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1. Packet Analysis and Network Basics > How Computers Communicate

How Computers Communicate

In order to fully understand packet analysis, you must understand exactly how computers communicate with each other. In this section, we’ll examine the basics of network protocols, the Open Systems Interconnections (OSI) model, network data frames, and the hardware that supports it all.


Modern networks are made up of a variety of systems running on many different platforms. To aid this communication, we use a set of common languages called protocols. Common protocols include Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), Internet Protocol (IP), Address Resolution Protocol (ARP), and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). A protocol stack is a logical grouping of protocols that work together.

One of the best ways to understand protocols is to think of them as similar to the rules that govern spoken or written human languages. Every language has rules, such as how verbs should be conjugated, how people should be greeted, and even how to properly thank someone. Protocols work in much the same fashion, allowing us to define how packets should be routed, how to initiate a connection, and how to acknowledge the receipt of data.


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