Mullvad VPN ends support for port forwarding

Martin Brinkmann
May 30, 2023
Updated • May 30, 2023
Privacy news, VPNs

Mullvad VPN is ending support for port forwarding. The organization announced the change on its official blog. Read on to find out why Mullvad has made the decision and what it means for customers of the service.

Mullvad VPN is a highly respected VPN service with a strong focus on privacy. It supports anonymous payments and dropped recurring payments recently to improve user privacy further. Mullvad launched a privacy-friendly browser recently, based on Firefox ESR and created in collaboration with the Tor Project.

Port forwarding is used to redirect requests from one address and port number to another. These requests may reach destinations that are behind a firewall, router or VPN. Common applications for port forwarding include allowing FTP or Secure Shell access to a private LAN host, and running public services on a private local area network.

Mullvad explains that its customers have used port forwarding to "allow a friend or family to access a service" that is running behind the VPN. Services included legitimate websites, game services or self-hosted servers.

The organization admits that its port forwarding service has also been abused in the past. Cybercriminals have used the VPN service and port forwarding to "host undesirable content and malicious services". Mullvad is known for its zero logging policy, which allowed malicious organizations to use the VPN to protect their operations.

Mullvad states that this abuse has led to inquiries from law enforcement agencies, the blacklisting of IP addresses, and the cancelling by hosting providers. Especially the blacklisting of IP addresses by Internet services has impacted the experience of Mullvad customers. Blacklisting affects all customers of the service, as they can't use a particular service at all or only limited.

Mullvad admits that abuse of the VPN's port forwarding feature has caught up with the service, and that the organization has made the decision to end support for it as a consequence. Some legitimate customers will be impacted by the decision negatively. The company has not revealed information on use of port forwarding by its customers, but the percentage is likely low.

Mullvad customers can't create new port forwards anymore already. Existing port forwarding instructions will be removed on July 1, 2023.

Customers who require port forwarding may check out the following list on Reddit, which lists VPNs that support port forwarding. Popular providers such as ProtonVPN, Private Internet Access, or Windscribe are listed as supporting port forwarding.

Closing Words

The vast majority of Mullvad customers won't be affected by the decision to stop supporting port forwarding. The decision should improve service availability and reduce issues that customers experience when they use the VPN to access Internet services.

Mullvad VPN ends support for port forwarding
Article Name
Mullvad VPN ends support for port forwarding
Mullvad VPN is ending support for port forwarding for all its customers. Here is what that means.
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  1. Anthony Marshall said on June 7, 2023 at 4:40 pm

    nVpn offers remote port forwarding as well:

  2. VioletMoon said on May 30, 2023 at 4:22 pm

    Nord does the same for the same reason:

    Browsing the internet with open ports exposes you to a number of security risks. Blocking access to all ports except those that are essential for VPN functionality is part of how NordVPN keeps you secure. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to ensure your safety online.”

  3. Tachy said on May 30, 2023 at 3:20 pm

    Oh come on, just say it! “File Sharing” aka “hosting torrents”.

    1. Matti said on May 30, 2023 at 8:12 pm

      It’s more to do with CSAM. Visit any site that tracks torrent downloads (ie; and you’ll get at least one CSAM hit for most Mullvad issued IP addresses. It’s reached a point where their hosting providers are threatening to stop doing business with them.

      Have to say I was a bit surprised when I first learned of this some months ago. Always figured the pedos would be using Njalla or some dark web seedbox.

      Now they’re all trying to move to IVPN but seem to be put off by the higher price and limited port availability – IVPN assigns one random port per account while Mullvad assigned five, I believe.

      Tom Spark is also working double-time trying to steer Mullvad refugees to his shady TorGuard VPN.

      1. vpnforever said on July 2, 2023 at 3:24 am

        And now IVPN cancels forwarding too… because pedos moved there from Mullvad (they literally mentioned it’s because of “Mullvad” in their news).

  4. TelV said on May 30, 2023 at 11:01 am

    I currently use the Wireguard app in combination with Mullvad VPN. I’m wondering now whether that will still work once port forwarding is abolished on Mullvad.

    1. TelV said on May 31, 2023 at 7:01 pm

      I clarified the position with Mullvad and they told me that only those connections which opened a port
      on the Mullvad site for allowing incoming connections to a server or service on their computer are affected.

      I’ve never used file sharing or torrents by the way. ;)

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