Header (computing)

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In information technology, header refers to supplemental data placed at the beginning of a block of data being stored or transmitted. In data transmission, the data following the header is sometimes called the payload or body .


It is vital that header composition follows a clear and unambiguous specification or format, to allow for parsing.


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Email Mail sent using electronic means

Electronic mail is a method of exchanging messages ("mail") between people using electronic devices. Email was thus conceived as the electronic (digital) version of, or counterpart to, mail, at a time when "mail" meant only physical mail. Email later became a ubiquitous communication medium, to the point that in current use, an e-mail address is often treated as a basic and necessary part of many processes in business, commerce, government, education, entertainment, and other spheres of daily life in most countries. Email is the medium, and each message sent therewith is called an email.

The Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) is a supporting protocol in the Internet protocol suite. It is used by network devices, including routers, to send error messages and operational information indicating success or failure when communicating with another IP address, for example, an error is indicated when a requested service is not available or that a host or router could not be reached. ICMP differs from transport protocols such as TCP and UDP in that it is not typically used to exchange data between systems, nor is it regularly employed by end-user network applications.

IPv4 Version 4 of the Internet Protocol

Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is the fourth version of the Internet Protocol (IP). It is one of the core protocols of standards-based internetworking methods in the Internet and other packet-switched networks. IPv4 was the first version deployed for production on SATNET in 1982 and on the ARPANET in January 1983. It is still used to route most Internet traffic today, even with the ongoing deployment of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), its successor.

The Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) is a network protocol for delivering audio and video over IP networks. RTP is used in communication and entertainment systems that involve streaming media, such as telephony, video teleconference applications including WebRTC, television services and web-based push-to-talk features.

The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is an internet standard communication protocol for electronic mail transmission. Mail servers and other message transfer agents use SMTP to send and receive mail messages. User-level email clients typically use SMTP only for sending messages to a mail server for relaying, and typically submit outgoing email to the mail server on port 587 or 465 per RFC 8314. For retrieving messages, IMAP is standard, but proprietary servers also often implement proprietary protocols, e.g., Exchange ActiveSync.

The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is one of the main protocols of the Internet protocol suite. It originated in the initial network implementation in which it complemented the Internet Protocol (IP). Therefore, the entire suite is commonly referred to as TCP/IP. TCP provides reliable, ordered, and error-checked delivery of a stream of octets (bytes) between applications running on hosts communicating via an IP network. Major internet applications such as the World Wide Web, email, remote administration, and file transfer rely on TCP, which is part of the Transport Layer of the TCP/IP suite. SSL/TLS often runs on top of TCP.

In computer networking, the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is one of the core members of the Internet protocol suite. With UDP, computer applications can send messages, in this case referred to as datagrams, to other hosts on an Internet Protocol (IP) network. Prior communications are not required in order to set up communication channels or data paths.

A datagram is a basic transfer unit associated with a packet-switched network. Datagrams are typically structured in header and payload sections. Datagrams provide a connectionless communication service across a packet-switched network. The delivery, arrival time, and order of arrival of datagrams need not be guaranteed by the network.

In computing, Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) is a secure network protocol suite that authenticates and encrypts the packets of data to provide secure encrypted communication between two computers over an Internet Protocol network. It is used in virtual private networks (VPNs).

Email client Computer program used to access and manage a users email

An email client, email reader or, more formally, message user agent (MUA) or mail user agent is a computer program used to access and manage a user's email.

Internet security Branch of computer security specifically related to Internet, often involving browser security and the World Wide Web

Internet security is a branch of computer security. It encompasses the Internet, browser security, web site security, and network security as it applies to other applications or operating systems as a whole. Its objective is to establish rules and measures to use against attacks over the Internet. The Internet is an inherently insecure channel for information exchange, with high risk of intrusion or fraud, such as phishing, online viruses, trojans, ransomware and worms.

The RTP Control Protocol (RTCP) is a sister protocol of the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP). Its basic functionality and packet structure is defined in RFC 3550. RTCP provides out-of-band statistics and control information for an RTP session. It partners with RTP in the delivery and packaging of multimedia data, but does not transport any media data itself.

Email authentication, or validation, is a collection of techniques aimed at providing verifiable information about the origin of email messages by validating the domain ownership of any message transfer agents (MTA) who participated in transferring and possibly modifying a message.

Many email clients now offer some support for Unicode. Some clients will automatically choose between a legacy encoding and Unicode depending on the mail's content, either automatically or when the user requests it.

In computer networking, the multicast DNS (mDNS) protocol resolves hostnames to IP addresses within small networks that do not include a local name server. It is a zero-configuration service, using essentially the same programming interfaces, packet formats and operating semantics as unicast Domain Name Service (DNS). It was designed to work as either a stand-alone protocol or compatibly with standard DNS servers. It uses IP multicast User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets, and is implemented by the Apple Bonjour and open source Avahi software packages, included in most Linux distributions. Although the Windows 10 implementation was limited to discovering networked printers, subsequent releases resolved hostnames as well. mDNS can work in conjunction with DNS Service Discovery (DNS-SD), a companion zero-configuration networking technique specified separately in RFC 6763.

DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is an email authentication method designed to detect forged sender addresses in email, a technique often used in phishing and email spam.

Internet Protocol Flow Information Export (IPFIX) is an IETF protocol, as well as the name of the IETF working group defining the protocol. It was created based on the need for a common, universal standard of export for Internet Protocol flow information from routers, probes and other devices that are used by mediation systems, accounting/billing systems and network management systems to facilitate services such as measurement, accounting and billing. The IPFIX standard defines how IP flow information is to be formatted and transferred from an exporter to a collector. Previously many data network operators were relying on Cisco Systems' proprietary NetFlow technology for traffic flow information export.

An IPv6 packet is the smallest message entity exchanged using Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). Packets consist of control information for addressing and routing and a payload of user data. The control information in IPv6 packets is subdivided into a mandatory fixed header and optional extension headers. The payload of an IPv6 packet is typically a datagram or segment of the higher-level transport layer protocol, but may be data for an internet layer or link layer instead.

Invisible mail, also referred to as iMail, i-mail or Bote mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients in a secure and untraceable way. It is an open protocol and its java implementation (I2P-Bote) is free and open-source software, licensed under the GPLv3.

NACK-Oriented Reliable Multicast (NORM) is a transport layer Internet protocol designed to provide reliable transport in multicast groups in data networks. It is formally defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in Request for Comments (RFC) 5740, which was published in November 2009.


  1. P. Resnick, ed. (October 2008), Internet Message Format, Network Working Group, RFC   5322
  2. B. Leiba (March 2013), "Update to Internet Message Format to Allow Group Syntax in the "From:" and "Sender:" Header Fields", Ietf Request for Comments (RFC) Pages - Test, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), ISSN   2070-1721, RFC   6854