Port forwarding is one of the integral parts of the home networks, and it is necessary because most of the home routers use NAT, which makes the home network isolated from the internet. It is not necessary to know the true strength of having a port forwarding before the implementation. You will learn about its usage as you start opening up the ports in your router. It is a handy technique, and many people are using it in their homes and even in offices to make the internet connection more secure.
In addition to this, port forwarding handles all the malicious traffic which could breach your mobile and desktop security to exploit your data. In this article, we are going to talk about how port forwarding could be the all-in-one web security method for your devices and how you can implement it in your home and/or office.
What is Port Forwarding?
Port forwarding is also known as tunneling in networking, which aims to forward a network port from one node to the other. With the help of port forwarding, the router specifies a path for particular instructions and where they need to be transferred from the hooked-up devices. This is the best way to keep your network out from getting bottlenecked by the traffic. The issue with performing port forwarding is that it is usually done by an IT professional as it requires intense knowledge of networking and its management.
If you want to hide your IP address from the unwanted access of services and server usage, then port forwarding is an excellent way to keep yourself secure. Port forwarding is an entirely transparent end-user technique, and it adds one extra layer of security to your network.
By using port forwarding, administrators can use a single IP address for all their external communications, which takes place on the internet. Moreover, port forwarding is also helpful in home-based networks as it separates network traffic and gives optimal bandwidth for intense online gaming sessions, so the ping doesn’t go down.
Different Types Of Port Forwarding
There are three different types of port forwarding, and each one has its own set of advantages. Following is a brief description of each type of port forwarding:
1. Local Port Forwarding
Local port forwarding is required when you connect a computer to a multiplayer game server. With the use of the local port forwarding technique, you can quickly move past your internet’s firewall protection to access the websites and the webpages which were blocked in the first place by the firewall.
2. Remote Port Forwarding
It is the opposite of local port forwarding as it forwards the traffic coming to a port on your server to your local computer. From your local computer, it is then sent to the destination. The remote port forwarding allows any user on the remote server to make a connection to the TCP port 8080 on the remote server.
To know how remote port forwarding can be helpful, let’s take an example. Let’s say you are a developer who is running and testing a web application on port 8000 of your local computer. Other individuals in the network don’t have access to your web application as you are sitting behind a NAT network without a public IP address. Now your tests are done, and you want to present the web application to the client. In this case, remote port forwarding will help you by giving the client access to your web application. In addition to this, one can use remote port forwarding to connect with a friend for configuring a router as another individual can’t access the router’s setting by themselves.
3. Dynamic Port Forwarding
Dynamic port forwarding is used for creating a proxy. As a result, any traffic which is sent to the dynamic port will be sent to its destination through the SSH server. The other name of dynamic port forwarding is SOCKS, and it allows communication across several ports using SOCKS5, which is an internet protocol that routes packets between a server and a client that are using a proxy server. The SOCKS5 server uses both TCP and UDP protocols.
How to Perform Port Forwarding?
Yes, it might be tricky, but with the correct guidance, you can perform the port forwarding operation on your own. Think of your router as an electric fence that has a few doors from where data can safely come in and go out. The router works as a barrier and a security blanket to keep your network safe from unauthorized access. Your router comes pre-configured and has few doors from where you access the internet, but all the other doors are tightly locked. So, if you want to use the router to its full potential and have a separate mail server, game server, etc., you need to unlock these extra doors (ports).
Given below are steps to perform port forwarding on your router to get more control over your network.
Step 1:- First, you need to log in to your router by using your default gateway address.
Step 2:- Now, you have to enter your router credentials into the login page. To know about your router’s credentials, you need to look at the bottom of your router.
Step 3:- Once you are logged in, you need to navigate to the port forwarding settings that are present in advanced > Port Forwarding settings.
Step 4:- When you access the port forwarding settings, you have to enter the name of your device like “gaming console”. Now enter the port you want to forward in the port field. Select “TCP/UDP” or “Both” under the protocol if you are not sure about which protocol to use. In the next step, you need to enter the IP address of the device for which you are using the port forwarding and click on “apply” or “save” to apply the new changes.
Note – The changes may take some time, and you might need to apply and then save the settings to make it fully work. Once you press both of these buttons, wait for a while for your router to restart.
Step 5:- To see if your configuration worked, visit the website www.portcheckertool.com and enter your port number, which you have used for port forwarding and then click on “check your port.”
If the ports are working fine, you are now able to connect to your device via your web browser. All you need to do is enter the hostname which you have assigned in the first place, followed by the port number which you provided to the router—for example, http://hostname.ddns.net:7000.
Note – In case you are using a mobile application, you need to put your hostname to connect. The application will automatically specify the port when you are trying to make a connection with it.
What are the Benefits of Port Forwarding?
There are many scenarios where port forwarding can help you, but you might don’t know about them. Well, we are here to help you identify those scenarios where port forwarding can be of great help.
- You might have run into some issues when you are hosting a website or connecting it to an online server. Well, in this case, port forwarding can be at your assistance by activating the closed ports from where the connection can be made quickly.
- Port forwarding is not going to enhance your internet speed in any way possible. It is a technique to stabilize your internet speed and ensure constant internet access. As a result, if you are someone who likes to play a lot of online games, port forwarding will help you in getting the lowest ping response.
- It is also used to enhance the communication between the internet and all the devices which are connected to it. Also, port forwarding can be used for maintaining uninterrupted and direct access to VoIP (voice over IP) call server.
- If you want to access the footage of your home camera system from a remote location, you need to use port forwarding on your server so it can send camera footage on one of the ports all the time.
- Nobody wants their children to be looking at adult stuff on the Internet. With the use of port forwarding, one can easily block any website or adult content that is not suitable for children. On the other hand, port forwarding is also used by companies to block social media websites in the workplace to increase the productivity of their employees.
- The internet is full of tricksters hacking their way to get your personal data. With the use of port forwarding, you get an extra layer of cyber protection. Even most VPNs use port forwarding to shift from one VPN server to the other and make the internet traffic pass securely.
There are a total of 65536 different ports present in your computer, and they are like sorting tubes. When a data packet comes from the internet, the OS will look at the information present inside the packet and transfer it to one of the ports. The port forwarding enables all the routes and ports for the packet transmission so that data packets won’t be stuck at one port.
Cons Related To Port Forwarding
Just as there are advantages of port forwarding, there are undoubtedly some downsides as well. Even if they are few, it’s important to discuss them.
- When you are using port forwarding to enable all the ports of your router, you will be able to access a specific port only with one device at a time. This means no two devices can access one single port simultaneously. Thus, if you have a port specifically for a gaming console to get uninterrupted internet bandwidth for your gaming sessions, then you can only use that port only for one system. It can be your computer, mobile phone, Nintendo Switch, PS5, etc.
- Once you enable the port forwarding, any device which has access to the network can use the forwarded port at their will. Surely, you can keep track of all the users who are trying to access the port, and you can decide whether you want to give them access or not. But it still makes your network a little vulnerable.
- With the use of port forwarding, the device at the receiving end won’t be able to trace down the original device which is sending the data packets. As for the device at the receiving end, all the packets seem to be coming from the router only.
Applications of Port Forwarding
Port forwarding has many applications, and most commonly, it is useful in offices, schools, and homes where many computers are connected to the internet and share the same IP address for the whole network. If a computer is connected to the network which is using a shared IP address, then port forwarding becomes necessary for the stability of the network. Port forwarding makes a computer within a network invisible to the internet, and the router works as the ambassador of all the computers. Without the use of port forwarding, multiple computers won’t be able to share a single internet connection.
Port forwarding can also make it easier for you to access your backup from anywhere in the world using the internet. With the authentication key, you can quickly get your required data from the home server in no time.
In large space operations such as hospitals and universities, the data of computers are stored in a more efficient cloud storage environment. Thus, not even a single computer stores the data locally. With the help of port forwarding, users can access their own virtual desktop from any computer which is present on the site. Thus, you can access the information and files which are stored on your computer from anywhere on the campus. All you need to have is a computer that is connected to the network and has port forwarding implemented on it.
So now it all comes down to one question, whether the port forwarding is safe or not? Well, forwarding ports in your router is not inherently dangerous in itself. The safety of the network depends on the services which you allow on the port. But at the same time, security also relies on your router’s firewall and how well it can scan the traffic for malicious content.
If you look at the port forwarding and compare it to VPN, you will find out that both of them work on the same principle. Neither of them is more secure than the other one in terms of the level of encryption. But port forwarding works on the application level, and it does support TCP only and gives remote access to a single system. We would prefer it over VPN tunneling. But the choice largely depends on how you want to implement it and how many services you want for your router to give to the network. Port forwarding is a great technique, and if you are running a home network, you should definitely give it a try for better network stability and lower latency.
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