What is a NAT router?

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AaLF

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I see NAT router mentioned when discussing firewall options. So what is a NAT router? I use a DLINK wirelss modem-router but I see no mention of "NAT" written anywhere on the box. Are wireless modem/routers 'NAT routers' or they something different?
 

TerryNet

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Routers use Network Address Translation (NAT) to move packets from one network to another. I've always thought that the NAT is what defines a router. The devices called routers that we buy for home use always include a Dhcp server and often include an ethernet switch and wireless access point and other features. I am not aware of NAT routers and non NAT routers.
 

zx10guy

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Not exactly. So NAT does mean Network Address Translation. But NAT is not the primary function which moves packets from one network to another. The router itself being a router is what moves packets from one network to another. A router functions at layer 3 in the OSI model.

NAT is talked about a lot in home network applications because of what it brings to the table. NAT (more specifically NAT overloading) allows the ability take a pool of private addresses and make them look like a single IP address which would be a public address provided by your ISP. NAT also provides other functionality. There are static NATs which allow one to translate a private/inside IP address to a public IP address. Or NATs can be done with a pool of public IP addresses which the router/firewall will rotate the selection of which public address is used when a device with a private address wants to communicate to the public side of the router.

There are more detailed aspects of NAT but that gives a general overview.
 

AaLF

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So for the 'firewall' function/feature that some brag about in forums e.g. "I'm not concerned about software firewalls because I'm behind a NAT router.".....

..........can I say I am behind a 'NAT router' too, with my little DLINK wireless modem-router?
 

zx10guy

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I made an edit to my previous post that adds a bit more clarity.

Many people mistake NAT as a security function. It is not. It does provide some level of protection but by no means should it be considered the primary means of security. The firewall function of many SOHO routers is what secures the network. This function is the SPI (stateful packet inspection) firewall.
 
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