What is a Computer Network?

A computer network refers to a system of numerous independent computers connected to one another for sharing data and resources. This integrated system of computers and other devices makes communication smooth and easy. Scroll through this article to learn about the mechanism of computer networks, types of networks, and more. 

Understanding the mechanism of a Computer Network

A computer network comes with different nodes, which can be servers, personal computers, networking hardware, and others. These nodes make a computer network work by receiving and sending data via links. 

Computer networks and the internet are two places where devices connected to them communicate with one another. They do this by using IP addresses that are resolved into hostnames by a domain name system server. A number of protocols and techniques are also used to specify data transport between endpoints.

A computer network must be established in an efficient way to make the underlying network elements communicate with one another. This layout of a computer network is referred to as the computer network architecture.

Key components of a Computer Network

While learning “what is a computer network,” you must become familiar with its different components. The key components of a computer network are as follows:

  • Network devices: These nodes or physical devices serve as the data communication equipment within a computer network. The network devices can include modems, PCs, routers, switches, firewalls, and more. 
  • Communication protocols: These are the protocols or rules that nodes need to follow for information transfer. 
  • Links: They are the transmission medium for connecting nodes and enabling data transfer between them. 

Check out this video to learn more about computer networks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fErDcUtd8fA&pp=ygUcY29tcHV0ZXIgbmV0d29yayBzaW1wbGlsZWFybg%3D%3D

Types of Computer Networks

A computer network can be segmented on the basis of different factors. According to the area covered, computer networks can be classified into the following types:

  • Local Area Network (LAN): It stretches for an area of up to 10 kms and can include an office or university network. As per the needs of the organization, a LAN can be a single building, office, or campus. 
  • Metropolitan Area Network (MAN): This type of network can usually cover a whole city, like a cable television network. 
  • Wide Area Network (WAN): This type of network can span over countries and even continents. For instance, the Internet enables users to connect from any place all over the globe using a distributed system called www. 

According to the type of communication medium, the different types of computer networks include the following:

  • Wired Network: A wired computer network refers to the physical medium of cables. 
  • Wireless Network: As the name suggests, a wireless network does not include any wire. It is only made up of electromagnetic waves or infrared waves. 

The classification of computer networks on the basis of the architecture is as follows:

  • P2P Networks: In these systems, the internet helps connect computer systems with one another. 
  • Client-Server Networks: In this type of computer network architecture, every computer or process serves as the client or the server. The server provides services to the client according to requirements. 
  • Hybrid Networks: A hybrid computer network system leverages a combo of peer-to-peer and client-server architectures. 

The types of computer networks as per the point of communication are as follows:

  • Point-to-Point Networks: In this type of computer network, a direct link appears between two networking nodes. 
  • Multipoint Network: In a multipoint network, more than two particular devices share links. The capacity of the channel gets shared temporarily or spatially. 
  • Broadcast Network: In this type of network, a signal method becomes useful for making multiple parties listen to one specific sender. An excellent example of a broadcast network is radio stations. 

The concept of Computer Network Security

After learning “what is a computer network,” you must be curious about the safety and security aspects of computer networks. Cybercrime can make a business lose $2.9 million per minute. Therefore, businesses and organizations must undertake computer network security measures to inhibit unauthorized access from outside attackers. 

The approach to computer network security will be influenced by the size of the network. While a home office comes with minimal network security requirements, it is much higher for large businesses with a greater risk of malicious attacks. 

A firewall in a computer network is often useful for ensuring security. The firewall can be hardware or software to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic. This device will accept, reject, or drop traffic according to a specified set of security rules. 

The benefits of using a Firewall

A firewall in a computer network comes with the following benefits:

  • Control of network access: A firewall can be used to restrict network access to particular groups or individuals for specific applications or servers. Firewalls are also useful for limiting incoming traffic from certain networks or IP addresses. It will prevent unauthorized and unwanted access. 
  • Monitoring of network activity: Firewalls are useful for recording and keeping track of different network activities. It helps with the detection of security issues and other shady behavior. 
  • Prevention of malware and other virus threats: Firewalls can ensure computer network security by blocking traffic associated with malware or other threats. Therefore, your entire network system will be defended against viruses and other cyber attacks. 
  • Network segmentation: Setting up firewalls can help in dividing networks into smaller components. It helps in raising the security level by decreasing the attack surface. 
  • Regulation compliance: Several industries come with rules regarding the setting up of firewalls and other security measures. Businesses can successfully avoid fines and penalties by abiding by regulations related to firewall installation. 

Ending note

Remember that the performance of a computer network can be assessed according to its performance, reliability, and security. A clear understanding of computer networks is essential for acing any IT role. After developing a basic knowledge of computer networks, you can move on to more complicated concepts.

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