The Internet works by chopping data into chunks called packets. Each packet then moves through the network in a series of hops.
Entering the network
Each packet hops to a local Internet service provider (ISP), a company that offers access to the network -- usually for a fee.
The next hop delivers the packet to a long-haul provider, one of the airlines of cyberspace that quickly carrying data across the world.
These providers use the Border Gateway Protocol to find a route across the many individual networks that together form the Internet.
Finding a route
This journey often takes several more hops, which are plotted out one by one as the data packet moves across the Internet.
For the system to work properly, the BGP information shared among routers cannot contain lies or errors that might cause a packet to go off track – or get lost altogether.
The final hop takes a packet to the recipient, which reassembles all of the packets into a coherent message. A separate message goes back through the network confirming successful delivery.