Intranet Definition & Meaning

An intranet is a private network based on TCP/IP and belongs to an individual organization. It’s only accessible to that organization’s members, employees, or others with authorization. An intranet’s websites and software applications appear and behave like any other, but the firewall surrounding an intranet fends off unauthorized access and use.

How are intranets used?

Like the internet itself, intranets are used to share information. Secure intranets represent a large segment of the internet because they are much less expensive to build and manage than private networks based on proprietary protocols.

Intranet applications are similar to Internet applications like browsers, teleconferencing tools, or word processors. Unlike Internet applications, however, intranet applications reside on a local server. Some of these applications include:

Intranet vs. other networks

An intranet is designed to allow a company to share information and resources with others in the company. This is in contrast to the Internet, which is publicly available to any user with a valid access point such as a modem or Ethernet connection.

When a company allows access to any part of its intranet to customers, partners, or suppliers outside the company, it is called an extranet. External users access an extranet with valid login credentials, and user access controls can be customized to specify which parts of the extranet can be viewed.

A virtual private network (VPN) functions similarly to an intranet in that it creates a secure way to access information. However, intranet does not require Internet access whereas a VPN is primarily used to securely connect to the Internet. If an intranet features an internet portal, it will typically use a VPN to establish that connection.

UPDATED: This page was updated April 2021 by Web Webster.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

Top Articles

The Complete List of 1500+ Common Text Abbreviations & Acronyms

Text Abbreviations reviewed by Web Webster   From A3 to ZZZ we list 1,559 SMS, online chat, and text abbreviations to help you translate and understand...

How to Create a Website Shortcut on Your Desktop

Website Shortcut on Your Desktop reviewed by Web Webster   This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a website shortcut on your desktop using...

Windows Operating System History & Versions

The Windows operating system (Windows OS) refers to a family of operating systems developed by Microsoft Corporation. We look at the history of Windows...

First to Fifth Generations of Computers

Reviewed by Web Webster   Learn about each of the 5 generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the computing devices that...

Hackerspace Definition & Meaning

What is a hackerspace? A hackerspace, also known as a hacklab, incubator, or hackspace,...

Random Access Memory (RAM)...

Random Access Memory (RAM) reviewed by Web Webster   Random Access Memory (RAM) is a...

OEM – original equipment...

OEM - Original Equipment Manufacturer reviewed by Web Webster OEM (pronounced as separate letters)...