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What is the difference between the Internet, Intranet and Extranet?

The internet is a fascinating thing, that’s for sure. But it’s also so wide and big that most people often forget that it’s just a very large network, and there are different types of networks present.

Among the many networking terms that confuse people, the difference between the internet, intranet and extranet is probably the most prominent. Many people still think they are the same but this is where they get it wrong.

In this article, we’re going over the Internet, Intranet and Extranet and pointing out the difference between the three.

Also read: What is the difference between WiFi and Internet?


What is Internet?

The internet is what we’ve all come to know as the network that connects the world. Anything from sending a tweet, messaging your friends, sending emails and browsing your favourite sites happens because of the internet.

The internet is kind of a connector that connects all different kinds of networks simultaneously. Since it’s a public network, anyone can access it easily. Thanks to the massive amount of information online and the immense utility of the internet, it has become a household name now.


What is Intranet?

The Intranet is a closed network supported by the internet. It’s a private network purpose-built for a smaller number of people or to operate within an organisation as a local or restricted communications network.

Why would you want a restricted network? Well, the Intranet has its uses, mostly seen in corporate organisations and tech giants who need to host internal tools, APIs and other utilities that need to be shared across offices which can be in different parts of the world.

Since the Intranet relies on the internet as its backbone, it can be accessed from anywhere by anyone who has the required access.


What is Extranet?

An extranet is a type of intranet that allows for a subset of the information on the intranet to be accessed by outsiders. Such a network allows businesses to exchange information using the internet in a secure manner without necessarily creating new networking infrastructure or having to rely on the internet, where information is public and might be seen by unauthorised personnel.

Such networks are often either owned by single or multiple organisations which own and manage it on a contractual basis and this becomes their tool for sharing information between internal and external members.

Also read: X86 vs X64 architecture: Key Differences


Difference between Internet, Intranet and Extranet

Here are the differences between all three aforementioned types of networks summed up for you.

Internet Intranet Extranet
Connects different networks of
computer simultaneously.
It’s owned by private firms.Owned by either a single firm or multiple corporations
Used by multiple users. Used by limited users.Used by organisations for connecting internal and external members.
Accessible to anyone connected to the internet.Accessible only to the members of the organisations.Accessible only to the members of an organisation with a login ID.
Shares information all over the world.Shares information throughout the organisation.Shares information between internal and external members.
Depends on the user of the device connected to the network for security.Enforced via firewall. It is enforced via a firewall that separates the intranet and extranet.
No hard and fast rules or policies exist.Policies of the organisation are imposed.Policies of the organisation are imposed.
Maintained by ISP.It is maintained by the CIO, HR or the communications department of the organisation.It is maintained by the CIO, HR or the communications department of the organisation.
It is very economical to use.It is less economical as compared to the internet.Highest operational costs of all three.

Also read: What is the Internet of Behaviour (IoB)? How does it differ from IoT?

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