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Why use a VPN instead of opening ports?

© May 2015 Anthony Lawrence

Anonymous asks:

I need to access my security cameras from home. My camera guys says we need to forward ports on the firewall, but my firewall guy says I should use the VPN instead. Who is right?

Well, there's nothing wrong with what the camera dude said: you can forward specific ports to internal IP addresses. Most firewalls allow that although they may refer to it in different ways. You might find it under "Gaming" on some firewalls, "Port Forwarding" on others, "DNAT (Destination NAT)", "Translation" - but whatever it's called, the concept is that the packets get sent to the specified internal machine. That's a very common way to gain access to internal devices like cameras.

But your security guy is right too. He's saying to use the VPN capability of the firewall. This adds security. An external port scan of the camera ports will find nothing responding - all access would have to be through the VPN, no camera ports are forwarded. As VPN's are also usually configured to allow access only for specific users, this gives you even more control of who can see your cameras. No ports need be opened to the world and you give access to only those you want to be able to see the cameras.

As you have VPN on your firewall, I'd agree with your security guy.

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