What is DMZ Networking? (Simplified)
DMZ would be helpful if you were hosting a game server on your home network that needed to communicate with the outside world. You can then allow this device into the DMZ while blocking all other devices from accessing it.
What Is DMZ Networking?
The DMZ, better known as the demilitarized zone or neutral zone, is a segment of network space that allows for some communication between two networks. This means if you have an internal LAN and another public internet connection on your router/firewall, you can then set up devices to communicate through this area. You may also want to use the DMZ to allow specific ports into your private network while restricting others.
How Does DMZ Networking Work?
Suppose a computer on the DMZ has an IP address of 192.168.0.100 and requests information from another device, such as 192.168.0.101. In that case, the router will route those packets through its port to allow communication between devices within that network segment or zone (DMZ).
If this same request were made by a computer in your private LAN attempting to communicate with one outside of it, then the data would be blocked because these two networks are not allowed to reach each other directly without going through some sort of firewall/router first – unless you have configured rules allowing them to do so inside their respective zones.
In short, think of DMZ networking as saying, “you’re allowed to cross this line, but only if you’re carrying an ID card.” You can go between both sides (DMZ and LAN), but not without the proper credentials.
The router functions as a bouncer of sorts, allowing some devices to pass through while restricting others. If someone wanted to get into your private network, it would be like trying to walk across that same line without any sort of identification. This is why DMZ networks are used for hosting game servers or other services to allow them access to outside resources because they have been permitted by being added into the DMZ configuration.
Why Use DMZ Networking?
Allow Access To Outside Devices
The main reason you would use DMZ networking is to allow external devices access into your private network. However, this does not mean they are directly connected to it. They still have no physical connection and must communicate through the router that sits between them.
This means if someone were to attempt an attack on one of these servers, it gets filtered by all other traffic entering or leaving your home/office LAN, including any requests sent from within your internal network. This makes it an excellent place to host game servers, consoles, web services, or other devices that need access outside your private network.
Reduce The Number Of Ports
DMZ Networking can also be used to reduce the number of ports needed for communication between specific devices inside and outside the LAN. If you hosted a game server through this method, then only incoming traffic from PSN/XBL gamers would go into port 3074 on your router.
Allowing more freedom with fewer open ports is always preferred when configuring firewalls and reducing risk by minimizing what’s allowed past them without strict management – which is where DMZ comes into play. In short, use DMZ if you want less hassle managing firewall rules while something like an Xbox One, PSN, Steam, etc., is still allowed to communicate with other devices on your network.
How Does DMZ Hosting Work?
DMZ hosting allows you to set up your private server on a single PC or game console. You can then host this device in the DMZ network of your router/firewall and allow incoming connections from other devices outside of it. This way, they do not need access to your home LAN for communication between them but still must pass through some sort of security (the firewall) before sending data back out again.
Suppose you wanted to play multiplayer games over the internet with others hosted inside your home network. In that case, there are several ways you could go about doing so depending on what kind of setup you have available:
Use Two Routers
One connected directly to the modem, which provides an IP address range only accessible by ISP technicians who manage the connection outside your home/office. The other router would then be used to divide your internal network into two separate zones with a DMZ host for multiplayer games between them. In this scenario, only incoming connections are allowed through the modem’s IP range managed by ISP techs. At the same time, everything else stays on private LAN addresses accessible only by devices inside of it.
Use A Single Router
One has built-in support for hosting game servers or custom firmware like DD-WRT, Tomato, etc. This way, you do not need any additional hardware and simply set up port forwarding rules allowing traffic from external sources to reach specific devices on your private network (the server). While this method does work, it requires configuring your router, which takes time and isn’t always accessible for all routers.
Use A Single Router With DMZ Support
This would be the same as using custom firmware since it will provide port forwarding rules to forward traffic from external sources and has built-in DMZ hosting. This means you do not need to configure anything on the device because any ports forwarded through the firewall are automatically given access outside of it by default (DMZ). No additional hardware is needed, so no extra cables or power adapters are required, like in Method # two above. You simply connect your internal LAN devices into one switch (or wireless network) then plug that into your DMZ-enabled WAN/Internet port. From there, everything else can stay plugged directly into your main switch/router and configured as needed.
Advantages of DMZ Networking
- Works to block any traffic not explicitly allowed through the firewall/router.
- Allows DMZ hosts access to outside resources while still allowing other devices on the LAN unrestricted.
- Allows hosts outside of the LAN to access resources on your internal network through a router that filters traffic.
- Provides a single point of contact to allow access from external devices into your private network.
- Sometimes reduces the number of ports needed to allow communication between specific devices.
- Allows for easier management of hosts within the DMZ.
- Minimizes the need for port forwarding rules.
Advantages Of Using A Dedicated DMZ Network
Connectivity Between All Devices Is Optimal Without Any Conflicting Network Rules
Since this is not your main LAN, you can configure the router with custom firewall/port forwarding rules that only affect these specific hosts on their own dedicated DMZ subnet. You would have complete control over how traffic flows between them and everything else outside your private network, which means no issues when trying to play online games or access resources across various ports as needed for proper operation.
This also allows better management of security risk since each device has its own set of ports being forwarded, allowing users to easily block anything they do not want by simply removing necessary port entries from within the firewall list instead of relying on third-party applications and services.
Can Allow For Multiple Different DMZ Hosts To Communicate With Each Other Across Your Private Network Without Conflicting Rules
Although this is not always recommended depending on the devices, you are using. When trying to access resources such as multiplayer servers or communication between them requiring specific ports forwarded. You also run a greater risk of exposing vulnerabilities within these machines which can further open up your entire private network along with any connected IoT devices running older firmware/software that could be exploited by malicious actors looking to gain entry into your home through one host machine and then spread throughout everything else connected, resulting in higher potential impact than what would typically happen from having only one host device.
Can Allow For Easier Maintenance/Upgrades To Your Home Network
This can be especially beneficial if you are using VPN services allowing remote access into your private network, making it unnecessary to reconfigure any firewall rules on your router when adding or removing devices from the mix so long as they do not block specific ports during use (i.e., game consoles). Some users may prefer having all traffic go through their regular day to day machine anyway instead of splitting everything up into separate DMZ subnets just for ease of configuration, but this also means higher security risk by potentially exposing more than necessary depending on how many different are running simultaneously along with other factors.
Can Be Great For Hosting Servers Accessible Across Your Private Network By Other Machines
Suppose that you are looking to host multiple different game servers or applications that require specific ports forwarded. In that case, this is an ideal way of doing so without needing a third-party service that has its own monthly cost associated.
However, some users may prefer having their regular machine act as a server instead while still being protected on the local level if anything happens and preventing any unnecessary use from outside sources trying to connect into these services (i.e., DDoS attacks).
This can also apply if using VPS/Cloud services allowing access directly through VPN tunnels since security protocols will not function normally unless all traffic goes through your router first traveling into another provider’s system. It then gets routed back to your local machine.
Disadvantages of DMZ Networking
- It can cause issues if not configured correctly.
- Allowing traffic into the private network requires that you open up more ports than necessary. This increases your risk by reducing security through faulty configuration/setup.
- DMZ hosts are connected to your internal network, making them more susceptible to attacks.
- Allowing hosts outside of the LAN (DMZ) direct access to your private networks increases security risks.
- Requires a static IP address to be assigned if hosts have access outside of the LAN.
- Can increase security risk by opening up a single point of contact to your private network resources.
Requires That Only One Device Be Allowed Access Through The Firewall/Router
Which is not always possible or practical in some cases. In this case, other devices on LAN must be accessible from outside sources directly without going through the host machine first.
Suppose you have ever used Steam’s server browser and selected games hosted inside your local home network with multiple consoles connected. In that case, this will defeat the purpose since all communication between them still goes directly over WAN rather than being routed internally as designed (LAN).
This can also allow communication into machines otherwise inaccessible from the outside.
Can Cause Issues With Online Games That Require Certain Ports To Be Forwarded For Proper Operation
If you only have one DMZ host, this may not work correctly if required network traffic is being filtered through its WAN/Internet port instead of directly into your LAN switch where other devices are located. This can also affect any outbound connections on these machines if they cannot reach an external resource while operating in a DMZ environment, allowing them to operate as intended when placed back on your private network. Some routers provide options allowing some traffic to bypass the router and communicate directly. Still, routing tables need to be configured manually by techs or end-users alike, depending on their level of experience with networking rules.
Who Should Use A DMZ Network?
- Gamers who want to host game servers at home.
- People looking for an easy way to manage firewall rules or reduce the number of ports needed between specific devices on their LAN.
- Anyone who wants a single point of contact to allow external connections into their private network without sacrificing security.
- Small businesses who are looking for a simple way to secure their networks with DMZ connections.
- People who are looking for a simple way to allow access into their private networks without sacrificing security.
- Anyone who wants complete control over how they want their network configured.
The idea behind DMZ is that it will protect your private inner networks by creating an outer perimeter with only limited access points. That way, if any of those entry points were compromised, they would remain inside the DMZ and unable to enter the innermost parts of your systems. Using this concept can reduce vulnerability and intrude harder for hackers because there are fewer targets available to attack.