I have been running a couple home web cams that I can view when away from home, by opening ports on my router. They are strongly password protected.

An IPCam forum that I read says that you should never ever open ports, but should instead use a VPN. The forum explains that hackers can penetrate these ports and install/run malicious code. But they don't detail HOW hackers do this or whether passwords solve the problem or not.

My new (installing soon) router has a VPN built in so it shouldn't be a problem to set that up. I just want to know the "why".


  • fwiw, a camera could send out w/o ports, sounds like the cam is poorly authored. – dandavis Oct 27 '17 at 11:36

IP Cameras, like many IoT devices, were not built with security in mind. As the Mirai botnet showed us, many operate with insecure protocols (telnet) and have either hard coded credentials, or default credentials it does not force the user to change. Couple this with the fact that many will never receive a firmware update so long as they are online, and the replacement time on such a device can be up to 10 years and you've got a security nightmare in the works.

A VPN allows your cameras to operate behind your firewall, which means you are not directly exposing your cameras to the internet. You utilize the VPN to get "beyond" your firewall so you can access local resources, like the cameras in this instance.

Many cameras and other IoT devices also like to decide for themselves what ports to open and close, so for this reason I would also highly recommend disabling UPnP on your new router as well to further protect you from malice.

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