little help to the vendors regarding how to build useful TCP/IP products.

In 1985, recognizing this lack of information availability and appropriate training, Dan Lynch in cooperation with the IAB arranged to hold a three day workshop for ALL vendors to come learn about how TCP/IP worked and what it still could not do well. The speakers came mostly from the DARPA research community who had both developed these protocols and used them in day-to-day work. About 250 vendor personnel came to listen to 50 inventors and experimenters. The results were surprises on both sides: the vendors were amazed to find that the inventors were so open about the way things worked (and what still did not work) and the inventors were pleased to listen to new problems they had not considered, but were being discovered by the vendors in the field. Thus a two-way discussion was formed that has lasted for over a decade.

After two years of conferences, tutorials, design meetings and workshops, a special event was organized that invited those vendors whose products ran TCP/IP well enough to come together in one room for three days to show off how well they all worked together and also ran over the Internet. In September of 1988 the first Interop trade show was born. 50 companies made the cut. 5,000 engineers from potential customer organizations came to see if it all did work as was promised. It did. Why? Because the vendors worked extremely hard to ensure that everyone’s products interoperated with all of the other products – even with those of their competitors. The Interop trade show has grown immensely since then and today it is held in 7 locations around the world each year to an audience of over 250,000 people who come to learn which products work with each other in a seamless manner, learn about the latest products, and discuss the latest technology.

In parallel with the commercialization efforts that were highlighted by the Interop activities, the vendors began to attend the IETF meetings that were held 3 or 4 times a year to discuss new ideas for extensions of the TCP/IP protocol suite. Starting with a few hundred attendees mostly from academia and paid for by the government, these meetings now often exceed a thousand attendees, mostly from the vendor community and paid for by the attendees themselves. This self-selected group evolves the TCP/IP suite in a mutually cooperative manner. The reason it is so useful is that it is composed of all stakeholders: researchers, end users and vendors.

Network management provides an example of the interplay between the research and commercial communities. In the beginning of the Internet, the emphasis was on defining and implementing protocols that achieved interoperation.

As the network grew larger, it became clear that the sometime ad hoc procedures used to manage the network would not scale. Manual configuration of tables was replaced by distributed automated algorithms, and better tools were devised to isolate faults. In 1987 it became clear that a protocol was needed that would permit the elements of the network, such as the routers, to be remotely managed in a uniform way. Several protocols for this purpose were proposed, including Simple Network Management Protocol or SNMP (designed, as its name would suggest, for simplicity, and derived from an earlier proposal called SGMP) , HEMS (a more complex design from the research community) and CMIP (from the OSI community). A series of meeting led to the decisions that HEMS would be withdrawn as a candidate for standardization, in order to help resolve the contention, but that work on both SNMP and CMIP would go forward, with the idea that the SNMP could be a more near-term solution and CMIP a longer-term approach. The market could choose the one it found more suitable. SNMP is now used almost universally for network-based management.

In the last few years, we have seen a new phase of commercialization. Originally, commercial efforts mainly comprised vendors providing the basic networking products, and service providers offering the connectivity and basic Internet services. The Internet has now become almost a “commodity” service, and much of the latest attention has been on the use of this global information infrastructure for support of other commercial services. This has been tremendously accelerated by the widespread and rapid adoption of browsers and the World Wide Web technology, allowing users easy access to information linked throughout the globe. Products are available to facilitate the provisioning of that information and many of the latest developments in technology have been aimed at providing increasingly sophisticated information services on top of the basic Internet data communications.

History of the Future

On October 24, 1995, the FNC unanimously passed a resolution defining the term Internet. This definition was developed in consultation with members of the internet and intellectual property rights communities. RESOLUTION: The Federal Networking Council (FNC) agrees that the following language reflects our definition of the term “Internet”. “Internet” refers to the global information system that — (i) is logically linked together by a globally unique address space based on the Internet Protocol (IP) or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons; (ii) is able to support communications using the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons, and/or other IP-compatible protocols; and (iii) provides, uses or makes accessible, either publicly or privately, high level services layered on the communications and related infrastructure described herein.

The Internet has changed much in the two decades since it came into existence. It was conceived in the era of time-sharing, but has survived into the era of personal computers, client-server and peer-to-peer computing, and the network computer. It was designed before LANs existed, but has accommodated that new network technology, as well as the more recent ATM and frame switched services. It was envisioned as supporting a range of functions from file sharing and remote login to resource sharing and collaboration, and has spawned electronic mail and more recently the World Wide Web. But most important, it started as the creation of a small band of dedicated researchers, and has grown to be a commercial success with billions of dollars of annual investment.

One should not conclude that the Internet has now finished changing. The Internet, although a network in name and geography, is a creature of the computer, not the traditional network of the telephone or television industry. It will, indeed it must, continue to change and evolve at the speed of the computer industry if it is to remain relevant. It is now changing to provide new services such as real time transport, in order to support, for example, audio and video streams.

The availability of pervasive networking (i.e., the Internet) along with powerful affordable computing and communications in portable form (i.e., laptop computers, two-way pagers, PDAs, cellular phones), is making possible a new paradigm of nomadic computing and communications. This evolution will bring us new applications – Internet telephone and, slightly further out, Internet television. It is evolving to permit more sophisticated forms of pricing and cost recovery, a perhaps painful requirement in this commercial world. It is changing to accommodate yet another generation of underlying network technologies with different characteristics and requirements, e.g. broadband residential access and satellites. New modes of access and new forms of service will spawn new applications, which in turn will drive further evolution of the net itself.

The most pressing question for the future of the Internet is not how the technology will change, but how the process of change and evolution itself will be managed. As this paper describes, the architecture of the Internet has always been driven by a core group of designers, but the form of that group has changed as the number of interested parties has grown. With the success of the Internet has come a proliferation of stakeholders – stakeholders now with an economic as well as an intellectual investment in the network.

We now see, in the debates over control of the domain name space and the form of the next generation IP addresses, a struggle to find the next social structure that will guide the Internet in the future. The form of that structure will be harder to find, given the large number of concerned stakeholders. At the same time, the industry struggles to find the economic rationale for the large investment needed for the future growth, for example to upgrade residential access to a more suitable technology. If the Internet stumbles, it will not be because we lack for technology, vision, or motivation. It will be because we cannot set a direction and march collectively into the future.

1 Perhaps this is an exaggeration based on the lead author’s residence in Silicon Valley.

2 On a recent trip to a Tokyo bookstore, one of the authors counted 14 English language magazines devoted to the Internet.

3 An abbreviated version of this article appears in the 50th anniversary issue of the CACM, Feb. 97. The authors would like to express their appreciation to Andy Rosenbloom, CACM Senior Editor, for both instigating the writing of this article and his invaluable assistance in editing both this and the abbreviated version.

4 The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) changed its name to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1971, then back to ARPA in 1993, and back to DARPA in 1996. We refer throughout to DARPA, the current name.

5 It was from the RAND study that the false rumor started claiming that the ARPANET was somehow related to building a network resistant to nuclear war. This was never true of the ARPANET, only the unrelated RAND study on secure voice considered nuclear war. However, the later work on Internetting did emphasize robustness and survivability, including the capability to withstand losses of large portions of the underlying networks.

6 Including amongst others Vint Cerf, Steve Crocker, and Jon Postel. Joining them later were David Crocker who was to play an important role in documentation of electronic mail protocols, and Robert Braden, who developed the first NCP and then TCP for IBM mainframes and also was to play a long term role in the ICCB and IAB.

7 This was subsequently published as V. G. Cerf and R. E. Kahn, “A protocol for packet network intercommunication”, IEEE Trans. Comm. Tech., vol. COM-22, V 5, pp. 627-641, May 1974.

8 The desirability of email interchange, however, led to one of the first “Internet books”: !%@:: A Directory of Electronic Mail Addressing and Networks, by Frey and Adams, on email address translation and forwarding.

9 Originally named Federal Research Internet Coordinating Committee, FRICC. The FRICC was originally formed to coordinate U.S. research network activities in support of the international coordination provided by the CCIRN.

10 The decommissioning of the ARPANET was commemorated on its 20th anniversary by a UCLA symposium in 1989.

P. Baran, “On Distributed Communications Networks”, IEEE Trans. Comm. Systems, March 1964. V. G. Cerf and R. E. Kahn, “A protocol for packet network interconnection”, IEEE Trans. Comm. Tech., vol. COM-22, V 5, pp. 627-641, May 1974. S. Crocker, RFC001 Host software, Apr-07-1969. R. Kahn, Communications Principles for Operating Systems. Internal BBN memorandum, Jan. 1972. Proceedings of the IEEE, Special Issue on Packet Communication Networks, Volume 66, No. 11, November 1978. (Guest editor: Robert Kahn, associate guest editors: Keith Uncapher and Harry van Trees) L. Kleinrock, “Information Flow in Large Communication Nets”, RLE Quarterly Progress Report, July 1961. L. Kleinrock, Communication Nets: Stochastic Message Flow and Delay, Mcgraw-Hill (New York), 1964. L. Kleinrock, Queueing Systems: Vol II, Computer Applications, John Wiley and Sons (New York), 1976 J.C.R. Licklider & W. Clark, “On-Line Man Computer Communication”, August 1962. L. Roberts & T. Merrill, “Toward a Cooperative Network of Time-Shared Computers”, Fall AFIPS Conf., Oct. 1966. L. Roberts, “Multiple Computer Networks and Intercomputer Communication”, ACM Gatlinburg Conf., October 1967.

Barry M. Leiner was Director of the  Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science . He passed away in April 2003.

Vinton G. Cerf  is Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at  Google .

David D. Clark  is Senior Research Scientist at the  MIT Laboratory for Computer Science .

Robert E. Kahn  is President of the  Corporation for National Research Initiatives .

Leonard Kleinrock  is a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and is a Founder of Linkabit Corp., TTI/Vanguard,  Nomadix Inc., and Platformation Inc.

Daniel C. Lynch  is a founder of the  Interop networking trade show and conferences .

Jon Postel  served as Director of the Computer Networks Division of the  Information Sciences Institute  of the University of Southern California until his untimely death October 16, 1998.

Dr. Lawrence G. Roberts was CEO, President, and Chairman of Anagran, Inc . He passed away in December 2019.

Stephen Wolff  is Principal Scientist of  Internet2 .

Computer cookies: A definition + how cookies work in 2022

A young professional enjoys some internet browsing after learning how to better manage his computer cookies.

August 3, 2022

What are computer cookies?

Computer cookies are small files used by web servers to save browsing information, allowing websites to remember your device, browser preferences, and associated online activity.  

As you can see, cookies can benefit both the internet user and the website, but are they safe for our devices?    

Are cookies safe?

Under normal circumstances, cookies cannot transfer viruses or malware  to your computer. Because the data in a cookie doesn’t change when it travels back and forth, it has no way to affect how your computer runs.   

However, some viruses and malware may be disguised as cookies. For instance, “supercookies'' can be a potential security concern, and many browsers offer a way to block them. A “zombie cookie” is a cookie that recreates itself after being deleted, making them tough to manage. Third-party tracking cookies can also cause security and privacy concerns, since they make it easier for parties you can’t identify to watch where you’re going and what you’re doing online. 

For this reason, you might want to know how to delete computer cookies from your  browser. 

How to enable or delete computer cookies 

You might be surprised to learn that finding and managing cookies on computers can  be as easy as 1-2-3:

As you can see, most browsers have become increasingly open to letting us take control of our data and who has access to it. 

Banning all browser cookies could make some websites difficult to navigate. However, controlling or limiting third-party and tracking cookies can help improve your privacy and personal cybersecurity while still making it possible to shop online and carry out similar activities. 

Computer cookies FAQs 

There’s nothing wrong with having a few more questions about computer cookies. In fact, we probably have your answers.   

What are the pros of cookies? 

Some of the benefits that come along with computer cookies include:        

What’s a supercookie? 

Supercookies are similar to browser cookies. However, they are significantly harder to track, detect, and remove from devices.   

What happens if you don’t accept cookies? 

If you don’t accept cookies, a website may not be able to track your web activity and/or save login credentials used to access your account. 

Should I accept cookies?  

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you accept cookies. It’s generally suggested to do so, as it can give you an improved user experience on a website.  

Should I delete cookies? 

Since not all sites are the same, it depends. If you accept cookies from a site you later learn to be untrustworthy, you should definitely take time to delete them. However, secure sites use cookies to improve your user experience from top to bottom, making it OK to leave them unbothered.    

How often should you clear cookies? 

People typically clear out computer cookies once a month.   

Can cookies steal passwords? 

Cookies aren't able to directly steal passwords. They simply save a scrambled version on your device that only the website can decode.  

What information do cookies collect? 

Cookies typically store data related to a user’s:

3: Should I block cookies? 

If you believe you’re on an  unsecure website , it may be a good idea to block cookies.   

If you mentioned “cookies” three decades ago, people would probably expect to see a plate of chocolate chip treats appear. Today, however, you’ll find that the evolution of our digital age has changed expectations.  

Computer cookies — also known as HTTP cookies, internet cookies, or browser cookies —  are simply small packets of data that a computer receives from a web server and sends back without alterations. And though computer cookies can make online browsing and shopping easier, they’re also sometimes the tools used against you during a cyberattack .  

Use this as your go-to guide to explore the world of computer cookies. We’ve overviewed the purpose of cookies, common types of cookies, how computer cookies work, and how to enable and delete cookies on your devices.   

So, continue for more insight on how to get a better handle on computer cookies and  data security .   

How do cookies work?

Five illustrations accompany common uses for computer cookies on web browsers.

The intended purpose of computer cookies is to help the website keep track of your visits and activity. This isn’t always a bad thing. For example, many online retailers use cookies to keep track of the items in a user’s shopping cart as they explore the site. Without cookies, your shopping cart would reset to zero every time you clicked a new link on the site. That would make it difficult to buy anything online!  

A website might also use cookies to keep a record of your most recent visit or to record your login credentials . Many people find this useful so that they can store passwords on frequently used sites, or simply so they know what they have visited or downloaded in the past.  

Types of computer cookies 

Just like the delicious treats, there’s more than one type of cookie to have on your radar. Let's look at the different types of cookies you can expect to encounter online:

Three illustrations accompany different types of computer cookies

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Copyright © 2023 NortonLifeLock Inc. All rights reserved. NortonLifeLock, the NortonLifeLock Logo, the Checkmark Logo, Norton, LifeLock, and the LockMan Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of NortonLifeLock Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and other countries. Firefox is a trademark of Mozilla Foundation. Android, Google Chrome, Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google, LLC. Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Alexa and all related logos are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. Microsoft and the Window logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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internet activity definition

Online Privacy: Using the Internet Safely

Posted: Jul 01 1995   | Revised: Jan 16 2019

1. Online Tracking 2. Mobile Apps 3. Privacy Policies 4. Accessing the Internet 5. Passwords 6. Wireless Networks and Wi-Fi

1. Online Tracking

Almost every major website you visit tracks your online activity.  Tracking technology can follow you from site to site, track and compile your activity, and compile all of this into a database.  Generally, tracking utilizes a numerical identifier, rather than your real name.  This information is used to personalize the content that you see online.

The good news is that almost all browsers give you some control over how much information is revealed, kept and stored. Generally, you can change the settings to restrict cookies and enhance your privacy. Most major browsers now offer a "Private Browsing" tool to increase your privacy.  However, researchers have found that "Private Browsing" may fail to purge all traces of online activity.  

Most browsers also provide a Do Not Track (DNT) setting .  DNT is a way to keep your online activity from being followed across the Internet by advertisers, analytics companies and social media sites.  When you turn on the DNT setting in your browser, your browser sends a special header to websites requesting that don’t want your activity tracked.  Unfortunately, honoring the DNT setting is voluntary. Individual websites are not required to respect it.  While a few websites will honor DNT, most websites will ignore your preference.

Some of the tools that are used to track you online include cookies, flash cookies, and fingerprinting. 

Cookies. When you visit different websites, many of the sites deposit data about your visit, called "cookies," on your hard drive. Cookies are pieces of information sent by a web server to a user's browser. Cookies may include information such as login or registration identification, user preferences, online "shopping cart" information, and so on. The browser saves the information, and sends it back to the web server whenever the browser returns to the website. The web server may use the cookie to customize the display it sends to the user, or it may keep track of the different pages within the site that the user accesses.

For example, if you use the internet to complete the registration card for a product, such as a computer or television, you generally provide your name and address, which then may be stored in a cookie.  Legitimate websites use cookies to make special offers to returning users and to track the results of their advertising. These cookies are called first-party cookies .  However, there are some cookies, called third-party cookies , which communicate data about you to an advertising clearinghouse which in turn shares that data with other online marketers. These third-party cookies include "tracking cookies" which use your online history to deliver other ads. Your browser and some software products enable you to detect and delete cookies, including third-party cookies. 

Disconnect is a browser extension that stops major third parties from tracking the webpages you go to.  Every time you visit a site, Disconnect automatically detects when your browser tries to make a connection to anything other than the site you are visiting. You can also opt-out of the sharing of cookie data with members of the Network Advertising Initiative .

Flash cookies. Many websites utilize a type of cookie called a "flash cookie" (sometimes also called a "supercookie") that is more persistent than a regular cookie.  Normal procedures for erasing standard cookies, clearing history, erasing the cache, or choosing a delete private data option within the browser will not affect flash cookies.  Flash cookies thus may persist despite user efforts to delete all cookies.  They cannot be deleted by any commercially available anti-spyware or adware removal program.  However, if you use the Firefox browser, there is an add-on called Better Privacy that can assist in deleting flash cookies.

Fingerprinting.   A device fingerprint (or machine fingerprint) is a summary of the software and hardware settings collected from a computer or other device. Each device has a different clock setting, fonts, software and other characteristics that make it unique. When you go online, your device broadcasts these details, which can can be collected and pieced together to form a unique "fingerprint" for that particular device. That fingerprint can then be assigned an identifying number, and used for similar purposes as a cookie. 

Fingerprinting is rapidly replacing cookies as a means of tracking. Tracking companies are embracing fingerprinting because it is tougher to block than cookies. Cookies are subject to deletion and expiration, and are rendered useless if a user decides to switch to a new browser.  Some browsers block third-party cookies by default and certain browser add-ons enable blocking or removal of cookies.

Unlike cookies and flash cookies, fingerprints leave no evidence on a user's computer.  Therefore, it is impossible for you to know when you are being tracked by fingerprinting.

You can test your browser to see how unique it is based on the information that it will share with the sites that you visit. Panopticlick will give you a uniqueness score, letting you see how easily identifiable you might be as you surf the web.

Unfortunately, fingerprinting is generally invisible, difficult to prevent, and semi-permanent. There's no easy way to delete fingerprints that have been collected. Computer users determined to prevent fingerprinting can block JavaScript on their computer. However, some parts of a website (for example, video and interactive graphics) may not load, resulting in a blank space on the webpage.

One way to block JavaScript is to use the Firefox browser with the “add-on” program called NoScript . The combination of Firefox and NoScript can stop JavaScript on websites. Disabling JavaScript stops many forms of  browser fingerprinting, because it prevents websites from detecting plugins and fonts, which are necessary to effectively fingerprint a device. 

Cross-device tracking.  Cross-device tracking occurs when companies try to connect a consumer’s activity across their smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, and other connected devices.  The goal of cross-device tracking is to enable companies to link a consumer’s behavior across all of their devices.  While this information serves many purposes, it is particularly valuable to advertisers.  

To engage in cross-device tracking, companies use a mixture of both “deterministic” and “probabilistic” techniques.  The former can track you through an identifying characteristic such as a login.  The later uses a probabilistic approach to infer which consumer is using a device, even when a consumer has not logged into a service.

For example, a company called BlueCava is able to identify and track users online across multiple devices. They can associate multiple devices to the same person or household, by attaching an IP address to a BlueCava identifier and by recognizing and collecting information about the various computers, smartphones, and tablets that people use to connect the internet.  Thus, your behavior on one device can be associated with other devices from both your home and office.  This information can be very valuable for marketing purposes.

BlueCava's technology enables them to recognize computers and devices  by collecting information about your screen type, IP address, browser version, time zone, fonts installed, browser plug-ins and various other properties of your screen and browser. This information is put into a “snapshot” and is sent to their servers to create a unique ID for every browser and to “match” the snapshot to the snapshots they receive from their marketing partners.  When they use snapshots to create a unique ID, they are also able to group related screens into “households” based on common characteristics among the snapshots, such as IP addresses. BlueCava allows you to opt out of tracking.

If you are interested in some of the more technical aspects of online tracking, the Princeton Web Census measures cookie-based and fingerprinting-based tracking at one million websites and evaluates the effect of browser privacy tools.

2. Mobile Apps

If you use a smartphone or other mobile device to access the Internet, chances are that you may be using mobile applications (apps) rather than an Internet browser for many online activities. An app is a program you can download and access directly using your mobile device. There are hundreds of thousands of apps available, including numerous free or low-priced choices.  Unfortunately, apps can collect all sorts of data and transmit it to the app-maker and/or third-party advertisers. This data may then be shared or sold. 

Some of the data points that an app may access from your smartphone or mobile device include:

Many apps track your location. There are location-based services like Yelp and Foursquare that may need your location in order to function properly.  However, there are also apps (such as a simple flashlight) that do not need your location to function and yet still track it.

Smartphones and other mobile devices may ask you for specific permissions when you install an app. Read these and think about what the app is asking for permission to access.  Ask yourself, “Is this app requesting access to only the data it needs to function?” If the answer is no, don’t download it. Learn where to go on your particular phone to determine what you will allow the app to access, and if you are at all suspicious do more research on the app before you download. 

Mobile apps generally do not provide ad networks with the ability to set a cookie to track users.  Instead, ad networks may use your phone's mobile advertising identifier. These identifiers have different names depending on the brand of your phone. For example, on Android devices they are called Google Advertising ID.  On iOS, they are called Identifiers for Advertisers.   You can find your device's options to set an opt-out flag using these instructions .

3. Privacy Policies

One way to protect your privacy online is to understand how a site or app will use and share your personal information.  Websites and apps generally provide this information in their privacy policy.

California's Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) requires commercial websites or mobile apps that collect personal information on California consumers to conspicuously post a privacy policy. The privacy policy must, among other things, identify the categories of personally identifiable information collected about site visitors and the categories of third parties with whom the operator may share the information. The privacy policy must also provide information on the operator’s online tracking practices.  CalOPPA is the first law in the United States to impose disclosure requirements on website operators that track consumers’ online behavior.  As a practical matter, CalOPPA applies nationwide as long as the site operator collects personal information from California consumers.

According to the California Attorney General, a website, app, or other online service may violate this law if:

The California Attorney General operates an online complaint form that consumers may use to report violations.

4.  Accessing the Internet

You are likely to access the internet using one or more of these services:

If you use a computer to access the internet and pay for the service yourself, you signed up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) . Your ISP provides the mechanism for connecting to the internet.

Each computer connected to the internet, including yours, has a unique address, known as an IP address (Internet Protocol address). It takes the form of four sets of numbers separated by dots, for example: It’s that number that actually allows you to send and receive information over the internet. 

Depending upon your type of service, your IP address may be " dynamic ", that is, one that changes periodically, or " static ", one that is permanently assigned to you for as long as you maintain your service.

Your IP address by itself doesn’t provide personally identifiable information. However, because your ISP knows your IP address, it is a possible weak link when it comes to protecting your privacy.  ISPs have widely varying policies for how long they store IP addresses.  Unfortunately, many ISPs do not disclose their data retention policies.  This can make it difficult to shop for a “privacy-friendly” ISP.  Some ISPs may share their customers’ internet activity with third parties and/or collect your browsing history to deliver targeted advertisements.

When you visit a website, the site can see your IP address. Your IP address can let a site know your geographical region. The level of accuracy depends upon how your ISP assigns IP addresses.

You can block your IP address by utilizing a service such as Tor which effectively blocks this information.  Another alternative is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).  A VPN replaces your IP address with one from the VPN provider. A VPN subscriber can obtain an IP address from any gateway city the VPN service provides.  You will have to pick a VPN provider very carefully.  Unfortunately, experts can’t agree upon which VPN services are best.  Some VPNs have potential security flaws that could put your data at risk. It can be difficult to determine how secure a VPN is, and precisely what it is doing with your data.  Most experts advise avoiding free VPNs , which may monetize your data in exchange for the free service.

If you access the internet with a phone or other mobile device, you may access the internet using a data plan tied to your cellular phone service.  If you have a data plan, your service provider (such as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile) collects data about your usage. 

5. Passwords

Whenever you have an opportunity to create and use a password to protect your information, make sure that you use a strong password. Passwords are the first line of defense against the compromise of your digital information.  Revealing the data on your phone, your banking information, your email, your medical records, or other personal information could be devastating.  Yet many people fail to follow proper practices when selecting the passwords to protect this important information.  Many websites that store your personal information (for example web mail, photo or document storage sites, and money management sites) require a password for protection. However, password-protected websites are becoming more vulnerable because often people use the same passwords on numerous sites. Strong passwords can help individuals protect themselves against hackers, identity theft and other privacy invasions. 

Here are some password “dos” and “don’ts” that can help you to maintain the security of your personal data.

Password recovery methods are frequently the "weakest link", enabling a hacker to reset your password and lock you out of your account.  Be sure that you don’t pick a question which can be answered by others.  Many times, answers to these questions (such as a pet’s name or where you went to high school) can be ascertained by others through social networking or other simple research tools.  It's also a good idea to have your password resets go to a separate email account designed for resets only.

6. Wireless Networks and Wi-Fi

Households and businesses establish wireless networks to link multiple computers, printers, and other devices and may provide public access to their networks by establishing Wi-Fi hotspots. A wireless network offers the significant advantage of enabling you to build a computer network without stringing wires. Unfortunately, these systems usually come out of the box with the security features turned off. This makes the network easy to set up, but also easy to break into.

Most home wireless access points, routers, and gateways are shipped with a default network name (known as an SSID) and default administrative credentials (username and password) to make setup as simple as possible. These default settings should be changed as soon as you set up your Wi-Fi network.  In addition, some routers are equipped by default with "Guest" accounts that can be accessed without a password.  "Guest" accounts should be disabled or password protected.

The typical automated installation process disables many security features to simplify the installation.  Not only can data be stolen, altered, or destroyed, but programs and even extra computers can be added to the unsecured network without your knowledge. This risk is highest in densely populated neighborhoods and office building complexes. 

Home networks should be secured with a minimum of WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access version 2) encryption. You may have to specifically turn on WPA2 to use it. The older WEP encryption has become an easy target for hackers. Also, do not name your home network using a name that reveals your identity. Setting up your home Wi-Fi access point can be a complex process and is well beyond the scope of this fact sheet. To ensure that your system is secure, review your user's manuals and web resources for information on security.  

The number of Wi-Fi hotspot locations has grown dramatically and includes schools, libraries, cafes, airports, and hotels.  With a Wi-Fi connection you can be connected to the Internet almost anywhere.  You can conduct the same online activities over Wi-Fi as you would be able to at home or work, such as checking email and surfing the web. However, you must consider the risks to your privacy and the security of your device when using a Wi-Fi hotspot.  Most Wi-Fi hotspots are unsecured and unencrypted.   Even the expensive pay Wi-Fi service available in many airplanes may be as insecure as the free Wi-Fi offered at your corner coffee house.  Therefore, you must take additional steps to protect your privacy.

Because the network at a Wi-Fi hotspot is unsecured, Internet connections remain open to intrusion. Hackers can intercept network traffic to steal your information. There are 3 major privacy threats in a Wi-Fi hotspot:

There are various ways to help protect your privacy when using Wi-Fi.  Begin with basic common sense.  Look around to see if anyone is surreptitiously trying to look at your computer.  Do not leave your computer unattended.  Never conduct unsecured transactions over unsecured Wi-Fi.  When entering sensitive information (such as your Social Security number, password, or credit card number), ensure that either the webpage encrypts the information or that your Wi-Fi connection is encrypted. Disable your wireless adapter if you are not using the Internet. Otherwise, you leave your computer open to vulnerabilities if it accidentally connects to the first available network.

VPN (Virtual Private Network). This is the first line of defense against vulnerabilities created by Wi-Fi. A VPN provides encryption over an unencrypted Wi-Fi connection. This will help ensure that all web pages visited, log-on details, and contents of email messages remain encrypted. This renders intercepted traffic useless to the hacker. You can obtain software to set up a VPN through your office or home computer, or you can use a commercial provider’s hosted VPN service. 

Secure surfing/SSL.  When checking your email or conducting any important transaction, adding an “s” after “http” may give you a secured connection to the webpage. Many webmail services provide this feature. This ensures that your login details are encrypted thereby rendering it useless to hackers. Although your email login may be encrypted, some webmail providers may not encrypt your Inbox and messages.

Check for SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates on all websites on which you conduct sensitive transaction.  SSL creates a secure connection between a client and a server, over which any amount of data can be sent securely.

Wi-Fi settings.  Ensure that your computer is not set to automatically connect to the nearest available Wi-Fi access point. This may not necessarily be a legitimate connection point but instead an access point on a hacker’s computer.

Disable file-sharing.  Ensure that file sharing is disabled on your computer to ensure that intruders cannot access your private files through the network.

Firewall.  Install a firewall on your computer and keep it enabled at all times when using Wi-Fi. This should prevent intrusion through the ports on the computer.

Security updates.  Keep your computer’s software and operating system up-to-date.  This will help plug security holes in the software or operating system.

Related Articles

What is Internet? Definition, Uses, Working, Advantages and Disadvantages

Internet is the foremost important tool and the prominent resource that is being used by almost every person across the globe. It connects millions of computers, webpages, websites, and servers. Using the internet we can send emails, photos, videos, messages to our loved ones. Or in other words, the internet is a widespread interconnected network of computers and electronics devices(that support internet). It creates a communication medium to share and get information online. If your device is connected to the Internet then only you will be able to access all the applications, websites, social media apps, and many more services. Internet nowadays is considered as the fastest medium for sending and receiving information.

Origin Of Internet : The internet came in the year 1960 with the creation of the first working model called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency). It allowed multiple computers to work on a single network that was their biggest achievement at that time. ARPANET use packet switching to communicate multiple computer systems under a single network. In October 1969, using ARPANET first message was transferred from one computer to another. After that technology continues to grow. 

How is the Internet set up?

The internet is set up with the help of physical optical fiber data transmission cables or copper wires and various other networking mediums like LAN, WAN, MAN, etc. For accessing the Internet even the 2g, 3g, and 4g services and the wifi require these physical cable setup to access the Internet. There is an authority named ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) located in the USA which manages the Internet and protocols related to it like IP addresses.

How does the internet works?

The actual working of the internet takes place with the help of clients and servers. Here the client is a laptop that is directly connected to the internet and servers are the computers connected indirectly to the Internet and they are having all the websites stored in those large computers. These servers are connected to the internet with the help of ISP (Internet Service Providers) and will be identified with the IP address. Each website has its Domain name as it is difficult for any person to always remember the long numbers or strings. So, whenever you search any domain name in the search bar of the browser the request will be sent to the server and that server will try to find the IP address from the Domain name because it cannot understand the domain name. After getting the IP address the server will try to search the IP address of the Domain name in a Huge phone directory that in networking is known as a DNS server (Domain Name Server). For example, if we have the name of a person and you can easily find the Aadhaar number of him/her from the long directory as simple as that.

So after getting the IP address the browser will pass on the further request to the respective server and now the server will process the request to display the content of the website which the client wants. If you are using a wireless medium of Internet like 3g and 4g or other mobile data then the data will start flowing from the optical cables and will first reach to towers from there the signals will reach your cell phones and Pc’s through electromagnetic waves. And if you are using routers then optical fiber connecting to your router will help in connecting those light-induced signals into electrical signals and with the help of ethernet cables internet reaches your computers and hence the required information. 

What is an IP address?

IP address stands for internet protocol address. Every PC/Local machine is having an IP address and that IP address is provided by the Internet Service Providers (ISP’s). These are some sets of rules which govern the flow of data whenever a device is connected to the Internet. It differentiates computers, websites, and routers. Just like human identification cards like Aadhaar cards, Pan cards, or any other unique identification documents. Every laptop and desktop has its own unique IP address for identification. It’s an important part of internet technology. An IP address is displayed as a set of four-digit like Here each number on the set ranges from 0 to 255. Hence, the total IP address range from to 

You can check the IP address of your Laptop or desktop by clicking on the windows start menu ->then right click and go to network ->in that go to status and then Properties their you can see the IP address. There are four different types of IP addresses are available:

World Wide Web(WWW)

The worldwide web is a collection of all the web pages, web documents that you can see on the Internet by searching their URLs (Uniform Resource Locator) on the Internet. For example, www.geeksforgeeks.org is a URL of the GFG website and all the content of this site like webpages and all the web documents are stored on the worldwide web. Or in other words, the world wide web is an information retrieval service of the web. It provides users a huge array of documents that are connected to each other by means of hypertext or hypermedia links. Here, hyperlinks are known as electronic connections that link the related data so that users can easily access the related information and hypertext allows the user to pick a word or phrase from text, and using this keyword or word or phrase can access other documents that contain additional information related to that word or keyword or phrase. World wide web is a project which is created by Timothy Berner’s Lee in 1989, for researchers to work together effectively at CERN. It is an organization, named World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which was developed for further development in the web.

Difference between Worldwide Web and Internet

The difference between the world wide web and the internet are:

Uses of the Internet

Some of the important usages of the internet are:

 Advantages of the Internet

Disadvantages of the Internet

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Why your internet habits are not as clean as you think

Individual messages, emails and internet searches to not produce much of a carbon footprint, but billions of them add up quickly (Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld)

It’s probable you’ve already replied to a couple of emails today, sent some chat messages and maybe performed a quick internet search. As the day wears on you will doubtless spend even more time browsing online, uploading images, playing music and streaming video.

Each of these activities you perform online comes with a small cost – a few grams of carbon dioxide are emitted due to the energy needed to run your devices and power the wireless networks you access. Less obvious, but perhaps even more energy intensive, are the data centres and vast servers needed to support the internet and store the content we access over it.

Although the energy needed for a single internet search or email is small , approximately 4.1 billion people, or 53.6% of the global population, now use the internet. Those scraps of energy, and the associated greenhouse gases emitted with each online activity, can add up.

The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, according to some estimates. It is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry globally, explains Mike Hazas, a researcher at Lancaster University. And these emissions are predicted to double by 2025.

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If we were to rather crudely divide the 1.7 billion tonnes (1.6 billion tons) of greenhouse gas emissions estimated to be produced in the manufacture and running of digital technologies between all internet users around the world, it means each of us is responsible for 414kg (912lbs) of carbon dioxide a year.

Popular music videos such as Despacito can have a large carbon footprint if they are streamed billions of times (Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld)

Popular music videos such as Despacito can have a large carbon footprint if they are streamed billions of times (Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld)

But things are not that simple – this figure can vary depending where in the world you are. Internet users in some parts of the globe will have a disproportionately large footprint. One study estimated that 10 years ago, the average Australian internet user was responsible for the equivalent of 81kg (179lbs) of carbon dioxide (CO2e) being emitted into the atmosphere. Improvements in energy efficiency, economies of scale and use of renewable energy will doubtless have reduced this, but it is clear that people in developed nations still account for the majority of the internet’s carbon footprint. (CO2e is a unit used to express the carbon footprint of all greenhouse gases together as if they were all emitted as carbon dioxide)

For some, the realisation that their online activity is harming the planet has spurred them into taking action.

“Anything we can do to reduce carbon emissions is important, no matter how small, and that includes how we behave on the internet," says Philippa Gaut, a teacher from Surrey, UK. She is one of a growing number of eco-conscious consumers trying to reduce their environmental impact online and on their phones. “If everybody made changes, it would have more impact,” she adds

One of the difficulties in working out the carbon footprint of our internet habits is that few people can agree on what they should and should not include. Should it include the emissions that come from manufacturing the computing hardware? And what about those from the staff and buildings of technology companies? Even the figures around the running of data centres are disputed – many run on renewable energy, while some companies buy “ carbon off-sets ” to clean up their energy use.

While many companies claim to power their data centre’s using renewable energy, in some parts of the world they are still largely powered from the burning of fossil fuels

In the US, data centres are responsible for 2% of the country’s electricity use , while globally they account for just under 200 terawatt Hours (TWh) . According to the United Nation’s International Telecommunications Union, however, this figure has flatlined in recent years despite rising internet traffic and workloads. This is largely because of improved energy efficiency and the move to centralise data centres into giant facilities.

But while many companies claim to power their data centre’s using renewable energy, in some parts of the world they are still largely powered from the burning of fossil fuels . And it can be difficult for consumers to choose which data centres they want to use. Many of the major cloud providers, however, have pledged to cut their carbon emissions, so storing photos, documents and running services off their servers where possible is one approach to take.

As an individual, simply upgrading our equipment less often is one way of cutting the carbon footprint of our digital technology. The greenhouse gases emitted while manufacturing and transporting these devices can make up a considerable portion of the lifetime emissions from a piece of electronics. One study at the University of Edinburgh found that extending the time you use a single computer and monitors from four to six years could avoid the equivalent of 190kg of carbon emissions .


We can also alter the way we use our gadgets to cut our digital carbon footprints. One of the easiest ways is to switch they way we send messages.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the footprint of an email also varies dramatically, from 0.3g CO2e for a spam email to 4g (0.14oz) CO2e for a regular email and 50g (1.7oz) CO2e for one with a photo or hefty attachment, according to Mike Berners-Lee, a fellow at Lancaster University who researches carbon footprints. These figures, however, were crunched by Berners-Lee 10 years ago. Charlotte Freitag, a carbon footprint expert at Small World Consulting, the company founded by Berners-Lee, says the impact of emailing may have gone up.

“We think the footprint per message might be higher today because of the bigger phones people are using,” she says.

While spam emails can have quite a small carbon footprint, sending images or large attachments can have a much bigger impact (Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld)

While spam emails can have quite a small carbon footprint, sending images or large attachments can have a much bigger impact (Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld)

Based on the older figures, some people have estimated that their own emails will generate 1.6kg (3.5lb) CO2e in a single day . Berners-Lee himself also calculated that a typical business user creates 135kg (298lbs) CO2e from sending emails every year, which is the equivalent of driving 200 miles in a family car.

But it should also be easy to cut this down. By simply stopping unnecessary niceties such as “thank you” emails we could collectively save a lot of carbon emissions. If every adult in the UK sent one less “thank you” email, it could save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year – the equivalent to taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road, according to energy company, OVO.

“While the carbon footprint of an email isn’t huge, it’s a great illustration of the broader principle that cutting the waste out of our lives is good for our wellbeing and good for the environment,” Berners-Lee says.

Swapping email attachments for links to documents and not sending messages to multiple recipients are another easy way to reduce our digital carbon footprints, as well as unsubscribing from mailing lists we no longer read.

“I unsubscribed from automatically generated newsletters, as when I learned about the carbon footprint from emails, I was horrified,” says Gaut. “Now, I’m careful not to send out my email to new websites… it’s made me consider the impact more.”

According to estimates by antispam service Cleanfox, the average user receives 2,850 unwanted emails every year from subscriptions, which are responsible for 28.5kg (63lbs) CO2e.

If every adult in the UK sent one less “thank you” email, it could save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year – the equivalent to taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road

Choosing to send an SMS text message is the perhaps the most environmentally-friendly alternative as a way of staying in touch because each text generates just 0.014g of CO2e . A tweet is estimated to have a footprint of 0.2g CO2e (although Twitter did not respond to requests to confirm this figure) while sending a message via a private messaging app such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger is estimated by Freitag to be only slightly less carbon intensive than sending an email. Again this can depend on what you are sending – gifs, emojis and images have a greater footprint than plain text.

The carbon footprint of making a one-minute mobile phone call is a little higher than sending a text, according to Freitag, but making video calls over the internet is much higher. One study from 2012 estimated that a five-hour meeting held over a video conferencing call between participants in different countries would produce between 4kg (8.8lbs) CO2e and 215kg (474lbs) CO2e .

But it is important to remember where it replaces travel to reach meetings, it can be far better for the environment. The same study found the video conferencing produced just 7% of the emissions of meeting in person. Another study found “the impact of a car ride exceeds the impact of a video conference at less than 20km ”.

Clean searching

Internet searching is another tricky area. A decade ago, each internet search had a footprint of 0.2g CO2e , according to figures released by Google. Today, Google uses a mixture of renewable energy and carbon offsetting to reduce the carbon footprint of its operations , while Microsoft, which owns the Bing search engine, has promised to become carbon negative by 2030, and efforts are underway to investigate whether this footprint is now higher or lower.

According to Google’s own figures, however, an average user of its services – someone who performs 25 searches each day, watches 60 minutes of YouTube, has a Gmail account and accesses some of its other services – produces less than 8g (0.28oz) CO2e a day.

Spending less time on niceties such as short, unnecessary "thank you" messages could also reduce the carbon footprint of your email (Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld)

Spending less time on niceties such as short, unnecessary "thank you" messages could also reduce the carbon footprint of your email (Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld)

Newer search engines, however, are attempting to set themselves apart as greener options from the outset. Ecosia, for example, says it will plant a tree for every 45 searches it performs. This sort of carbon offsetting can help to remove carbon from the atmosphere , but the success of these projects often depends on how long the trees grow for and what happens to them when they are chopped down.

Regardless of the search engine you choose, using the web to find information is more sustainable than browsing in books. In fact, a paperback’s carbon footprint is around 1kg (2.2lbs) CO2e, while a weekend newspaper accounts for between 0.3kg (10oz) and 4.1kg (9lbs) CO2e making reading the news online more environmentally friendly than poring over a paper.

But you could still read a lifetime of paperbacks – 2,300 to be precise – for the same carbon footprint as a flight from London to Hong Kong, so don’t feel too guilty for reading the next best seller. ( Read more about how to reduce the impact your flights have on the environment. )

Those who have been tempted by cryptocurrencies might also want to think carefully about the environmental impact of the transactions they conduct. Vast amounts of computing power are needed for the so-called “ proof of work ” algorithm that is used to validate transactions on Blockchain's distributed ledger system. One recent study estimated that BitCoin alone is responsible for around 22m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year – greater than all the carbon footprint of the whole of Jordan.

Beating boredom

Watching online videos accounts for the biggest chunk of the world's internet traffic – 60% – and generates 300m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, which is roughly 1% of global emissions, according to French think tank, The Shift Project . This is because, as well as the power used by devices, energy is consumed by the servers and networks that distribute the content.

“If you flip on your television to watch Netflix, around half the power goes into powering the TV and half the energy goes into powering Netflix,” says Lancaster University’s Mike Hazas. Some experts, however, insist that the energy needed to store and stream videos is less than more intensive computational activities performed by data centres.

Pornography accounts for a third of video streaming traffic, generating as much carbon dioxide as Belgium in a year

Some of the climate pollution that comes from internet use also comes from some rather dirty browsing. Pornography accounts for a third of video streaming traffic , generating as much carbon dioxide as Belgium in a year.

On-demand video services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix account for another third while the final third of the video streaming carbon footprint includes watching YouTube and clips on social media. Netflix says its total global energy consumption reached 451,000 megawatt hours per year, which is enough to power 37,000 homes , but insists it purchases renewable energy certificates and carbon offsets to compensate for any energy that comes from fossil fuel sources.

Streaming and downloading music also has an impact. Rabih Bashroush, a researcher at the University of East London and lead scientist at the European Commission-funded Eureca project, calculated that five billion plays clocked up by just one music video – the hit 2017 song Despacito – consumed as much electricity as Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic put together in a single year. “The total emissions for streaming that song could be over 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide,” he says.

However, Hazas points out that some YouTube views are unintentional. A study led by his colleague Kelly Widdicks analysed streaming habits and found that some viewers use YouTube as background noise , and sometimes even fall asleep, generating carbon for no gain. Cutting back on these uses or stopping video from playing unintentionally on an open browser when you are not watching, could help keep your carbon footprint down.

Using online videos to drift off to sleep or as background noise places unnecessary demand on data centres and harms the climate (Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld)

Using online videos to drift off to sleep or as background noise places unnecessary demand on data centres and harms the climate (Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld)

Fiddling with autoplay settings and switching from high definition to a lower resolution when it’s not necessary can also make a difference. Hazas says the most efficient way to see your favourite programme is by waiting for it to be on terrestrial TV, or choosing to stream it over wi-fi rather than on a mobile network can also make a difference.

“Using a phone over a mobile network is at least twice as energy intensive than using it over wi-fi, so if you can wait until you get home to watch YouTube that’s best,” he adds. And, one of the most enjoyable ways to be more environmentally friendly is to watch films and TV together.

“On the whole, audio is less problematic,” says Hazas, as streaming audio is less energy and carbon intensive than streaming images. But researchers at the University of Oslo found that environmental impact of listening to music has never been higher , with a footprint of 200,000-350,000 tonnes of CO2e in the US alone for downloading tracks onto MP3 players. It’s thought emissions for streaming services may be even higher.

However, the number of times you listen to a piece of music can make a difference. Buying a physical CD or record can be better if you listen to the same album repeatedly, but if you only listen to a piece of music less than 27 times over your lifetime , then streaming can be better. ( Read more about the carbon footprint of streaming music . )

Similarly, the environmental cost of downloading video games is thought to be higher than producing and distributing Blu-Ray disks from shops. The first attempt to map the energy use of gaming in the US found it produces 24 megatonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Researchers behind the study at the University of California found US gamers use 2.4% of their household electricity – 32 terawatt hours of energy every year – which is more than freezers or washing machines. They also showed that streaming games uses more energy, so gaming carbon emissions may worsen as more people adopt games where the computational work is being done remotely rather than on individual consoles, such as with devices like Google’s Stadia.

Reading news or books online produces less greenhouse gases than the same content on paper (Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld)

Reading news or books online produces less greenhouse gases than the same content on paper (Credit: Getty Images/Javier Hirschfeld)

But Hazas is more optimistic. "The carbon footprint of playing multiplayer games like Fortnite isn’t too bad,” he says. “They are designed to be responsive so they don’t require too much data traffic. For example, you get a position of a character on a map, or the fact someone’s shooting, but it doesn’t take too much data to communicate that.”

However, updating games is more carbon intensive. “Flagship games like Fortnite or Call of Duty require lots of updates so you're looking at gigabytes every couple of weeks for downloads, which add new features."

For those who enjoy flicking through their social media, there is some good news. It is arguably the least carbon intensive form of digital entertainment. According to Facebook’s sustainability report , a user’s annual carbon footprint is 299g CO2e, which is less than boiling the water for a pot of tea. But if you consider the platform has more than one billion users, that’s a lot of pots of tea.

It’s possible to save carbon by disabling some features for social media and other apps.

“We've found that app updates and automatic cloud backups are about 10% of traffic from mobile phones,” says Hazas. “So, switching off unnecessary cloud backups and switching off automatic downloads for app updates are good things to do.”

But while changes in our personal online behaviour will only take us so far, there also needs to be change within the industry to ensure that carbon emissions can be reduced, says Elizabeth Jardim, a senior corporate campaigner at environmental campaign group Greenpeace. The IT industry’s greenhouse gas emissions are predicted to reach 14% of global emissions by 2040 but at the same time the UN's International Telecommunication's Union has set the industry the target of reducing its emissions by 45% over the next decade.

“It’s more important to make sure the companies building the internet are switching to renewable and phasing out fossil fuels,” says Jardim. “That's when searching will be more guilt free.”

* An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that each internet user was responsible for 400g of carbon dioxide annually. The figure should have been 414kg of CO2 and the article has been updated.

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Internet Crime

Table of contents, what does internet crime mean, techopedia explains internet crime.

Internet crime is any crime or illegal online activity committed on the Internet, through the Internet or using the Internet. The widespread Internet crime phenomenon encompasses multiple global levels of legislation and oversight. In the demanding and continuously changing IT field, security experts are committed to combating Internet crime through preventative technologies, such as intrusion detection networks and packet sniffers. Internet crime is a strong branch of cybercrime. Identity theft, Internet scams and cyberstalking are the primary types of Internet crime. Because Internet crimes usually engage people from various geographic areas, finding and penalizing guilty participants is complicated.

Internet crimes, such as the Nigerian 419 fraud ring, are a constant threat to Internet users. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Federal Trade Commission (FCC) have dedicated and appointed IT and law enforcement experts charged with ending the far-reaching and damaging effects of Internet crime. Examples of Internet crime legislation include:

As the U.S. works to combat Internet crime, other countries are experiencing increased cybercriminal activity. In 2001, Websense (an organization focused on network abuse research) reported the alarming spread of Internet crime in Canada. This global shift is under review by the Canadian government. Types of Internet crime include:

To prevent becoming an Internet crime, online vigilance and common sense are critical. Under no circumstances should a user share personal information (like full name, address, birth date and Social Security number) to unknown recipients. Moreover, while online, a user should remain suspicious about exaggerated or unverifiable claims.

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Broadband Speed Guide

Related content.

Compare typical online activities with the minimum download speed (Megabits per second, or Mbps) needed for adequate performance for each application. Additional speed may enhance performance. Speeds are based on running one activity at a time.

For household broadband needs, use our Household Broadband Guide to compare minimum Mbps needs for light, moderate and high household use with one, two, three or four devices at a time (such as a laptop, tablet or game console).

For more information on broadband speeds, see our Measuring Broadband America report .

Printable Version

Broadband Speed Guide (pdf)

Online Activity definition

Examples of online activity in a sentence.

See Israeli Tax Guidance on On-line Activity of Foreign Companies, Newsletter (MEITAR, Ramat Gan, Isr.), Apr.

Copies of the signed policies are archived in Rschool Online Activity Registration.

Online Activity : CRA Focus on Video Game Streamers and Online InfluencersIt has recently been reported that CRA is reviewing social media accounts to see whether video game streamers’ and online influencers’ income is consistent with paid endorsements and other signs of income online.

Defaulters are not permitted to enter into the campus during class days.However Online Activity may be entered duly in the LMS of the course for gaining attendance.

Felix Richter, Social Networking is the No. 1 Online Activity in the U.S., STATISTA (Aug.

Goldberg et al., Trust in Inter- net Privacy and Security and Online Activity (Nat’l Telecomm.

Regard should be given to the school’s Social Media and Online Activity and ICT Acceptable Use policies at all times both inside and outside of work.

Accordingly, you understand and acknowledge that the Online Activity screens within Online Banking will not reflect transfers made by multiple users from the same account if different login IDs are used.

Maintaining all required records on a current and accurate basis, using the division-wide SchoolFunds Online Activity Fund Accounting System.

You will have the ability to cancel your transfer request before the daily Business Day Cutoff Time through the Online Activity Center.

Related to Online Activity

Outside Activity means any private practice, private consulting, additional teaching or research, or other activity, compensated or uncompensated, which is not part of the employee's assigned duties and for which the University has provided no compensation.

Gross beta particle activity means the total radioactivity due to beta particle emission as inferred from measurements on a dry sample.

Service activities means activities in connection with the provision of personal, continuing services to shareholder accounts in the Shares; provided, however, that if the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (“NASD”) adopts a definition of “service fee” for purposes of Section 2830(b)(9) of the NASD Conduct Rules or any successor provision that differs from the definition of “service activities” hereunder, or if the NASD adopts a related interpretive position intended to define the same concept, the definition of “service activities” in this paragraph shall be automatically amended, without further action of the parties, to conform to the then effective NASD definition. Overhead and other expenses related to “distribution activities” or “service activities,” including telephone and other communications expenses, may be included in the information regarding amounts expended for these activities.

Educational activity means an activity offered by a school, school district, charter school or county office of education that constitutes an integral fundamental part of elementary and secondary education, including, but not limited to, curricular and extracurricular activities.

Response activity means evaluation, interim response activity, remedial action, demolition, providing an alternative water supply, or the taking of other actions necessary to protect the public health, safety, or welfare, or the environment or the natural resources. Response activity also includes health assessments or health effect studies carried out under the supervision, or with the approval of, the department of community health and enforcement actions related to any response activity.

Terrorist activity means any deliberate, unlawful act that:

Program or activity means all of the operations of any entity described in paragraphs (m)(1) through (4) of this section, any part of which is extended Federal financial assistance:

Education program or activity means locations, events, or circumstances for which the school district exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the sexual harassment occurs and includes school district education programs or activities that occur on or off of school district property.

School-Sponsored Activity means any activity conducted on or off school property (including school buses and other school-related vehicles) that is sponsored, recognized or authorized by the Board of Education.

Competitive Activity means the Executive’s participation, without the written consent signed by an officer of the Company and authorized by the Board, in the management of any business enterprise if (i) such enterprise engages in substantial and direct competition with the Company and such enterprise’s sales of any product or service competitive with any product or service of the Company amounted to 10% of such enterprise’s net sales for its most recently completed fiscal year and if the Company’s net sales of said product or service amounted to 10% of the Company’s net sales for its most recently completed fiscal year or (ii) the primary business done or intended to be done by such enterprise is in direct competition with the business of providing facility services in any geographic market in which the Company operates. “Competitive Activity” will not include the mere ownership of securities in any such enterprise and the exercise of rights appurtenant thereto, if such ownership is less than 5% of the outstanding voting securities or units of such enterprise.

Restricted Activity means directly or indirectly owning any interest in, managing, controlling, participating in, consulting with, rendering services for, or in any manner engaging in any business with any customer, supplier, competitor or other person having a business relation with the Company or any of its subsidiaries; provided however that the term "Restricted Activity" shall not include passive ownership of not more than 2% of the outstanding stock of any class of a corporation which is publicly traded, so long as Executive has no active participation in the business of that corporation.

Intrascholastic Activities means athletic or non-athletic/academic activities where students compete with students from within the same school.

Peak Market Activity means a measure of exposure for which credit is required, involving peak exposures in rolling three-week periods over a year timeframe, with two semi-annual reset points, pursuant to provisions of Tariff, Attachment Q, section V.A. Peak Market Activity shall exclude FTR Net Activity, Virtual Transactions Net Activity, and Export Transactions Net Activity.

economic activity means putting goods or services on a market. It is not necessary to make a profit to be engaged in economic activity: if others in the market offer the same good or service, it is an economic activity.” Department for Business Innovation & Skills, State Aid: The Basics Guide, July 2014 - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/443686/BIS

licensed activity means any activity set out in section 4 of this licence.

Service Session means a sequence of support activities and tasks carried out remotely to collect further information by interview or by analysis of a Production System resulting in a list of recommendations. A Service Session could run manually, as a self-service or fully automated.

Gross alpha particle activity means the total radioactivity due to alpha particle emission as inferred from measurements on a dry sample.

Competitive Activities means any business activities in which the Company or any other member of the Company Group engage (or have committed plans to engage) during the Term of Employment, or, following termination of Employee’s employment hereunder, was engaged in business (or had committed plans to engage) at the time of such termination of employment.

Regulated Activity means any generation, treatment, storage, recycling, transportation, disposal or release of any Hazardous Substances.

School activities means any activity sponsored by the school including, but not limited to, classroom work, library activities, physical education classes, official assemblies and other similar gatherings, school athletic contests, band concerts, school plays and other theatrical productions, and in-school lunch periods.

Verbal abuse means to threaten significant physical or emotional harm to an elderly person or a person with a disability through the use of:

Major life activities means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.

Commercial activity means any activity or employment of the vessel for which a contract or charter party is in force and includes the carriage of any cargo or persons for reward;

Commercial sexual activity means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to, promised to, or received by any person.

Business activity means that term as defined in section 3(2) of the former single business tax act, 1975 PA 228, or in section 105 of the Michigan business tax act, 2007 PA 36, MCL 208.1105.

Commercial cannabis activity means the production, cultivation,

what is internet privacy

What is internet privacy & why does it matter so much in 2023?

January 31, 2023

10 Mins Read

Table of Contents

The fact is that internet privacy has always mattered, whether it’s 2010 or 2023. The only difference between the decade is that online threats and data breaches have escalated 10 times. That’s not a good number nor a great time to be heading online without security measures.

Internet privacy is becoming a growing concern these days for people of all ages. Companies track your behavior across websites to serve you with highly relevant advertisements, making it essential for you to have an encrypted online connection—experience supreme encryption with PureVPN.

Governments monitor every move you make to predict your behavior and control you better. And cybercriminals leave no stone unturned to steal your data for their nefarious purposes!

Internet privacy violations

On this Privacy Awareness Week, PureVPN is informing readers about the steps they can take to improve their online privacy and protect their personal data. PureVPN continues to make positive contributions to cyberspace by developing tools and making internet users more aware of the modern threats and dangers.

Privacy Awareness Week is being celebrated from May 2 to May 8, 2023. You can read more about this week here .

What is internet privacy?

Internet privacy, also commonly referred to as online privacy, is a subset of data privacy and a fundamental human right. Basically, it refers to the personal privacy that you’re entitled to when you display, store, or provide information regarding yourself on the Internet.

What is internet privacy

This can include both personally-identifying information (PII) and non-personally-identifying information, such as your behavior on a website. Without Internet privacy, all your activities are subject to being collected and analyzed by interested parties!

3 Common Internet Privacy Issues to Watch Out For

Now that you understand the definition of Internet privacy and its importance, let’s discuss the most common issues that surround your privacy online today:

1.  Tracking

When you browse the Internet, you may have noticed those pesky ads following you where you go based on your earlier web searches or visits to websites. Well, that’s because websites, advertisers, etc. track your movements.

internet privacy concerns

Cookie profiling and other techniques are used to track your overall activities online and create a detailed profile of your browsing habits. Some people may not mind having relevant ads being served up to them, but this is a serious invasion of privacy for others.

2.  Surveillance

Some governments spy on their citizens online to supposedly assist law enforcement agencies. For instance, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act authorizes mass surveillance and allows the government to monitor the Internet usage of its citizens legally.

Learn more about the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act here .

cyber privacy concerns

Internet companies (ISPs), telcos, and other communication service providers are required to retain customers’ Internet connection records for a year, which can be obtained by government authorities and used in investigations – even if you’re not related to them in any way!

According to Data Privacy Statistics, Facts & Trends of 2022, a report by Cloudware, more than 70% of internet users have resorted to an online tool or software, which can keep them safe from online surveillance.

A staggering 49 million Americans were affected by identity theft in 2021, according to Fortunly . Cybercriminals use malware, spyware, and phishing techniques to break into your online accounts or devices and steal your personal information to engage in identity theft activities.

internet invasion of privacy

Of course, the victims end up losing most or all of their hard-earned money just because they didn’t exercise caution when it comes to opening attachments, instant messages, or emails from unknown sources.

4 online habits that impact your privacy

You’ve heard time and time again that online privacy and security is important, but do you actually do something about it? Most of us practice bad Internet hygiene and don’t even realize it, so don’t forget to avoid doing the following:

1.  Using the Same Credentials for Multiple Accounts

Sure, it’s easy to remember and get things done online when you use the same credentials across your accounts. But if a cybercriminal can gain access to your one accounts, they’ll most likely get into the other ones as well.

2.  Staying Logged in to Websites

Not logging out of websites and having them remember your credentials is indeed convenient. However, it also leaves your online accounts and personal information vulnerable to anyone who uses or hacks into your device.

3.  Using Services without Reading their Terms & Conditions

Never click “agree” until you understand what you’re getting yourself into. You wouldn’t want to legally grant companies and service providers access to all kinds of data. Then sell this information to the highest bidder!

4.  Opening Suspicious Attachments or Downloading Malicious Files

It would help if you were careful when opening attachments in emails or social media as they could contain malware and viruses. Similarly, it always downloads files from trusted sources because it may result in virus infection.

10 Ways to Protect Your Privacy and Security on the Internet

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably got a better idea of what Internet privacy concerns affect users. Now, you may be wondering, “how do I protect my privacy online?” Well, here are some measures that should be followed:

1.  Secure Your Web Browser

secure browser

Your browser is the main program you use to go online, so make sure you take the necessary steps to secure it. After all, cybercriminals can take advantage of loopholes in browsers to access the personal data on your device. To protect your online privacy and security, we’d recommend that you follow the recommendations in our ultimate browser security guide.

2.  Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

how VPN works

Using a VPN is the best way to protect your Internet privacy. Not only does it change your IP address and assign you a new one based on the VPN server you’re connected to, but it also protects your incoming and outgoing traffic with military-grade encryption.

As a result, your online activities and personal information stay secure and private from snoopers. PureVPN is regarded as the best VPN when it comes to online privacy and security, and for all the right reasons.

3.  Keep Your Software Up-to-Date

protect your privacy online

If you leave vulnerabilities in your software, the chances are that the bad guys will exploit them! Keep your operating system, browser, and other software (like Adobe Flash and Java) up to date to ensure that you don’t miss out on new features and security fixes. If you find it a hassle to apply updates manually, you can always use tools to automate your software updates.

4.  Install an Anti-virus Program & Activate Firewall

staying safe online

You can keep your safe from harmful content on the Internet with a few simple precautions. A strong anti-virus program will keep your device free from all types of malware, such as spyware, viruses, Trojans, etc. You should also activate your firewall to keep unwanted network traffic at bay. The good news is that most operating systems come with it built-in.

5.  Delete Cookies at Browser Exit

internet cookies and privacy

You should delete cookies regularly as they’re used by websites, advertisers, and other third parties to track you online. While you can clear your cookies manually, you’re better off configuring your browser to delete them at the end of the browsing session automatically. If you don’t know how to, follow our guide to deleting browsing cookies automatically at browser exit.

6. Adjust Your Settings on Google, Facebook, etc.

online privacy and security

Take advantage of the options that are available to you. Big Internet companies such as Facebook and Google usually give you options to opt-out of some, if not all, of their personalization and tracking. For example, you can manage your ads preferences on Facebook from here , while Google allows you to turn off ad personalization.

7. Use HTTPS to Secure Your Online Connection

If you are on a website that uses HTTPS, likely, any personal data flowing between you and the website is probably being monitored by trackers or potentially intercepted and stolen by malicious hackers. These entities are commonly referred to as man-in-the-middle.


An HTTPS or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypts your online communication with that website. If you are on any website, especially a shopping website, you should ensure that you have an HTTPS connection. For the utmost online privacy and security, you should resort to a VPN service.

8. Defuse Threats When Backing up to the Cloud

In today’s era, we constantly back up our pictures and other files on the cloud. Backing up on the cloud comes packed with its own privacy issues. Anyone could intercept your internet connection and view the data you are backing up or downloading from the cloud.

Secure cloud

To defuse this threat, it’s advised that you use state-of-the-art AES 256-bit encryption that will secure your internet connection, meaning you can download and upload sensitive information without worrying about anyone tapping in on your private data.

9. Secure Online Communications

Most of your online communications platforms are unsecure. While numerous messaging apps offer end-to-end encryption , security experts advise adding a layer of encryption to your online communication.

email encryption

10. Share Online Files Securely

Securely share files with anyone on the web by password protecting them. With a password protecting your PDF or any other file, you can rest assured that the intended recipient only views it.

internet activity definition

11.Use Multi Factor Authentication

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) or Two-factor Authentication (2FA) is an added authentication method apart from the conventional password. The intent of this step is so that the user provides more than one way to gain access to their online account, application or any other software that supports multi-factor authentication.

With multi-factor authentication enabled, you significantly reduce the chances of your account getting sabotaged or falling victim to a cyberattack.

Internet Privacy FAQs

The following are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Internet privacy:

Is Internet Privacy Dead?

Yes, it sure does seem that way. Every time you browse the Internet, your privacy is under constant threat from cybercriminals, governments, and corporations who want to get their hands on your personal information. That’s exactly why it’s up to each one of us to protect our privacy and personal space on the Internet.

Why Does Internet Privacy Matter?

Take a second and imagine a world without privacy on the Internet, where all your activities and personal information such as medical records, bank balances, credit card information, and emails exist out in the open for anyone to see.

Still, think you have nothing to hide? Probably not. Privacy matters because, without it, the Internet becomes a less safe place for us to indulge in. After all, there would be nothing stopping what you do online from being entirely public.

Will the Desire for Internet Privacy Gradually Decrease?

The desire for privacy on the Internet is only going to increase with time. Why? Because our online activities are always being tracked and recorded by somebody – whether it’s the ISP, big internet companies like Google and Facebook, or government bodies.

As such, more and more Internet users realize the importance of protecting their privacy and personal data. This is evident from the fact that there has been significant growth in the use of VPNs and other anonymizing technologies over the last few years.

What Countries Have the Toughest Internet Privacy Laws?

According to Privacy International, the following countries rank in the top 5 of the Privacy Index, meaning they give their citizens the least protection in terms of Internet privacy:

Learn more about internet privacy laws in certain countries here .

Interesting facts about internet privacy

Here are a few important facts about Internet privacy that you should understand:

1. While many social media sites and search engines can be used free of cost, they often come at the cost of your Internet privacy as they track your browsing history and sell it to the highest bidder or use that information to show you targeted advertisements.

2. Private browsing doesn’t protect your privacy from entities that monitor your activities on the Internet. It only prevents your browser from recording information about you – third-parties can pretty much still see what you’re up to online.

3. Everything you do, and everywhere you go online has already been saved and archived by your ISP. Since they assign your IP address, your Internet traffic (what websites you’re visiting, which apps you’re using, etc.) can be seen by them as it goes through their servers.

How to secure your internet browsing activities

To secure your internet browsing activities, you’ll need to protect your internet connection by employing AES 256-bit encryption. Encryption secures your online activities by encoding your data, keeping you safe from eavesdroppers.

What is the biggest threat to internet privacy?

The biggest threat to internet privacy in our digital age is humans. Internet users use weak passwords, click on phishing emails and, most importantly, use an unsecured internet connection. To stay away from online threats, start encrypting your online activities.

Is internet privacy a human right? 

Yes, internet privacy is a human right. Just as we have the right to privacy in our homes and personal lives, we should also have the right to privacy online. The issue is that many governments are collecting data about us without our consent. They may track our online activity, monitor emails, or listen to our phone calls. This is an invasion of privacy, and it needs to stop. 

We must take steps to protect our privacy online and ensure our rights are respected. We can start by demanding that companies and governments respect our privacy. Be more aware of how they might collect data about us. We can also use privacy-enhancing technologies to protect our online activity from surveillance.

Privacy on the Internet is your basic right, and you need to fight for it! By incorporating these Internet privacy tips into your daily lives, you’ll be able to protect your privacy online and browse with peace of mind, knowing that your personal information won’t fall into the wrong hands.

1. The Verge

“ How to increase your privacy online ,” by Jacob Kastrenakes on Thursday, June 7, 2018.

2. The Next Web

“ 7 ways to protect your privacy on the internet “, by Morgan Slain on Tuesday, August 18, 2015.

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Encyclopedia Britannica

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Read a brief summary of this topic

e-commerce , in full electronic commerce , maintaining relationships and conducting business transactions that include selling information, services, and goods by means of computer telecommunications networks .

Although in the vernacular e-commerce usually refers only to the trading of goods and services over the Internet , broader economic activity is included. E-commerce consists of business-to-consumer and business-to-business commerce as well as internal organizational transactions that support those activities.

E-commerce originated in a standard for the exchange of business documents, such as orders or invoices, between suppliers and their business customers. Those origins date to the 1948–49 Berlin blockade and airlift with a system of ordering goods primarily via telex . Various industries elaborated upon that system in the ensuing decades before the first general standard was published in 1975. The resulting computer-to-computer electronic data interchange (EDI) standard is flexible enough to handle most simple electronic business transactions.

With the wide adoption of the Internet and the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1991 and of the first browser for accessing it in 1993, most e-commerce shifted to the Internet . More recently, with the global spread of smartphones and the accessibility of fast broadband connections to the Internet, much e-commerce moved to mobile devices, which also included tablets , laptops, and wearable products such as watches .

E-commerce has deeply affected everyday life and how business and governments operate. Commerce is conducted in electronic marketplaces (or marketspaces) and in the supply chains working on the Internet-Web. Consumer-oriented marketplaces include large e-malls (such as Amazon ), consumer-to-consumer auction platforms ( eBay , for example), multichannel retailers (such as L.L. Bean), and many millions of e-retailers. Massive business-to-business marketplaces have been created by Alibaba and other companies. The so-called sharing economy enables more efficient use of resources, as Airbnb does with online rentals of private residences. Almost instantaneous access to services is made available by on-demand platforms offering, for example, transportation (e.g., Uber ), computation and storage resources furnished by cloud service providers, and medical and legal advice. Mass customization of goods sold online, such as garments and vehicles, became common. Electronic currencies (or cryptocurrencies) such as Bitcoin entered into play as the means of settlement. Semipermanent supply chains enable a hub company (such as Dell ) to surround itself with suppliers that perform most production tasks and deliver other goods and services to the central firm.

Social network sites, such as Facebook , undergird a great variety of individual relationships and are the site of so-called social commerce, driven by the opinions and reviews shared by the participants as the electronic word-of-mouth. Online communities bind together participants who wish to share their knowledge, forge lasting relationships, or present themselves on a broad forum. Those communities became a potent source of cocreation of value by individuals who together and over long stretches of time, for example, produce open-source software or continually replenish an online encyclopaedia.

The Web is also an interactive medium of human communication that supplements, and often replaces, traditional media. The hypermedia nature of the Web, with the interlinking of multimedia content available on globally distributed sites, enables creation of new types of media products, often offered free of charge. Those new media include blogs , video aggregators (such as YouTube ), social media (built with wiki technology , for example), and customized electronic newspapers. As with all media, this aspect of the Web leads to its use in marketing. Web advertising ranges from the display ads on Web sites to keyword ads shown to information seekers using search engines, such as Google . Mobile advertising is expanding apace because of the extensive use of smartphones . Deep knowledge of individuals is available to marketers because of the electronic collection of multifaceted profiles as people navigate the Web. In particular, location-based promotion of goods and services may be enabled in mobile commerce. The ability to derive revenue from ads drives various business models (for example, search engines) and produces incremental revenue for other businesses, as their customers access their Web sites or use mobile apps and can be exposed to the advertising messages.

Among innovations that have contributed to the growth of e-commerce are electronic directories and search engines for finding information on the Web; software agents, or bots, that act autonomously to locate goods and services; systems that recommend products to users based on their profile; and digital authentication services that vouch for identities over the Internet. Those intermediary services facilitate the sale of goods (actually delivering the goods in the case of information), the provision of services such as banking, ticket reservations, and stock market transactions, and the delivery of remote education and entertainment.

Businesses often deploy private Internet-type networks ( intranets) for sharing information and collaborating within the company, usually insulated from the surrounding general Internet by computer-security systems known as firewalls . Collaborating businesses also frequently rely on extranets that allow encrypted communication over the Internet.

Security is a central concern in e-commerce. It includes authentication of the parties, authorization to access the given resources, confidentiality of the communication, and the assurance of message integrity . Many of those goals are accomplished with public key infrastructure , a system of specialized organizations and computerized means for providing electronic certificates that authenticate firms and, if desired, individuals; provide the encryption and decryption keys for communication; and furnish the protocols (algorithms) for secure communication. However, absolute security is not an attainable goal. Many spectacular data breaches are testimony to this, as well as to the neglect of this vital aspect of e-commerce.

Security underlies another important aspect of e-commerce, that of privacy. The massive assembly and use of individual profiles that reflect activity over many years and in many personal pursuits raises concerns. Such concerns are so far only partially addressed via legislation, self-regulation, and public pressure that can find instantaneous social amplification on the Internet.

Several important phenomena are associated with e-commerce. The role of geographic distance in forming business relationships is reduced. Barriers to entry into many types of businesses are lower, as it is relatively inexpensive to start a retail Web site or a community of producers. Some traditional business intermediaries are being replaced by their electronic equivalents or are being made entirely dispensable. (For instance, as airlines have published fare information and enabled ticketing directly over the Internet, storefront travel agencies have declined.) Prices of goods are generally lower on the Web—a reflection not merely of the lower costs of doing electronic business but also of the ease of comparison shopping in cyberspace . Consumers benefit greatly from the availability of products that are bought only rarely and would not be stocked by physical stores (the so-called longtail effect). Ever-new business models emerge and are pivoted (modified) as the marketplace reaction can be gauged rapidly. Since the incremental cost of producing a unit of content good (such as a software product) is close to zero, freemium business models are often employed in the content domain: the basic product is free, the premium versions are charged for. A new form of corporate cooperation known as a virtual company—which is actually a network of firms whose information systems are integrated over the Internet, each firm performing some of the processes needed to manufacture a product or deliver a service—has flourished. Broad publics are drawn in to contribute their labour, ideas, or funds in crowdsourcing initiatives .

What is a digital footprint? And how to protect it from hackers

internet activity definition

Digital footprint – meaning and definition

A digital footprint – sometimes called a digital shadow or an electronic footprint – refers to the trail of data you leave when using the internet. It includes websites you visit, emails you send, and information you submit online. A digital footprint can be used to track a person’s online activities and devices. Internet users create their digital footprint either actively or passively.

internet activity definition

What is a digital footprint?

Whenever you use the internet, you leave behind a trail of information known as your digital footprint. A digital footprint grows in many ways – for example, posting on social media, subscribing to a newsletter, leaving an online review, or shopping online.

Sometimes, it’s not always obvious that you are contributing to your digital footprint. For example, websites can track your activity by installing cookies on your device, and apps can collate your data without you knowing it. Once you allow an organization to access your information, they could sell or share your data with third parties. Worse still, your personal information could be compromised as part of a data breach.

You often hear the terms ‘active’ and ‘passive’ in relation to digital footprints:

Active digital footprints

An active digital footprint is where the user has deliberately shared information about themselves – for example, through posting or participating on social networking sites or online forums. If a user is logged into a website through a registered username or profile, any posts they make form part of their active digital footprint. Other activities that contribute to active digital footprints include completing an online form – such as subscribing to a newsletter – or agreeing to accept cookies on your browser.

Passive digital footprints

A passive digital footprint is created when information is collected about the user without them being aware that this is happening. For example, this occurs when websites collect information about how many times users visit, where they come from, and their IP address . This is a hidden process, which users may not realize is taking place. Other examples of passive footprints include social networking sites and advertisers using your likes, shares, and comments to profile you and target you with specific content.

Why do digital footprints matter?

Digital footprints matter because:

For these reasons, it is worth considering what your digital footprint says about you. Many people try to manage their digital footprint by being cautious about their online activities to control the data that can be gathered in the first place. 

Digital footprint examples

An internet user could have hundreds of items form part of their digital footprint. Some of the ways in which users add to their digital footprint include:

Online shopping

Online banking

Social media

Reading the news

Health and fitness

Almost all online activities can contribute to your digital footprint. Image shows somebody holding their phone and credit card up in front of a computer screen with an online shopping window open.

alt= “Almost all online activities can contribute to your digital footprint. Image shows somebody holding their phone and credit card up in front of a computer screen with an online shopping window open.”

Protect your digital footprint

Because employers, colleges, and others can look up your online identity, it’s a good idea to be mindful of your digital footprint. Here are some tips for protecting your personal data and managing your online reputation.

Use search engines to check your digital footprint

Enter your name into search engines. Include your first and last name and any variations on spellings. If you have changed your name, search for both current and former names. Reviewing the search engine results will give you a sense of what information about you is publicly available. If any of the results show you in a negative light, you could contact the site administrator to see if they can remove it. Setting up Google Alerts is one way to keep an eye on your name.

Reduce the number of information sources that mention you

For example, real estate websites and whitepages.com may have more information about you than you may wish. These sites can often include personal information like your phone number, address, and age. If you are not comfortable with this, you can contact the websites and request that the information is removed.

Limit the amount of data you share

Every time you provide your personal information to an organization, you widen your digital footprint. You also increase the possibility that one of the organizations storing your data will misuse it or suffer a breach, putting your data in the wrong hands. So, before you submit that form, consider if it’s worth it. Are there other ways to obtain that information or service without sharing your data?

Double-check your privacy settings

Privacy settings on social media allow you to control who sees your posts. Review these settings and ensure they are set to a level you are comfortable with. For example, Facebook allows you to limit posts to friends and make customized lists of people who can see certain posts. However, bear in mind that privacy settings only protect you on the relevant social media site.

Avoid oversharing on social media

Social media makes it easy to connect with others but can also make oversharing easy. Think twice before revealing your location or travel plans, or other personal information. Avoid disclosing your phone number or email address in your social media bio. It's also a good idea to avoid 'liking' your own bank, healthcare provider, pharmacy, etc. – as this can lead cybercriminals to your critical accounts.

Avoid unsafe websites

Make sure you’re transacting with a secure website – the URL should start with https:// rather than http:// - the “s” stands for “secure” and indicates that the site has a security certificate . There should also be a padlock icon to the left of the address bar. Never share any confidential information on unsecured sites, especially payment details.

Avoid disclosing private data on public Wi-Fi

A public Wi-Fi network is inherently less secure than your personal one since you don't know who set it up or who else might be watching. Avoid sending personal information when using public Wi-Fi networks.

Delete old accounts

One way to reduce your digital footprint is by deleting old accounts – for example, social media profiles you no longer use or newsletter subscriptions you no longer read. Getting rid of dormant accounts minimizes your exposure to potential data breaches.

Create strong passwords and use a password manager

A strong password will help you maintain internet security. A strong password is long – made up of at least 12 characters and ideally more – and contains a mix of upper- and lower-case letters plus symbols and numbers. The more complex and involved your password, the harder it is to crack. Using a password manager will help generate, store, and manage all your passwords in one secure online account. Keep your passwords private – avoid sharing them with others or writing them down. Try to avoid using the same password for all your accounts, and remember to change them regularly.

Keep an eye on your medical records

Practice good data hygiene by periodically reviewing your medical records. Identity thieves target medical and health information as well as financial data. When criminals use your personal information to obtain medical treatment in your name, their health records can become intertwined with your own.

Don’t log in with Facebook 

Logging into websites and apps using Facebook is convenient. However, every time you sign into a third-party website using your Facebook credentials, you give that company permission to mine your Facebook user data – potentially placing your personal information at risk.

Keep software up to date

Outdated software could house a wealth of digital footprints. Without the latest updates, cybercriminals could gain access to this information. Cybercriminals can easily access a victim’s devices and data by exploiting vulnerabilities in software. You can help prevent this by keeping your software up to date. Older software can be more vulnerable to attacks by hackers.

Review your mobile use

Set a passcode for your mobile device so that it can't be accessed by other people if you lose it. When installing an app, read the user agreement. Many apps disclose what kind of information they collect and what it may be used for. These apps may mine personal data like your email, location, and online activities. Check that you are comfortable with the information being shared before you use the app.

Think before you post

What you post or say online sends a message about who you are, as does what others reveal about you. Aspects of your digital footprint, such as uploaded photographs, blog comments, YouTube videos, and Facebook posts, might not portray the way you would like to be seen. Create a positive digital footprint by posting only those things that contribute to the image of you that you want others to see.

Act fast after a breach

If you suspect your data might have been compromised in a breach, take action immediately. If a financial loss is involved, contact your bank or credit card provider to report the breach. Change any passwords that might have been exposed. If it's a password you have used for other accounts, update it across the board.

Using a virtual private network, or VPN, can help safeguard your digital footprint. This is because VPNs mask your IP address which makes your online actions virtually untraceable. This protects your privacy online and can prevent websites from installing cookies that track your internet browsing history. Kaspersky Secure Connection enables you to have a secure connection between your device and an internet server that no one can monitor or access the data you are exchanging.

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Internet Activities Board Definition

The original name for the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) See IAB .

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ICT (information and communications technology, or technologies)

Mary K. Pratt

ICT, or information and communications technology (or technologies), is the infrastructure and components that enable modern computing.

Although there is no single, universal definition of ICT, the term is generally accepted to mean all devices, networking components , applications and systems that combined allow people and organizations (i.e., businesses, nonprofit agencies, governments and criminal enterprises) to interact in the digital world.

Components of an ICT system

ICT encompasses both the internet-enabled sphere as well as the mobile one powered by wireless networks. It also includes antiquated technologies, such as landline telephones, radio and television broadcast -- all of which are still widely used today alongside cutting-edge ICT pieces such as artificial intelligence and robotics .

ICT is sometimes used synonymously with IT (for information technology); however, ICT is generally used to represent a broader, more comprehensive list of all components related to computer and digital technologies than IT.

The list of ICT components is exhaustive, and it continues to grow. Some components, such as computers and telephones, have existed for decades. Others, such as smartphones , digital TVs and robots , are more recent entries.

ICT commonly means more than its list of components, though. It also encompasses the application of all those various components. It's here that the real potential, power and danger of ICT can be found.

Components of ICT

ICT's societal and economic impact

ICT is leveraged for economic, societal and interpersonal transactions and interactions. ICT has drastically changed how people work, communicate, learn and live. Moreover, ICT continues to revolutionize all parts of the human experience as first computers and now robots do many of the tasks once handled by humans. For example, computers once answered phones and directed calls to the appropriate individuals to respond; now robots not only can answer the calls, but they can often more quickly and efficiently handle callers' requests for services.

ICT's importance to economic development and business growth has been so monumental, in fact, that it's credited with ushering in what many have labeled the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

ICT also underpins broad shifts in society, as individuals en masse are moving from personal, face-to-face interactions to ones in the digital space. This new era is frequently termed the Digital Age .

For all its revolutionary aspects, though, ICT capabilities aren't evenly distributed. Simply put, richer countries and richer individuals enjoy more access and thus have a greater ability to seize on the advantages and opportunities powered by ICT.

Consider, for example, some findings from the World Bank. In 2016, it stated that more than 75% of people worldwide have access to a cellphone. However, internet access through either mobile or fixed Broadband remains prohibitively expensive in many countries due to a lack of ICT infrastructure. Furthermore, the World Bank estimated that out of the global population of 7.4 billion people, more than 4 billion don't have access to the internet. Additionally, it estimated that only 1.1 billion people have access to high-speed internet.

In the United States and elsewhere, this discrepancy in access to ICT has created the so-called digital divide .

The World Bank, numerous governmental authorities and non-government organizations (NGOs) advocate policies and programs that aim to bridge the digital divide by providing greater access to ICT among those individuals and populations struggling to afford it.

These various institutions assert that those without ICT capabilities are left out of the multiple opportunities and benefits that ICT creates and will therefore fall further behind in socio-economic terms.

The United Nations considers one of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to "significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the internet in least developed countries by 2020."

Economic advantages are found both within the ICT market as well as in the larger areas of business and society as a whole.

Within the ICT market, the advancement of ICT capabilities has made the development and delivery of various technologies cheaper for ICT vendors and their customers while also providing new market opportunities. For instance, telephone companies that once had to build and maintain miles of telephone lines have shifted to more advanced networking materials and can provide telephone, television and internet services; consumers now enjoy more choices in delivery and price points as a result.

The significance of ICT in enterprises

For businesses, advances within ICT have brought a slew of cost savings, opportunities and conveniences. They range from highly automated businesses processes that have cut costs, to the big data revolution where organizations are turning the vast trove of data generated by ICT into insights that drive new products and services, to ICT-enabled transactions such as internet shopping and telemedicine and social media that give customers more choices in how they shop, communicate and interact.

But ICT has also created problems and challenges to organizations and individuals alike -- as well as to society as a whole. The digitization of data, the expanding use of high-speed internet and the growing global network together have led to new levels of crime, where so-called bad actors can hatch electronically enabled schemes or illegally gain access to systems to steal money, intellectual property or private information or to disrupt systems that control critical infrastructure . ICT has also brought automation and robots that displace workers who are unable to transfer their skills to new positions. And ICT has allowed more and more people to limit their interactions with others, creating what some people fear is a population that could lose some of what makes it human.

Continue Reading About ICT (information and communications technology, or technologies)

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  1. The Internet

  2. Types of Internet in different places

  3. Searching the Internet

  4. About Internet

  5. What's Internet?

  6. 2 Internet activities


  1. Internet

    Internet, a system architecture that has revolutionized communications and methods of commerce by allowing various computer networks around the world to interconnect. Sometimes referred to as a "network of networks," the Internet emerged in the United States in the 1970s but did not become visible to the general public until the early 1990s.

  2. Internet Basics: What is the Internet?

    The Internet is a global network of billions of computers and other electronic devices. With the Internet, it's possible to access almost any information, communicate with anyone else in the world, and do much more. You can do all of this by connecting a computer to the Internet, which is also called going online.

  3. Internet tracking: How and why we're followed online

    Internet tracking is virtually standard practice for web browsers and internet-connected devices, with websites watching how we engage with their content to improve user experiences and advertisers poring over our data to target us with relevant products and services, among other rationales.

  4. What is Internet Security?

    Internet security is a term that describes security for activities and transactions made over the internet. It's a particular component of the larger ideas of cybersecurity and computer security, involving topics including browser security, online behavior and network security.

  5. A Brief History of the Internet

    The Internet is at once a world-wide broadcasting capability, a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard for geographic location.

  6. Computer cookies: A definition + how cookies work in 2022

    What are computer cookies? Computer cookies are small files used by web servers to save browsing information, allowing websites to remember your device, browser preferences, and associated online activity. Persistent cookies: Persistent cookies can save data for an extended period of time. These are the cookies that allow websites to store ...

  7. Online Privacy: Using the Internet Safely

    DNT is a way to keep your online activity from being followed across the Internet by advertisers, analytics companies and social media sites. When you turn on the DNT setting in your browser, your browser sends a special header to websites requesting that don't want your activity tracked. Unfortunately, honoring the DNT setting is voluntary.

  8. What is Internet? Definition, Uses, Working, Advantages and

    Internet is the foremost important tool and the prominent resource that is being used by almost every person across the globe. It connects millions of computers, webpages, websites, and servers. Using the internet we can send emails, photos, videos, messages to our loved ones.

  9. Internet activism

    Internet activism [a] is the use of electronic communication technologies such as social media, e-mail, and podcasts for various forms of activism to enable faster and more effective communication by citizen movements, the delivery of particular information to large and specific audiences as well as coordination.

  10. What is the Internet?

    The internet is a globally connected network system facilitating worldwide communication and access to data resources through a vast collection of private, public, business, academic and government networks. It is governed by agencies like the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (or IANA) that establish universal protocols.

  11. Why your internet habits are not as clean as you think

    Those scraps of energy, and the associated greenhouse gases emitted with each online activity, can add up. The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account ...

  12. What is Internet Crime?

    Internet crime is any crime or illegal online activity committed on the Internet, through the Internet or using the Internet. The widespread Internet crime phenomenon encompasses multiple global levels of legislation and oversight. In the demanding and continuously changing IT field, security experts are committed to combating Internet crime ...

  13. Online and offline

    Being online means that the equipment or subsystem is connected, or that it is ready for use. [1] "Online" has come to describe activities performed on and data available on the Internet, [2] for example: "online identity", "online predator", "online gambling", "online game", "online shopping", "online banking", and "online learning".

  14. Broadband Speed Guide

    Compare typical online activities with the minimum download speed (Megabits per second, or Mbps) needed for adequate performance for each application. Additional speed may enhance performance. Speeds are based on running one activity at a time.

  15. Online Activity Definition

    Online Activity means online forms of communication including email, text, online files, social media, pictures and videos that can be shared via websites, apps, and/or through social networking platforms. Sample 1 Based on 1 documents Examples of Online Activity in a sentence

  16. Activity Definition & Meaning

    activity: [noun] the quality or state of being active : behavior or actions of a particular kind.

  17. What is internet privacy & why does it matter so much in 2023?

    The fact is that internet privacy has always mattered, whether it's 2010 or 2023. The only difference between the decade is that online threats and data breaches have escalated 10 times. That's not a good number nor a great time to be heading online without security measures. Internet privacy is becoming a growing concern these days for ...

  18. E-commerce

    e-commerce, in full electronic commerce, maintaining relationships and conducting business transactions that include selling information, services, and goods by means of computer telecommunications networks. Although in the vernacular e-commerce usually refers only to the trading of goods and services over the Internet, broader economic activity is included.

  19. What is IoT (Internet of Things) and How Does it Work?

    Internet of Things (IoT): The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

  20. What is a Digital Footprint?

    Many people try to manage their digital footprint by being cautious about their online activities to control the data that can be gathered in the first place. Digital footprint examples. An internet user could have hundreds of items form part of their digital footprint. Some of the ways in which users add to their digital footprint include:

  21. Internet-activities-board Definition & Meaning

    Internet-activities-board definition: The original name for the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) See IAB .

  22. What is a bot?

    Learn the definition of what a bot is, the difference between a good bot and a bad bot, and how malicious bot protection works. Solutions. By need ... scan the web for contact information for sending spam, or perform other malicious activities. If it's connected to the Internet, a bot will have an associated IP address.

  23. What is ICT (Information and Communications Technology)?

    ICT (information and communications technology, or technologies): ICT, or information and communications technology (or technologies), is the infrastructure and components that enable modern computing.