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What is Port Forwarding and how does it work?

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Port Forwarding is a technique used to redirect computer signals, also known as Ports, between the local network and the internet.

In simple words, Port Forwarding allows you to connect to an internet-connected device via the internet from anywhere in the world. This technique is often used to connect to gaming servers, CCTV cameras, or any other Internet-connected device from anywhere.

Port forwarding is also referred to as Port Mapping, a hidden process of intercepting data traffic heading towards the computer’s IP combination and redirecting it to a different IP address. This redirection is usually caused by the help of a VPN service or a proxy program. Hardware components such as routers, proxies, and firewalls can also be used to redirect traffic.

Port forwarding is also helpful in guaranteeing your online privacy because it allows you to send requests across servers without revealing your actual IP address.

Types of Port Forwarding

There are many types of Port Forwarding, the most common of which are mentioned below:

Remote Port Forwarding

Remote port forwarding allows you to connect to a remote network service located at the tunnel’s client-side from the server-side of a tunnel. It enables applications on the server-side of SSH connection to access services on the SSH’s client-side.

Local Port Forwarding

Local port forwarding is the most frequently used form of port forwarding. It sends data from a different client application operating from the same system. With this method, you can quickly connect your local computer to another server. It allows you to bypass firewalls that block certain web pages.

Dynamic Port Forwarding

Dynamic port forwarding allows you to navigate through a NAT or firewall using pinholes. It will enable clients to connect to a trusted server that acts as an intermediary for sending/receiving data to different destination servers in a secure manner.

How Does Port Forwarding Work?

You may now know what port forwarding is, but the question is, how does it work, and in what ways can it help you out in your daily life?

Port forwarding is incredibly helpful for your online privacy. Usually, when you send a request over the internet, packets of data are sent over the internet containing details of your request, your IP address, and the destination of your computer or device.

A network router usually examines the header of all IP packets before sending them to the linked and appropriate interface. It is then forwarded to the destination that is written in the header.

Port forwarding changes this process by allowing intercepting applications (your VPN client, for instance) to read the packet header, note down the destination, and rewrite the header information before sending it to another computer or server.

The secondary host destination is usually a different server with a different IP address and port. This process can mask your original IP address using a VPN or a proxy server.

Is Port Forwarding Safe?

If there are no added security measures in place, the vulnerabilities that come with port forwarding can cause huge problems for your online privacy and security. You can ensure added protection of your data packets by using the port forwarding feature with a VPN.

How Can I enable Port Forwarding on my VPN?

Now you might be wondering what VPN is and how to use it for port forwarding. Well! Using a VPN service and port forwarding simultaneously is not so easy. You might face specific problems, and few VPN services allow it. You may encounter issues like your multiplayer games and chat programs not being able to connect to the internet. The problem usually is a blocked port on your router, which is easy to fix.

Your router stands between your device and the internet and makes sure that any data coming in and going out is directed appropriately. It works as a firewall that keeps malicious traffic safely and opens ports to permit useful traffic such as web pages, file-sharing programs, and games. Your router does a pretty neat job in automatically configuring ports so you can safely browse the internet.

In some cases, you have to instruct your router to open a specific port so that a program wouldn’t get blocked. This is where you’ll need the port forwarding feature of a VPN service.

Port Forwarding With VPN

Only a few VPN services offer or support a port forwarding add-on. These include PureVPN and Express VPN. Ordinary VPNs do not work simultaneously with port forwarding, but turning off your VPN can expose you to online Cyber threats.

This is where the port forwarding add-on comes in. It lets you use the port forwarding feature alongside the security and privacy guaranteed by the VPN service.

Using the port forwarding add-on that comes with services like PureVPN, NordVPN, and Express VPN allows you to use port forwarding from your PC while remaining secure under cover of that VPN.

Benefits of Using VPN and Port Forwarding Simultaneously

Privacy & Security

Today’s digital world is full of different kinds of hacking and spying activities. Your IP address is the main culprit that leaks your online identity and your physical location to the people spying on you over the web.

To avoid all these hassles while ensuring that your devices remain secure on the web, you need to use a VPN service. Major VPN providers guarantee your online privacy and security through anonymity and security features like encryption. When these features are used alongside port forwarding, they ensure the safety of your identity and all the devices you are using.

A Single Dedicated IP Address

Many people prefer using a single IP address for their online activities, such as banking or accessing remote servers. Though you can get a dedicated IP address from a VPN, it isn’t easy to use it alongside port forwarding. But this can be easily changed by using the port forwarding add-on.

Similarly, port forwarding is also helpful for people running a web server or gaming server on a single network. You can use a VPN alongside port forwarding and ensure your safety and anonymity on the internet.

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Zehra Ali is a Tech Reporter and Journalist. She has done her Masters in Mass Communication. Topics related to cybersecurity, IoT, AI, Big Data and other privacy matters are extensively covered by her on various platforms. You can follow her on twitter.

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