The two common types of networks structures are Local Area Networks (LAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN).

Local Area Networks exist in a single location with high-speed connectivity between each node on the network. On a Single LAN, workstations and servers may be connected by wired Ethernet connection or wirelessly through a Wireless Access Point (WAP).

Wide Area Networks are different in the fact that WANs span a relatively large physical distance or are connected with low-speed connections. Wide area networks are normally used to connect multiple local area networks. The Internet is in itself the largest WAN, connecting billions of devices to each other. WANs are normally too large to be controlled by a single administrator so they would have collective ownership.

So how do LANs and WANs connect?

LANs have a router/firewall at each facility that is connected to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP assigns an IP address to the modem. LAN’s are connected to each other using Virtual Private Networks. VPN’s encrypt traffic over the public Internet to create private connections. Network connected devices within the LAN can communicate with each other without being allowed to connect to the internet. A router is needed to route traffic to any connected devices, either locally or anywhere on the Internet.

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