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Will Hamachi get my kid in deep sushi?
August 18, 2012 10:36 PM   Subscribe

My twelve-year old is asking me to install Hamachi so that he can play Terraria over the Internet. Should I do it? What are the risks?

I know nothing about this Hamachi thing. But I like the idea of him being able to play games with his sister who's away at college. But how much trouble can he get himself (or us) into with Hamachi?

And if I do get Hamachi, how can I set it up to limit/monitor his use or otherwise reduce the risks?
posted by cross_impact to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
 
To sum it up for a tech newbie, Hamachi creates a virtual "tunnel" connecting your computer and his sister's computer. From your computer's point of view, it would be as if both computers were in the same house. This is so both your computers can connect to the Terraria server that presumably his sister is hosting.

The Hamachi software has been in widespread use since 2003 (I've personally used it) and I would say it's safe to use.
posted by xdvesper at 10:44 PM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Risky? Close to none - unless the computer he's connected to has problems.
posted by Brent Parker at 10:54 PM on August 18, 2012


Teach him to shut down Hamachi when he's not actually playing.
posted by peeet at 11:55 PM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I should clarify, sorry -- you don't want a trusted VPN connection to your computer unless it's absolutely necessary, or the remote user is absolutely trustworthy. Hence, shut down Hamachi when he's not playing.
posted by peeet at 11:57 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you might want to find out why Hamachi is needed to play a game that is already internet capable. Also since Hamachi is often bundled with LogMeIn you'll want to find out if any remote controlling will be at play (it likely won't perform well for a game if so as it uses VNC to display remote desktops and has a very low refresh).

If this is all just to get around blocked/firewalled ports, there appears to be a Terrania server service that could be used to set up a personal server...it's possible that could be customized to a particular port. Short of it is, I'm not sure if your 12 year old brother is picking the right tool to make this happen...and reverse tunnels can lead to exposing risk (as mentioned earlier) if set up a certain way. I'd probe for a little more information on how he intends to use it (and why it's needed, etc). There might be less overkill workarounds.
posted by samsara at 12:18 AM on August 19, 2012


Oops typo: Just 12 year old...who happens to be a brother.
posted by samsara at 12:21 AM on August 19, 2012


It's possible he's using Hamachi to get around the fact that they aren't using legitimate versions of the game which would report to a master server. At least that's what I used to do at his age. The program itself is pretty simple and not too involved in shady stuff.
posted by JauntyFedora at 12:23 AM on August 19, 2012


Actually I dug a little further and figured out where he may have gotten the idea. It looks like he does want to use the Terraria server service, and Hamachi is recommended to get around a home router. If that's the case I'd recommend port forawarding on the router instead. There's a few threads on this alternative if you Google "terraria hamachi.". For port forwarding you'll just need to know what TCP ports the server service uses, and the internal IP of the gaming computer.
posted by samsara at 12:29 AM on August 19, 2012


Yes, you could fartarse about with port forwarding, and what that would do is expose your Terraria server to inbound connections from anywhere on the Internet. Or you could install Hamachi and create a virtual private network between your 12 year old's computer and his sister's that only those two machines have access to. Your call.

Other machines can be (and probably will be, kids being kids) added to that VPN once created, but even so your exposure risk will be less; better for a handful of gamers to run sploits against your Terraria server than for the entire Internet to.

Traffic arriving via Hamachi doesn't usually get routed beyond the Hamachi endpoint. You can certainly make that happen but it takes work.

The main thing you need to be aware of when operating any VPN is that its endpoint is inside your NAT router's hardware firewall, which means you'll actually need to pay attention to the setup of your PC's inbuilt software firewall to stop unwanted stuff arriving via the VPN. Making sure your Terraria server's service port is the only one the firewall allows access to would be a good idea.

Hamachi has a certain amount of firewalling built in (it won't allow Windows file and print sharing traffic by default, for example) so make sure those settings suit you as well.

Limiting and monitoring kids' computer use is best dealt with by social means, not technical ones; you and the kids need to be operating from shared utility and security goals. Because if you take up positions on opposite sides of a technical enforcement measure, then unless you're a technician or a programmer they will beat you down because they have more time and energy than you do to devote to that war.
posted by flabdablet at 3:43 AM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hamachi to your daughter's computer is fine; it isn't a pathway to trouble in any way, and it is not going to install remote control software on the PC. LogMeIn -- which is a reputable company -- does offer remote access solutions, but they aren't automatically installed alongside Hamachi.
posted by ellF at 6:21 AM on August 19, 2012


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