A firewall implemented into your network can protect it from any malicious actors.
However, if a partner company you work with or an employee working remotely needs access to your network to retrieve an important document, for example, your network security may deny them access.
This is where port forwarding comes in to give them access without exposing their network to malicious actors.
However, port forwarding executed incorrectly can lead to network attacks so it’s critical to do this properly.
Coeo has helped thousands of customers with network security. We know how important network security is and want to give you information on the problems that can arise if you do not port forward safely.
By the end of this article, you will know what port forwarding is, the problems that can arise if you do not port forward safely, and ways to port forward safely.
What is port forwarding?
Port forwarding, allows remote servers and devices on the internet to be able to access devices that are on a private network.
If you are not using port forwarding, only devices on that private internal network can have access to each other or your network.
Of course, the whole reason you have security on your network is to keep outside sources from penetrating that network.
If you are able to prevent access to an outside source, chances are you have strong security over your network.
However, there are times when you need to grant access to an outside source. If clients or business partners need access to documents or other elements within your network, port forwarding will help you do that.
Port forwarding works by configuring an internal IP address to the firewall. By doing this, the internal IP address is linked with an external IP address that other devices on the Internet know how to reach.
This allows your network to be seen on a private network while still being protected from outside sources.
Problems with not port forwarding safely
If not done safely, port forwarding can be risky to an organization. When not done correctly, it can lead to problems that include:
If you port forward incorrectly, it can lead to security risks within your network. More specifically, it can open a network to security vulnerabilities and cyber attacks.
When you decide to port forward, you can open your network to the public which can result in outsiders gaining access to your network.
This makes it possible for you to expose your network system’s IP address to malicious actors and become a victim of a cyberattack.
If port forwarding settings are incorrect before performing the task, it can lead to server crashes. As a result, your organization will be unable to access the internet.
This can be detrimental to your organization if your organization likely relies on the internet.
Your employees will be less productive and less efficient without an internet connection and your customers may struggle to work with your company if you continue to experience server crashes.
Congested network traffic
Port forwarding can lead to a network traffic jam. When you port forward, your organization may experience a congested network with all the network traffic that is being forwarded.
When your network is working hard to send and/or receive data through port forwarding, it can result in a traffic jam. This will result in slow internet speeds, slow load page times, and interrupted internet connections.
IP address issues
If you do not have your port forward settings properly set up, you may experience IP address conflicts between the two IP addresses you are looking to port forward.
IP address issues can also lead to connectivity issues and data loss.
Ways to safely port forward
Now you know the problems that can arise if you do not safely port forward. However, your organization can avoid these problems by using these best practices:
Keep firewalls turned on
There are plenty of people who think that turning firewalls off will enhance port forwarding since there will be no firewall to prevent the transmission of data.
However, a firewall is your network’s first line of defense and can open your network up to malicious actors when turned off.
Be cautious of who you port forward to
Another way to safely port forward is to be cautious of who you port forward to. For instance, only port forwarding to devices in a DMZ network will ensure extra security is in place to secure your network.
Restricting IP addresses is another way your organization can port forward safely. If you aren’t restricting IP addresses, your server could be accessed by a malicious source.
You can allow access to specific IP addresses so that only those IP addresses have access to your server.
Regularly update your router
Keeping your router secure by regularly checking updates or setting up automatic updates will enable you to maintain the most up-to-date network security preventing all network vulnerabilities.
Updating your network regularly will allow your network to be more secure making it more difficult for malicious actors to penetrate your network while port forwarding.
Next steps to port forwarding safely
Now you know what port forwarding is, the problems with port forwarding incorrectly, and ways to safely port forward.
This will allow you to safely port forward without the worry of opening your network up to vulnerabilities while doing so.
Port forwarding incorrectly can lead to network security concerns. If you decide to port forward, it is important you do so safely to avoid malicious actors penetrating your network and resulting in a cyberattack.
Coeo has helped thousands of customers with their network security and knows how important it is to port forward safely.
We want to give you tips on how your organization can port forward safely so you do not end up a victim of a cyberattack.
If you would like to speak with our team about port forwarding and network security or ask any questions you may have you can schedule an appointment.
Now you know the problems of port forwarding incorrectly and how to avoid them. Read this article to learn how SASE helps with port forwarding: