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The Basics of Network Protocols

Network protocols can be thought of as rules and regulations that govern communication between various devices connected to a network. Network protocols determine the complete end-to-end management of transfer of data. It’s also responsible for the security of the network and the devices connected to it.

Network protocols oversee all the processes that are responsible for starting and completing communication between network devices such as various computers, servers, routers and other kinds of network enabled devices. Network protocols are set by the sender and receiver in order to ensure communication and establish communication nodes in the network.

There are many kinds of communication protocols available today such as

  • TCP/IP and HTTP are the most basic communication protocols and govern basic data communication.
  • Network security protocols are responsible for maintaining security of the network and communications. Some of the security protocols include HTTPS, SSL and SFTP.
  • There are network management protocols that provide various kinds of governance and maintenance activities for devices connected on the network. Some of the various network management protocols are SNMP and ICMP.

How do network protocols work?

Network protocols function by breaking larger tasks into small discreet well-defined tasks on every network level. All networks work on the Open Systems Interconnection architecture or the OSI model. Most networks today have a layered structure where protocols govern the communication and activities in each layer.

Network protocols can be divided into three categories which are for communication, management and security. There are thousands of network protocols that handle several kinds of tasks such as authentication, automation, correction, compression, error detection, file retrieval, file transfer, link aggression, routing, syntax, semantics and synchronization. All these tasks are coordinated between various networking devices such as routers, servers and various computers.

An Overview of Basic Protocols

A collection of network protocols is known as protocol suites. An overview of the basic protocols suites are mentioned below.

  • Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) - This protocol suite is a set rules which is used to exchange messages with at various points of communication exchange. This network protocol operates on a packet level.
  • Internet Protocol (IP) - This particular protocol suite establishes a set of rules to send and receive messages at the internet address level. This works on a level above the packet level.
  • File transfer protocols (FTP) - File transfer protocol and HTTP protocols are various regulations set for the exchange of files and not just communication.
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