The Internet, VPNs, intranets, and extranets
Distinguish between the Internet, VPNs, intranets and extranets.
The Internet is a network of networks linking computers all over the world. The content on the Internet is located in independently owned
computers called servers. Servers are linked to regional networks, which in turn connect to the core of the Internet. These points of
connection are called network access points (NAPs). This image illustrates Internet topology.
There are many ways that a company can connect to the Internet. Many home users connect via PC modems that use twisted-pair telephone lines.
For faster connections, businesses and a few home users use ISDN, T-1 lines, or T-3 lines. Regardless of speed, all lines to the Internet are
routed through local access providers. Local access providers use the user's Internet access provider to connect to one of the Internet's
As shown here, a Virtual Private Network or VPN is a private network that is configured within a public network. It is constructed by using
public wires to connect individual computers in a simulated private network.
A VPN enables IP
traffic to travel securely over a public TCP/IP
network by encrypting the traffic from one network to another.
This encrypting technique is called tunneling. Tunneling ensures that only authorized users can access the network and that the data cannot be
intercepted. Basically, this means that company employees can access their company's network from remote distances without risk to network
Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol: A communications protocol developed under contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to
internetwork dissimilar systems. Invented by Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn, this de facto UNIX standard is the protocol of the Internet and has
become the global standard for communications. TCP provides transport functions, which ensures that the total amount of bytes sent is
received correctly at the other end. IP provides the routing mechanism. TCP/IP is a routable protocol, which means that all messages
contain not only the address of the destination station, but also the address of a destination network. This allows TCP/IP messages to be
sent to multiple networks within an organization or around the world, hence its use in the Internet.
Intranets are essentially private Internets, or Internets inside of an organization. As this image shows, they enable organizations to use the
Web as a convenient, low-cost channel for information sharing and distribution among an organization's employees and its other members.
An intranet's Web sites look and act just like any Internet Web site. The main difference is that the firewall surrounding an intranet
prevents unauthorized access.
A method for keeping a network secure. It can be implemented in a single router that filters out unwanted packets, or it may use a combination
of technologies in routers and hosts. Firewalls are widely used to give users access to the Internet in a secure fashion as well as to
separate a company's public Web server from its internal network. They are also used to keep internal network segments secure. For example, a
research or accounting subnet might be vulnerable to snooping from within.
Extranets are becoming a popular means for business partners to exchange information.
Question: How are the Internet, intranets, and extranets similar and how do they differ?
Answer: Intranets and extranets use similar protocols and equipment as the Internet, as all are TCP/IP-based networks. But
intranets and extranets are limited in their physical distribution and by their security hardware and software. The next lesson is about
switches, bridges, and routers--the devices that interconnect the different kinds of networks.