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How Web Servers Work

Extras: Security

You can see from this description that a Web server can be a pretty simple piece of software. It takes the file name sent in with the GET command, retrieves that file and sends it down the wire to the browser. Even if you take into account all of the code to handle the ports and port connections, you could easily create a C program that implements a simple Web server in less than 500 lines of code. Obviously, a full-blown enterprise-level Web server is more involved, but the basics are very simple.

Most servers add some level of security to the serving process. For example, if you have ever gone to a Web page and had the browser pop up a dialog box asking for your name and password, you have encountered a password-protected page. The server lets the owner of the page maintain a list of names and passwords for those people who are allowed to access the page; the server lets only those people who know the proper password see the page. More advanced servers add further security to allow an encrypted connection between server and browser, so that sensitive information like credit card numbers can be sent on the Internet.

That's really all there is to a Web server that delivers standard, static pages. Static pages are those that do not change unless the creator edits the page.

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