What is port forwarding? In simple terms, it’s forwarding internet data from one port to another. And when do you need it? When you need to allow incoming connections from a WAN (internet) to reach a specific device/port on a LAN (a private network).
Let’s break this down a little further…
Check out our guide on VPN tethering for more related information.
I also provide a step-by-step guide to setting up port forwarding with a Wi-Fi router and with a VPN. I discuss the benefits of port forwarding and PureVPN synchronization, as well as the pros and cons of port forwarding with and without a VPN.
I also explain the different types of port forwarding, including local, remote, and dynamic port forwarding. Finally, I discuss the risks of port forwarding and how to prevent them.
There are many real-world scenarios where port forwarding is extremely useful for everyday activities. Some are listed below:
For port forwarding, you generally need a Wi-Fi router. This process may vary depending on what brand of router you use, but the basic steps should be similar.
First, connect to the router and navigate to the admin panel. Usually, you can do this by entering 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 as the URL of your browser’s address bar.
After you log in, you’ll see an interface similar to this:
Open the port forwarding settings panel. Depending on the router model and firmware you use, its location may be different. For a ZTE router, you’ll find it under the Application Tab as “Port Forwarding.”
Enter the private IP address of the device connected to the WAN.
Choose a port from 1,000–to 65,000 and enter its internal and external port numbers. Both ports don’t necessarily need to match; the devices need to recognize each port and use the relevant port when initiating the connection.
Enter the private IP address of the device you need to forward the messages (that are received from the internet).
Select the port number of the LAN-connected device that you need to forward the traffic to.
After adding the configuration, your interface will appear as follows:
Finally, you can edit an already added configuration however you like.
Great! Now you can access your home network device. Just use the public IP address of your router to integrate with the relevant port. Enter “What is my IP” on the Google search bar to find your public IP address.
Here’s what such a request would look like to put things into perspective. Let’s assume that your router’s IP address is 987.654.321, and you want to connect to your laptop on port number 4444. Your router’s request through the port-forwarding protocol would look like this: 987.654.321:4444. That’s your router’s IP address with the extension of the port number at the end.
The second approach to port forwarding is through a good VPN service and app. This may help you access your VPN server through the internet. Some VPN providers have features that allow you to implement port forwarding and choose which port you want to use, configuring its use simultaneously.
Not all users may find port forwarding with VPN useful, but it’ll certainly come in handy in certain situations:
Follow these easy instructions to set up port forwarding with PureVPN. Please note that these steps may vary depending on your VPN software.
Log in to PureVPN.
Go to the PureVPN app settings and navigate the “Port Forwarding” tab.
Choose any desired option from the settings:
Apply the settings.
If you’re using any other VPN, complete the first two steps and then enter the following, depending on the type of VPN protocol you have:
Local Port – 1723
Protocol – TCP
Port – 47
Protocol – Other
Local Port – 500
Protocol – UDP
Port – 4500
Protocol – UDP
Local Port – 1194
Protocol – UDP
Port – 500
Protocol – UDP
You can set up a VPN connection on a remote computer using your VPN server’s public IP.
Not all VPN providers are comfortable providing the port-forwarding facility, as opening a port potentially generates a hole in your security.
Like SurfShark and NordVPN, certain providers think the increased security is worth the trade-off, but some users might find it inconvenient when port forwarding is prohibited.
You can use port forwarding with the PureVPN add-on. This eliminates most of the security risks of opening a port to the digital frontiers out there.
Privacy and Security
A dedicated IP address
Three common types of port forwarding include Local, Remote, and Dynamic port forwarding.
Local port forwarding lets users connect from their local computers to another server or forward data and information securely from a client application running on the same computer as a Secure Shell (SSH) client.
This protocol undergoes all its operations at the SSH level, allowing any application running from this server-side to access services on the SSH’s client-side. Tunneling schemes and procedures use this port forwarding method to achieve the same goal.
This can be used to bypass firewalls that block specific web pages.
Remote port forwarding allows applications on the server-side of an SSH Connection to access services on the client side of SSH. Besides SSH, proprietary tunneling schemas use remote port forwarding.
This form of port forwarding allows users to connect from the server-side of an SSH or tunnel to a remote network service located at the client-side of the tunnel.
Remote port forwarding lets other devices access applications in remote servers.
This protocol gives access to all the information and services on the other side of a NAT firewall by exploiting a firewall pinhole. This method allows your client to connect safely to a secure server that acts as a middle-man, sending and receiving data to one or more destination servers.
As the names suggest, static ports don’t change, and dynamic ports are prone to change each time a new connection is made.
Torrent sharing, the file-sharing P2P protocol, is based on seeding and peering.
A NAT firewall may stop incoming connections, but you can let some of those connections be established and increase the downloading speed with port forwarding.
You might think port forwarding is an excellent way to do your work remotely. But despite its benefits, it’s not without its risks.
Let’s look at this objectively using a real-world scenario. Imagine you’re showcasing an exhibition at your private institution.
One of the halls is dedicated to this exhibit, and many scholars outside your institution are invited to visit it. You’ve opened your private institution’s doors to outsiders.
This may still sound fine, as the outsiders would presumably be interested only in your exhibit’s hall. But what if one or more evil intruders disguise themselves as scholars and enter the institution?
What’s to stop them from trying to access the protected facilities given the opportunity?
Similarly, intruders can quickly access your network if you’ve set port forwarding with your camera without taking the necessary protective measures — such as using a strong password.
They may even be able to control the camera footage rather than watch it.
VPNs that facilitate port forwarding are vulnerable to port fail attacks. What happens here is that an attacker (who’s enabled port forwarding) can expose the actual IP addresses of other users’ devices even if the victims haven’t enabled port forwarding.
Even though many VPN providers fail, they can prevent these attacks by setting up different incoming and outgoing IP addresses on their servers.
If you’re considering port forwarding, you must know the benefits and the risks it poses inside out. With port forwarding, accessing your home network is much easier than before.
Although some VPN providers don’t support port forwarding because of concerns about its security issues, solutions have been put forward to implement security patches that override the native weakness of opened ports.