Data transmission between nodes on a network is governed by a set of rules known as a protocol. Basically, it enables interoperability, or the ability of two or more devices to exchange data and instructions despite inherent variations in their operation, construction, or design. Network protocols play an essential part in today’s digital communications since they allow us to readily interact with people from all over the world.
Network protocols enable devices to interact with each other by means of preset rules embedded into the software and hardware of those devices, much as how speaking the same language facilitates communication between two individuals. Without network protocols, neither LANs nor WANs could perform to the level at which they do today.
How Network Protocols Work
As a result of network protocols, complex operations are simplified into manageable sub-processes. This occurs on all levels of the network, with cooperation between all functions being essential for the final goal to be achieved. By “protocol suite,” we mean a collection of related but independent network protocols.
Organizations in the networking and IT industries often develop network protocols in accordance with established norms.
Different network protocols have been defined and published by the following organisations:
- The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
- The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
- The International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Although network protocol models typically operate in similar ways, each protocol is distinct and functions in the manner described by the company that developed it.
Who Uses Network Protocols?
Not just trained network specialists or IT workers need to know about network protocols. Whether they realise it or not, billions of people use network protocols every day.
Network protocols are used every time you access the internet. Although you might not be familiar with how network protocols operate or how frequently you come across them, they are essential for any use of the internet or digital communications.
List of Network Protocols
Thousands of distinct network protocols exist, but they all accomplish one of three main tasks:
- Network management
In order to utilise network devices quickly and safely, each type is required, and they complement one another to make this usage easier.
Different network devices can communicate with one another thanks to communication protocols. They can be utilised for crucial operations like file transfers between devices and internet access. They are used in both analogue and digital communications.
Following are examples of common communication protocols:
- Automation: These protocols are used to automate different processes in both commercial and personal settings, such as in smart buildings, cloud technology or self-driving vehicles.
- Instant messaging: Instantaneous, text-based communications on smartphones and computers occur because of a number of different instant messaging network protocols.
- Routing: Routing protocols permit communication between routers and other network devices. There are also routing protocols specifically for ad hoc networks.
- Bluetooth: Ever-popular Bluetooth devices — including headsets, smartphones and computers — work due to a variety of different Bluetooth protocols.
- File transfer: If you have ever moved files from one device to another, either via a physical or digital medium, you’ve used file transfer protocols (FTP).
- Internet Protocol: Internet Protocol (IP) allows data to be sent between devices via the internet. The internet could not operate as it currently does without IP.
Network management protocols outline and clarify the many steps required to manage a computer network efficiently. These protocols have an impact on a variety of networked devices, such as computers, routers, and servers, to guarantee that they all operate as efficiently as possible.
The following are some of the functions of network management protocols:
- Connection: These protocols establish and maintain stable connections between different devices on the same network.
- Link aggregation: Link aggregation protocols allow you to combine multiple network connections into one link between two devices. This works to increase the strength of the connection and helps sustain the connection should one of the links fail.
- Troubleshooting: Troubleshooting protocols allow network administrators to identify errors affecting the network, evaluate the quality of the network connection, and determine how administrators can fix any issues.
Security protocols, also called cryptographic protocols, work to ensure that the network and the data sent over it are protected from unauthorized users.
Common functions of security network protocols include the following:
- Encryption: Encryption protocols protect data and secure areas by requiring users to input a secret key or password in order to access that information.
- Entity Authentication: Entity authentication protocols create a system that requires different devices or users on a network to verify their identity before accessing secure areas.
- Transportation: Transportation security protocols protect data while it is transported from one network device to another.
Network Protocol Example
Whether you realise it or not, utilising electronic gadgets undoubtedly exposes you to network protocols, some of which are easily recognisable.
Several of the most used network protocols are shown here as examples:
- Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP): This Internet Protocol defines how data is transmitted over the internet and determines how web servers and browsers should respond to commands. This protocol (or its secure counterpart, HTTPS) appears at the beginning of various URLs or web addresses online.
- Secure Socket Shell (SSH): This protocol provides secure access to a computer, even if it’s on an unsecured network. SSH is particularly useful for network administrators who need to manage different systems remotely.
- Short Message Service (SMS): This communications protocol was created to send and receive text messages over cellular networks. SMS refers exclusively to text-based messages. Pictures, videos or other media require Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), an extension of the SMS protocol.
Network protocols specify how devices and processes interact rather than just how they operate independently. The internet wouldn’t have the essential infrastructure to run and be usable without these established norms and rules. Modern communications are built on network protocols, without which the digital world would not function.