Obviously you know what the internet is. But to be in a better position you must have some insight into it. You will gain that necessary insight through this article.
What is Internet?
Internet is simply an interconnection of computers on the global scale.
When computers were born, the idea of inter-connecting them to share information propped up naturally. Thereafter the network was successfully established between two computers which went on growing in subsequent years. There arose the wonderful idea of global interconnection of computers, that is, the Internet.
Who Controls the Internet?
The internet is not owned by any one entity. Rather several public and government organisations contribute to form the network. Also its use is public and unrestricted – i.e. any two computers on the network can agree to communicate with each other and can share information they like to.
But, there are several organisations that are responsible for setting protocols & deciding policies for sound functioning of the internet. Some of them are- Internet Society, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN), etc. which have their own subjects to work upon. Now you know the reason why you have to write the URL in the way you do.
How does interconnection happen?
The organisations that establish connectivity are called Internet Service Providers (ISPs). They have all the setup needed for connectivity such as telecommunication and routing equipments needed to accomplish the connectivity. The whole network is divided into three parts, viz. Tier 1 network, Tier 2 network & Tier 3 network.
The tier 1 network is the macro-level network that connects continents but does not reach each home. It is the interconnection between telecommunication giants like British Telecommunications, AT&T, Verizon, etc. which can be called tier 1 ISPs.
Then the tier 1 ISPs provide access to their network to tier 2 ISPs which interconnect the individual computers within a nation. The tier 1 ISPs charge tier 2 ISPs and they in turn charge individual users. The tier 2 ISPs also peer with each other in order to complete the network but without paying any charge. The tier 1 ISPs may also provide direct access to large organizations having large number of computers. There may also be a tier 3 network to connect inner locations where the tier 2 network couldn’t reach. They buy access from tier 2 ISPs and sell it to end users.
Whenever a computer gets connected to the internet, it is assigned an address called Internet Protocol Address (IP Address) by the ISP. It serves to identify the computer and its location for accurate communication.
To understand further you may consider an analogy. In a country there is a network of highways that connects cities. This corresponds to tier 1 network. Then these highways have openings into roads that lead into the city and reach individual homes. The network of roads within the city corresponds to the tier 2 network. Still some lanes are needed that lead to inner locations from the roads. The network of lanes corresponds to the tier 3 network. The Central, the State and the Municipal Governments may correspond to the three kinds of ISPs respectively. Each connected home is provided an address for identification and location purposes. Thus we have the network of roadways to reach any connected home in the country.
Similarly, we have the network of computers ready to share information and communicate with each other. This forms the backbone of the internet.
How is information shared?
All the information ready to be shared through websites is stored on servers of the webhosts. The global collection of data thus stored at different places is called the World Wide Web (WWW). When a computer A requests some information from computer B it does through URL(Uniform Resource Locator) instead of its IP address. The URL is then converted into IP address of the recipient by DNS(Domain Name System) which is the directory of all IP addresses against Domain Names shared globally. The request then happens through HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). The recipient on receiving the request delivers it to the web host software which delivers the requested content. The data is transmitted in the form of data packets according to HTTP and the proper routing of data is managed by ISPs through routers.
The whole process is initiated and the content is accessed by the user through web browsers or user interfaces of other applications.
What are search engines? Search Engines Definition
Search engines are simply searchable directories of websites. A search engine stores a large number of websites in its database called index. It has a website/app which offers the interface for you to enter your query. It then employs its search algorithm and returns a list of websites matching your query. This relieves you of manually fetching URLs and maintaining a directory of them.
How private and secure are you over the internet?
Ideally, as in the real world, you and your audience should know the communication that happens between you and them. But this is not the case with the internet. Recalling the route of the data transfer over the internet, you will realise that the points where it could be tracked are:
1)On the path by the hackers
2)Your ISP because the data passes through its routers so it has access to all your internet activity.
3)The web server if you own a website as it stores your web data
4)The website you visit itself and here comes the role of search engines tracking your activity and using it justly or unjustly
As a remedy for privacy breaches and security threats, Secured Socket Layer (SSL) has been developed which simply encrypts(encodes) the data being transmitted and the key for decryption rests at the ends only. In this way, even if the data is intercepted, it cannot be interpreted. Thus, the connection remains secure. But, still your ISP is aware of the both ends as it would not be able to deliver the data to the destination otherwise. Also, this would not prevent the website from tracking your activity and hence using it.
SSL has to be installed on the web server. The websites having SSL Certificate installed display “https” (s stands for secure) in the beginning of the URL instead of “http” so that you can be sure of the security of the connection.
To be on the safe side, do not share any of your private data with untrusted and/or unsecured websites.