DMZ host for home routers is a fairly easy option to setup. However, the usual routers options or tooltip do not usually tell you how dangerous it can be when you are setting up DMZ host. In this simple to understand guide, we will go over everything that you need to know about DMZ and when to set up your common DMZ host for regular home use.
What is DMZ and DMZ Host and their Difference
A true DMZ is basically a section of your network that is exposed to the internet but do not connect to the rest of your internal network. However, most of the home routers offer DMZ setting or DMZ host settings. These settings allow you to just expose one computer or one device to the internet.
The problem is that this specific computer can still talk to the rest of your internal network. This means that if the “DMZ host” has been broken into and infected with computer virus or internet malware, it may affect the rest of the devices on your home network.
Thus, when you are setting up a “home” DMZ or DMZ host, you have to be really careful. In fact, you generally should not use the home router’s DMZ function at all if you can avoid it.
It should be noted that DMZ or DMZ Host does not improve the performance speed or latency of your router’s connection to the server. It is simply a security measure (or lack of) that decides whether or not the devices is completely open to the internet.
Being a DMZ host means that it will have all its router ports open and respond to internet queries and pings. Although your PC or server machine may have other software firewall, the router acts as your first line of defense. By being a DMZ host, you are open to attacks that your router would have other wise blocked with the usual router firewall.
Alternative to DMZ Host
Instead of using the DMZ host function with your router, setting up port forward is a much better alternative than a straight cut DMZ Host. This is because the DMZ host setting on your router for a regular PC or MAC is generally considered NOT safe nor secure.
When to Actually Use Router DMZ Host
1. Use DMZ Host as a last measure as a troubleshooting tool.
If you simply cannot get port forwarding or your router setup correctly to allow certain kind of tunneling or connections. You may want to use DMZ temporarily to see if the router is causing the issue or your server’s setting. However, you should make sure the DMZ machine is up to date with all the security patches before doing so.
2. Use DMZ Host for applications that requires random port to be opened.
You may be stuck with DMZ host if you are dealing an application that requires all ports to be opened. Make sure your DMZ device has all security updates in place.
3. When you need to host a home based web server
Although it is better to host webservers and only port forward the needed ports for the web server. You can consider putting your web server under router’s DMZ. But you may want to use two home routers to separate your web server and your internal network to achieve a “true DMZ”. However, the setup is outside the scope of this general DMZ guide.
4. Use DMZ Host for gaming consoles
Although in most cases a proper port forwarding and router NAT settings can allow perfect connection for your gaming consoles such as Xbox One, Xbox 360, ps3, ps4, or Nintendo. Sometimes you may still have issues. Put your gaming consoles as a DMZ when all else fails to see if it will make a difference.
Actually Setting Up DMZ Host with your Router
Use Static IP
Assign Static IP to the device that you want to become the DMZ Host. This is important so that your router does not assign a random IP to a machine that you do not wish to be the DMZ.
Make Sure the Devices is Updated with latest security patches
Putting your device as DMZ can pose as a serious security risk if you do not know what you are doing. Make sure to upgrade that device with all the latest patches to fend off the most common attacks.
Input the Static IP assigned as DMZ Host
With the DMZ host setting, input the local IP for the machine that you wish to be the DMZ. With it, you should be done with most of the basic Router DMZ host setups.
Consider Setting Up “True DMZ”
If you are setting up a personal game server or web server that requires you to use DMZ, consider getting two routers and setup a “true DMZ” zone so that your server machine is blocked away from internal network. This may help you with your network’s security in most cases.