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Network Protocols in Computer Networks

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Prerita Agarwal
Data Specialist @
23 Jul, 2024 @ 01:30 PM


A computer network is a collection of computers that are linked together so that they can share information. To make the interaction easier between two devices, regardless of having a different structure, designs, or internal processes, there are a set of rules and agreements known as network protocols. In this article, we will discuss an overview of network protocols.

Network Protocols

Network protocols are a set of rules and agreements that determine how different devices exchange their data in the same network. It enables connected devices to communicate with one another regardless of differences in internal processes, structure, or design.

It plays a critical role in Digital Communication because it makes communication easier with people worldwide.

Why do we need Network Protocols?

It makes the interaction easier between two devices regardless of having a different structure, designs or internal processes.

Without Protocols or stabilizing set of rules, computers can't interact with each other. Some protocols help the computer to identify themselves on the internet. It may be possible that the Sender and Receiver are from different regions or different places, so they have different data and transfer rates. So we need to manage the flow of control of data, which can be done by protocols.


illustrative diagram

Source: link

Let's understand this with an example, Suppose A is the sender and B is the receiver, and both of them belongs to different parts of a country. A has a data transmission rate of 15Mbps, and B has a 10Mbps data transmission rate. In this case, some data may be lost on the way to the receiver due to a difference in transmission rate. So, to not let this happen, Reciever B has to inform about the uneven transmission rate to Sender A.

There are three main network protocols:

  • Network communication protocols include basic data communication tools like HTTP, TCP/IP, UDP, IRC.
  • Network management protocols include protocols such as ICMP and SNMP.
  • Network security protocols such as HTTPS, SFTP, and SSL.
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Network Communication Protocols

Communication Protocols handle authentication and error detection and the syntax, synchronization, and semantics that analogue and digital communications must follow to function. These protocols are essential to the functioning of the network. These protocols formally define the formats and rules that govern data transfer over a network.

  1. HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)
    It is the most familiar protocol, also known as the protocol of the internet. It is an application layer protocol used to transfer hypertexts over the internet and is defined as WWW (world wide web) for information transfer. It allows the interaction between browser and server. 
    As you have seen, whenever we use a web browser to open a certain web page, we indirectly use HTTP as a protocol used to share messages, pictures or other multimedia files in www. 
  2. TCP/IP (Transfer Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol)
    TCP separates data into packets that devices like switches and routers can send to the assigned target. It also ensures that the packets have information about the sender of message data, the receiver of the message data, how the message is to be rearranged, and whether the destination is correct or not. The IP protocol makes sure that the computers connected over the internet have a peculiar serial number called IP address. The IP address aids in identifying the specific device.
  3. UDP (User Datagram Protocol)
    It also works the same as TCP, sending packets to their designed targets. The main difference is that TCP ensures the connection between the application and server, but UDP doesn't. It can be used in place of TCP as it works on top of IP. It is a lightweight data transport protocol. It is also sometimes referred to as UDP/IP.
  4. IRC (Internet Relay Chat)
    It is a text-based communication protocol developed by Jakko Oikarinen in Finland created in 1988. It is used in Group Discussions where two people or more can chat freely in " channels " rooms. It also supports private messages between two users, data exchange, and many other things.

Network Management Protocols

Network management protocols aid in the definition of policies and procedures used to observe, organize, and maintain your computer network and communicate these needs across the network to keep stable communication and optimal performance across the board. 

Network administrators can use a management protocol to troubleshoot connections between host and client devices. Management protocols inform network administrators about the host connection's status, availability, packet or data loss, and other relevant information about the health of the network connection. 

  1. ICMP (Internet Control Message protocol)
    When network problems prevent IP packet delivery, network devices such as routers use ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) to generate error messages to the source IP address. ICMP creates and sends messages to the source IP address informing it that an internet gateway, such as a router, service, or host, cannot be reached for packet delivery. Any IP network device can send, receive, and process ICMP messages.
  2. SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol)
    The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is a networking protocol used in Internet Protocol networks to manage and monitor network-connected devices. The SNMP protocol is embedded in various local devices, including routers, switches, servers, firewalls, and wireless access points that can be accessed via their IP address. SNMP provides a standard mechanism for network devices to communicate management information within single and multi-vendor LAN or WAN environments.

Must Read Subnetting in Computer Networks

Network Security Protocols

Network security protocols keep the data safe and secure while travelling through network connections. These protocols also describe how the network protects data from unauthorized attempts to review or extract it. This helps ensure that no unauthorized users, services, or devices gain access to your network data, and it applies to all data types and network mediums.

  1. HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure)
    The secure version of HTTP, the primary protocol used to send data between a web browser and a website, is known as HTTPS. HTTPS encrypts data transfer to increase data security. This is especially important when users transmit sensitive information, such as when logging into a bank account, email service, health insurance provider or any kind of private data sharing.
  2. SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol)
    It is a progressive or latest version of FTP(File Transfer Protocol) that ensures security when sharing files between organizations/computers.
    SFTP sends data in encrypted form, ensuring that no unauthorized person has access to it. It also provides host authentication to determine whether or not the server is correct.
  3. SSL (Secure Socket Layer)
    SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is an Internet security protocol that uses encryption. Netscape was created in 1995 to ensure privacy, authentication, and data integrity in Internet communications. SSL is the forerunner to the modern TLS encryption that is used today. This protocol can support both server/client and server/server communication. Data sent over SSL is encrypted to prevent it from being read.

Must Read Stop and Wait Protocol.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to choose the correct network protocol?

As per the need, we have to choose network protocol like:
→ In small businesses, TCP/IP are used because they are easy to manage.
→ In case of more efficient file transferring, FTP may benefit more.
→ In the case of security, HTTPS is suggested more.
→ When managing networks SNMP is a widely used network protocol.

What is SSH?

It is also known as Secure Socket Shell. The Secure Shell Protocol (SSH) is a cryptographic network protocol that allows network services to be operated securely over an insecure network.  Remote login and command-line execution are two of its most notable applications.

What are the main problems with Network Protocols?

Fake IP address, DNS Configuration issue, Drown attack, DoS attack, Malware attack, Buffer overflow, Hijacking and many more.


This article discussed network protocols, a set of rules and agreements that determine how different devices exchange their data in the same network, why we need it, and its types in computer networks.

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To study more about computer networks, refer to disadvantages of computer network.

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Thank you for reading!

Topics covered
Network Protocols
Why do we need Network Protocols?
Network Communication Protocols
Network Management Protocols
Network Security Protocols
Frequently Asked Questions
How to choose the correct network protocol?
What is SSH?
What are the main problems with Network Protocols?