Every home or small business needs to have a Router installed at the source of your internet service. This can be part of your MODEM from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), or the first device on your home or business network. Most commonly, this Router is also the device that gives you WiFi (wireless) internet and is your primary hardware Firewall.
The function of the Router is to act as a spokesperson for your network to the Internet. The Router takes any communications request from the “non-routable” or “private network” IP device on your LAN and passes it to the outside world with your single and unique WAN IP address assigned to your home or business Internet service. Without this ability of giving you 254 non-routable IP addresses and only look like you’re using only one, the 4+ billion IP addresses in this world would have run out 25 years ago!
The first thing to understand is what LAN and WAN mean.
Your home or small business is your Local Area Network (LAN). It’s comprised of all of the devices in your network including but not limited to; computers, notebooks, tablets, phones, printers, Smart TVs, Smart Home and security devices. They are all connected to the LAN side of your Router.
The WAN or Wide Area Network is everything in the outside world. This is the entire Internet, including any remote offices you may be connected to.
Your typical Router has one WAN port and a number of LAN ports. The WiFi functionality is also in the LAN side of the device. By keeping all of the devices connected to the LAN side of the Router, the Firewall is capable of preventing unwanted access from the WAN side. Without the Firewall, devices on the Internet could see devices on your network as simply as your computer can see your printer.
Our next segment will go over Router configuration and understanding the mystery of the out-of-the-box configuration which most people operate under in a simple LAN environment.