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Versions: 00 01                                                         
Internet Draft                                                 R. Plzak
Document: <draft-ietf-uswg-fyi7-00.txt>                            ARIN
                                                              G. Malkin
                                                        Nortel Networks
                                                          Walter Houser
                                                             March 2002

                      FYI on Questions and Answers
    Answers to Commonly asked "Experienced Internet User" Questions


Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with
   all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026 [1].

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups. Note that
   other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-
   Drafts. Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of
   six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other
   documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet- Drafts
   as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in
   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at
   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

1. Abstract

   This memo provides information to the experienced Internet user that
   wants to know more.  The term "experienced user" is used to
   differentiate this user from the new users addressed by FYI4.  The
   term experienced is relative. For the purpose of this memo
   ôexperiencedö is any user who is familiar with the concepts
   described in FYI 4.  The information provided in this memo is what
   may be described as an upper level or top level description of some
   of the applications and protocols that are in common use on the
   Internet today.  This memo does not provide precise technical
   descriptions.  For these the reader is referred to the appropriate
   RFC or other documentation.  A conscious effort has been made to
   keep this memo brief but at the same time provide the depth of
   information necessary to provide a general understanding of the
   applications and protocols described.

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2. Doing Things on the Internet or "How Does It Work?"

2.1. How does email work?

   Electronic mail is a lot like paper mail (also called snail mail).
   The chart below summarizes these similarities.

   Paper Mail           Email

   Addressee            To
   Return Address       From
   Enclosure            Attachment
   Carbon Copy          cc

   After you write your message, your email software puts all this into
   an envelop with addressing information that repeats some of these
   same elements on the envelop. It then looks for a computer with a
   mail service called Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), which
   serves like a mailbox outside your local post office.  The SMTP
   service passes your message to nearby SMTP computers (or servers)
   who know or can find the destination for your addressee. If any of
   these SMTP servers have trouble delivering your message, you will
   receive a delivery notice explaining the nature of the problem.
   Because email can be misunderstood or abused, users should be
   familiar with email netiquette.  For more information see Netiquette
   Guidelines [FYI 28, RFC 1855].

2.2. What is a Mailing List?

   A mailing list is a collection of email addresses of people
   interested in a specific topic such as hobbies, product updates,
   work projects, and electronic newsletters.  Mail lists usually have
   a set of rules pertaining to how the list is to be used and what
   type of information is considered proper for the list.  This is
   referred to as an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).  There are generally
   two types of lists û announcement and discussion.

   Announcement lists go one way from the list owner/manager to the
   subscribers.   This type of list is generally used by an
   organization to alert its subscribers to information that is of
   particular interest to the subscribers.  The subscribers cannot send
   information to other subscribers on the list via the list.

   Discussion lists are used by subscribers to discuss topics of
   interest to them.  By sending a message to the list a subscriber is
   in effect talking to all of the subscribers.  There are two types of
   discussion lists û moderated and un-moderated.  In an moderated list
   the message sent by a subscriber to the list is reviewed by the list
   ômoderatorö prior to being sent to all subscribers.  In an un-
   moderated list this review does not take place.  A message sent to
   the list by a subscriber is immediately sent to all subscribers.

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2.3. How does the World Wide Web work?

   Your web browser (Netscape, Internet Explorer, etc.) displays web
   pages located on various computers operating web servers. These web
   pages are written in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) or extensible
   Markup Language (XML).  The web server sends the web pages and
   images to your PC using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Your
   web browser ôrendersö the page, placing images and other page
   elements in their designated positions in the browser window.  As
   you move your cursor across the page, you should notice the cursor
   changes shape over what are called ôhyperlinks.ö Typically
   underlined and in blue, hyperlinks will take you to other web pages,
   on the same server or on any web server in the world. Pressing the
   hyperlink tells your browser to contact that destination web server
   for the next web page.

2.4. What is Instant Messaging?

   Many Internet service providers offer Instant messaging (IM), a
   popular tool to keep in touch using the Internet. You announce your
   presence by entering your IM ôhandleö or nickname into the IM pop-up
   window. You can use the same window to see if your friends are
   online. Unlike chat (see below), IM is one-to-one; some chatters
   will have side conversations using IM. Many of the current IM
   protocols are not yet standardized so you may not be able to IM with
   someone on another service provider.

2.5. How do I send a lot of data across the Internet?

   Although you can send files or documents as attachments using email,
   most mail services limit the size or number of these attachments.
   The size of the attachment can be reduced by the use of an
   application known as a compression program.  A compression program
   can reduce the size of a single attachment or it can be used to
   combine several files into one attachment.  When sending an
   attachment, users should consider the capability of the intended
   recipientÆs mail service to accept attachments or the speed at which
   the recipient is connected to the internet.  If the recipient canÆt
   get the attachment it might as well not be sent.  If email wonÆt
   work for sending the attachment, then the sender should look to
   using either http or ftp as the means for the intended recipient to
   get the file.

3. Getting around the Internet

3.1. What is an IP address?

   An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a binary number that is used to
   uniquely identify an Internet host.  It does not provide

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   geographical information.  There are two versions of IP addresses in
   use on the Internet today - IPv4 and IPv6.  IPv4, the older version,
   is a 32-bit number.  It has been in use for many years but as the
   Internet grew there arose concerns about there being enough unique
   addresses to go around so the newer 128-bit IPv6 version was
   developed. IPv6 is in the early stages of use so the Internet
   continues to use IPv4 addresses.  The 32-bit IPv4 address is divided
   into 4 bytes.  In decimal notation each byte is separated by a dot
   so that a typical address looks like this: The 128
   bits of the IPv6 address are divided into eight (8) groups of 16
   bits.  The groups are separated by a colon and are written in
   hexadecimal notation.  An IPv6 address looks like this:
   FEDC:BA98:7654:3210:FEDC:BA98:7654:3210.  Thankfully users don't
   have to remember IP addresses to use the Internet - the Domain Name
   System (DNS) translates easily remembered names to addresses.

3.2. What is a packet?

   A "packet" is a unit of information that is transmitted.  This piece
   of information may be transmitted on a local network or across the
   internet.  Different protocols such as IP or TCP have specific
   formats for a packet and consequently have a specific name for the
   packet that they use.

3.3. What is a router and what does it do with packets?

   A router is a special purpose computer that directs packets across
   the internet.  A portion of the packet, called the header, contains
   information about the packet such as the IP address of the sender
   and the intended recipient.  The router checks this and the other
   information in the header.  If the information is invalid the router
   discards the packet and sends an error message back to the
   originator of the packet.  If the information is valid the router
   uses the IP address of the intended recipient and information in its
   routing table to determine the best possible path or route to the
   ultimate destination of the packet. A routing table is a listing of
   the best routes to either the ultimate destination or to a router
   which is an intermediate point to the destination.  The routerÆs
   routing table is updated continuously because routers share
   information with each other about the best way to get around the

3.4. What is DNS?

   DNS is the Domain Name System.  The internet uses numbers (IP
   addresses) to send packets around the internet.  However, humans
   find these numbers awkward and difficult to easily remember.  It is
   much easier for them to remember names.  Consequently computers on
   the internet have names as well as addresses.  Applications such as
   email or web browsers accept names and then use DNS to translate or

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   resolve a name into the correct IP address so that the packet can be
   routed.  A name consists of several parts or labels that are
   separated by dots, for example, a.foo.bar. In this case ôaö, ôfooö
   and ôbarö are labels.  Each label cannot exceed 63 characters, the
   entire name including the dots cannot exceed 255 characters.
   Another important thing to remember about names is that they can
   contain only upper or lower case alphabetic letters, numbers or the
   special characters ô.ö or ô-ô.  In the example a.foo.bar, the entire
   name is called a Fully Qualified Domain Name.  The label that is
   furthest to the left identifies a specific computer or host.  The
   remaining labels identify domains.  To the right of the last label
   there is one more dot which identifies the top most or root domain.
   Typically a computer known as a name server is associated with each
   domain to include the root domain.  Each of these name servers
   contains information about its domain in a file that is called a
   zone file.  This information enables a name server to either resolve
   a name to an IP address or refer it to a zone that can provide more

3.5. How does DNS Resolve a Name to an IP Address?

   When an application such as email attempts to send a packet across
   the internet it needs to have an IP address.  It takes the name of
   the destination computer and gives it to a special program known as
   a resolver to make the translation of the name to the address.  The
   resolver first looks locally to see if it has the required
   information.  If it does not, then it sends the query to the root.
   Beginning at the root, it and each subsequent name server associated
   with the domains in the FQDN will either provide a referral to the
   next name server or will provide the desired IP address.  Once the
   IP address has been determined the query stops and the address is
   provided to the requesting application.

3.6. What is an intranet?

   An intranet is a collection of networks that may or may not be
   connected to the Internet.  Generally, an intranet is maintained and
   administered by an organization that may be a commercial firm or a
   government organization.  If the intranet is connected to the
   Internet it is usually done at selected points that control access
   from the intranet to the Internet and control access from the
   Internet to the intranet.  Typically, only certain services such as
   email are permitted to flow across these control points.

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3.7. What is Tunneling?

   Tunneling is the term applied to establishing an end-to-end
   connection for the purpose of providing protected transfer of
   information across the Internet.  One typical method of doing this
   is to encrypt packets at the transmission end and decrypt them at
   the reception end.

4.  Security Considerations

4.1 How do I protect my personal information when I surf the Internet?

   The ubiquitous nature of the Internet has resulted in widespread
   concern for the loss of personal privacy. Once your privacy is
   compromised, you cannot get it back. The US Federal Trade Commission
   has identified four elements of privacy protection.  They are
   notice, consent, access, and security.  While these are definitions
   provided by the US government they pretty much sum up what is
   required for privacy protection.

   * Notice.  You should always be notified by the requestor of your
   private information how this information will be used.

   * Consent.  You must consent to it being used.

   * Access.  The only authorized access to your information is for its
   request use.

   * Security.  The requestor of your information should provide you
   with an assurance of how the information will be protected from
   unauthorized individuals and organizations.

4.2 What steps should I take to protect myself when shopping on the

   Know the vendor you are dealing with. Only enter credit or debit
   card information when using a secure connection to the merchant;
   look for the little padlock at the bottom of your web browser. Know
   what liability limits are associated with your card.

5. References

   [1] Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3", BCP
       9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

   [2] Hambridge, S. "Netiquette Guidelines", RFC 1855, October 1995.

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7. Author's Addresses

   Raymond Plzak
   4506 Daly Drive, Suite 200
   Chantilly, VA 20151
   Phone: +1.703.227.9850
   Email: plzak@arin.net

   Gary Malkin
   Nortel Networks
   600 Tech Park
   Billerica, MA 01621
   Phone: +1.978.288.3684
   Email: gmalkin@nortelnetworks.com

   Walter Houser
   Program Coordination Staff (045APC)
   Department of Veterans Affairs
   810 Vermont Avenue
   Washington DC  20420
   Email: houser.walt@forum.va.gov

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   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
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   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an

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