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I'm having trouble connecting to other players in Company of Heroes online, and I know that port forwarding will fix the problem. I already know what ports to forward, and how to port forward, but my question is, how much of a security risk is it to port forward?

I want to be able to play online games, but I don't want a hacker getting into my network either......As a note I already have software Anti-Virus and a Firewall.

Any help would be appreciated! :D
 

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Well, if you do port forwarding, an attacker will know for sure that there is a PC at your IP address. Also, depending on the software that is receiving traffic, an attacker may be able to probe the software for responses to identify what it is. Then, the attacker will have to find an exploit that works on that game you have which can grant him access to your computer.

So, whether you choose to port forward or not depends on how much you trust the security of your game. Does it offer responses to anyone that comes knocking? Lets say the game dutifully answers the attacker that 'I am Company of Heros', are there any weaknesses to exploit ? You can browse SecurityFocus or SANS's @Risk vulnerabilty lists to see if whitehats have identified any weaknesses. Even if you don't find anything at those sites, it may still possible that blackhats have a secret weapon that the whitehats don't know about. Also, the attacker may not target the game, but may target other parts of the machine like for example the TCP/IP stack of your exposed machine. For example Windows has a recent IGMP vulnerabilty.

So you see, security folks will usually be very cautious when forwarding ports. They'll make sure Everything is patched and up to date. And try to expose the minimum surface area for an attacker to play with.
 
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