Here’s whether you need to enable WAN blocking on your router:
When you enable port forwarding (turn off WAN blocking), you allow the entire Internet to potentially redirect to one of the internal IP addresses of your LAN.
If you’re not running servers from your home and want maximum security, you don’t need to enable external WAN access and should enable WAN blocking.
If you want to learn all about why you should enable WAN blocking and what WAN blocking is, then you’re in the right place.
So without further ado, let’s do this!
Do You Need to Enable WAN Blocking on Your Router?
The internet can be a confusing place.
Just a quick google search of any term related to the internet yields hundreds of thousands of results.
Indeed, each aspect of the internet seems to, upon closer inspection, give birth to many more terms that one must learn before one fully understands the issue.
Perhaps you’ve seen the WAN blocking setting on a new router and are curious about whether or not you should enable WAN blocking? Perhaps you’re not even sure what this means.
The short answer is this: yes, in most cases, the person reading this article should enable WAN blocking.
To find out why you should read this article.
Below you’ll find your comprehensive WAN guide:
- What is WAN
- Why you should enable WAN blocking
- Basically everything related
What Is WAN on Your Router?
First things first: we need to define our first variable.
WAN is short for Wide Area Network.
A network is by definition any connection of two or more computers linked together to share utilities such as printers or to share resources such as files and otherwise communicate electronically.
A WAN is one of two basic kinds of networks that computers can be a part of. It contrasts with LAN, which is short for Local Area Network.
What Is the Difference Between WAN and LAN?
A WAN is a large network (hence the term “wide”) that is quite common amongst large corporate entities, universities, and other organizations that need to connect many computers over a large geographic range.
WANs are broad-area computer networks. For instance, any network that crosses regional and metropolitan boundaries over a great distance.
A LAN, meanwhile, is (as the word “local” implies) limited to a smaller geographic range. LANs are computer networks that cover a small geographic area, such as a house, office, or building complex.
The most typical LAN is found in an individual’s home: imagine a small family with multiple computers and only one printer.
Connecting these computers together in a network so that each member of the family can use the same printer will not only seem very handy; connecting to the home printer will likely be a basic household requirement for this family.
When this family connects their computers to their printer, they have just formed a basic LAN.
A LAN can be larger, however. Many regional offices with a relatively small number of employees are connected via LAN.
Computers on a LAN can be connected by being wired directly together, or they can be connected wirelessly via WAPs (Wireless Access Points). Let’s don’t go into that here, but you can think of your router as your local WAP.
If a LAN is a connection of multiple computers to form a network, we can (in most cases) think of a WAN as a connection of LANs together in one large network.
What Are the Advantages of a WAN Network Connection?
Connecting LANs together to form a WAN network has a variety of obvious advantages for large organizations.
For example, imagine you are the head of HR for a multinational corporation.
You have a series of training modules that you want to be implemented uniformly across the corporation to maintain a certain standard in workplace comportment.
With a WAN, you can store these training modules on a centralized node that is easily accessible by all computers on the WAN.
Each employee, meanwhile, may simultaneously be operating on their regional office’s LAN.
What Are the Disadvantages of a WAN Network Connection?
A WAN network sounds like a great thing; you might be thinking to yourself.
Well, that’s the truth! It is! But it’s also less secure.
Allowing a larger group of people to access the network means there are more access points for hackers and other ne’er-do-wells.
Now, that’s not to say that you can write off WANs completely. Believe it or not, you’re on a WAN right now.
Here’s the deal. The internet is actually the largest WAN network in the world.
Most routers have a single WAN port to allow for the exterior internet connection and multiple LAN ports to hook up home computers.
Your router will, in turn, connect to a broadband modem that will connect you to the internet.
You can think of it this way: the router routes all LAN traffic to the internet. Most internet service providers (ISP) these days will, however, provide a single device that is a router-modem combo.
The broadband modem will be connected by either a telephone port or coaxial port to allow your LAN to access all of the great treasures stored on the WAN of the internet.
To Enable or Not to Enable WAN?
So, now we come to the crux of the issue. Should you enable WAN blocking on your computer?
Well, let’s first take a look at what WAN blocking actually is.
What is WAN Blocking?
Most routers provided by ISPs will come default set to block WAN traffic to your LAN. In essence, WAN blocking keeps external internet traffic from entering your LAN.
When you open up port forwarding (disable WAN blocking), YOU ALLOW THE ENTIRE INTERNET to potentially redirect itself to one of the internal IP addresses of your LAN.
Allowing the internet to access your local area network gives them access to your router’s GUI (Graphic User Interface) or online settings, as well as its ICMP: Internet Router Discovery Protocol.
The ICMP is the protocol whereby your computer accesses the internet via the router.
Access to the ICMP would allow an internet vagrant to use your router to reconnect themselves to the internet.
In addition, many routers use NAT (Network Address Translation), otherwise known as “masquerading.”
So, What is NAT “Masquerading?”
With NAT, your router connects to the internet and acts like every computer on your LAN is the exact same IP address (let’s not cover IP addresses here, but you can check those out here).
In other words, so-called NAT “masquerading” disguises your LAN and makes it seem like a single device is accessing the internet.
Even if everyone in the family is currently connected—let’s say browsing Amazon for woolen socks, playing Minecraft, and scrolling through Instagram. It doesn’t matter! Your router will pretend like all that disparate traffic is originating from a single device.
Okay, but why is that useful?
Actually, NAT “masquerading” was developed for entirely different uses. Still, it works excellently for security: if no hackers can even see that a LAN exists, it’s a lot less appealing for them to try to hack a single device.
Most hackers want to go for nice and meaty LANs. If your router is acting like a single device on the internet, the vast majority of hackers stay clear.
Why Would I Use WAN Blocking?
This is the issue: most routers come set to default block WAN traffic because security is much higher when WAN blocking is disabled.
Unless you’re hoping to operate a WAN or, for example, are operating servers for which external traffic needs access, there’s no reason to enable external WAN connection.
Generally speaking, if you’re reading this article, the advice is simple: ENABLE WAN blocking on your router.
Many router owners (probably everyone who is reading this article now) also enable WAN ping blocking. This is a handy measure that can add extra security.
What is WAN Ping Blocking?
Wait, wait, wait. Back up. What is a WAN Ping?
WAN Ping: What?
A WAN ping is essentially an attempt by external traffic to access a WAP or router. If WAN pinging is enabled, we can think of our router as a bicyclist in the night.
With WAN pinging enabled, the bicyclist has a headlamp on. He or she says, “here I am, world!”
Without WAN pinging enabled, the biker remains stealthy.
What Is Wan Blocking On Router?
Perhaps somewhat contrary to the metaphor, WAN ping blocking is a perfectly safe and even recommended setting for your router.
With WAN ping blocking enabled, it’s difficult for the outside people to locate your LAN; let allow board it and get free internet (or any other kind of mischief).
So, in answer to the question, “what is WAN ping block mode?” Essentially, it’s a way to hide away from hackers. Guests are knocking on the door, but you don’t want to see them. You’re hiding in your room, thinking, “I’m not home. I’m not home.”
How Do You Actually Pronounce WAN?
Unlike our word “wan,” which is pronounced with a vowel sound like the “a” in “father,” WAN is pronounced with an “a” like the vowel in “man.” Likewise with LAN.
Don’t Be Wan, Just Disable WAN
As we have seen in this article, enable WAN connection from external traffic causes, in most cases, more risks than rewards.
If you decide to enable WAN connection from your local home network, any number of hackers or otherwise bad actors can join your LAN and either mooch off you for free internet or devise more devious schemes.
The long and short of it is this: if you want to have maximum security and you’re not running servers from your home, there’s no reason you would need to enable external WAN access.
Enable WAN blocking, enable WAN ping blocking, and allow NAT “masquerading.”
With the three options above enabled (remember, typically the default settings on a new router), your network will be extremely secure.