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I have been unable to play games online with friends due to NAT problems, and a solution that I've found from multiple sources (including the router company) is to try to port-forward the console (Many other solutions I've tried have not worked, and this seems to be one of the only remaining ones that shows promise).

From the research I've done on this, I understand that this effectively puts the console outside of the router's security, and allows outside parties to initiate communications with it. From what I read, this shouldn't be too risky to the console itself, as most of them use proprietary code and operating systems. My main concern is whether a third party could target this Console and use it as a bridge to get into the LAN. I'm wondering how likely/ possible something like that may be.

Basically, I would like to know what kind of risk a port-forwarded console could pose to other devices that are on my network.

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    Most of that depends on the software on the port. if it has exploitable features that can be made to make use of the host devices position within the network perimeter, the it is possible for your device to be turned against you. Other than that, its also possible that your router may have vulnerabilities in its stateful-fltering mechanisms, that may allow specially crafted traffic to go off the beaten path as it were, but I don't believe there are any widely applicable exploits that would allow someone to break out of a port-forwarding configuration. Such a vuln would be router by router. – Frank Thomas May 31 at 9:20
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From the research I've done on this, I understand that this effectively puts the console outside of the router's security, and allows outside parties to initiate communications with it.

True port forwarding opens a route to a device (e.g. your console) on a very specific set of ports that you specify. This typically means that any ports that aren't forwarded by you are still protected by your router's security (ex. firewall, etc.)

This is in contrast to another common recommendation of putting a device (particularly a console) into what is often referred to as a home router's "DMZ" (Demilitarized Zone) settings. On home routers, these "DMZ" settings are what typically puts a device entirely outside the protections offered by the router (i.e. all of a devices ports are available to be contacted, which is often a bad idea).

I would like to know what kind of risk a port-forwarded console could pose to other devices that are on my network.

Just a guess, but I haven't heard of this being a common route to compromising a network, so the chances would strike me as likely being low. Anecdotally, I have done similar things in the past with consoles as well and never experienced issues or talked with anyone who has. As long as you're doing actual port forwarding, I would think your other devices would probably be fine under most circumstances.

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Opening any port on your router comes with risk, regardless of it being forwarded or not. It is a point of entry into your network. An improperly configured or updated service can allow something malicious to happen. This does not put if outside of the routers security, per se, but this is too complex to go into detail.

That being said, game consoles and some games might require port forwarding. Make sure the console is up to date with the latest patch, as well as the game. While nothing is ever 100% secure, that is as secure as you can get.

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