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Web Security, Privacy & Commerce, 2nd Edition by Gene Spafford, Simson Garfinkel

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Chapter 2. The Architecture of the World Wide Web

In this chapter, we’ll look at the technological underpinnings of The World Wide Web and of the Internet, the computer network on which the Web is based.

Before we begin our detailed discussion of web security, it is important to explain the basic mechanics of how the Internet and the Web work. It’s also important to introduce the terminology that this book uses. And finally, to understand where the Web is today, it’s useful to review the history of basic networking and the Internet.

History and Terminology

The success of the Internet has been nothing short of phenomenal. It’s difficult to remember that the Internet is more than 25 years old and that the Web has existed for more than a decade. Although it’s increasingly difficult to remember what business was like in the age before the Internet, the vast majority of today’s Internet users have had email and dialup access to the World Wide Web for less than five years, and more than half probably gained their first access during the last 18 months.

It’s easy to attribute the success of the Internet and the Web to a combination of market need, determinism, and consumerism. It’s possible to argue that the critical mass of reasonably powerful desktop computers, reasonably fast modems, and reasonably sophisticated computer users made it inevitable that something like the Web would be deployed in the mid-1990s and that it would gain mass appeal. The world was ripe for the Web.

It’s also possible ...

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