VPN quick tips

With distributed work forces the norm rather than the exception these days, virtual private networks are more of necessity than a luxury for administrators. Whether you are still deciding on the best way to deploy a VPN or are working on maintaining one, you will find some valuable resources in this quick guide.

With distributed work forces the norm rather than the exception these days, virtual private networks are more of

necessity than a luxury for administrators. This quick guide will provide information for administrators at different levels of the VPN lifecycle.

Pre-deployment education and decision making

Understanding IPsec identity and authentication options (LESSON)
Lisa Phifer
IPsec VPNs extend your network's security perimeter by connecting individual hosts or entire networks. Preventing unauthorized access starts with verifying the identity of those VPN tunnel endpoints. Using the wrong authentication method can lead to interoperability issues or corporate network compromise. This tip explores the IPsec VPN identity and authentication options supported by the Internet Key Exchange (IKE) standard, as well as common vendor extensions like Extended Authentication (XAUTH). Readers will learn valid parameter combinations and their security and deployment implications.

OpenVPN: An open source alternative to Windows VPNs (TIP)
Justin Korelc and Ed Tittel
Depending on your network needs, you may want to deploy an IPSec VPN to provide secure remote access to your workforce. Cost-conscious Windows shops will often stick with Windows offerings, but this article from Justin Korelc and Ed Tittel describes an open source VPN alternative called OpenVPN that is both scalable and simple.

Testing the security of your VPN deployment

Pen testing your VPN (TIP)
Joel Dubin
Your VPN is a vital gateway into your network for your company's road warriors, telecommuters and other remote users. Unfortunately, it's also a gateway for the less-than-scrupulous predators prowling the Internet for access to your network. This tip looks at why it's important to add your VPN to your pen testing process, and reviews tools and tactics for testing both IPSec and SSL VPNs.

Troubleshooting and maintaining your VPN

When to use Remote Desktop over VPN (TIP)
Serdar Yegulalp
When providing remote users protected access on a server, determine if they need it for connectivity or management purposes -- then you will know when to use Remote Desktop or VPN.

VPN connection issues post Windows XP SP2 upgrade (EXPERT RESPONSE)
Wes Noonan
We recently upgraded our clients' PCs to Windows XP SP2, but since then they cannot establish PPTP-VPN connections to their routers. How can we solve this problem?

Accessing the VPN after lock down (ASK THE EXPERT)
Roberta Bragg
If you do lock down the proxy settings on users' laptops via registry security or policy, what is the best way to allow them to use hotel Internet access via the VPN. If the laptop user's proxy is locked, how could the user authenticate to the hotel system and activate their room for Internet service to use it to connect to a corporate VPN?

XP SP2 affecting desktop access through a VPN (ASK THE EXPERT)
Kevin Beaver
When I try to access my desktop at my office through my VPN, if XP SP2 is on, it doesn't goes through. I open Security Center, turn it off and it goes through. What should I do to be able to connect while my XP firewall is on?

This was first published in November 2006

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