Security Encyclopedia

Local Area Network (LAN)

A Local Area Network (LAN) is a computer network with limited boundaries, ranging from one’s home to a single large facility, generally providing uniform access under uniform or similar policies. 

LANs are made available via Ethernet and Wi-Fi. The former is hardwired, restricting movement and for use only at the desktop. Ethernet cabling was once coaxial but today category three is the standard, although optical fiber cable may be used for network switches that are nearer to the point of signal origin than the end user’s desktop. Wi-Fi is by definition untethered. It works in conjunction with a wireless router and is used on smartphones, tablets, and desktops.  

Wide Area Networks (WANs) provided connections to a large geographic area, making use of telecommunications provider networks that are interlinked and then leased to those needing this coverage (e.g. a multinational company). In theory the largest known WAN is the world wide web, although NASA is leading research into terrestrial-extraterrestrial coverage that accounts for and reconciles the disruptions inherent in such a setting.


“Our office expansion required an extension of our LAN so that wireless access points and ethernet access points would cover the new workstations.”