Network protocols refer to a set of established rules and conventions that specify communication between network devices. The rules specify how to format, send, and receive data so that network endpoints can communicate regardless of the differences in their underlying designs, standards, or infrastructure. Thus, devices on both sides of a communication exchange must accept and follow protocol conventions to successfully send and receive information. Without network protocols, telecommunication devices such as computers, servers, routers, and virtual machines, would not know how to communicate with each other. Consequently, except for specialty networks that are built around a particular architecture, few telecommunications networks would able to function (Morreale & Terplan, 2018). Thus, virtually, all telecommunications network’s end users rely on protocols for connectivity.
How Network Protocols Work
Network protocols usually break down large processes into discrete and narrowly defined tasks and functions across every level of the telecommunication network. For instance, in the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, one or more protocols determine activities at each layer in a telecommunications exchange. The upper layers deal with applications and software while the lower layers deal with data transport (Morreale & Terplan, 2018). Every packet transmitted and received over a telecommunications network comprises binary data. Most protocols add a header at the start of each network packet for the function of storing information regarding the sender and the intended destination of the message. Some network protocols may also incorporate a footer at the end containing additional information (Pooch, 2018). Pooch elucidates that network protocols process the headers and footers as part of the data moving across devices for the purpose of identifying compatible messages.
Types of Network Protocols
There exist three types of network protocols namely network communication protocols, network management protocols, and network security protocols. Network communication protocols determine the efficiency of a telecommunications network. These protocols are the ones that formally describe the formats and the regulations that how data is exchanged between telecommunications networks. Notably, this applies to both software and hardware and is usually a requirement for communication between telecommunications systems and computing systems. Besides handling semantic, syntax, and synchronization requirements that both analog and digital communications must meet to function, network communication protocols also handle error and authentication detection. Examples of network communications protocols include Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), User Datagram Protocol (UDP), Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), and Internet Relay Chat (Morreale & Terplan, 2018).
Network management protocols usually help specify the processes and policies needed to administer, monitor, and maintain a computer network to ensure steady communication and optimal performance throughout a telecommunications network. In addition, they aid in communicating the demands across the network. Examples of network management protocols include Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) (Morreale & Terplan, 2018).
Network security protocols ensure that the data in transmission over the telecommunications network connections remain safe and secure. In addition, the protocols define the means that the network utilizes to protect data from any unauthorized efforts to inspect or extract it. Consequently, this makes sure that unauthorized services, devices, or users do not have access to the communications network. Examples of network security protocols include Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) (Morreale & Terplan, 2018).