By Walton Dell
Created: July 9, 1997
Last Updated: June 25, 2006
The Internet is an international network of computers. It allows the transfer of data from any computer to any other computer. This network was originally designed by the US government, over 25 years ago. Of course, back then it was much slower and smaller.
The Internet is only the network used for data transfer; however, this network is very versatile. The following are the most popular uses for the Internet:
This network is made up of many server computers connected to each other through high speed, high bandwidth telephone lines. To access the Internet, individual (client) computers connect to their Internet Service Provider (ISP) via ordinary old low speed, low bandwidth telephone lines.
A server computer is basically any computer that allows other computers to access its data (sometimes requiring a password) or that will forward data along. Your computer is a client of the server computers, and will not allow other computers to access its data (unless there is a security flaw in the software).
For example, when you send an email from your address (ex: firstname.lastname@example.org) to the President's address ( email@example.com ), your computer will first connect with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and transfer the email to their server. Then, their server will forward the email to another server in the direction of whitehouse.gov. Your email will continue to be automatically forwarded from server to server until it reaches its destination. The whitehouse.gov computer will then save the email in the password protected mailbox for the President.
While in transit, your data (email, www, chat, etc.) could be logged by any of these servers if they are being operated by an unscrupulous person. This is why confidential data (such as credit card numbers) should always be encrypted before being sent through the Internet.
When surfing the web, you may visit a site that
uses SSL for security encryption. Your web browser software
most likely supports this special secure mode. Each program has
its own way of informing you that you are in secure mode; just
look for a picture of a solid key (not a broken
key) or a locked padlock (not unlocked).
Copyright 1997-2006 by Walton Dell
Web Site: wdell.com