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  • Julie Liu

What the heck is the OSI model and why should you care?

Updated: Mar 11, 2020

March 8, 2020


If you are not in technology, or even if you are, do you know what the OSI model is? Prior to last year, I did not either, and I have been technology for more than 20 years! So... what does this acronym stand for, what is it, and why should anyone care?


A quick search on the Internet (ironically) returns images like this:


Does this even mean anything to anyone except the super-technical? Sure, this picture looks important, reminds me of a rainbow, and provides a visual representation of the model, but other than that, does this really help anyone?


What is it?

In the late 1970s, a group of tech "geeks" from Europe and the United States got together and decided they needed to come up with a standard way to make computer networks communicate with each other. They all agreed upon a network structure that, if everyone used the same network structure, would allow all their separate computer systems to talk to each other. They came up with an international standard for networking and called it the Open Systems Interconnection model - thus the OSI acronym.


Why should we care?

Understanding how the Internet evolved and how the Internet"works" will help us all understand why and how we can protect ourselves from Internet problems.


The modern-day Internet uses a simplified version of the OSI model - it uses 4 of the 7 layers.

1. Application

2. Transport

3. Network

4. Network Interface/Hardware

Problems with the Internet can happen at any of these 4 layers. If we can figure out where in the layers these problems are occurring, we might be able to fix them faster, and prevent them in the future.