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An extranet is a controlled private network allowing customers, partners, vendors, suppliers and other businesses to gain information, typically about a specific company or educational institution, and do so without granting access to the organization's entire network. An extranet is often a private part of a website. It is restricted to select users through user IDs, passwords and other authentication mechanisms on a login page.
An extranet may be viewed as an intranet mapped onto the public Internet or onto some other private network.
Advantages of extranets include:
Disadvantages are expensive implementation and maintenance if hosted internally and the potential for compromised sensitive or proprietary information. Alternately, it may be hosted by an application service provider.