Local area networks allow families and businesses to connect multiple devices, but they also present potential attack vectors. Used correctly, LANs make connecting devices easy. Used incorrectly, they can expose information.
While many people think of LANs as exotic devices, routers provide LAN functionality. If a device can handle multiple connections, it is probably a LAN device. Most default installations make all devices visible over the network. This makes connecting multiple devices relatively easy, and new technology helps computers automatically discover other devices. As people buy more and more devices, this ease of use facilitates home and office networking.
However, having all devices visible on a network presents a number of potential security risks. Fortunately, most operating systems are relatively secure against attacks if they are kept updated, but installed software can sometimes present vulnerabilities.
The best way to protect against attacks is to use modern wireless security interfaces and strong passwords that are difficult to guess. Any computer that can access a wireless network can attempt to gain access to all computers on the network, so preventing unauthorized wireless access is important. Strong passwords help as well by making it difficult for anyone who gains network access to log in to other computers.