What Is A Network Protocol? Working and It’s Type

What Is A Network Protocol? Working and It’s Type

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Anshuman
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on Feb 19, 2024 16:39 IST

Have you ever wondered how data communication between network devices is governed? In a nutshell, “what is communicated, how it is communicated, and when it is communicated.” These are the things that Network Protocols govern. Every time you connect to the internet, you are utilizing network protocols. Whether they realize it or not, many people use network protocols daily. Even if they don’t understand how network protocols work or how frequently they come across them, network protocols are crucial for using the internet.

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So, what exactly is a network protocol? Before we answer this question, let’s go over the topics we’ll be discussing in this blog:

What is a network protocol?

A network protocol is a set of rules that govern how data is transmitted between devices in a network. These protocols allow devices to communicate with each other irrespective of their design, structure, or internal processes.  

In other words, you can compare network protocols to languages that two or more devices must recognize in order to communicate information smoothly. Without network protocols, neither LAN nor WAN could function as they do today.

You can also explore: What is Networking and Hardware: A Beginner’s Guide

How does network protocol work? 

Before we get into the working of network protocols, we must understand how a network is built. The Open Systems Interface (OSI) model proposed by ISO is the most widely used model for establishing open communication between two systems.

The OSI model defines seven layers through which computer systems interact over a network. Instead of the more complex OSI model, the modern internet is based on the simpler TCP/IP model. But, even though, the OSI 7-layer model is still widely used because it helps visualize and communicate how networks work, as well as isolate and fix networking problems.

You can also explore: OSI vs TCP/IP Model: What’s the Difference?

Let’s go through the seven layers of the OSI model from top to bottom, i.e., from the application layer that directly serves the end user, down to the physical layer.

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Now, let’s understand the working of network layers.

Like most other data networks, the internet organizes data into small pieces known as packets. Each large message sent across two network devices is frequently subdivided into smaller packets to improve network performance and reliability. 

Each packet is typically divided into three parts: the header, the payload, and the footer. Packet headers and footers comprise the context-specific information needed to support the network, such as sending and receiving device addresses. They also include unique data to improve network connection reliability and performance, such as counters that keep track of the sequence in which communications were sent and checksums that assist network applications in detecting data corruption or tampering. In contrast, the payloads part includes the data to be transmitted. 

In general, network protocol models operate in similar ways. However, because network protocols are typically developed per industry standards by various networking organizations, each protocol is distinct and operates in the manner specified by the organization that developed it.

Various network protocols have been defined and published by the following organizations:

  • The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
  • The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
  • The International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
  • The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  • The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

Types of network protocol 

There are thousands of network protocols to choose from. To simplify things, let’s divide network protocols into three major categories based on their actions.  The three basic actions that almost all network protocols perform are as follows:

  • Security
  • Communication
  • Network Management

Security protocol

Security protocols ensure the security and integrity of data while it is moving across a network connection. These protocols define the processes and techniques for protecting data from unauthorized attempts to review or extract information. Encryption, entity authentication, and transportation are all standard functions of security network protocols.

Some common examples of security protocols include:

  • SSL Protocol: SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is an Internet security protocol that uses encryption to ensure data confidentiality and integrity. This layer, which sits between the application and transport layers, is further subdivided into three sub-parts, such as the Handshake Protocol, the Record Protocol, and the Alert Protocol.
  • TLS Protocol: TLS is an abbreviation for Transport Layer Security. This layer generates a key (master secret) using a pseudo-random algorithm for data encryption between the protocol client and protocol server, such as encoding communication among online servers, such as a web browser requesting a web page from an online server.
  • SHTTP: SHTTP is an abbreviation for Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol. This protocol is a set of security measures designed to secure internet communication, such as creating strong passwords and installing a firewall. This protocol operates at the application layer, encrypting and signing individual messages.

Communication protocol

Communication protocols are formal descriptions of digital message formats and rules. These protocols can be used in analog and digital communications and for critical processes such as file transfer between devices and internet access. These protocols’ primary function is to transfer messages from one computer system to another. These are important in telecommunications systems because they send and receive messages regularly.

Some common examples of communication protocols include:

  • TCP: TCP is an abbreviation for Transmission Control Protocol. This is a popular communication protocol that is used for network communication. It divides any message into a series of packets that are sent from source to destination, where they are reassembled.
  • IP: IP stands for Internet Protocol. This protocol is explicitly designed to be an addressing protocol. It is mainly associated with TCP. The IP addresses in packets aid in routing through various network nodes until they reach the destination system. TCP/IP is the most popular network connection protocol.
  • UDP: UDP is an abbreviation for User Datagram Protocol. This replacement communication protocol for the Transmission Control Protocol creates loss-tolerant and low-latency links between different applications.

Network Management

The Network Management Protocol is a collection of network protocols defining the processes, procedures, and policies in order to manage, monitor, and maintain a computer network. These protocols make tracking and reporting data and traffic flowing to and from a host and a client device easier.

Some common examples of network management protocols include:

  • SNMP: SNMP is an abbreviation for Simple Network Management Protocol. This protocol is the most widely used for querying relevant objects in order to extract data from network-connected devices such as switches, controllers, servers, printers, modems, and so on.
  • ICMP: ICMP stands for Internet Control Message Point. This protocol is specifically designed for reporting errors. Unlike SNMP, ICMP does not participate in data exchange within or between systems. Its function is straightforward: “Oh, there is an error in IP operations.” Please report it! ”
  • CDP: CDP is an abbreviation for Cisco Discovery Protocol. Cisco systems created this protocol specifically for sharing information between connected Cisco devices with a direct link.

Which network protocol should you use?

After reviewing the various types of protocols used in computer networks, you may be curious to know which is best for your company. So, let’s try to find the answer based on various types of business and actions performed by network protocols.

  • Instead of relying solely on HTTP, your business may benefit from using FTP protocols for quicker and more efficient file transfer.
  • HTTPS is widespread and dependable for data transfer over the network in terms of security.
  • SNMP is still widely used in network management and is even more efficient when combined with communication protocols such as UDP.
  • TCP and IP communication protocols are simple to manage and widely used by startups and small businesses. 

In addition, when selecting a networking protocol for your application, you should consider the following factors:

  • Simpleness of use
  • Type of communication
  • Performance of the system configuration
  • Third-party APIs support

You can also explore: All That You Need to Know About – Proxy Servers

Conclusion

In today’s world, users communicate via various devices, in various languages, via various methods of data transmission, and various software. As a result, communicating globally would be impossible if there were no fixed guidelines that could govern how users communicate for data and how our devices treat that data. As a result, the need for and importance of network protocols will always exist and grow with each passing day as technology advances.

FAQs

What is a network protocol?

A network protocol is a set of guidelines that govern how information is transmitted between devices within a network. In other words, you can compare network protocols to languages that two or more devices must recognize in order to communicate information smoothly.

What is a network protocol example?

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), UDP (User Datagram Protocol), IP (Internet Protocol), ARP (Address Resolution Protocol),u00a0HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), etc.,u00a0are examples of standard network protocolsu00a0

What are the three main types of network protocol?

The three main network protocols are Communication, Security, and Network Management.

What is DNS?

DNS (Domain Network System)u00a0is a protocol that operates at the application layer. By default, the DNS protocol uses User Datagram Protocol, but it can also work over Transmission Control Protocol.09

What is TCP?

TCP is an abbreviation for Transmission Control Protocol. This is a popular communication protocol that is used for network communication. It divides any message into a series of packets that are sent from source to destination, where they are reassembled.

About the Author
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Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio