What is Port Triggering vs. Port Forwarding

To put it simply, Port Forwarding is a way to redirect internet traffic from a port from the  WideArea Network (WAN) to another port in your Local Area Network (LAN). You might feel scared to open a port on your device for the first time, but it is way easy to set up and quite common among gamers who play Minecraft or other online games. 

Port Triggering, on the other hand, is done when you want to port forward more devices and computers instead of a single port using a dynamic IP address. Both are safe as long as you keep your system secure and a firewall intact to ensure that only the ports you need open remain open.

port forwarding vs port triggering infographic

What is Port Triggering in Depth? 

Port Triggering is similar to port forwarding a device, but there are a few differences. If you are a network or system admin, then it might be important to know how port triggering works. Port Triggering is best suited for port forwarding multiple devices all at once, and it is highly secure too. 

Here is a detailed breakdown to understand Port Triggering better. This process handles communication between external and internal IP networks or host machines via a NAT-enabled router. NAT means Network Address Translation, which filters multiple IP addresses and turns them into a single IP address on a local area network. Your NAT router will be responsible to check the internet traffic within the local area network (LAN).

So, when you open a port for another network or server, port triggering will open it upon your request and close it when you are not using it. The port expires automatically, which makes it safer for you because no one can intercept the traffic. In short, it is an outgoing connection that creates, or more precisely triggers, an incoming port forwarding that expires when the traffic is left idle.

How do I Set Up Port Triggering?

Step 1: Log in to your router’s setup page from your internet browser.

Step 2: Go to the Port Forwarding Trigger or Port Forwarding page. 

Step 3: Enter a port number and choose Add Service. 

Step 4: Mention the details of outbound packets to trigger ports. To do that, you have to pick a unique name and choose Any from the drop-down list. Now, select the IP addresses of devices you wish to port trigger as well as the service type. 

Step 5: Enter the details of inbound packets that you wish to port forward by selecting the connection type. Also, you have to fill the starting and ending port fields.  

Step 6: Once you are done with that, click Apply.

How Does Port Triggering Work?

During port triggering, the router monitors the incoming and outgoing traffic within the network. The trigger port is specified by the user who sends the outbound data. The router does its job by logging the IP addresses of devices that have sent traffic to a particular port. Once the router receives an incoming port, it opens those ports before forwarding the traffic to that location.

Keep in mind that when you’re port forwarding, you choose the trigger port and also specify which incoming ports or range you want to use. Port triggering is considered to be secure because ports are closed when they aren’t in use. This minimizes points of entry that cyber attackers can attempt to exploit.

When is Port Triggering Used?

Typically, port triggering is used when the user needs to use port forwarding to reach multiple computers on the same IP address. At the same time, port triggering is also used when applications need to open incoming ports that are different from the outgoing port.

Port triggering is also used by network administrators to find or configure a port or ports to one local computer. Port triggering is considered to be dynamic because ports are opened when they are needed and closed when they aren’t in use.

Ather Owais Ather Owais is a tech and cybersecurity enthusiast. He is a strong advocate for online privacy and security, following technological trends and their impact on today's digital era.

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