Interacting with the online world

This resource will explain the differences between the Internet, web browsers, and operating systems, and how they work.

What is the Internet?

The Internet, along with the systems that run on it, including the World Wide Web ("the web"), is vital for living, learning, and working in today’s society.

The Internet is a system of computer networks, which rely on shared protocols, or standards, in order to communicate with each other.

The web is just one of the applications that relies on the Internet.

Others include email, instant messaging, Voiceover IP (VoIP), and file transfer (FTP).

What is the web?

The web is a collection of hypertext pages, documents and other resources that can be located by a uniform resource locator (URL) using a web browser (described in the next section).

An essential technology in web publishing is Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).

HTML allows authors to tag or "mark up" their content in order to control how the content is displayed in a web browser.

Using HTML, authors can add hyperlinks to their content, linking or referring to other web pages, objects, and files.

What is a web browser?

The purpose of a web browser is to fetch information resources from the web and display them on a user's device.

Once a web page has been retrieved, the browser displays it on the user's device. This includes image and video formats supported by the browser.

Popular web browsers include:

  • Google Chrome
  • Microsoft Edge (or Internet Explorer)
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Safari

What makes a website?

A website is a collection of related web pages. Web pages contain a variety of information including text and multimedia elements. Web pages are created using technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript which are interpreted by a web browser. 

URLs and domains


A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the address you use to locate websites or other documents on the web.

URLs have three component parts: protocol, domain, and path.

After ensuring that the domain looks legitimate, check for the https:// protocol before giving any personal information to a website or starting a transaction.


The domain is the name of the website homepage or the information that appears after the @ in an email address.

Some example domain names include:,, etc.

The domain name is made up of a mixture of top level domains (TLDs), second level domains (SLDs), and subdomains.

Some common top level domains are:

.com Formerly used for commercial websites, this domain is now used more broadly for websites that do not fit into the other domains.
.edu Educational websites
.org Non-profit or humanitarian websites.
.gov Government websites
.au The country code for Australia. Restricted to Australian businesses.



Operating systems

When you buy a computer it usually comes with an operating system pre-loaded.

The operating system is the interface between you and the computer. However, it also controls what the computer does and how you can interact with it and how it interacts with you.

This interaction comes from software applications (apps) and peripherals such as the monitor, keyboard and mouse.

There are many different types of operating systems available; but the most popular are Microsoft Windows, Apple's macOS and the many Linux distributions available.


Keep yourself safe online

And finally, remember, it is important to keep yourself safe online.

To see whether a website is safe to visit, you can check for security info about the site. Check to the left of the web address for the security status:

If you see a lock icon next to a website's address it means the traffic to and from the website is encrypted. It is also verified, which means the company running the site has a certificate proving they own it. Selecting the lock icon, you can see more information about the site, such as who owns it and who verified it.

If you don't see a lock icon, your connect isn't private and any traffic could be intercepted. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have developed a number of free tools for your browser, to help protect you while you're online, including:

For more information on how to stay safe and protect yourself online, visit the UOW CyberSafety site.