Want to understand my hand brake better? How is it different from normal brakes?

So, dumb question. I have an NB miata and want to understand the hand brake mechanism more, but it’s sort of a generic question. Also, how does it differ from normal brakes, which I understand to work based on engine vacuum?

How exactly does the hand brake work in this car specifically, and generically, what are the ways that they popular work on most cars?

Is it actuating my rear breaks? Does this happen physically, or is it a computer activated system? The lever also moves over a continuous range (it’s not “on or off”), is that physically depressing pads due to hydrolic pressure?

Would love someone to elaborate, or even just point me to something that explains it.

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