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What Is Personal Area Network (PAN)? A Guide About Personal Area Network (PAN)

A computer network is a collection of networked computers/devices to share resources, data, and applications through communication. According to network needs, service type, and network coverage area, there are several kinds of computer networks that are intended to function within their respective coverage areas.

As devices get smaller due to technology improvements, there is a growing need to ease data and resource sharing across multiple devices. Personal Area Networks (PAN) provide the required short-range connectivity of devices for communication and data transmission to meet this need.

Personal Area Network (PAN) is a computer network that links computers/devices within a person's immediate vicinity. As PAN gives a network range often within 10 meters (33 feet) of a person, it is referred to as Personal Area Network. Typically, a Personal Area Network consists of a computer, printer, mobile phone, tablet, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), and additional entertainment devices such as video game consoles, TV remotes, wearable gadgets, speakers, etc.

PANs are intended for individual usage, therefore the advantages may be easier to comprehend than when discussing wide area networks, such as the Internet. With a personal area network, your gadgets can communicate with greater ease.

A PAN may be installed in a hospital operating room so that the surgeon may interact with the other team members in the room. All of their communication doesn't have to be routed via a larger network in order for those a few feet away to receive it. A PAN transfers data using short-range communication methods such as Bluetooth.

Additionally, wireless keyboards and mouses are optimized for localized usage. They are not required to run computers in other cities or facilities. They just need line-of-sight communication with a nearby computer or tablet.

PAN is very beneficial in homes, workplaces, and small network regions because of its great flexibility and efficiency.

In this article you will find an explanation of what a personal area network (PAN) is, followed by a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of these sorts of networks.

What is PAN (Personal Area Network)?

A personal area network (PAN) links electronic devices within the close vicinity of a user. PANs vary in size from a few centimeters to several meters. One of the most prevalent instances of a PAN in the real world is the pairing of a Bluetooth earpiece and a smartphone. In addition to connecting laptops, printers, tablets, mouses, and keyboards, PANs may also connect additional computing devices.

While devices inside a PAN may share data, PANs often lack a router and so can not connect directly to the Internet. However, a device inside a PAN may be linked to a local area network (LAN) that ultimately connects to the Internet. For example, a desktop computer, a wireless mouse, and wireless headphones can all be linked, but only the computer can connect directly to the Internet.

Where is PAN Mostly Used?

Using a personal area network (PAN), electronic devices near the user, such as a wireless mouse, a wireless keyboard, gaming consoles, PDAs, and a computer, may be linked together.

Personal Area Network is applicable in the following areas:

  • Home and Workplace
  • Healthcare and Hospital
  • Schools and UniversitiesCompanies
  • Armed Forces and Defense

In a home office configuration, a second, smaller network is established for business purposes, apart from the network used by other household equipment. This network functions as a distinct entity with several office-related devices linked.

Multiple devices may also be connected by Bluetooth or Wi-Fi in the offline network scenario. The devices connected to your computer, such as the printers, mouse, and speakers, are integrated through a Personal Area Network (PAN) and do not use the internet. Thus, a communication network is built between the devices utilized in a limited location, such as a residence.

Medical sensors with wireless connections that are placed on, inside, or around the human body are typically referred to as a body area network (BAN). BANs are used to track or assist biological functions (such as a pacemaker with wireless capabilities). Although the vast majority of PANs lack biological sensors, a BAN can be linked to one or use WPAN technology.

What is The History of PANs?

The Personal Area Network (PAN) idea was created by researchers with the lead of Thomas Zimmerman at the Media Lab at M.I.T.

Bluetooth, a WPAN standard, was first developed in 1989 at Ericsson Mobile under the moniker "short-link" radio technology to allow wireless headphones to connect.

It was renamed Bluetooth in 1997 after Intel repurposed it for communication between mobile phones and computers. Within a piconet, an ad-hoc Bluetooth network where master and slave roles can be swapped, a master device can connect with up to seven slave devices. Bluetooth conforms to the IEEE 802.15.1 standard.

Bluetooth 4.0, also known as Bluetooth Smart and featuring Bluetooth LE (low energy), was approved in 2010; it is also known as Bluetooth Smart. There are a lot of Bluetooth-enabled home automation products, such as locks, blinds, and LED lights, but the wide market penetration of this technology via computers and particularly smartphones is what makes it so essential in the assisted living industry. Bluetooth-enabled sensors and associated applications are proliferating rapidly in the health and wellness industry. Bluetooth LE provides several options for wearable devices that can connect with mobile phones. The majority of new Android, iOS, and Windows devices now have Bluetooth LE as standard.

How does a Personal Area Network Work?

In this section, we will explain how Bluetooth, the most widespread PAN technology today, works.

Bluetooth requires a device to be equipped with a specific microchip that acts as a short-range walkie-talkie. The gadget's 9 x 9 mm microchip allows it to send short-range radio signals that look for other Bluetooth-enabled devices. When another device is detected, the two devices begin communicating and exchanging data. Bluetooth contends for electromagnetic spectrum in the 2.4 GHz range, precisely between 2,402 and 2,480 GHz.

Wireless Personal Area Networks are devices linked using this technology since the range cannot exceed 10 meters (WPAN). The maximum speed of this wireless connection is 1 Mbps, however, the actual speed is around 725 kbps. The chip is fabricated using 0.25-micron CMOS technology and modifies the signal of the device. As a protocol is necessary for more efficient transmission, each wireless network component is identified by its MAC address.

Although neither IrDA nor Bluetooth needs a wire for communication and information transmission, IrDA requires a line of sight for devices to communicate. Due to Bluetooth's reliance on radio communication, devices do not need to be in a direct line of sight. Instruments using Bluetooth technology can communicate at larger distances than those employing IrDA, even when there are obstacles in the path.

Some Bluetooth equipment may be within range of others, allowing for the configuration of point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, or ad hoc connections. Units are dynamically linked and removed from the network. A piconet consists of two or more Bluetooth devices sharing a single channel. A piconet has just one master and all other devices are slaves.

  • Star topology
    • One master and up to seven active slaves sharing one asynchronous channel
    • Unlimited number of parked slaves, up to 255 virtually-connected slaves (one device can participate every 2 ms)
    • A device may serve without distinction as master or slave
  • The master is a device in a piconet that marks the frequency that will be used to synchronize all slave units of the piconet
    • Determines the frequency hopping scheme and timing
    • Administers the piconet (polling)
  • Logic channels
    • Asynchronous, packet-oriented (ACL)
    • Synchronous, connection-oriented (voice, reserve of slot) (SCO)
  • Rate
    • 1 Mbits/s total capacity

Piconets with p-t-p and p-t-mp operation

Figure 1. Piconets with p-t-p and p-t-mp operation

What are The Benefits of a PAN?

These are some of the PAN's advantages:

  • Cost-effective: A PAN network requires no expensive installation or cable connection between devices, making it more cost-effective than conventional networks.
  • Simplicity: This form of network does not need a complex setup in order to be used effectively. Moreover, it is simple to maintain, since there are no cables, servers, or routers involved. If an issue happens on the network, it is simple to resolve. It requires less technical skills for usage.
  • Data Protection: A personal area network is often more secure than other networks since the connecting endpoints have obtained authorization from the authorized user prior to exchanging data.
  • Less Storage Space: A PAN employs Bluetooth or other technologies to immediately transfer data across connected devices, enabling the storage to be shared while occupying minimum space.
  • Stability and Dependability: The network is more stable and dependable than networks with a larger reach because it is not dependent on servers and functions within a limited range.
  • Concurrent Multiple Connections: In a local area network, a device may concurrently connect to numerous other devices. For instance, a smartphone may simultaneously connect to many tablets and mobile phones.
  • Adaptability: PAN is reasonably adaptable and offers great network efficiency for short ranges.
  • Maintainability: It requires neither regular installation nor maintenance
  • Portability: It is portable with ease.

However, it also has some disadvantages and the following are some downsides of PAN:

.

  • Restricted to relatively modest data transfer rates: Because technologies like Bluetooth cannot transport large volumes of data across several devices at rapid rates, PANs are often slower than WAN, LAN, and MAN networks.
  • Insufficient network coverage region or range: This sort of network can send data within a range of around 10 meters. The network also has a restricted number of linked devices.
  • Interference with radio signals: Data carried over a personal area network is susceptible to lose because it may interfere with radio frequencies in the vicinity.
  • Incompatibility: Devices are incompatible with one another.
  • Cost: Embedded WPAN devices are rather pricey.

What are The Types of PAN?

Depending on its connectivity, a Personal Area Network might be of two sorts:

  • Wired: Peripherals between shorter distances may be connected by using wired PANs. USB, IEEE-1394, Thunderbolt. and FireWire are wired connection techniques.
  • Wireless: A wireless personal area network (WPAN) is a collection of wirelessly interconnected devices. The majority of PANs in use today are wireless. WPANs include Bluetooth (the most used), WiFi, IrDA, and Zigbee. IEEE 802.15 has created specifications for many forms of ISM-band PANs, including Bluetooth. IrDA has developed specifications for WPANs using infrared communications.

WPANs typically have a relatively limited range, since short-range wireless protocols such as Bluetooth are inefficient beyond 5-10 meters.

  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth employs radio waves with a short range. Bluetooth devices such as keyboards, audio headsets, pointing devices, and printers may connect to mobile devices, smartwatches, or desktops inside a WPAN. A Bluetooth WPAN, also known as a piconet, consists of up to eight active devices in a master-slave configuration (a very large number of additional devices can be connected in "parked" mode). The first Bluetooth device in the WPAN is the master, while all other devices interact with the master as slaves. WPAN normally have a range of 10 meters, although, under ideal conditions, they may achieve ranges of up to 100 meters. Bluetooth routers with enhanced antenna arrays and a range of up to 1,000 feet link Bluetooth devices. Using mesh networking methods, Bluetooth mesh networking extends the range and number of devices by relaying information from one device to another. This network lacks a master device and may or may not be considered a WPAN.
    • IrDA: IrDA utilizes infrared light, which has a frequency below the sensitivity of the human eye. Other wireless communications applications, such as remote controls, use infrared. Keyboards, printers, and other serial communication interfaces are typical WPAN devices that use IrDA.
    • ZigBee: ZigBee is a low-power, short-range computer networking technology. In the United States, ZigBee devices operate on the unlicensed bands 902-928 MHz and 2.4 GHz. The technology is intended to be less complex and less costly than current WPANs, such as Bluetooth. Despite being a WPAN protocol, ZigBee is used for telemetry applications such as building automation and automated meter reading.
    • W-PANs with high data rates: According to IEEE 802.15 TG3, published in 2003, these technologies demand higher power (8 dBm) than ordinary Bluetooth equipment (0 dBm) to broadcast data at up to 55 Mbps and beyond 55 m.
    • Low-power W-PANs: According to IEEE 802.15 TG4, these technologies are particularly advantageous for portable devices because of their extraordinarily low energy consumption and data transmission costs. The operating range of up to 75 meters exceeds that of Bluetooth apps already in use. However, data transmission rates are restricted (250 Kbps)

What is the Difference Between a PAN and a LAN?

There are many distinct kinds of networks that may be classified according to their size. Local area networks (LANs) are used to link users inside a single room or building. Personal area networks are distinct from Local Area Networks in that they often operate outside of the local area network's environment, although being linked to it.

The main differences between PAN and LAN are summarized below with the given aspects.

  • Data Exchange: PAN is used to communicate data between devices, particularly for low-data-rate home automation applications. However, LAN is designed to carry data at speeds between Mbps and Gbps.
  • Application: PAN is Designed for low-data-rate and short-range devices. On the other hand. LAN is primarily used for applications that demand rapid data transmission.
  • Range: The range of a wireless PAN (Zigbee& Bluetooth) network's coverage is between 10 and 100 meters. Typically, the LAN scope is between or inside a single building. Wireless LAN has a range of 10 to 100 meters or more in terms of coverage distance.
  • Speed: While PAN supports 250kbps in Zigbee and up to 24Mbps in Bluetooth, LAN supports 10, 100, and 1000 Mbps, 10Gbps, and 40Gbps transfer speeds.

What is the Difference Between a PAN and a WAN?

First, WAN is a regional backbone, part of a high-use network. It is used for connecting clients across an entire city or across the whole world. However, the lower data rate PAN systems are used for access and management of a bigger system, often the user's personal computer or mobile phone. Utilizations include wireless audio, keyboards, mouse, and inter-system data linkages (PC-cell phone). And, high data-rate PAN is often used for home video and audio distribution.

Secondly, WAN refers to a broader service area, such as a corporate campus or a collection of dispersed office buildings in a neighborhood. PAN is a room-sized network that covers an individual's or group's workspace. In terms of distance, PAN is often thought to have a range in the tens of feet, with some sources estimating 10 meters (33 feet) as the average range for their particular PAN gear.

Lastly, WAN is a maximum-rate system that transmits 1 to 40 Gbps utilizing Gigabit Ethernet or fiber optics. PAN is less well-defined, although it encompasses lower-data-rate technologies such as Bluetooth. However, the first consumer applications of Ultra-Wideband (UWB) will use PAN-type ranges with very high data rates (e.g. sufficient for high-definition television).

Types of Networks (PAN/LAN/MAN/WAN)

Figure 2. Types of Networks (PAN/LAN/MAN/WAN)*

How to Setup a Personal Area Network?

To install a PAN requires at least two computing devices, such as a computer and a smartphone. You'll also need a communication path, which can be wired or wireless, to transport data between the various devices. FireWire and USB are examples of wired PANs, but Bluetooth and even infrared are used by WPANs.

In contrast to the Internet (WAN), PANs are limited to data transfer between nearby devices. These networks may be used to transport items like music, photographs, movies, and calendar events.

The simplest method is to send the data over a PAN. The USB cord can be used to connect the phone to the laptop. Then, following the instructions shown on the laptop, access the phone's storage and transfer the data to the laptop. The user may now access information with ease.

You may also transmit data using another method. You can synchronize your laptop and mobile phone using Bluetooth, sending data from the phone to the laptop and vice versa.

How to Connect Two Computers Personal Area Network?

You may connect two computers via PAN using Bluetooth technology. Before connecting two Bluetooth-enabled computers, you must check that both devices are Bluetooth-enabled. If your PC or laptop does not have Bluetooth built-in, you may connect using an external USB Bluetooth adapter.

Firstly, ensure Bluetooth is enabled on the devices you want to connect. In Windows 10, you may activate the Bluetooth card by navigating to Start > Settings > Bluetooth & devices, and then turning on Bluetooth.

  1. Click on the Bluetooth icon on the taskbar.
  2. Click on the Open Settings option.

Accessing Bluetooth Settings on Windows 10

Figure 3. Accessing Bluetooth Settings on Windows 10

  1. Click the Add Bluetooth or other device option.

Bluetooth Settings on Windows 10

Figure 4. Bluetooth Settings on Windows 10

  1. In the 'Add a device' box, choose the Bluetooth option.

Add a device on Windows 10

Figure 5. Add a device on Windows 10

In the subsequent menu, you will get a list of nearby Bluetooth devices. To begin creating a connection, pick the computer with which you want to communicate. (You may be needed to authenticate your identity by entering a PIN shown on both displays.)

  1. Once a connection has been established, click the Bluetooth icon in the notifications area of your taskbar.

  2. To transfer or receive files, pick Send a File or Receive a File from the menu.

Bluetooth File Transfer on Windows 10

Figure 6. Bluetooth File Transfer on Windows 10

  1. You may also join or establish a Personal Area Network to share an Internet connection with the other device.

Bluetooth PAN Devices on Windows 10

Figure 7. Bluetooth PAN Devices on Windows 10

How to Secure Personal Area Network?

To protect your Personal Area Network (PAN), you must first understand the risks and security issues that come with it.

Personal Area Networks are often separated from the local network, thus a standard vulnerability check of the local network may miss vulnerabilities inside the PAN.

Personal Area Networks are often restricted to a nearby region, but if hacked, the harm may spread to other areas of your life. Once a network has been breached, thieves may gain access to and steal your personal information, as well as install malware and listen in on conversations. When these factors are examined, it is obvious that your Personal Area Network must be protected.

Once a single device in your network has been infiltrated, a hacker may be able to enter additional portions of your personal or home network. They may launch spoofing attacks and use your network to launch attacks against other networks. Once a Personal Area Network has been compromised, all devices that share a connection are at risk.

The following are the primary weaknesses of a personal area network:

  • Location Privacy: When a mobile phone is part of a Personal Area Network, there is a possibility that an attacker may intercept Bluetooth transmissions and discover the hardware address of the device. This compromises the user's identification and allows their whereabouts to be tracked.
  • Bluesnarfing: Bluesnarfing is the act of stealing information from a device via Bluetooth. With the proper tools, hackers can steal data from up to 300 feet away. This sort of crime occurs often at coffee shops and libraries. Intruders may get access to all of your phone's data and even start calls that run up your phone bill.
  • Vulnerabilities in Utilized Devices: Internet of Things (IoT) network devices may be susceptible to attack. IoT devices are a common target for hackers due to their ease of exploitation. Frequently, security features and authentication methods are weak. In addition, manufacturers fail to provide security updates when a new vulnerability is discovered.

By adhering to these recommendations, you can protect your Personal Area Network. The following are countermeasures for the primary vulnerabilities.

  • Guarantee Location Privacy: Location privacy is a critical security concern in a wireless personal area network. Thankfully, there are remedies to this issue. The remedy is to prevent an attacker from determining the precise identity of the device. Always use the most recent Bluetooth version. Keep the software on your device up-to-date. And, most importantly, location services should only be enabled when required. Utilize Airplane Mode while not using the smartphone. Ensure Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are switched off or in "non-discovery" mode even while in Airplane Mode.
  • Protect against IoT Vulnerabilities: It is impossible to protect a Personal Area Network if IOT device vulnerabilities are not addressed. Ensure that any gadgets linked to your PAN are manufactured by reputable companies. The suppliers should provide appropriate updates. Ensure that the default passwords on the devices are updated throughout the setup process. Always use distinct, complicated passwords. Never use Plug-and-Play functionality on devices; instead, set up each device individually. Always create a separate network for the Internet of Things devices, printers, and other connected devices when utilizing a Personal Area Network in a home office setting. This network segmentation may prevent a successful attack from turning into a security nightmare. The majority of current wireless home routers include this feature.
  • Reduce Bluesnarfing Assaults: Bluesnarfing is not a novel kind of assault, but it is no less savage than others. Remember that Bluesnarfing is another sort of Bluetooth assault, and use the standard Bluetooth defenses to combat it. Additionally, you should never accept pairing requests that you did not anticipate. Require user consent for all connection requests in your phone's settings. When connecting a new device for the first time, it is important to do it in a private environment. Never link new gadgets in a public space. When pairing for the first time, initial authentication and approval take place. These procedures are prone to interception and man-in-the-middle attacks.