A router is a piece of hardware that allows communication between multiple networks. The purpose of routers is to act as the first security to combat intrusions into a network. Keeping a router on the highest level of security drastically reduces possible attacks on a computer system. The majority of routers connect to network devices through network cables, and don’t require drivers to operate in operating systems. But routers that are connected through a USB require drivers to operate properly. Companies such as Cisco, Linksys, Belkin, and Motorola are all leading router manufacturers.
So how do routers work? Routers connect to a modem which allows communication between different devices as well as the internet. Usually the router connects physically to the modem through a network cable, and then to a network interface card via an Internet or WAN port. The IP address that is assigned to the Internet or WAN port is considered a public IP address. While an IP address that is assigned to the LAN port is considered a private IP address. Routers are essential to making changes within a network. In order to keep a network’s security up to date a router must be managed regularly. This includes encrypting the network, updating firmware, and changing the router’s login password.
A switch is an essential piece of hardware that connects the Ethernet cables of numerous devices together. The main difference between network switches and routers is that network switches create networks while routers connect different networks. Another use for a switch is to allowing a high number of users and wired devices to be connected together at the same time. Since routers have a limited amount of ports switches are able to solve the issue of port density by connecting multiple Ethernet devices.
A switch works by redirecting the IP packets of devices to the proper ports. To know which port the IP packet should be sent to the switch checks the dynamic table in a memory that contains stored IP addresses and then forwards the packet to the correct port. By knowing the specific uses of routers and switches IP packets can be easily identified when traveling through a network.