MAC, IP, Protocols, and Packets

In-depth explanations.


A protocol is the way devices communicate. If the devices communicate at speeds which both understand, commands are able to be carried out. This can be used in an authentication system, where data needs to be identical to provide access to the sender (of the request). To get each other’s attention, a command is sent out which has been agreed upon (Bonjour is common). The speed of data is then also decided upon so both are able to understand. The bits will be the transferred data which are used to communicate. In an authentication system, both data transfers will need to be identical to allow access. The bits can be delivered wirelessly, or by cable. Cable transfers are faster, but require specially run cables. Wireless transfers are not the most secure, but if you need to connect multiple devices, a wireless connection could be most reliable.

IP Addressing

An IP address is used by your router to identify your personal computer. For example:

"192.168" identifies your network, "1" shows the host. "01" is your personal code. This code is different between users, and can be changed every time you re-log, if your router is supplied with this option, or you can implement it. IP addresses are used in star networks to identify you personally, and send data directly to you.

MAC Address

MAC addresses are most often assigned by the manufacturer of a network interface card (NIC) and are stored in its hardware, such as the card's read-only memory or some other firmware mechanism. If assigned by the manufacturer, a MAC address usually encodes the manufacturer's registered identification number and may be referred to as the burned-in address. It may also be known as an Ethernet hardware address (EHA), hardware address or physical address. This is can be contrasted to a programmed address, where the host device issues commands to the NIC to use an arbitrary address. An example is many SOHO routers, where the ISP grants access to only one MAC address (used previously to inserting the router) so the router must use that MAC address on its Internet-facing NIC. Therefore the router administrator configures a MAC address to override the burned-in one.


Packets are compounds of data put together.