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Types of Internet Protocols

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  • Difficulty Level : Basic
  • Last Updated : 07 Feb, 2023
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Internet Protocols are a set of rules that governs the communication and exchange of data over the internet. Both the sender and receiver should follow the same protocols in order to communicate the data. In order to understand it better, let’s take an example of a language. Any language has its own set of vocabulary and grammar which we need to know if we want to communicate in that language. Similarly, over the internet whenever we access a website or exchange some data with another device then these processes are governed by a set of rules called the internet protocols.

Working of internet protocol: The internet and many other data networks work by organizing data into small pieces called packets. Each large data sent between two network devices is divided into smaller packets by the underlying hardware and software. Each network protocol defines the rules for how its data packets must be organized in specific ways according to the protocols the network supports.  

Why do we need protocols?

It may be that the sender and receiver of data are parts of different networks, located in different parts of the world having different data transfer rates. So, we need protocols to manage the flow control of data, access control of the link being shared in the communication channel. Suppose there is a sender X who has a data transmission rate of 10 Mbps. And, there is a receiver Y who has a data receiving rate of 5Mbps. Since the rate of receiving the data is slow so some data will be lost during transmission. In order to avoid this, the receiver Y needs to inform sender X about the speed mismatch so that the sender X can adjust its transmission rate. Similarly, the access control decides the node which will access the link shared in the communication channel at a particular instant of time. If not the transmitted data will collide if many computers send data simultaneously through the same link resulting in the corruption or loss of data.

Types of internet protocol

The Internet Protocols are of different types having different uses:-

1. TCP/IP(Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol): These are a set of standard rules that allows different types of computers to communicate with each other. The IP protocol ensures that each computer that is connected to the Internet is having a specific serial number called the IP address. TCP specifies how data is exchanged over the internet and how it should be broken into IP packets. It also makes sure that the packets have information about the source of the message data, the destination of the message data, the sequence in which the message data should be re-assembled, and checks if the message has been sent correctly to the specific destination. The TCP is also known as a connection-oriented protocol.

The functionality of TCP/IP is divided into 4 layers with each one having specific protocols:

  1. Application Layer: The application layer makes sure that the data from the sending end is received in a format that is acceptable and supported at the receiving end.
  2. Transport Layer: The transport layer is responsible for the smooth transmission of data from one end to the other. It is also responsible for reliable connectivity, error recovery, and flow control of the data.
  3. Internet Layer: This Internet Layer moves packets from source to destination by connecting independent networks.
  4. Network Access Layer: The Network Access Layer sees how a computer connects to a network.

2. SMTP(Simple Mail Transfer Protocol): These protocols are important for sending and distributing outgoing emails. This protocol uses the header of the mail to get the email id of the receiver and enters the mail into the queue of outgoing mails. And as soon as, it delivers the mail to the receiving email id, it removes the email from the outgoing list. The message or the electronic mail may consider of text, video, image etc. It helps in setting up of some communication server rules.

3. PPP(Point to Point Protocol): It is a communication protocol that is used to create a direct connection between two communicating devices. This protocol defines the rules using which two devices will authenticate with each other and exchange information with each other. For example, A user connects his PC to the server of an Internet Service Provider also uses PPP. Similarly, for connecting two routers for direct communication it uses PPP.

4. FTP (File Transfer Protocol): This protocol is used for transferring files from one system to the other. This works on a client-server model. When a machine requests for file transfer from another machine, the FTO sets up a connection between the two and authenticates each other using their ID and Password. And, the desired file transfer takes place between the machines.

5. SFTP(Secure File Transfer Protocol): SFTP which is also known as SSH FTP refers to File Transfer Protocol (FTP) over Secure Shell (SSH) as it encrypts both commands and data while in transmission. SFTP acts as an extension to SSH and encrypts files and data then sends them over a secure shell data stream. This protocol is used to remotely connect to other systems while executing commands from the command line.

6. HTTP(Hyper Text Transfer Protocol): This protocol is used to transfer hypertexts over the internet and it is defined by the www(world wide web) for information transfer. This protocol defines how the information needs to be formatted and transmitted. And, it also defines the various actions the web browsers should take in response to the calls made to access a  particular web page. Whenever a user opens their web browser, the user will indirectly use HTTP as this is the protocol that is being used to share text, images, and other multimedia files on the World Wide Web. 

Note: Hypertext refers to the special format of the text that can contain links to other texts.   

7. HTTPS(HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure): HTTPS is an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). It is used for secure communication over a computer network with the SSL/TLS protocol for encryption and authentication. So, generally, a  website has an HTTP protocol but if the website is such that it receives some sensitive information such as credit card details, debit card details, OTP, etc then it requires an SSL certificate installed to make the website more secure. So, before entering any sensitive information on a website, we should check if the link is HTTPS or not. If it is not HTTPS then it may not be secure enough to enter sensitive information.

8. TELNET(Terminal Network): TELNET is a standard TCP/IP protocol used for virtual terminal service given by ISO. This enables one local machine to connect with another. The computer which is being connected is called a remote computer and which is connecting is called the local computer. TELNET operation lets us display anything being performed on the remote computer in the local computer. This operates on the client/server principle. The local computer uses the telnet client program whereas the remote computer uses the telnet server program.

9. POP3(Post Office Protocol 3): POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol version 3. It has two Message Access Agents (MAAs) where one is client MAA (Message Access Agent) and another is server MAA(Message Access Agent) for accessing the messages from the mailbox. This protocol helps us to retrieve and manage emails from the mailbox on the receiver mail server to the receiver’s computer. This is implied between the receiver and receiver mail server. It can also be called as one way client server protocol. The POP3 WORKS ON THE 2 PORTS I.E. PORT 110 AND PORT 995.

10. IPv4: The fourth and initially widely used version of the Internet Protocol is called IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4). It is the most popular version of the Internet Protocol and is in charge of distributing data packets throughout the network. Maximum unique addresses for IPv4 are 4,294,967,296 (232), which are possible due to the use of 32-bit addresses. The network address and the host address are the two components of each address. The host address identifies a particular device within the network, whereas the network address identifies the network to which the host belongs.In “dotted decimal” notation, which is the standard for IPv4 addresses, each octet (8 bits) of the address is represented by its decimal value and separated by a dot (e.g.

11. IPv6: The most recent version of the Internet Protocol, IPv6, was created to address the IPv4 protocol’s drawbacks. A maximum of 4.3 billion unique addresses are possible with IPv4’s 32-bit addresses. Contrarily, IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, which enable a significantly greater number of unique addresses. This is significant because IPv4 addresses were running out and there are an increasing number of devices that require internet access. Additionally, IPv6 offers enhanced security features like integrated authentication and encryption as well as better support for mobile devices. IPv6 support has spread among websites and internet service providers, and it is anticipated to gradually displace IPv4 as the main internet protocol.

12. ICMP: ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) is a network protocol that is used to send error messages and operational information about network conditions. It is an integral part of the Internet Protocol (IP) suite, and is used to help diagnose and troubleshoot issues with network connectivity. ICMP messages are typically generated by network devices, such as routers, in response to errors or exceptional conditions encountered in forwarding a datagram. Some examples of ICMP messages include:

  • Echo Request and Echo Reply (ping)
  • Destination Unreachable
  • Time Exceeded
  • Redirect

ICMP can also be used by network management tools to test the reachability of a host and measure the round-trip time for packets to travel from the source to destination and back. It should be noted that ICMP is not a secure protocol, it can be used in some types of network attacks like DDoS amplification.

13. UDP: UDP (User Datagram Protocol) is a connectionless, unreliable transport layer protocol. Unlike TCP, it does not establish a reliable connection between devices before transmitting data, and it does not guarantee that data packets will be received in the order they were sent or that they will be received at all. Instead, UDP simply sends packets of data to a destination without any error checking or flow control. UDP is typically used for real-time applications such as streaming video and audio, online gaming, and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) where a small amount of lost data is acceptable and low latency is important. UDP is faster than TCP because it has less overhead. It doesn’t need to establish a connection, so it can send data packets immediately. It also doesn’t need to wait for confirmation that the data was received before sending more, so it can transmit data at a higher rate.

14. IMAP: IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is a protocol used for retrieving emails from a mail server. It allows users to access and manage their emails on the server, rather than downloading them to a local device. This means that the user can access their emails from multiple devices and the emails will be synced across all devices. IMAP is more flexible than POP3 (Post Office Protocol version 3) as it allows users to access and organize their emails on the server, and also allows multiple users to access the same mailbox.

15. SSH: SSH (Secure Shell) is a protocol used for secure remote login and other secure network services. It provides a secure and encrypted way to remotely access and manage servers, network devices, and other computer systems. SSH uses public-key cryptography to authenticate the user and encrypt the data being transmitted, making it much more secure than traditional remote login protocols such as Telnet. SSH also allows for secure file transfers using the SCP (Secure Copy) and SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) protocols. It is widely used in Unix-based operating systems and is also available for Windows. It is commonly used by system administrators, developers, and other technical users to remotely access and manage servers and other network devices.

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