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It turns out that everything you do on the Internet involves packets.

For example, every Web page that you receive comes as a series of packets, and every e-mail you send leaves as a series of packets. Networks that ship data around in small packets are called packet switched networks. n the Internet, the network breaks an e-mail message into parts of a certain si!e in bytes. "hese are the packets. #ach packet carries the information that will help it get to its destination -- the sender$s I% address, the intended receiver$s I% address, something that tells the network how many packets this e-mail message has been broken into and the number of this particular packet. "he packets carry the data in the protocols that the Internet uses& "ransmission 'ontrol %rotocol(Internet %rotocol )"'%(I%*. #ach packet contains part of the body of your message. + typical packet contains perhaps ,,--- or ,,.-- bytes. #ach packet is then sent off to its destination by the best available route -- a route that might be taken by all the other packets in the message or by none of the other packets in the message. "his makes the network more efficient. First, the network can balance the load across various pieces of e/uipment on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis. 0econd, if there is a problem with one piece of e/uipment in the network while a message is being transferred, packets can be routed around the problem, ensuring the delivery of the entire message. 1epending on the type of network, packets may be referred to by another name& frame block cell segment "he browser broke the 234 into three parts& "he protocol )5http5* "he server name )5www.howstuffworks.com5* "he file name )5web-server.htm5*

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"he browser communicated with a name server to translate the server name 5www.howstuffworks.com5 into an IP Address, which it uses to connect to the server machine. "he browser then formed a connection to the server at that I% address on port 8-. )We$ll discuss ports later in this article.* Following the 9""% protocol, the browser sent a :#" re/uest to the server, asking for the file 5http&((www.howstuffworks.com(webserver.htm.5 )Note that cookies may be sent from browser to server with the :#" re/uest -- see 9ow Internet 'ookies Work for details.* "he server then sent the 9";4 text for the Web page to the browser. )'ookies may also be sent from server to browser in the header for the page.* "he browser read the 9";4 tags and formatted the page onto your screen. The web works on three standards. These standards are generally adhered to by all companies that make products that work with the World Wide Web. These standards are: URL (Uniform Resource Locator): These are the addresses that you enter into your web browser to connect to a web site. The URL is broken up into 4 parts which are the protocol, the hostname, the port number, and the path that you are requesting. Protocol: The protocol part o an URL is the unny string o characters that you see be ore the hostname. !"amples are http, tp, telnet:, etc. They are separated rom the hostname with a colon and two orward slashes # :$$ %. These protocols tell your browser what type o ser&ice to use when you connect with the web browser to the hostname. ' you lea&e the protocol o your address, by de ault the Web (rowser will assume you are using the )TT* protocol, which is or connecting to web sites, so there is no need to type in the http:$$ e&ery time

you go to a web site. ' you speci y another protocol like tp, then the browser will act as an tp client that will enable you to connect to a tp ser&er to download iles. Hostname: The hostname is the address you are going to. +or e"ample, i you are going to the address http:$$www.bleepingcomputer.com, then www.bleepingcomputer.com is the hostname. Port Number: The port number is a number that you can append to the hostname with a colon # : % between them. +or e"ample http:$$www.bleepingcomputer.com:,-. ' you lea&e the port number o , which almost e&eryone does, then the browser will automatically use port ,as that is the de ault port or the http protocol. Path: This is the path on the ser&er, culminating with the ilename you are trying to reach. +or e"ample, the URL http:$$www.bleepingcomputer.com$e"amples$e"ample. .html. The path in this case is $e"amples$e"ample..html. This path corresponds to an actual directory structure on the web ser&er. /o on the web ser&er there is a root directory, an e"amples directory underneath that root directory, and a ile called e"ample..html underneath that. HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol): This is a de ined process o how to trans er in ormation between a web browser and a web ser&er. 0ll web browsers and web ser&ers ollow this process. HTML (Hyper Text Markup Lan ua e): This is the language used in web pages to ormat te"t, images, and page layout. This language is in pure te"t and is entered into a ile that has an ending o html. 't is possible to put )T1L in documents that do not end in html, but or the purpose o this tutorial, we are only ocusing on pure )T1L documents.

The te"t in these documents contain special codes, called tags, that tell the web browser when it reads the ile how to ormat the te"t. Lets try an e"ample below. ' you were to create a ile called helloworld.html and sa&e it on your hard dri&e, you could then open this ile with your browser and ha&e it displayed. The contents o this ile will ha&e the ollowing te"t: 2b3)ello World44442$b3 ' you were to open up this document in your browser you would see the ollowing: Hello !orl"#### 0s you can see the te"t, )ello World, has been shown to you in bold print. This was because we enclosed the words in the tags 2b3, which means any te"t a ter it will be bold, and then the ending 2$b3 means this is the end o the bold ormatting. 0ll tags in )T1L ha&e a beginning tag, that starts the ormatting, and an ending tag, that stops the ormatting. There are many many more tags a&ailable to use in )T1L, the bold # 2b3 % tag being 5ust one o them. !eb $ro%ser an" !eb &er'ers 'n order or the Web to work you need web browsers and web ser&ers which work hand in hand. The web browser is a piece o so tware that is used to interpret the in ormation ound in an )T1L document and display the content o that document based upon the )T1L tags ound within it. 0 web ser&er is a computer that stores )T1L documents, otherwise known as web pages, and waits or connections rom web browsers. When a web browser connects to a web ser&er, the web ser&er sends the requested document, i it e"ists, back to the web browser or display. (ctually $ro%sin a !eb &ite

6ow that you understand the basics behind how the Web works, lets walk you through the actual process o how your computer goes to a web site and displays it in your browser. The irst step o course is to open your web browser, whether that be 6etscape, 'nternet !"plorer, or 1o7illa. When your browser opens, you ha&e the option o connecting to another web site. 'n the address ield, type the location o where you would like to go. +or this e"ample, lets go to www.bleepingcomputer.com. 8ou type http:$$www.bleepingcomputer.com, or www.bleepingcomputer.com as the http:$$ is optional, in the address ield and press enter or go. The below diagram e"plains what happens: "he Function of an Internet 3outer +ll of these networks rely on N+%s, backbones and routers to talk to each other. What is incredible about this process is that a message can leave one computer and travel halfway across the world through several different networks and arrive at another computer in a fraction of a second< "he routers determine where to send information from one computer to another. 3outers are speciali!ed computers that send your messages and those of every other Internet user speeding to their destinations along thousands of pathways. + router has two separate, but related, =obs& It ensures that information doesn$t go where it$s not needed. "his is crucial for keeping large volumes of data from clogging the connections of 5innocent bystanders.5 It makes sure that information does make it to the intended destination. In performing these two =obs, a router is extremely useful in dealing with two separate computer networks. It =oins the two networks, passing information from one to the other. It also protects the networks from one another, preventing the traffic on one from unnecessarily spilling over to the other. 3egardless of how many networks are attached, the basic operation and function of the router remains the same. 0ince the Internet is one huge network made up of

tens of thousands of smaller networks, its use of routers is an absolute necessity. Internet %rotocol& I% +ddresses #very machine on the Internet has a uni/ue identifying number, called an IP Address. "he I% stands for Internet Protocol, which is the language that computers use to communicate over the Internet. + protocol is the pre-defined way that someone who wants to use a service talks with that service. "he 5someone5 could be a person, but more often it is a computer program like a Web browser. + typical I% address looks like this& "o make it easier for us humans to remember, I% addresses are normally expressed in decimal format as a dotted decimal number like the one above. >ut computers communicate in binary form. 4ook at the same I% address in binary& 11011000.00011011.00111101.10001001 "he four numbers in an I% address are called octets, because they each have eight positions when viewed in binary form. If you add all the positions together, you get 76, which is why I% addresses are considered 76-bit numbers. 0ince each of the eight positions can have two different states ), or !ero*, the total number of possible combinations per octet is 68 or 6.?. 0o each octet can contain any value between !ero and 6... 'ombine the four octets and you get 6 76 or a possible @,6A@,A?B,6A? uni/ue values< Internet %rotocol& 1omain Name 0ystem When the Internet was in its infancy, it consisted of a small number of computers hooked together with modems and telephone lines. Cou could only make connections by providing the I% address of the computer you wanted to establish a link with. For example, a typical I% address might be 6,?.6B.66.,?6. "his was fine when there were only a few hosts out there, but it became unwieldy as more and more systems came online. "he first solution to the problem was a simple text file maintained by the Network Information 'enter that mapped names to I% addresses. 0oon this text file became so large it was too cumbersome to manage. In ,A87, the 2niversity of Wisconsin created the Domain Name S stem )1N0*, which maps text names to I% addresses automatically. "his way you only need to remember

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www.howstuffworks.com, for example, instead of 9ow0tuffWorks.com$s I% address. 234& 2niform 3esource 4ocator When you use the Web or send an e-mail message, you use a domain name to do it. For example, the !ni"orm #esource $ocator )234* 5http&((www.howstuffworks.com5 contains the domain name howstuffworks.com. 0o does this e-mail address& exampleDhowstuffworks.com. #very time you use a domain name, you use the Internet$s 1N0 servers to translate the human-readable domain name into the machine-readable I% address. 'heck out 9ow 1omain Name 0ervers Work for more in-depth information on 1N0. "op-level domain names, also called first-level domain names, include .' ;, . 3:, .N#", .#12 and .: E. Within every top-level domain there is a huge list of second-level domains. For example, in the .' ; first-level domain there is& 9ow0tuffWorks Cahoo ;icrosoft #very name in the .' ; top-level domain must be uni/ue. "he leftmost word, like www, is the host name. It specifies the name of a specific machine )with a specific I% address* in a domain. + given domain can, potentially, contain millions of host names as long as they are all uni/ue within that domain. 1N0 servers accept re/uests from programs and other name servers to convert domain names into I% addresses. When a re/uest comes in, the 1N0 server can do one of four things with it& It can answer the re/uest with an I% address because it already knows the I% address for the re/uested domain. It can contact another 1N0 server and try to find the I% address for the name re/uested. It may have to do this multiple times. It can say, 5I don$t know the I% address for the domain you re/uested, but here$s the I% address for a 1N0 server that knows more than I do.5 It can return an error message because the re/uested domain name is invalid or does not exist. + 1N0 #xample 4et$s say that you type the 234 www.howstuffworks.com into your browser. "he browser contacts a 1N0 server to get the I% address. +

1N0 server would start its search for an I% address by contacting one of the root DNS ser%ers. "he root servers know the I% addresses for all of the 1N0 servers that handle the top-level domains ).' ;, .N#", . 3:, etc.*. Cour 1N0 server would ask the root for www.howstuffworks.com, and the root would say, 5I don$t know the I% address for www.howstuffworks.com, but here$s the I% address for the .' ; 1N0 server.5 Cour name server then sends a /uery to the .' ; 1N0 server asking it if it knows the I% address for www.howstuffworks.com. "he 1N0 server for the ' ; domain knows the I% addresses for the name servers handling the www.howstuffworks.com domain, so it returns those. . Internet 0ervers and 'lients Internet ser%ers make the Internet possible. +ll of the machines on the Internet are either servers or clients. "he machines that provide services to other machines are servers. +nd the machines that are used to connect to those services are clients. "here are Web servers, e-mail servers, F"% servers and so on serving the needs of Internet users all over the world. When you connect to www.howstuffworks.com to read a page, you are a user sitting at a client$s machine. Cou are accessing the 9ow0tuffWorks Web server. "he server machine finds the page you re/uested and sends it to you. 'lients that come to a server machine do so with a specific intent, so clients direct their re/uests to a specific software server running on the server machine. For example, if you are running a Web browser on your machine, it will want to talk to the Web server on the server machine, not the e-mail server. + server has a static I% address that does not change very often. + home machine that is dialing up through a modem, on the other hand, typically has an I% address assigned by the I0% every time you dial in. "hat I% address is uni/ue for your session -- it may be different the next time you dial in. "his way, an I0% only needs one I% address for each modem it supports, rather than one for each customer.


0 key component o the 'nternet and how it works re&ol&es around the 9omain 6ame /ystem, otherwise known as 96/. The underlying technology behind the 'nternet, is that when a computer needs to talk to another computer on the 'nternet, they communicate &ia the computer:s '* 0ddress. The '* 0ddress is a unique set o numbers associated with a particular machine, which will be discussed in a separate article. 0n e"ample o an '* 0ddress is ;.<.;.=..>.;?, which is the '* 0ddress that corresponds to www.bleepingcomputer.com. 0s the predecessor o the 'nternet, 0R*06!T, grew larger, connecting to remote machines by their '* 0ddress grew cumbersome. 't became more and more di icult or people to remember the '* 0ddresses associated with the machines they were trying to reach that a system was created to translate easier to remember symbolic names to their equi&alent numerical '* 0ddress. Thus the 9omain 6ame /ystem was born. )omain Name &ystem The 9omain 6ame /ystem is the system used on the 'nternet or the mapping o names, such as www.google.com, to '* 0ddresses such as ;.<.;=>.@..>>. !&ery time a new domain, like bleepingcomputer.com, is registered, that domain is entered into one o the .= Root /er&ers spread throughout the world and o&erseen by an organi7ation called 'A066. (ecause your domain is in one o these ser&ers, it can be reached and understood by the rest o the users on the 'nternet. 0nother key element o the 9omain 6ame /ystem are 96/ /er&ers run by Aompanies and 'nternet /er&ice *ro&iders. !&ery time you connect to a site, you are asking your '/*:s 96/ /er&er. to resol&e, or con&ert, the hostname such as www.google.com to a an ip address such as ;.<.;=>.@..>>.

' your '/*:s name ser&er is not working or can not be reached, then you will not be able to tra&erse the 'nternet using hostnames, but instead would ha&e to use their '* 0ddress equi&alent. 0ny time you connect to a site, your '/* 96/ /er&er must ind out what name ser&er has the in ormation about the domain or the site you are trying to reach. 8our '/*:s 96/ /er&er will connect to a Root /er&er and ask it who the name ser&er is that knows the in ormation about the site you are trying to reach. The Root /er&er will tell your '/*:s 96/ /er&er what ser&er they should ne"t contact or in ormation. 6e"t your '/*:s 96/ /er&er will then contact the ser&er that the Root /er&er told it to contact, where it will be gi&en the '* 0ddress associated with the site you are trying to reach. Real Life *xample 0 lot o what has been discussed may be a bit con using, so lets do a real li e e"ample. 'n the lowchart below labeled +igure ., you will see a computer trying to connect to www.google.com and the steps it takes.

We will discuss these steps below:

1. 0 User opens a web browser and tries to connect to

www.google.com. The operating system not knowing the '* 0ddress or www.google.com, asks the '/*:s 96/ /er&er or this in ormation. ;. The '/*:s 96/ /er&er does not know this in ormation, so it connects to a Root /er&er to ind out what name ser&er, running somewhere in the world, know the in ormation about google.com. =. The Root /er&er tells the '/*:s 96/ /er&er to contact a particular name ser&er that knows the in ormation about google.com. 4. The '/*:s 96/ /er&er connects to Boogle:s 96/ ser&er and asks or the '* 0ddress or www.google.com. @. Boogle:s 96/ /er&er responds to the '/*:s 96/ ser&er with the appropriate '* 0ddress.

<. The '/*:s 96/ /er&er tells the User:s operating system the '* 0ddress or google.com. ?. The operating system tells the Web (rowser the '* 0ddress or www.google.com. ,. The web browser connects and starts communication with www.google.com. If you have been using the Internet for any length of time, and especially if you work at a larger company and browse the Web while you are at work, you have probably heard the term "irewall used. For example, you often hear people in companies say things like, 5I can$t use that site because they won$t let it through the firewall.5 If you have a fast Internet connection into your home )either a 104 connection or a cable modem*, you may have found yourself hearing about firewalls for your home network as well. It turns out that a small home network has many of the same security issues that a large corporate network does. Cou can use a firewall to protect your home network and family from offensive Web sites and potential hackers.

>asically, a firewall is a barrier to keep destructive forces away from your property. In fact, that$s why its called a firewall. Its =ob is similar to a physical firewall that keeps a fire from spreading from one area to the next. +s you read through this article, you will learn more about firewalls, how they work and what kinds of threats they can protect you from.