TCP/IP stands for Truly Categorically Public/ Internet’s Public

Actually, while a fair comment, it really stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.

Simply put, TCP/IP is the way we send things over the internet. It is a public network. So, anything sent over the internet without taking an effort at securing it is like sending a postcard.

Let’s use post cards as an analogy for information sent over and stored against the internet. The internet cuts your post card up into smaller pieces that are publicly identified, labelled and numbered as:

  • a post card type (eg. in internet terms an email, a document, a website)

  • from you (your IP address, which shows where you are on the internet),

  • to whom (their IP address, which shows where they are on the internet),

  • when it was sent; and,

  • what order the postcard should be stuck back together in at the other end.

Note: anyone can see this labelling no matter what security you put around it. It’s called metadata and helps attackers understand patterns to better target their victims. It also helps forensic experts to identify attackers in a breach.

Your postcard then travels through various postal hubs (hops) around the web, internationally, to reach its intended destination. If one hub is unavailable, it will redirect it to another hub to try to get it to you. Anyone can see, copy, change or destroy your post card at any one of these hubs, in transit to one of these hubs, and at its destination.

In the case of a website, the ones you visit are also publicly identifiable, although this may be limited to some extent by browsing In-private (Internet Explorer) or Incognito (Chrome).

http stands for hereby transferring the postcard (website)

https stands for hereby transferring the postcard (website) securely

Actually, while also fair comment, that’s not true either. Http stands for hypertext transfer protocol and https stands for secure hypertext transfer protocol.

Http is the way websites are requested by, and delivered to, you over the internet. It is public and all information on a website, including malware if it is infected, will be downloaded to your machine or device. Many sites are now moving to https only. Note however that while better, this is not fool proof.

The internet is an international public network. Anyone at any point can access it and potentially see information: transferred through it; and, stored in or viewed on devices or networks of devices that are connected directly or indirectly to it and throughout the supply chain and ecosystem.

Adapted Ernst (2013)

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