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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

TCP and UDP Ports

TCP and UDP Ports

The data portion of the IP packet contains a TCP or UDP segment sandwiched inside. Only the TCP segment header contains sequence information, but both the UDP and the TCP segment headers track the port being used. The source/destination port and the source/destination IP addresses of the client & server computers are then combined to uniquely identify each data flow.

Certain programs are assigned specific ports that are internationally recognized. For example, port 80 is reserved for HTTP Web traffic, and port 25 is reserved for SMTP e-mail. Ports below 1024 are reserved for privileged system functions, and those above 1024 are generally reserved for non-system third-party applications.

Usually when a connection is made from a client computer requesting data to the server that contains the data:

§  The client selects a random previously unused "source" port greater than 1024 and queries the server on the "destination" port specific to the application. If it is an HTTP request, the client will use a source port of, say, 2049 and query the server on port 80 (HTTP)

§  The server recognizes the port 80 request as an HTTP request and passes on the data to be handled by the Web server software. When the Web server software replies to the client, it tells the TCP application to respond back to port 2049 of the client using a source port of port 80.

§  The client keeps track of all its requests to the server's IP address and will recognize that the reply on port 2049 isn't a request initiation for "NFS", but a response to the initial port 80 HTTP query.

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