Thunderbird:Help Documentation:Glossary

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This glossary is provided for your information only; it is not meant to be relied upon as a complete or authoritative description of the terms defined below or of the privacy and/or security ramifications of the technologies described.


The use of a password, certificate, personal identification number (PIN), or other information to validate an identity over a computer network.
The digital equivalent of an ID card. A certificate specifies the name of an individual, company, or other entity and certifies that a public key, which is included in the certificate, belongs to that entity. When you digitally sign a message or other data, the digital signature for that message is created with the aid of the private key that corresponds to the public key in your certificate.
Software (such as an e-mail application) that sends requests to and receives information from a server, which is usually running on a different computer. A computer on which client software runs is also described as a client.
The art and practice of scrambling (encrypting) and unscrambling (decrypting) information. For example, cryptographic techniques are used to scramble and unscramble information flowing between commercial web sites and &brandShortName;.
The process of unscrambling data that has been encrypted. See also encryption.
digital ID
See certificate.
A form of electronic communication from one computer user to another over the Internet. It is used for a variety of purposes in both business and home settings.
The process of scrambling information in a way that disguises its meaning. For example, encrypted connections between computers make it very difficult for third-parties to unscramble, or decrypt, information flowing over the connection. Encrypted information can be decrypted only by someone who possesses the appropriate key.
An XML web page that contains a list of links to other web pages. Special programs can read feeds to create a list of headlines from the links, automatically updating the list as it changes. News web sites use feeds to quickly publish the latest headlines, and personal online journals often use feeds to quickly notify visitors about new entries. See also live bookmark.
FIPS PUBS 140-1 and 140-2
Federal Information Processing Standards Publications (FIPS PUBS) 140 is a US government standard for implementations of cryptographic modules — hardware or software that encrypts and decrypts data or performs other cryptographic operations (such as creating or verifying digital signatures). Many products sold to the US government must comply with one or more of the FIPS standards.
helper application
Any application that is used to open or view a file downloaded by &brandShortName;. A plug-in is a special kind of helper application that installs itself into the Plugins directory of the main &brandShortName; installation directory and can typically be opened within &brandShortName; itself. Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, and other external applications are considered helper applications but not plug-ins, because they don't install themselves into the browser directory but can be opened from the download dialog box.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
A document format used for web pages and many e-mail messages. HTML extends the capabilities of plain-text messages by adding the ability to display images, use flexible layouts, insert hyperlinks to related web pages, and use different sizes of text in messages, among other things.
Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP)
A standard mail server protocol that allows you to store all your messages and any changes to them on the server rather than on your computer's hard disk. *** Maybe too verbose a comparison for a definition *** Using IMAP rather than POP saves disk space and allows you to access your entire mailbox, including sent mail, drafts, and custom folders, from any location. Using an IMAP server over a modem is generally faster than using a POP mail server, since you initially download message headers only. Not all ISPs support IMAP.
A worldwide network of millions of computers that communicate with each other using standard protocols such as TCP/IP. Originally developed for the US military in 1969, the Internet grew to include educational and research institutions and, in the late 1990s, millions of businesses, organizations, and individuals. Today the Internet is used for email, browsing the World Wide Web, instant messaging, mailing lists and usegroups, and many other purposes.
Internet protocol address (IP address)
The address of a computer on a TCP/IP network. Every computer on the Internet has an IP address. Clients have either a permanent IP address or one that is dynamically assigned to them each time they connect with the network.
A scripting language commonly used to construct web pages. Programmers use JavaScript to make web pages more interactive; JavaScript is often used to dynamically validate forms and select buttons. JavaScript can be used with Java, but it is technically a separate language. Java is not required for JavaScript to work correctly.
Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)
A standard protocol for accessing directory services, such as corporate address books, across multiple platforms.
master password
A password used to protect saved passwords and other private data. &brandShortName; will prompt you for your master password when you wish to access this data. If you have multiple security devices, each security device will require a separate master password.
Password Manager
The part of &brandShortName; that can help you remember some or all of your names and passwords by storing them on your computer's hard disk and entering them for you automatically when you visit such sites.
PKCS #11
The public-key cryptography standard that governs security devices such as smart cards.
A type of helper application that adds new capabilities to &brandShortName;, such as the ability to play audio or video clips. Unlike other kinds of helper applications, a plug-in application installs itself into the Plugins directory within the main &brandShortName; installation directory and typically can be opened within &brandShortName; itself (internally). For example, an audio plug-in lets you listen to audio files on a web page or in an e-mail message. Macromedia Flash Player and Java are both examples of plug-in applications.
Post Office Protocol (POP)
A standard mail server protocol that requires you to download new messages to your local computer — although you can choose to leave copies on the server. With POP you can store all your messages (including sent mail, drafts, and custom folders) on one computer only. *** Maybe this should only link to imap instead of providing the verbose comparison *** By contrast IMAP allows you to permanently store all your messages and any changes to them on the server, where you can access them from any computer. Most ISPs currently support POP.
private key
One of a pair of keys used in public-key cryptography. The private key is kept secret and is used to decrypt data that has been encrypted with the corresponding public key.
A strictly defined sequence of interaction between two or more systems.
An intermediary or "go-between" program that acts as both a server and a client for the purpose of making requests on behalf of other clients.
secure site
A site that uses encryption in connections with &brandShortName; to prevent other malicious Internet users from viewing transmitted data. When you visit secure sites, &brandShortName; displays a lock icon in the Status Bar and the Location Bar. &brandShortName; also displays the site's domain name in the Status Bar (to prevent malicious sites from stealing your data) and turns the background of the Location Bar to yellow.
Some sites may consist of both secure and insecure data; the insecure data usually is non-private, although it isn't guaranteed to be so. For such sites &brandShortName; will display a lock icon with a slash through it in the Status Bar and Location Bar and will not display the site's domain name in the Status Bar so that you know that the current web page isn't completely secure.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
A protocol that allows mutual authentication between a client and a server for the purpose of establishing an authenticated and encrypted connection. SSL runs above TCP/IP and below HTTP, LDAP, IMAP, NNTP, and other high-level network protocols. The new Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard called Transport Layer Security (TLS) is based on SSL. See also authentication, encryption.
Software (such as software that serves up web pages) that receives requests from and sends information to a client, which is usually running on a different computer. A computer on which server software runs is also described as a server.
Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP)
A standard protocol used for transmitting email over the Internet. This protocol is the way most Internet mail clients talk to most Internet mail servers. It is also the way most Internet mail servers communicate with other Internet mail servers.
Status Bar
The toolbar that appears at the bottom of any &brandShortName; window. It shows status icons on the right.
See Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).
Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)
A networking protocol used to connect computers running a variety of operating systems. TCP/IP is an essential internetworking protocol and has become a global standard.
web site
A group of related web pages linked by hyperlinks and managed by a single company, organization, or individual. A web site may include text, graphics, audio and video files, and links to other web sites.
World Wide Web
Also known as the Web. A portion of the Internet that is made up of web pages stored by web servers and displayed by clients called web browsers (such as &brandShortName;).