Between you and the web are numerous protocols, some of which are created to convey information back and forth while others are for speeding up the process, checking errors, or reorganizing data packets so they can be displayed as one unit. One of the protocols that keeps you safe is the NAT firewall. NAT means Network Address Translation, a creative way to say ‘sorting’. It is an extra protection layer for your VPN which blocks unnecessary traffic when your VPN is off. As the first line of defense against potential malevolent attacks on your devices, the NAT firewall performs its tasks even without your knowledge.

NAT definition

Network Address Translation involves the modification of IP information in the IP data packet headers in order for the packets to be routed to their intended destination. It is applied in Wi-Fi routers to allow several devices to access the Internet by using a single IP assigned by the Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Firewall definition

A firewall is a feature (in most cases a software program) that stands between a secure LAN (local area network) like home Wi-Fi and another less secure network, say the Internet. It monitors the flow of information between these two elements. Firewalls are thus fundamental to the protection of your computer against hackers who apply several techniques to spread ill-intentioned data packets. A firewall can be a hardware network device or software installed in a mobile operating system.

The basics of NAT firewalls

The World Wide Web operates on countless data packets which are relayed to and fro every time you type a query on the search engine or stream a video to your TV. It is very important for these packets to be conveyed to the right locations. For this to happen, each packet is imprinted with a unique IP address. Your Internet connected device is assigned an IP which acts like mailing addresses. This way, the Internet Service Providers get to know who receives what type of data packet and that you only receive the information that you’ve requested.

Routers sort out the data packets to cope with the load of computers that are connected to a single room. Your ISP stamps one IP to your device when you connect to the Internet. However, your router will design internal IPs for every device connected through it. When you switch on the Wi-Fi on your phone or gaming console, you’ll receive an internal IP address for each device. In essence,

The router sorts out the data packets coming in distributing them to the devices which are requesting information.

It is at this point that firewalls come in handy to block malicious information like harmful bots and hackers from infecting your PC or smartphone with unauthorized connections. So, you only receive the traffic you’ve requested but everything else is discarded or ignored.

Reasons NAT Firewall is an Important feature of VPN

NAT Firewall is very crucial when connecting to the Internet via wireless router. A wireless router requires NAT to facilitate connections among various devices on a single network. If your wireless router receives an unwanted inbound scan, it may not understand what device requires the data packet and so it rejects it immediately. Nonetheless, VPN tunnels beyond the wireless router, offering a more reliable Internet connection. Because the VPN connection is never shared, unrequested inbound scans can still come into your traffic. And this is where the NAT firewalls come in to offer protection against these scans when you are using a VPN. Therefore, a VPN with NAT Firewall sorts out everything for you. the VPN stands between your devices and the Internet and employs the NAT firewall outside its servers. For example, if you send encrypted information through the router and to your VPN’s network, the VPN deciphers the data and takes care of the request by e.g. downloading a file or searching a web page. The NAT firewall then filters any suspicious traffic from the web and so only the right information is encrypted and conveyed to your device. Basically, a VPN Nat Firewall does the same job as the router’s NAT Firewall only that this local version cannot deal with encrypted data alone and so the VPN takes care of that.

It is advisable to install NAT Firewalls on your mobile devices because they hardly come with this feature. But most desktop operating systems come with inbuilt firewalls which are not sufficient nonetheless. It is very important that you connect to the Internet with a NAT Firewall to prevent malicious traffic from affecting your devices, leaving their operating system firewalls vulnerable. Note that bots and hackers are always on the lookout for weaknesses in your operating systems firewalls. You can eliminate these exploits completely if you rely on Nat Firewalls. It is good to use your personal firewall that comes with a mobile OS but a third-party solution is even better because it offers a more comprehensive solution.