Is DMZ Safe?


DMZ Online Safety

The DMZ is a special place in a router into which you can place devices which removes any firewall filtering and fully opens them up to the internet for best connectivity. It has it’s benefits but also comes with some risks as well.

We have already covered the process of placing your device into the demilitarized zone or DMZ on your router, but is this process actually safe to do for games consoles and other devices like PCs and laptops?

In summary, it is safe to put games consoles into the DMZ, but it is not considered safe to put other devices like PCs and laptops into the DMZ. Doing so could compromise the security of these devices and leave them open to viruses and hack attacks. This is not the case with games consoles.

This difference revolves around the fact that games consoles do not have the same security vulnerabilities that other devices do, as they are somewhat limited in the way users can connect to the internet and download data on them. Let’s look at the issue in more detail below.

Benefits of DMZ

The main benefits of placing a device in the DMZ is that it fully opens that device up to the internet for the absolute best and most open connection to other devices online. All firewall filtering is bypassed to any devices placed in the DMZ meaning that they can connect with the wider internet in a very free and open manner with no restrictions on data coming in or out.

The growth of IPv6 connectivity may put an end to the need for things like DMZ, but for the foreseeable future at least many people will still use IPv4 protocols for connectivity, which does sometimes have its problems. The limited number of IPv4 addresses means that network address translation or NAT types are needed, which can interfere with online connectivity for gamers.

DMZ somewhat resolves this by automatically placing a console on Open NAT and removing any firewall filtering for the easiest possible connection under IPv4. Once IPv6 is fully phased in, the larger address space will do away with the need for NAT and possibly DMZ altogether, but this will take years to fully bring in.

DMZ Diagram

The DMZ is a separate zone on your router which you can place devices on your home network into, which allows them to bypass firewall filtering and fully open them up to the internet for best connectivity.

DMZ is Safe For Games Consoles

Using DMZ carries with it some enormous benefits for gaming, basically improving end to end connectivity with other games consoles, which is crucial for reducing lag or latency when gaming online. See our article on DMZ for gaming for more details.

The good news is that it is safe to place games consoles into the DMZ, since they have restrictions on the way they are able to access the internet which mean they do have have the same security vulnerabilities that other devices do.

Put simply, games consoles cannot catch viruses because they cannot be put in a position where they can catch viruses. The internet browsers on them cannot download anything and any downloads that a games console does make for games, patches etc are done through channels carefully controlled and secured by the the console manufacturers.

The user does not have the same freedom of browsing on games consoles that they do on other devices and so cannot stray them off into territory where they could get infected, like downloading from suspect sites. Because of this it is safe to use DMZ on games consoles.

DMZ is Not Safe For Other Devices

Using DMZ on other devices however, is not considered safe, since PCs, laptops and other devices have more freedom in the way the user can access and download the internet and are therefore more vulnerable to catching viruses when firewall filtering is removed.

In these cases, placing a device which isn’t a games console into the DMZ becomes a risky thing to do, since one major component of security in the firewall is removed and the PC is fully opened up to the internet.

For devices where the user has more control over how they access the internet and what content they download from where, this is more risky and opens them up to being infected with viruses. For sure there are other lines of defense like antivirus software, device level firewalls and ISP filtering, but using DMZ here increases the dangers of browsing online.

So using DMZ is not recommend for devices other than games consoles. PC gamers should also be aware that using DMZ for their device is not considered safe and they should ideally find other ways to improve connectivity for their gaming to reduce latency.

How to Configure DMZ Settings

For game console users who do want to place their device in the DMZ so they can have the best connectivity to other gamers online,we have a step by step guide below, as well as an embedded video. The process can be either very easy or very cumbersome depending on how your router requires DMZ to be configured. See the steps below

Quick Summary – How to Place Your Console in DMZ:

  •  Prep – Log into your router using it’s IP address (often 192.168.0.1 or 1.1 for last two) plus password found on the back or online. Find DMZ settings and check whether it asks for an IP address or MAC address to configure. MAC address is easier option. If it requires IP address then follow the steps in the video to set a static IP address.
  • Find and note down your console’s IP and/or MAC address in the Connection Status/Settings menu depending on what the router needs entering. These settings are easy to find within the menus of all games consoles.
  • If required make the current IP address fixed or static by reconfiguring your connection manually with the IP address as described in this video. We also have an article on how to do it here. If the router only requires a MAC address entering in DMZ then you don’t need to do this step.
  •  Log into your router using it’s IP address and password, found on the back or on Google. 192.168.0.1 or 1.1 is most common for the IP address. Type this into your browser’s address bar and enter the router password.
  •  Go to DMZ settings, usually under “Security” or “Advanced” or similar.
  •  Enter in your console’s static IP address you just configured if needed, or MAC address depending on what it asks for. If it asks for just the MAC address the whole process is easy; some routers ask for an IP address which requires we configure a static IP as detailed above.
  •  Save settings and exit router. You have now placed your console in the DMZ for fully open ports and Open NAT type.

See also:

Oliver

Online gamer and general home networking enthusiast. I like to create articles to help people solve common home networking problems.

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