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How does the internet work?

by George Mensah

The internet is an essential part of modern life, connecting people and devices across the globe. But how does it work, exactly? In this article, we’ll inspect the technology and infrastructure that powers the internet.

At its core, the internet is a network of interconnected computers and devices that communicate with each other using a set of standardized protocols and technologies. These protocols include the Internet Protocol (IP) and the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), which enable devices to exchange data packets in a reliable and efficient manner.

When you connect to the internet, your device sends a request to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), which then connects you to the internet. They typically make this connection using a wired or wireless connection, such as a fiber optic cable or a Wi-Fi router.

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Once your device is connected to the internet, it can send and receive data packets using the IP and TCP protocols. These packets contain information such as the destination address, the type of data being sent, and other metadata that allows the packets to be routed through the internet to their intended destination.

I made the internet up of a variety of different networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and the global internet itself. We typically use lANs within a single building or campus, while WANs are used to connect multiple LANs over a larger geographic area.

I made the global internet up of a vast network of interconnected routers and other networking devices that route data packets between devices and servers around the world. These devices use a variety of technologies, including fiber optic cables, satellites, and radio waves, to transmit data over long distances.

One of the key advantages of the internet is its ability to route data packets around problems or obstacles in the network. For example, if a particular router or network connection is down, we can reroute data packets through other available paths to ensure that the data still reaches its intended destination.

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A system of addressing and naming conventions that allow devices and servers to be uniquely identified on the internet makes this routing process possible. IP addresses, for example, are used to identify individual devices on the internet, while domain names are used to identify servers and other network resources.

When you enter a domain name into your web browser, your device sends a request to a Domain Name System (DNS) server to translate the domain name into an IP address. The DNS server responds with the IP address of the server hosting the requested website, allowing your device to establish a connection and request the website’s content.

Another key feature of the internet is its ability to support a wide variety of different applications and services. From web browsing and email to online gaming and video streaming, the internet has become an essential part of our daily lives.

They typically build these applications and services on top of the underlying internet infrastructure, using a variety of protocols and technologies to transmit data and communicate with other devices and servers.

For example, web browsing uses the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to transfer web pages and other content from web servers to your browser. Email uses the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) to send and receive email messages between servers and clients.

As the internet has evolved over the years, it has also become increasingly decentralized and distributed. While a few government agencies and academic institutions largely controlled early versions of the internet, a diverse array of companies and organizations powers today’s internet.

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This decentralization has led to a more open and flexible internet, where innovation and experimentation are encouraged and new applications and services can be developed and deployed relatively easily.

Of course, the internet is not without its challenges and limitations. Security and privacy are ongoing concerns, as hackers and other malicious actors seek to exploit vulnerabilities in the network to steal sensitive data or disrupt services. Governments and other organizations may also seek to restrict or censor access to certain websites or services, leading to concerns about internet freedom and censorship.

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To address these issues, we have developed a variety of technologies and protocols to help protect the integrity and security of the internet. These include encryption technologies such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS), which are used to encrypt data packets and protect them from interception or tampering.

Other technologies, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems, are used to monitor network traffic and detect and block potential threats. Governments and other organizations also use various legal and regulatory measures to enforce cybersecurity standards and combat cybercrime.


Despite these challenges, the internet remains an essential part of modern life, connecting people and devices around the world and enabling new forms of communication, commerce, and collaboration. As the internet continues to evolve, it will likely face new challenges and opportunities, but its underlying principles and technologies will remain a critical part of our connected world.

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