What are VPN ports?
VPN ports are virtual network ports that VPN protocols use to handle secure connections between a client and a VPN server. Through these ports, traffic travels securely through an encrypted tunnel. Default VPN ports depend on a VPN protocol. However, a user can customize them. The most common VPN ports include 1194 for OpenVPN UDP and TCP port 443, 500 for IPsec/IKEv2, and 1723 for PPTP.
How VPN ports work
VPN ports are used in a secure communication tunnel between the client device and the VPN server. The client device sends network traffic encrypted by the VPN protocol, which acquires a port number for data transmission. The encrypted data is then routed through firewalls, routers, and other network devices to ensure a safe transfer to the VPN server. In short, VPN ports are essential in establishing a secure VPN tunnel.
What are VPN port numbers?
Every device connected to an online network will have a unique IP address. Port numbers exist to indicate several different operations happening under each address. In short, port numbers exist so the software can identify data and send it to the correct address.
Every operation has a unique port number. For example, a file transfer protocol uses port number 20 for data transfers. Depending on how you’ve configured your port-forwarding rules, the software will read the number, understand where that data needs to go, and then send it on its way.
Without ports, devices wouldn’t be able to interact and communicate with each other over an internal network or the internet.
What kind of ports does a VPN use?
A VPN can use a variety of ports depending on the specific protocol being used for the VPN connection.
NordVPN implements the OpenVPN protocol. The open-source nature of this protocol means it’s continually being tested for security loopholes by devs. For NordVPN to work on your network, your router needs ports 1194 UDP and 443 TCP to be open.
Here’s a list of the most often used VPN protocols and the port numbers that must be open for the software to work.
- Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) — Port 1723 TCP
- Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) — Ports 1701 TCP, 500 UDP, and 4500 UDP
- Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) — Ports 500 UDP and 4500 UDP
- Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) — Port 443 TCP
- OpenVPN — Ports 1194 UDP and 443 TCP
What is port forwarding?
Port forwarding is a technique that allows external devices or computers on the internet to communicate with specific services or applications running on devices within a local network. Creating a data stream that acts independently from protective software opens a user to a world of risk. If you’re still curious, here’s a port forwarding guide.
NordVPN is not compatible with any form of port forwarding. Port forwarding requires certain ports to be open, whereas NordVPN closes off all ports that aren’t needed to create a secure connection environment.
Which ports should you avoid?
There isn’t a single VPN port you can guarantee is 100% secure. What’s available is a selection of ports and protocols with varying degrees of security. The most common VPN ports will naturally have robust protective measures. After all, a premium product warrants premium service.
The security of a port depends on the service running on that port and its configuration. The port number itself does not determine the security level. It’s essential to ensure that all services, regardless of the port, are properly secured and regularly updated to mitigate potential security risks.
When it comes to your online security and privacy, you can’t skip corners. Do your research and make an informed decision as to what VPN service you should choose. NordVPN is the world’s leading VPN for a reason — unparalleled and unbeatable coverage. With 5,500+ servers in over 60 countries, you’re never too far from a safe and secure internet connection.