Many individuals freak out when they see that their device is connected to their home network, and the settings are set to Public. They think that their device is visible on the internet and will perhaps get hacked. In fact, having your device set to Public is safer than private. Let’s take a look.
Your router’s established network (your home network) should always be set to private. This means that only individuals with the correct credentials can log onto it. This is to protect your network and the devices connect to it from hackers. The devices connected to the network may be set to public or private. This will depend on what is called for.
This article will cover the differences are between a public and private network, and it will take a look at how your router plays a role in configuring a network and connecting to the internet. We will then take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of private and public networks and settings.
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What is the difference between a public and private network?
In order to better understand whether or not your home network should be set to Private or Public, let’s first consider the differences between the two, and by doing so, we will get a better understanding of how we should go about arranging our networks.
A public network can be considered to be a network to which anybody is allowed to connect and has little to no restrictions. The best example of this is the internet. Conversely, a private network is designed for enterprises that provide communication to individuals or devices across a specific network. Examples of this can be schools and companies.
A private network means that only authenticated individuals and devices can access the network. This ensures high security and data privacy
Considering your router and how it connects to the internet
Now that we know what Public and Private networks are, let’s consider what role your router plays in providing you with configuring your network and connecting to the internet. This is because most individuals are concerned that their home network should be set to private when they connect their device to the network because their router is connected to the internet, which means it’s public, right?
There are two different types of IPv4 addresses which are namely public IPv4 addresses and Private IPv4 addresses. Your router’s public IP address can be obtained by typing into google “what’s my IP.” This will show you the public IPv4 address that your router is using to connect to the internet.
A typical private IPv4 address will look something like 10.0.0.1 or 192.168.0.2. Public IP addresses are publicly registered, and you will require one of these if you would like to connect to the internet. These are usually obtained from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). There are approximately 4 billion public IP addresses available.
Private IP addresses are not publicly registered; hence, you cannot directly access the internet with them. Private IP addresses are only used internally on a network such as home or business. Your router is what assigns your devices that are connected to the network their private IP addresses.
For example, a home network will usually not comprise of just one device but many. When the devices (computers, phones, tablets, TVs, and more) are connected to the network, the router will assign unique individual private IP addresses to each device. These devices will then be able to (using the router’s NAT protocol) log onto the internet with the one dedicated public IP that has been assigned to your router by your ISP.
Therefore a router has multiple IP addresses. The public IP from the ISP is, of course, Public. If you are still a little confused, think of it as the address that your router will give to a website in order for the website (internet server) to send back the information you need. The router will then also have a gateway IP. This is the IP address that the devices that are connected to your router see when they connect to the router itself. This IP address is private and is not visible, nor does it exist on the public internet.
By understanding this, we can now see that although your router is connected to the internet with a public IP address, the network that it sits on (your home network is private). Let now take a look at if your home network should be public or private, along with the connected devices on that network.
Should a home network be public or private?
This question is ambiguous and can be a bit confusing to many individuals. The first meaning relates to the existing network that your devices sit on. Should that network (your entire home network be private)? The following way the question can be interpreted is by asking if the devices on the network should be set to public or private (even if it is on your private home network).
For all instances, your entire home network (your router’s established network) should always be private and will always typically be this way. This means you will need credentials to access the network, i.e., the username and password of the router.
Your router’s established network should always be set this way. Otherwise, anybody who can view the network will be able to log onto it, view the connected devices, connect to and view the router, and will be able to use your internet connection. Furthermore, it will make connecting to your devices from the internet much more susceptible to hackers and people with nefarious intentions.
The devices connected to your router’s established network (your home network) can either be set to private or public, allowing for the restriction or admittance of certain data or features, depending. If a device on your private home network is set to Public, it will not be visible to other devices on the network. Additionally, other devices on the network will not be able to connect to this device and will not be able to share files with it.
Which is safer: public or private networks?
This is also an ambiguous question and can be interpreted the same as our previous question. Public networks (a network that you connect to at a coffee shop) are not as safe as private home networks, but choosing a public network setting on your device will make it more secure. This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but let’s take a closer look.
When you tell your device that you are connecting to a public network, it manages your settings making everything more secure because you do not want strangers connecting to your device or being able to access any files or data. Hence setting your device to a public network setting will make it more secure.
When you are on your private home network and set your device as such, you are telling it that you are connected to a safe and trusted network. This means your device will manage your settings, allowing it to be visible on the network and allowing other devices to connect to it.
When you are using a public network (a network that is not your home network, such as at the mall, a coffee shop, or any other such place), you should always have your device set to Public in order for it to have more security.
If you are on your home network, the benefit of having your device set to Public is that it will offer additional security but take into consideration that if you need to transfer data from one device to the other, you will not be able to do so. If you want to share data across the devices on your home network, they will need to be set to private in order to make them visible and their content sharable.
We discovered that a private network is a network for a small enterprise where data is able to be shared among devices, but the data is kept secure from any other outside networks. This will typically be your home network.
Your home network (your router’s network) should always be set to private and should always require credentials for anybody who wants to connect to it. This is to keep it safe and secure. Your devices that are connected to your private home network can either be set to public or private.
Both of these settings have their advantages and disadvantages, and you will need to determine which suits your situation best. The last thing to note is that your device should be set to Public whenever you connect to a public network. This means that it will offer additional security and it will not be visible on the public network.