stands for Network Address Translator.
Network address translation () is the process where a network device, usually a firewall, assigns a public address to a computer (or group of computers) inside a private network. The main use of NAT is to limit the number of public IP addresses an organization or company must use, for both economy and security purposes.
It is proposed and described in RFC-1631 and is used for solving the IP address depletion problem. Basically, each NAT box has a table consisting of pairs of local IP addresses and globally unique addresses, by which the box can “translate” the local IP addresses to global address and vice versa. Simply put, it is a method of connecting multiple computers to the Internet (or any other IP network) using one IP address.
The most common form of network translation involves a large private network using addresses in a private range (10.0.0.0 to 10.255.255.255, 172.16.0.0 to 172.31.255.255, or 192.168.0 0 to 192.168.255.255). The private addressing scheme works well for computers that only have to access resources inside the network, like workstations needing access to file servers and printers. Routers inside the private network can route traffic between private addresses with no trouble. However, to access resources outside the network, like the Internet, these computers have to have a public address in order for responses to their requests to return to them. This is where NAT comes into play.
Internet requests that require Network Address Translation (NAT) are quite complex but happen so rapidly that the end user rarely knows it has occurred. A workstation inside a network makes a request to a computer on the Internet. Routers within the network recognize that the request is not for a resource inside the network, so they send the request to the firewall. The firewall sees the request from the computer with the internal IP. It then makes the same request to the Internet using its own public address, and returns the response from the Internet resource to the computer inside the private network. From the perspective of the resource on the Internet, it is sending information to the address of the firewall. From the perspective of the workstation, it appears that communication is directly with the site on the Internet. When NAT is used in this way, all users inside the private network access the Internet have the same public IP address when they use the Internet. That means only one public addresses is needed for hundreds or even thousands of users.
D-Link´s broadband routers (ie: ) support NAT. With proper configuration, multiple users can access the Internet using a single account via the NAT device.