” Want to understand the difference between Internet, Intranet and Extranet, you are at the right place! You might wonder what are these similar kind of words? “
We often come across these terms, one or the other, in this world knit with internet. But don’t you worry about what these buzz words mean, as in just few minutes you will absorb these words in your minds just like what sponge does to water! And mastering these will be a child’s play for you.
Let’s get started.
Here, is a detailed, yet very-easy-to-understand distinctions. (You can also directly scroll down to the comparison table between Internet, Intranet and Extranet)
Let us understand the difference between these terms on broader terms with an easy example of 3 employees at a company- ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’, one by one in 3 respective cases.
The Complete Guide to Internet, Intranet and Extranet
The Internet is a PUBLIC Network. The Internet can be called the short for Inter(network). Internet connects people and various networks across the globe, hence, is a larger network.
Anyone can access the internet from any place. No one can actually possess the internet. It is the most used tool for sharing and exchange of information around the world.
It uses several Internet Protocols (TCP/IP) which are a certain set of rules, responsible for the delivery of the sender’s data (called packets) at the correct receiver(s) end.
The devices used for accessing the Internet have their own public and private IP ( Internet Protocol address) addresses.
As we know, internet is flooded with random number of users which increase the possibility of unwanted and unauthorized activities, since, it does not require any type of user proof.
It remains a constant threat to the security of our data. Internet accessing devices are also prone to Malware such as viruses.
Though firewalls can be used to guard our network from such threats but also, no guarantee in that my friend!
- Not understood ? Do not worry ! What are our Examples then for ?
Taking our 1st case example of ‘A’.
‘A’ works at a company and uses PUBLIC transport (here, the internet) for the daily travelling as ‘A’ does not own any vehicle.
Therefore, ‘A’ takes any public vehicle for going anywhere. The public transport used is responsible to drop ‘A’ at the correct destination.
Also, note that the same public transport is used by a large number of random public for their daily movements, having their respective addresses.
Due to this exposure to a large number of fellow travelers , valuables of ‘A’ will be at risk, during the journey.
So, learning from this example, we saw that internet being a public network is used by numerous users in their daily lives for various purposes and hence, the threats also rise from the exposure to anonymous internet users.
Summarizing some points on Internet:
- Public network.
- Owned by none.
- Access to anyone.
- No need of authentication.
- Swift and effortless access.
- Prone to external threats.
- Hacking risk.
The Intranet is a PRIVATE network. It is possessed by a single organization/company.
The word “Intra” means within, that is, it is accessible within a limited number of employees/staff or a group of people, working for the same company, hence, is a small network.
Accessing Intranet requires proper authentication and authorization. It is used for information and database exchange among the employees of the same company office for secure communication.
These selective approaches distinct from the outer world preserve the confidentiality of the data and protects it from the external attack threats and risks.
Like the internet, it also uses TCP/IP protocols for a correct data transfer. Only approved devices by the company are allowed to access their intranet web pages.
A firewall is also used to guard the intranet web.
Another advantage of the intranet is that it saves time and cost from printing a lot of documents as these can be shared in electronic form among the approved devices under the intranet.
This network is created here in the office premises which is known as the LAN(Local Area Network) or maybe sometimes the WAN(Wide Area Network), depending upon the area of the network.
Intranet can also be referred to as the “personalized internet” of the company which it is owned by. It works the same as the internet but in a more secure and private manner.
It takes the co-operation among the employees to the next comfortable level.
The employees can access the intranet web pages of the company which can consist of the daily blogs, calendars, upcoming events, joining welcome notes, the farewell bids, and updatable stuff like that.
A company can take intranet facility on lease from outside providers or can build one on their own by setting up web servers for storing all the secured company data and some necessary connections.
Intranet can be of great use when it comes to securing the data from external undesired attacks but it is important to make sure that the passwords used for authentication are robust and not to forget. (most importantly, do not roll it off the tongue at a NON-colleague friend’s party !)
- Again, BOUNCER ? Our saviour is right below…
Picking up our 2nd case example of ‘B’.
‘B’ works in the same company, but owns a car. ‘B’ drives to the office every day and does not prefer public transport for traveling to the office.
As it is a PRIVATE transport(referring to intranet), only the authorized people can use it. Also, the car can only be owned by a single person or a family.
Limited and no-outsider access to the car reduces the risk of any threats any valuables of ‘B’ during the ride. ‘B’ does not have to depend on any other means of transport.
From this example, we learn that Intranet is a private network because it allows access to only those people who are authorized (given an allowance for something) to do so after proper authentication (verifying the genuineness of the user).
Therefore, the risks associated with this type of network are much lesser than that of the internet, plus it is time and cost-efficient.
Summarizing some points on Intranet:
- Private Network.
- Possessed by single company/organization.
- Only accessed by allowed group of people.
- Used for information exchange within the office premises.
- Saves cost and time from printing abundant documents.
- Guards company’s confidential data from outer malicious attacks.
The Extranet is based on the intranet but with the allowance of some rights of access to external relations such as customers, distributors, dealers, or some other businesses/companies.
It is also a private and small network, provided it is between separate companies/organizations for business purposes and dealings.
An extranet can be administered by a single or multiple companies(considering the agreement done between them).
The administrators of this network are verified and sanctioned only to access some limited parts of the company’s data, and this network formed is referred to as Extranet.
(They are not authorized to access the actual whole Intra-network) This is a way of communicating and exchanging information between various organizations in a well-secured way.
The users of this network are verified through a proper verification process (user id-passwords).
Extranet also uses internet protocols for safer transmission of information. Firewalls can be used for safeguarding information from unwanted remote access and guaranteed data security.
What your were waiting for is just below ! Yes, our smart and lovely example.
Now, you might be wondering what happens with the 3rd colleague ‘C’ ? So, to break the suspense…
‘C’ neither has a private car nor prefers a public transport.‘C’ opts for a third option, a mixture of the above two (referring to Extranet) and chooses to book a cab/taxi for the daily hustle to the office.
A cab may act as a PUBLIC transport plus offers some perks of the PRIVATE one too. ‘C’ can book a cab from anywhere, whenever and can reach wherever wanted.
Using a cab gives ‘C’ a benefit of the protection of valuables from attacks. In a way, ‘C’ owns some rights of the journey (Note:- some, not full !), which are being authorized the only to ‘C’.
Thus, being similar to this case, Extranet is a mixture of some traits of Inter and Intra network(public and private), from a broader perspective.
It provides the company with the security and reliability of the Intranet along with some limited allowance of accessing information for the other business-related companies also. It is just like the interconnection between different businesses but in a private manner.
Summarizing some points on Extranet:
- Private Network
- Held and maintained by single or multiple organizations.
- Restricted rights of accessing information by other business.
- Verification and validation needed to retain access.
- Encoded information exchange between parties.
- Protects company’s private information from exterior dangers.
Difference Between Internet, Intranet and Extranet
Here’s the comparison chart between Internet, Intranet and Extranet.
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