urlAs you analyze the Internet traffic collected by Cisco NetFlow using Plixer NetFlow Analyzer, take a moment to wish a happy birthday to the Internet RFC. The first Internet Request for Comments – memorandums published by the Internet Engineering Task Force that shape the inner workings of the Internet – was published 40 years ago this month.

The first note was written by Stephen Crocker of the University of California at Los Angeles and dealt with basic communication between two computers. That document left many questions unanswered and soon became obsolete but it was the first of a series of formal documents that describe methods, behaviors, research and innovations related to the workings of the Internet. Today there are more than 5,000 such documents available online, writes Crocker in a New York Times column in which he describes how the Internet got its rules.

The Internet RFC grew from the ARPANET project, the forerunner to today’s World Wide Web, linking together four computers at four research centers at UCLA, the Stanford Research Institute, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah.

It’s ironic that these early documents that shaped online communications were distributed among interested parties on paper using the postal service. These notes were written before email and even before the network was in full swing, explains Crocker in his article. The RFCs were just that – requests for comments. Anyone could write one and everyone was welcome to propose ideas and changes. As Crocker explains, the Internet forefathers used a process called “rough consensus and running code.”

Today the process under the IETF is a lot more formalized with Internet Drafts published by experts in working groups which go through peer review before the documents mature into RFCs. The IETF also works closely with other standards organizations such as the W3C and the ISO/IEC to develop Internet standards and processes surrounding TCP/IP and the Internet protocol suite.

The IETF isn’t as stuffy as it sounds. It publishes joke RFCs every April Fools’ Day. Examples include The Internet Engineering Task Force Statements of Boredom in 1993, Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol in 1998, Electricity over IP in 2002, and IPv6 over Social Networks in 2009. View all the joke RFCs on Wikipedia.

Jake Bergeron author pic


Jake Bergeron is currently one of Plixer's Sr. Solutions Engineers - He is currently responsible for providing customers with onsite training and configurations to make sure that Scrutinizer is setup to their need. Previously he was responsible for teaching Plixer's Advanced NetFlow Training / Malware Response Training. When he's not learning more about NetFlow and Malware detection he also enjoys Fishing and Hiking.


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