ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) is an Internet protocol that is focused on the
control of messages and the reporting of errors. In design, ICMP is configured to provide
these functions as a mediator between a gateway and a host server. The presence of ICMP helps
to protect the integrity of the messages that are relayed back and forth between the two devices,
as well as make efficient use of the Internet Protocol datagrams that are present.
Being one of the core protocols within the overall protocol suite, ICMP takes on the
direct responsibility of processing error messages. This can be especially helpful in a
networked environment, as ICMP makes it possible for a server to send out an error message
to all connected workstations in the event that a program is taken offline or is temporary
unavailable for some reason. This makes ICMP a valuable tool in making the most use of the
operating system interface on the network, without tying up a lot of resources at the same time.
How Does ICMP Work?
The beauty of being the go-between for the host server and various connected devices is that
ICMP can encapsulate the message in a way that protects the content, but does not use up lots
of resources. When a message is received by ICMP, the protocol places the entire message in single
IP datagram, and then forward the datagram to the destination. This special routing relieves some
of the usage from the more standard protocols and helps to keep resources open and
available to the other protocols. Overall, this aids in the total efficiency of the network.
How Do I Get ICMP?
Chances are you already have ICMP in place if you work within a network environment,
or are using a computer system that has the ability to be linked into a network.
Installation on systems that do not have ICMP is not difficult, but owing to the widespread
use of the protocol, there is not much chance that an outside installation would ever be needed.
Just to be sure, check with a technician about the use of ICMP on your network.