Say I have a few ports open for gaming.

My questions are

  1. Can I be hacked if the attacker knows my specific external IP?

  2. Can hacker access my router and setting by getting through these ports? If so, how likely is this to be done? How easy can this be done?

  3. With router's security setting, does it block out the attacker even with port forwarding open?

  • 2
    This question is very broad. I think you need to do some research and if you get stuck on a more specific point, feel free to ask :) Please don't read my comment as rude, it's not meant to be! The security with port forwarding goes further than the router!
    – Dave
    Mar 5, 2013 at 14:50
  • Any broad answers are fine. I just want to know how vulnerable I am with port forward open. And if anyone can search for ports and connect to my router/laptop.
    – avsdvsdd
    Mar 5, 2013 at 14:51
  • 1
    Yes, people can search for your ports etc. As I said, you may want to secure your PC and not your router. If you open something to the outside world for yourself, people you trust etc means you've opened it to all! In regards to broad questions, they are also considered off topic here. The more specific the question, the better it is for this Q & A site.
    – Dave
    Mar 5, 2013 at 14:56
  • I do have mac filtering set up. So if a hacker gets through my port, he can just get through router cleanly without even having to guess the WPA2 password?
    – avsdvsdd
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:05
  • 2
    @avsdvsdd This is a question/answer format site. Question/answer isn't live chat. And that isn't what comments are for.
    – killermist
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:15

3 Answers 3


Port forwarding lets people connect to the mapped port on whatever device you've pointed it at. The security rests solely with whatever software on that device is listening on that port. So say you've port forwarded 12345 to remote desktop on a PC you never update. Odds are it will be easy to get in to that, and then to whatever it has access to (maybe the whole LAN including the "secure" side of the router). On the other hand, if you port forwarded 6789 to port 22 on a Linux box you update every night, chances are very slim anyone will be able to break-in to it. #1 doesn't make sense, your IP is technically public. But if you had no ports open, there is nowhere to connect and try and break into. Some routers may have intrusion-detection features, but they may not be able to do things like decide if remote user X is you or a hacker trying to get to the forwarded port.

  • Can the hacker get into my router cleanly if he guesses the port correctly? Meaning, even if I have mac filtering and wpa2 set up, he can just get in cleanly?
    – avsdvsdd
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:07
  • 1
    @avsdvsdd port forwarding has nothing to do with "getting into the router". MAC addresses can be spoofed, WPA2 can be broken, WPS was designed broken, but those have nothing to do with port forwarding. Mar 5, 2013 at 15:14
  • Rich//What I was asking is if someone scans my port, and gets into my system, is he getting into my router or computer? I believe it's internet connection right? If so, does he have complete access of my documents in my computer and/or router???
    – avsdvsdd
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:15
  • If you're scanned and nothing is open, there is nothing to break into. That's the default setup of most routers. If you port forward something to another machine then if there's something to break into on that machine, they could try. Also wifi and the internet, they're usually separated. Mar 5, 2013 at 15:26
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    @avsdvsdd in your head, you need to separate WPA2/MAC filtering and the open port. WPA2 and MAC filtering are to secure logging onto your network, to become a machine that is a part of your network. Port forwarding is to connect to a port on a machine on your network. Two vastly different things. and distance doesn't matter. Please make this a separate question, since comments are very small to answer these questions. Mar 5, 2013 at 15:45

From your question and comments I think you're a little unclear on what's happening. I'm not sure how to teach you how to run your router, i think you need to talk to someone near you to show you these things.

Port forwarding is when your router allows outside machines to initiate connections to a machine on your network. It doesn't allow any special access to the router internals, just a connection to your inside machine.

The security issue here is not your router, but your machine. Before, it was invisible to the Internet, and therefore somewhat safe. Now the internal machine can be reached. Is your internal machine safe? Is it patched? What's on that port?

As far as your specific questions:

  1. They always know your external IP address. Any connection you make to someone will show your external IP address. I can try to ping the entire Internet (and with a botnet, some people try) and find your external IP address. If you're connected to the Internet, the external IP is exposed. Also, this has nothing to do whether your ports are forwarded or not.

  2. A hacker can not access you through the forwarded ports. But your router may be set up to allow configuration on a web port. How to set this up is different for each router, but make sure anything similar to "allow configuration on WAN" is disabled. Allow LAN configuration only.

  3. This is a hard question. Most routers are just routers. They do not know what an Attacker is. They're too dumb to know "good guy" from "bad guy". Some routers also have Firewalls. They know certain bad guys, and will filter those out. But your router probably has no filters on this port. If anyone tries to connect, they're probably let in.

Also, in your comments, you ask a lot of questions. The tradition here is to take new questions out of comments and as separate questions. Please try to ask your MAC filtering questions in a new question.

Good luck. Security is very hard. Even the experts don't get it right every time.

  • 2
    I would add - forwarding a port to an internal computer doesn't expose a "folder" (as one of the other answers/comments suggested) but exposes whatever process is configured to listen on that port. If that process is properly configured and implemented, it shouldn't expose anything beyond its own public "interface" (services, etc.) but it is possible that specific applications are vulnerable to attack vectors such as buffer overruns. A vulnerable application may be exploited to provide access to far more than its own folder - anything within the security context of the user it runs as. Mar 5, 2013 at 15:48
  • So when you say security context, what are you referring to? Does that mean the attacker can gain access to my network or machine itself?
    – avsdvsdd
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:51
  • 1
    If the application is exploitable and runs in the context of a high-access user, possibly. However, this level of exploit is relatively rare and is usually patched quickly. In this context, you wouldn't normally run D2 as an administrator, which reduces the potential attack surface. Mar 5, 2013 at 15:52
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    And it's important to also keep in mind, this is only a potential exploit. It doesn't mean that your machine is actually vulnerable to anything, just by enabling port forwarding. The specific context - what application is servicing that port - matters. Mar 5, 2013 at 16:00

Open ports on a network are always a vulnerability of sorts, however the odds of having someone actually try to attack your network on those ports is really low. Chances are, for gaming, you're looking at like port 80 for HTTP, port 88 for UDP, and then program specific ports like 3074 for the Xbox360, or 6112 TCP for Diablo II. As I said before, an open port is always a vulnerability, but if someone actually cared enough to attack your home network the odds are there would be easier ways for them to get in than on these specific ports. If you're worried about someone getting access to your router specifically, just disable remote logins so that you have to be physically connected to login into it.

Short and simple, so long as you're only opening the specific ports games ask you to, then it's really unlikely for you to run into trouble. Just because someone knows you've got port 80 open on your router doesn't suddenly give them access to your router or your computer.

  • If Diablo 2 port is open, can the attacker get into my system(assuming he lives 300 miles away) and get access to my computer and/or router?
    – avsdvsdd
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:18
  • What are the ramifications for someone being able to scan the port and visualizing it? Are game ports like 6112 easy to penetrate? I heard that it's not so easy to penetrate as Blizzard controls it.
    – avsdvsdd
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:19
  • It's not really a point of intrusion. The ports are frequently used to access specific types of files, like in the case of Warcraft III maps, or characters in Diablo II. These files are all local, so other players need to be able to access them and download them so you can play together. Frequently in more modern games things like maps and characters are hosted on a server owned by the company who published the game, rather than on individuals computers. If files are hosted by users, then ports are needed to be open to give others access to just those specific files.
    – Mono
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:22
  • What about ports like 80? For this port, if someone scans, and finds open port, gets in, what could happen? Do they need to bypass the WPA2 passcode to get into my network? Or are they just in basically?
    – avsdvsdd
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:24
  • If they are in, do they need to still bypass WPA2 security then to get into my system?
    – avsdvsdd
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:26

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