IP Camera Port Forwarding (Remote Access Setup Guide)
IP cameras are increasingly popular for both home and business security.
These cameras allow users to remotely monitor their property, providing much-needed security and peace of mind in various situations.
To access an IP camera remotely, users must first work out how to configure the device for remote access. This manual process is known as port forwarding, and it can prove rather complex for those who are new to or entirely unfamiliar with networking concepts.
In this guide, we will explain what port forwarding is, why it is necessary for IP cameras, and how to kickstart the process. We will also offer some pivotal tips for ensuring that your IP camera is securely accessible from anywhere. Let’s dive straight in.
IP camera port forwarding is a process that enables users to access their security cameras over the internet. This gives users the ability to their cameras remotely, either on a computer or through a mobile app. Port forwarding is necessary because the vast majority of IP cameras use a specific port to communicate with other devices on the network.
When a device, such as an IP camera, sends data across a network, it achieves this using a specific port number. You can think of this port number as a virtual door that allows data to get sent and received by the correct device. Once a device is connected to a local network over the internet, the data must first pass through a router before it reaches the desired destination.
While the port number is like a virtual door, the router acts as a gateway, allowing devices on your local network to successfully communicate with the internet. As standard, routers and ISPs are configured to block any incoming connections from the internet, solely as a security measure to prevent unauthorized access to devices on the local network.
With this in mind, to access an IP camera over the internet, the user will need to configure the router to forward any incoming connections on the specific port used by the camera to the local IP address of the camera. This will not be an issue with LocalXpose.
Let's consider an example of how to configure port forwarding for an IP camera.
Think about a scenario where your IP camera is listening on port 8080/TCP and it is not accessible through the internet. The only people who can access it are on the same local area network. To open up access to the server, you need to configure port forwarding on your router so that you can access the IP camera on port 8080/TCP through the internet.
To access the local server, you will need to download LocalXpose on your device. This is a reverse proxy that allows you to expose your localhost to the internet. From your terminal, you can ask LocalXpose to forward any connections coming from the internet (on port 4444) to your local RDP. The command should look something like this:
./loclx tunnel http --subdomain camera --to localhost:8080
This command will generate an address for you, such as camera.loclx.io, which you can use outside your local network to access your IP camera. Through IP whitelisting, a reverse proxy solution like LocalXpose gives you the ability to enable access to designated IP addresses, ensuring that only those you specifically authorize can access your IP camera.
When you decide to configure an IP camera for remote access, you first must choose a port for the camera to use. As you will have seen in the example, the port is a numerical value that identifies a specific network connection on your router.
Even though the port number you choose for your IP camera is not particularly important, you should not use a port number that is already in use by another device on your local network. Generally, it is good practice to pick a port number above 1024, as these are often reserved for well-known services such as HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP.
The last thing you want to do is create unnecessary conflicts with other devices on your network. After you have picked the port number for your IP camera, you must configure the camera itself to use the port. This can usually be done through the camera's web-based configuration interface. You can look at the camera's manual for instructions on how to do this.
To access an IP camera from outside your local network, it must be configured for port forwarding. This is because the camera is connected to your home or office network, which is typically behind a router. The router acts as a gateway, allowing devices on your local network to communicate with the internet.
However, the router/ISP is also designed to block incoming traffic from the internet, for security reasons. This means that, without port forwarding, your IP camera would not be accessible from outside your local network.
Most IP cameras use the Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) for streaming video, and the port that this protocol uses is typically TCP port 554. In addition, many cameras use HTTP or HTTPS on port 80 or port 443 for accessing the camera's web interface.
For example, if you are using a popular brand of IP cameras, such as Nest or Arlo, you will likely need to open ports 554, 80, and 443.
It's worth noting that the exact ports used by your IP camera may vary depending on the make and model. Read your camera's documentation or visit the brand’s website for more information.
Once you have determined the ports that need to be opened for your IP camera, the next step is to start LocalXpose and forward the traffic to these ports. With LocalXpose no need to configure your firewall nor router.