Internet Protocol Suite



To further understand what the Internet Protocol Suite is, we must first define what a protocol is. A protocol is a mutually agreed-upon format for a process of doing something. It is basically a standard or a set of rules that computers must follow in order to connect and transmit data to one another. This connection among computers in a network is called a communications protocol.


The IPS or Internet Protocol Suite implements the protocol stack on which the Internet functions. A protocol stack is a set of protocol layers that work together to form a network. It is a hierarchy of layers, ergo the term "stack". Each layer supports the one above it and uses the one below.

Internet Protocol Suite Abstraction Layers



Most commonly known as the TCP/IP or Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol, the Internet Protocol Suite has four abstraction layers with their own protocols. The TCP and the IP are the most important protocols and were the first networking protocols that were defined in this standard.

The four abstraction layers are:

1. Link Layer :- This layer contains communication technologies used in local networks.
2. Internet Layer :- The internet layer is responsible for connecting local networks, therefore, establishing the internet.
3. Transport Layer :- This layer handles communications from host to host.
4. Application Layer :- The application layer handles interactions which are application-based on a process-to-process level between the various communicating Internet hosts.

The TCP/IP or Internet Protocol Suite has several protocols in the four abstraction layers. The main ones are the following:

1. HyperText Transfer Protocol :- used by web servers for web pages to be shown in the browsers.
2. File Transfer Protocol :- type of internet protocol that allows users to move or relocate files from one computer to another.
3. Secure Shell
4. Telnet and BitTorrent at the application layer
5. TCP and UDP or User Diagram Protocol at the transport layer
6. IP at the network layer
7. Ethernet
8. FDDI or Fiber Distributed Data Interface and PPP or Point-to-Point Protocol at the data link layer
9. 10Base-T, 100Base-T and DSL or Digital Subscriber Line at the physical layer

Internet Engineering Task Force



The Internet Engineering Task Force or IETF manages the TCP/IP or the Internet Protocol Suite. It has no formal membership and no membership requirements. It consists of participants and managers who are all volunteers. However, their work is usually funded by sponsors or their main employers.

It is actually open to all who want to participate in discussions and mailing lists or meetings. It runs on a rough consensus process in which the final arbiter of decision-making is the mailing list consensus. It is formally a part of the Internet Society and is overseen by the Internet Architecture Board (IAB). The Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) is also managed by the IAB.


What is an IP address



Before we understand what an IP address is and does, we must first know what IP stands for. IP is an acronym for Internet Protocol. It is the primary protocol that the internet uses to communicate within its network. Encapsulated in network packets or datagrams, information is transmitted through the Internet Protocol Suite. This is basically how we are able to send and receive and transmit information through the internet.


Because data is sent and received, the system needs an address to help it identify where the data should go. This is basically what an IP address is.

Understanding IP Addresses



Each machine connected to a network is assigned a numerical label or IP address to enable it to use the Internet Protocol for communication. It has two main functions: location addressing and host or network interface identification.

In technical terms, an IP Address is a 32-bit binary number stored in text files and displayed in notations that are used to locate a device connected to a network. Because of the steady growth of the internet, there is a foreseen problem of having no more available addresses in the future. The IP version 6 was developed in 1995 to replace the standard 32-bit number with 128 bits for longer sustainability. This change will, however, cause a disruption with the world's communication system.

Internet Assigned Numbers Authority



An authority called the IANA or Internet Assigned Numbers Authority manages these IP address space allocations throughout the world. They delegate five regional Internet registries or RIRs in order to allocate specific IP address blocks to local service providers or internet registries. They make sure that every IP address is unique and not duplicated around the world.

Two standards for IP addresses are currently in use. The IP version 4 is the one which uses a 32-bit combination of binary numbers which are expressed by 4 numbers that are separated by dots. This is the standard which is said to be quickly depleting and is being transformed into the new IP standard.

This new standard is called the IP version 6 which contains 128 binary bits to create a single unique address. It is expressed by 8 groups of hexadecimal numbers which are separated by colons.

When the IP version 4 was formulated, the internet was not as large as it is today. The IPv4 only has under 232 possible combinations, giving only under 4.3 billion unique addresses available for all the internet users around the globe. The IPv6 has raised that to 2128 possible addresses.

Static and Dynamic IP Addresses



A computer's IP address can either be static or dynamic. A static address is acquired when you configure the address yourself by editing your computer's network settings. This may cause problems if you do not have enough understanding of the TCP/IP. Dynamic addresses are the most common. These are assigned by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol or DHCP. A dynamic address, however, is only active for a limited time, after which you would have to renew the lease on the IP address.



Uses and Importance of Internet Protocol



The Internet Protocol is the primary protocol responsible for sending network packets from the source host to the destination host through the Internet Protocol Suite or the IPS. This is the basic use of the Internet Protocol. The packets of information that are passed on among computers in the internet are addressed and delivered through the Internet Protocol Suite. Because of this, every location on the Internet has to be identified by an IP address in order to receive and send these packets. Therefore, the IP address is what gives the Internet Protocol its importance.


Every device that is connected to the internet is required to have a unique IP address. Every country has its own range of addresses to distribute so that no two IP addresses are the same.

The importance of these IP addresses can now be seen because of the foreseen problem of running out of available IP addresses. Much effort is being put into trying to extend the life of the current standard since changing it will result in a disruption of the world's communication system. Despite this, there is still a project being made to create a new standard for IP addresses. This is being called IP Version 6.

Significant Uses of Internet Protocol



There are several uses of the Internet Protocol that give it its importance.

Addressing



The Internet Protocol follows a system of addressing datagrams or packets accurately. These addresses dictate where these packets are delivered and sent back to in case they are not delivered successfully, much like the postal system which works with a sending address and a receiving address.

Routing



The delivery system is supported by routers which help in distributing these packets as they are being delivered. This makes the delivery indirect since the datagram is sent through intermediate devices or routers. For example, packets are grouped according to the general direction that they are going to be delivered to and then are passed on to the next set of routers to be regrouped again and so on until it reaches the exact destination or IP address.

Encapsulation



The process of netting payload or data in a packet containing a header is called encapsulation. Doing this makes sure that the data is received and interpreted by the recipient.

Formatting/Packaging



A specific format and packaging is followed by an IP prior to its transmission. Only the recipient is capable of deciphering this format and package.

Fragmentation



Not all physical and data link network using IP is of the same frame size. In order for them to be carried on the local network, the IP has to fragment these packets or datagrams into pieces. This also helps with network reliability.

Reassembly



When the datagrams are fragmented, IP reassembles them into the full IP datagram for the device responsible for receiving them. It then gets passed on to the higher layers for interpretation of data.


Types of Internet Protocol



A protocol is a language used for network communications. The internet has different types of these protocols or internet connections. The following are the types of internet protocols:


File Retrieval Protocols



One of the earliest ways of retrieving information from computers that are connected to the internet is this type of service called File Retrieval Protocols. There are no graphics and most of the time no description for the content of the files but it allowed you to view the names of the files found in the serving computer. Advanced knowledge is needed in order to get the information you sought out using this service.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)



The FTP or File Transfer Protocol is a type of internet protocol that allows users to move or relocate files from one computer to another. It was one of the first internet services ever developed and is still in use today. Through the use of the FTP program, a person can log on to a remote computer, browse through the files in it and either upload or download files, if the remote computer permits it. Only the file name can be seen; it does not include a description of the content of the files. When trying to download software applications from the web, it is highly likely that you will encounter the File Transfer Protocol since most of the sites that offer applications for download use this type of internet protocol.

Gopher



In this type of internet protocol, files with some content description are offered, making it easier and more practical to use. Similar to how your computer's hard drive is arranged, it displays the files on the remote computer in a hierarchical manner. Despite its advantage of added content description, it is not widely used anymore but is still used in some operational gopher sites.

Telnet



By using the telnet protocol, you can use and connect to a remote computer program. It will specifically allow you to use an application from the remote computer as if it were on your own computer. This protocol requires additional special software to function.

Electronic Mail



The electronic mail or email protocol uses three distinct ones namely the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol or SMTP, the Internet Message Access Protocol or IMAP and lastly the Post Office Protocol 3 or POP3.

The SMTP is used for sending the mail while the IMAP and the POP3 are used for receiving them. Most, if not, all internet service providers support these three protocols, however, the most popular set up include using the SMTP for sending and only the POP3 for receiving emails.

HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP or World Wide Web)



This is the protocol used by web servers for web pages to be shown in the browsers. Generally, it tells the browser what kind of information to expect from a web page. It is mostly seen in the address bar as a prefix to the webpage you are visiting.






What is Internet Protocol



Developed in the 1970s, the Internet Protocol is one of the four layers of the Internet Protocol Suite or IPS. It is known as the "Internet Layer" which connects local networks and in turn, establishes the internet. Arguably, the Internet Protocol is the most important protocol. It is responsible for routing packets from the source host to the destination host based on the addresses. "Routing" is when a computer in a network receives a piece of information (known as a packet) and decides where to send it. A packet consists of two parts namely the header and a data payload. The destination of the packet depends on the address specified in its header.


How Internet Protocol Works



This system may be compared to the mail delivery system in an analogy. The envelope encloses a letter and has on it the details which dictate where to send the letter (the destination address) and the return address (the source address). The envelope in this case is the IP Header, the contents of the letter is the IP packet's body or payload. The process of enclosing data payloads in a packet with a header is called "encapsulation". When you drop the letter in a mailbox and it gets picked up and dropped off to a mail sorting facility, it will then go to a person or machine that makes the first routing decision. The sorter then puts the letter in together with the other letters heading in the same general direction. This passing on of the letter to different sorters (or in IP terms, routers) will then continue until the letter arrives in the post office of the region specified in the destination details. If, for some reason, the letter cannot be delivered, it is sent back to the return address (the source address).

This is very similar to how Internet Protocols work and function. The biggest difference is that IP routing is a million times faster than the mail delivery system. All data that we come across on the internet goes through this process.

Capabilities and Vulnerabilities



Interestingly, the strength of the Internet Protocol is somewhat also its weakness. Since the Internet Protocol works the same way all over the world and can travel over any medium of communication, it is also vulnerable to attacks. Anyone on the internet is capable of sending packets to anywhere else on the internet. These packets can travel straight to your computer and have the capability to use applications in it. To prevent this from happening, you must install and use a firewall. However, firewalls only stop the packets from reaching your computer. When your server becomes flooded, it starts refusing or denying packets. If too many are sent in your way, the path to your firewall may still be flooded and you won't be able to make use of the internet until the sending of packets to your computer stops.