What is a Port?

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Image of Common Networking Ports

Port is one of the most used terms in the world of computing and networks, if you are not familiar with this term this article is for you, because we are going to describe in a simple way what is a port, what are the types of ports and what they are used for.

The term port is quite common and refers to a part of a computer that allows us to establish communication between one or several different devices, either wired, via logic or wireless. To define what a port is, we can say the following:

A port is an interface or connector either internal or external that is used to communicate different types of hardware elements or software elements that allow us to send and receive data from one computer to another.

In conclusion, a port allows us to communicate one or several computing devices in order to send or receive information and establish communications between said devices.

Types of Ports

Basically, we have two types of ports , the first are used to communicate hardware or hardware and the second, are used to establish communications at the software level . Next, we will describe them in a simple way.

Hardware Ports

Image of Common Computer Hardware Ports

As the name implies, the hardware ports are intended to establish communications between hardware or physical devices . These allow us to communicate peripherals such as keyboards, various computing devices, speakers, modems, routers, mice and other elements to a computer or other computing device.

Among the most used hardware ports that we can find in different computing devices, we have the ports based on USB technology (mini USB, USB, micro USB). But also in this group memory ports , network ports , VGA port, HDMI port, PCI ports , among other connectors located on the back of the computer, or side devices such as Smartphones and tablets.

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Software Ports

Image of Common Networking Ports

Software ports also known as logical ports, these are located within the computer equipment and allow to establish communications with different programs, as well as perform the distribution of services and data flow between computer devices or even within the same PC. An example of this are the 21 ports used by the FTP service for file exchange, or port 515 associated with the printing service. A firewall closes unused ports to prevent viruses from reaching your PC.

With ports, data packets on the Internet can always be assigned to a suitable application. Your computer has a total of 65,536 ports. If a data packet, for example a mail, arrives on your computer, it will always be routed via the port reserved for mails.

For example, if you open the CHIP.de website, your computer will send a request to the web server for the required data. This request is sent via port 80, which is always used for websites. It will be easier to visualize.

Computers send data in small packages. The port is written to the package as a recipient. The parcel will then be passed through the door with the correct number and sent.

The protocols TCP and UDP have certainly crossed your path. This allows, among other things, direct connections between two applications on two computers. This is an advantage, for example, for direct file sharing.

The possible port numbers range from 1 to 65535. The first 1-1023 ports were set by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for certain services and purposes. For example, port 80 is used for surfing (HTTP), and port 25 is always used for mailing (SMTP).

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The ports between 1024 and 49151 can be freely assigned by programs and applications. Similar to a website, a company can get a port for their service so that the data packets arrive at the destination with guarantee.

The remaining ports between 49152 and 65535 are dynamic. That is, these ports are not directly attributed to any application. These, as well as all ports above 1023, are considered a potential security risk because malware can reach your computer through the ports. The firewall tries to prevent this circumstance as possible.

Sources:

https://buffered.com/glossary/port/

https://www.quora.com/What-is-a-port

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