Differences Between Public and Private Networks

A network is a collection of devices that can communicate with each other using a common protocol (e.g. TCP/IP). A network can be classified as public or private depending on who can access it and how it is managed. In this tutorial, we will also explain the difference between public and private IP addresses, and why they are important for networking.

  1. Public Network
  2. Private Network
  3. Public Network Vs. Private Network
  4. Public and Private IP Addresses

A public network is a network to which anyone can connect. The best, and perhaps only pure, example of such a network is the Internet. A private network is any network to which access is restricted. A corporate network or a network in a school are examples of private networks.

Public Networks

A public network is a type of network that is accessible to anyone, whether it’s the Internet or any other network made available to the general public. These networks are typically managed and maintained by service providers or organizations.

Public networks are usually unsecured because they are open and accessible to a large number of users. This means that anyone who is connected to the same network can potentially see or intercept your online activity, such as the websites you visit, the files you download, or the passwords you enter. Hackers can also use public networks to launch attacks, such as malware infections, phishing scams, or identity theft.

Therefore, it is important to take some precautions when using public networks. Here are some tips to protect your data and privacy on public networks:

  • Use a VPN (virtual private network) service. A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your device and the internet, encrypting your traffic and hiding your IP address. This makes it harder for hackers or third parties to spy on your online activity or access your personal information.
  • Turn off file sharing and network discovery. These features allow other devices on the same network to access your files or see your device name. You can disable them in your network settings or firewall options.
  • Avoid sensitive transactions. Do not use public networks for online banking, shopping, or logging into accounts that contain personal or financial information. If you must, ensure the website has a secure connection (HTTPS) and a valid certificate.

Public networks can be useful for accessing the internet when you are away from home or work, but they also come with some risks. By following these tips, you can enjoy the benefits of public networks while minimizing the potential dangers.

Private Networks

A private network is a network that only authorized users can access, such as a home or office network, it is not accessible to the public. A private network is usually owned and operated by a single entity, such as a family or a company. It is usually set up for sharing resources, data, or services among a group of authorized users. Some examples of private networks are:

  • A home network that connects your personal devices, such as computers, smartphones, printers, and smart TVs.
  • A corporate network that connects the employees and devices of a company, such as servers, workstations, laptops, and phones.
  • A virtual private network (VPN) that creates a secure tunnel between your device and a remote server, allowing you to access the internet as if you were in a different location.

The main benefits of using a private network are:

  • Security: A private network can protect your data and devices from unauthorized access, hacking, or malware attacks. You can also use encryption, authentication, and firewall techniques to enhance the security of your network.
  • Performance: A private network can improve the speed and reliability of your connection, as you do not have to share the bandwidth or resources with other users. You can also optimize the network configuration and settings to suit your needs.
  • Control: A private network gives you more control over your data and devices, as you can decide who can access them and how. You can also customize the network features and functions to meet your specific requirements.

Difference Between Private and Public Networks

Public NetworkPrivate Network
Anyone can access, such as the internet or a Wi-Fi hotspot.Restricted to authorized users, such as a home network or a corporate network.
More vulnerable to cyberattacks, malware, and unauthorized access.More secure and controlled
More convenient and accessible.Require additional hardware and software to set up and maintain.
Managed and maintained by service providers, organizations, or governments.Usually owned, operated, and controlled by a single entity, such as an individual, organization, or business.
Highlighting the main differences between private and public networks

The primary difference between a public network and a private network lies in their accessibility and security levels. A public network is accessible to anyone but vulnerable to attacks, while a private network is restricted to authorized users but more secure from threats.

Apart from the fact that access to a private network is tightly controlled and access to a public network is not, is that the addressing of devices on a public network must be considered carefully, whereas addressing on a private network has a little more latitude.

As already discussed, in order for hosts on a network to communicate by using TCP/IP, they must have unique addresses. This number defines the logical network each host belongs to and the host’s address on that network. On a private network with, say, three logical networks and 100 nodes on each network, addressing is not a particularly complex task. On a network on the scale of the Internet, however, addressing is very complex.

If you are connecting a system to the Internet, you need to get a valid registered IP address. Most commonly, you would obtain this address from your ISP. Alternatively, for example, if you wanted a large number of addresses, you could contact the organization responsible for address assignment in your geographical area. You can determine who the regional numbers authority for your area is by visiting the IANA website.

Because of the nature of their business, ISPs have large blocks of IP addresses that they can assign to their clients. If you need a registered IP address, getting one from an ISP will almost certainly be a simpler process than going through a regional numbers authority. Some ISPs’ plans actually include blocks of registered IP addresses, working on the principle that businesses are going to want some kind of permanent presence on the Internet. Of course, if you discontinue your service with the ISP, you will no longer be able to use the IP address they provided.

Understanding Public and Private IP Addresses

An IP address is a unique identifier for a device on a network. It consists of four numbers (IPV4) separated by dots, such as IP addresses are used to communicate with other devices on the same network or across the internet.

There are two types of IP addresses: public and private. A public IP address is assigned by an internet service provider (ISP) and can be accessed from anywhere on the internet. A private IP address is assigned by a router or a network administrator and can only be accessed from within the local network.

The main purpose of public IP addresses is to allow devices to communicate with each other across the internet. For example, when you visit a website, your browser sends a request to the website’s public IP address, and the website responds with the content you requested.

The main purpose of private IP addresses is to allow devices to communicate with each other within the same network. For example, when you print a document from your laptop, your laptop sends a request to the printer’s private IP address, and the printer prints the document.

Public and private IP addresses are essential for networking because they enable devices to identify and locate each other on different networks. Without them, it would be impossible to send and receive data over the internet or within a local network.

Private IP addresses are defined by specific address ranges, as defined in the Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) standard. The most commonly used private IP address ranges are:

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