The Basics of Internet Protocols

There are many books available that cover the basics of Internet protocols, but Stevens’ book is considered to be the best. Sheldon’s book covers a much larger range of topics. Both are good sources of networking information. Other books to consider are TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1, The Protocols, published by Osbourne McGraw-Hill and written by William R. Cheswick and Steven M. Bellovin.

Internet protocols are predefined rules used by networks to send and receive data. They define how data should be transferred from one device to another. The Internet engineering task force creates standards for protocols, which are then incorporated into documents called requests for comments (RFCs). These documents are typically technical, and define specific protocols such as HTTP, DNS, and SMTP. There are more than six thousand RFCs, and they define nearly all protocols used by the Internet.

Since its first mention in 1974, the Internet Protocol has been modified several times. The first version was based on TCP and was known as IPv4. The newer version of the protocol focused on addressing and connection set-up. The host address field increased from 16 to 32 bits, allowing for four billion unique proxies. The latest version, IPv6, features a 128-bit address field, allowing for 340 trillion possible addresses.

The next version of IP was released in 1983 and is called IPv6. IPv6 addresses are more powerful, with more permutations and characters. However, IPv6 is not widely adopted, and many domains still use IPv4 addresses. And if the Internet becomes ubiquitous, it will be an excellent tool to unite the world. Once adopted, the Internet will continue to change the world as we know it. So, let’s take a closer look at the various aspects of Internet protocols.