Introduction It is not uncommon for many home networks to utilize an all-in-one network device provided by the users’ Internet Service Provider (ISP). For ease of setup and use, ISPs typically include/lease this equipment by default when users order Internet service. These all-in-one devices are essentially a combination of a modem, router, switch, firewall, and wireless access point. They can also include VOIP (Voice Over IP), home security, and cable TV services.
Introduction The concept of defense in depth is nothing new. Militaries use this strategy to slow down the advancement of opposing forces. Rather than try to prevent all advancement of the enemy, sometimes it is enough to slow them down (with hopes that they will surrender or retreat). The same is true with cyber security. Increasing the layers of defense in your network can decrease the likelihood of a full network compromise.
As you may have correctly assumed by the acronym, a Virtual Local Area Network is a network that is not a physical Local Area Network. It is a logical network that is created on physical network infrastructure. Rather than create many physically separated networks with its own hardware, VLANs allow for many separate networks on the same physical hardware. See the following physically separated network without the use of VLANs. Each network can be set to a different subnet on the router:
A “router on a stick” (aka “one-armed router”) is a network configuration in which a single network switch is connected to a single LAN interface on a router. The network switch may be configured to have two or more VLANs to logically partition the network. The router is responsible for inter-VLAN routing so that network traffic may flow from one VLAN to another. This traffic is usually controlled via firewall rules to restrict certain traffic.
Consumer routers Most everyone should be familiar with the standard consumer wireless router. Ideally the router should be placed in a central location in the home. However, that is not always practical depending on the location of the cable/phone line coming into the home, the floorplan of the home, and the williningness/ability to run cables to the ideal location. Depending the location of the router, the size of the home, and the type of construction used in the home, wifi performance is often poor in certain areas of the home.