With security concerns continuing to rise, experts highly recommend using VPN to secure access to corporate data and mask online traffic from other users on public networks.
VPN works by creating a secure tunnel between the VPN server and client. This ensures that data communicating in both directions between end-points remain encrypted, even when accessing the server remotely from a home or public connection.
Configure OS X for VPN access
Here are the requirements for configuring VPN access in OS X:
- VPN Server or 3rd-party VPN service
- VPN Account (provided by VPN administrator)
- VPN Configuration settings (provided by VPN administrator)
- Apple computer running OS X (10.4+)
- Broadband or dial-up Internet access
Follow these steps to configure OS X for VPN access:
- Launch System Preferences.app from the Applications folder, and click on the Network preference pane
- Click the plus sign [+] sign to add a new connection
- For the Interface type, select VPN from the drop-down menu, select L2TP over IPSec as the VPN type, and enter a description for the Service Name (Figure A)
- Click the Create button to finish creating the VPN connection
- With the VPN connection created (Figure B), click on the Configuration drop-down menu, and select Add Configuration
- Provide a name for the configuration (Figure C), and then click the Create button to proceed
- Enter the Server Address (as a hostname or IP address) and the Account Name (which will serve as your username), as shown in Figure D
- Next, click Authentication Settings to further configure the authentication fields (Figure E). Under User Authentication, click on Password and enter the credential provided. For Machine Authentication, enter the Shared Secret provided by the VPN administrator. (Note: Though less common, other forms of user and machine authentication exist. These vary and depend strictly on the setup of the VPN server. Please consult the VPN administrator or 3rd-party service to determine which authentication type is in use and apply those settings in the necessary fields.)
- After clicking OK to save Authentication Settings, you'll return to the VPN settings pane. Click the Advanced button to configure optional settings, if necessary (Figure F). Pay particular attention to the Send all traffic over VPN connection checkbox. This may or may not be a requirement set by the VPN administrator or service provider.
- Typically, the VPN server will configure the TCP/IP, DNS, and Proxy settings dynamically. However, not all VPN services have the same configuration, and additional tweaking of any or all of these settings may be necessary to establish or maintain connectivity. Be sure to consult the configuration settings provided.
- Lastly, with the settings now configured, click on the Connect button to initiate a test communication with the VPN server. If a connection is successfully established, everything is setup properly. Click the Apply button to save all the settings to the VPN configuration. If the connection fails, double-check the settings entered against the configuration settings provided. Make sure any security certificates in use are signed and valid, as this is known to cause trouble when making a connection to the VPN server.
Tip: Check the Show VPN status in menu bar box to add an icon to the menu bar. From here, VPN connections can be easily established and various profiles managed with a few clicks of the mouse.
Apple has been hit with two critical vulnerabilities in recent security news. The flaws affect how encryption is implemented in both OS X and iOS, impacting key applications used to communicate online by users worldwide.
Configuring VPN access for iOS devices is a simple process that protects your private data while accessing open Wi-Fi networks. SOHO and SMB users can setup VPN service for remote access, all with the same benefits to company data and network protection as sitting behind the firewall.
Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 15 years of experience and multiple certifications from several vendors, including Apple and CompTIA.