Pierce Firewall from within using netcat (e.g., for Bittorrent)

Opening ports in a firewall

If you find yourself behind a firewall that you cannot control, you often have no open network ports for others to contact you on. End-users generally only need this for peer to peer applications, such as Bittorrent and Skype.

Pretend to initiate an outbound connection using Netcat

Each time you make an outbound connection, the firewall creates a temporary opening to allow the other side to respond (say, Google to return your search results). You can exploit this feature to run Bittorrent or other servers. Pierce the firewall with a packet that originates from your computer and from the port that you want others to later contact you on (say, 6881 for Bittorrent). The easiest is to send a packet using netcat Using openbsd netcat, this worked for me:

nc -p 6881 www.google.com 80

Don't wait for a reply, just send the request, close netcat and open your real application. Note that the port will only remain open for a limited time if there is no traffic, so another computer has to make contact with yours practically immediately.


It should work on most of the low-end routers that ISPs give you: these simply open up a port if you use it. More secure routers will only allow data between two specific computers: yours and the host you contacted (in the example, google). Then, you cannot use the opened port to serve peer to peer traffic. In short, YMMV.

The example uses openbsd netcat. Flags differ between implementations.


I was quite surprised that I couldn't find a reference to this little trick online. I tried it out and it worked for me, but let me know if you see anything wrong with it.


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