Network Address Translation Overview
Network Address Translation (NAT) enables private IP internetworks that use nonregistered IP addresses to connect to the Internet. NAT operates on a device, usually connecting two networks, and translates private (not globally unique) IP addresses in the internal network into legal IP addresses before packets are forwarded to another network. You can configure NAT to advertise only one IP address for the entire network to the outside world. This ability provides additional security, effectively hiding the entire internal network behind one IP address.
A device configured with NAT has at least one interface to the inside network and one to the outside network. In a typical environment, NAT is configured at the exit router between a stub domain and a backbone. When a packet leaves the domain, NAT translates the locally significant source IP address into a globally unique IP address. When a packet enters the domain, NAT translates the globally unique destination IP address into a local IP address. If more than one exit point exists, NAT configured at each point must have the same translation table.
NAT is described in RFC 1631.