Tips for Securing Your Home Router
Seemingly minor and easily overlooked settings can still have profound security implications. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your wired or wireless home router — and by extension, your network — is as secure as possible.
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Sometimes it seems like there is no help for on-line gamers who are trying
to get games working through shared connections. Is it all a conspiracy
by the ISPs to retaliate for all that bandwidth gone bye-bye? Or
are the complainers just incompetent whiners who wouldn't know what a
forwarded port was if it came up and bit 'em?
Gaming related questions account for a large amount of the feedback and
questions that we receive here at Practically Networked, so we decided
we'd tell you what we see from our vantage point (and also give us a URL
to throw at you instead of typing all those individual email responses...)
got the blame?
It is true that the same game, with the same router, set up the
same way, can act differently depending on the network that it's connected
to. Assigning blame (or finding the root cause) for the problem,
however, is difficult.
There are four parts to the problem:
The game manufacturers/designers: In their quest to have fast, reponsive game play, the game designers
use the UDP protocol (which doesn't have a "handshake" for
sending and receiving data) and in many cases large numbers of ports
(which is difficult for many routers to handle). UDP was probably
the right thing for games when they ran on LANs, but getting reliable
UDP connections across the Internet is tough enough without
NAT routers mixed into the problem. Add NAT routers into the
mix, and you've got the potential for plenty of mishandled bits.
The other nasty problem that many games foist on their users is their
method of updating their server lists, which tends to break most routers.
[Go here for more info.] Microsoft has done some work to help players of their DirectX
based games. Read this!
These folks have a large network to run and make their money by efficiently
managing their (and therefore your) bandwidth and running a
secure network. This means that they do scan their network
regularly, looking for unsecured SMTP servers, proxies and things
that spammers and crackers can use. Some of these scans might
interrupt game play, and there are some ISPs who block ports used
by popular games (and other applications) too. But there are
probably more problems caused by other ISP bandwidth managment
techniques such as caching proxies, router & firewall set up,
The Router manufacturers:
They're supposed to make boxes that handle any strange packet thrown
their way and make sure it gets to where it's supposed to go unmolested.
It's a tough job, and seems to get tougher every day with new authentication
methods (PPPoE), protocols (IPsec, QoS) and popular applications coming
out at net speed. Throw in the ISP specific issues mentioned
above, too, just to keep things interesting!
Some router makers are better than others at juggling all of this,
but no one is perfect. And router performance does
vary network-to-network. So stop posting snide comments about
how other people must be dumb because the router works fine for you..!
You, gentle reader: Yeah, you! Didn't know you were going to have to learn
about port forwarding, protocols, RWINs, MTUs, etc, didja? All
you just wanna do is blow bad guys away! Unfortunately, the
state-of-the-art in gaming for shared connections isn't plug-and-play.
So you'll need to do your homework, read the games' FAQ, hit the discussion
groups... and hope the planets are in correct alignment.
a gamer to do?
Now that you know that the problem isn't a simple one, you're
ready to get started. To get any game servers to run behind a NAT
router, you'll need to open holes in your router's firewall.
This function goes by different names on different products,
and you'll need to consult your router's User guide for your particular
router's capabilities in this area. You'll also need to dig into
your game's documentation for information on using your game behind a
firewall. You'll be looking on information on the portsthat the game uses. If the game documentation is no help, you
can try the Special Applications
area of this site. You'll find a list
of ports used by popular games and other applications and also
some tips on how to use the port information.
Getting multiple players running behind a router may not involve
opening any ports, but you may need to edit or create some information
in your game's configuration file (if it has one). Check the next
page for some of these configuration tips. Note that some
of the newer games check for unique license numbers for each player, preventing
the use of one copy of the software by multiple users. Specific game troubleshooting
tips can be found on the next page.