What is Port Forwarding and how does it work?

Last updated: April 30, 2024 Reading time: 5 minutes
Port Forwarding

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

In simple words, Port Forwarding allows you to connect to an internet-connected device 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 called Port Mapping, a hidden process of intercepting data traffic heading towards the computer’s IP combination and redirecting it to a different IP address. The help of a VPN service or a proxy program usually causes this redirection. Hardware components such as routers, proxies, and firewalls can redirect traffic.

Port forwarding is also helpful in guaranteeing your online privacy because it allows you to send requests across servers without revealing your 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 the 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. This method lets you 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, the vulnerabilities of port forwarding can cause enormous 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 being unable 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 ensures that any data coming in and going out is directed appropriately. It works as a firewall that keeps malicious traffic safe and opens ports to permit valid traffic, such as web pages, file-sharing programs, and games. Your router does a neat job automatically configuring ports so you can safely browse the internet.

Sometimes, 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 the 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 physical location to the people spying on you over the web.

You need to use a VPN service to avoid all these hassles while ensuring that your devices remain secure on the web. 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 your devices.

A Single Dedicated IP Address

Many prefer using a single IP address for online activities, such as banking or accessing remote servers. Though you can get a dedicated IP address from a VPN, using it alongside port forwarding isn’t easy. 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 to ensure your internet safety and anonymity.

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About the Author

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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