Virtual Private Network (VPN) was designed to allow
remote access to enterprise users by extending a private network across a
public network, such as those provided by the Internet.

Securing data traveling over public networks is achieved
through the use of encrypted tunneling protocols. IPSec, PPTP, and L2TP are
standards-compliant for use in IPv4 and IPv6 networks and are among the more
commonly used protocols. Additionally, prior to establishing a tunnel through
which data will be sent and received, end-points must authenticate through the
use of passwords or pre-installed digital certificates.

Configure iOS for VPN access

Here are the requirements for configuring VPN access on your iOS device:

  • VPN Server or 3rd-party VPN service
  • VPN Account (provided by VPN administrator)
  • VPN Configuration settings (provided by VPN
  • End-point (iOS 4.1+ devices)
  • Wi-Fi or cellular Internet access

Follow these steps to configure iOS for VPN access:

  1. Go to Settings | General | VPN (Figure A)
    Figure A
  2. Tap Add VPN Configuration… (Figure B)
    Figure B
  3. iOS supports three VPN protocols: L2TP (Figure C), PPTP, and IPSec. Though similar to
    configure, each has additional information that is required before a connection
    can be established.
    Figure C
  4. To configure IPSec, tap the IPSec tab and enter
    the credentials (Figure D), including configuration information provided by the VPN
    administrator or 3rd-party VPN service. 
    Figure D
  5. Once the VPN account has been created, go to
    Settings and swipe the button to switch the VPN service on (Figure E).
    Figure E
  6. When prompted to authenticate, enter the
    credentials in the provided fields and tap OK (Figure F).
    Figure F
  7. If prompted with a connection message, tap OK to
    proceed. While optional, many VPN services provide a warning message with compliance information, referencing policies or other minutiae to inform
    end-users prior to establishing connectivity (Figure G).
    Figure G
  8. To verify the VPN service is active, a letters
    “VPN” will appear on the top-bar of all iOS devices to indicate all
    incoming/outgoing Internet traffic is being routed through the VPN service and
    is subject to the VPN service’s guidelines (Figure H).
    Figure H

Giving users the ability to access data and corporate
Intranet sites via VPN is both a secure and cost-effective way to maintain
productivity while adhering to management and security policies. A side-benefit
to VPN access for non-corporate users lies in how data is secured from outside
probes. This is recommended by security experts in light of Wi-Fi hotspot use
and the threat to private information they pose, because users often access personal
information while they’re connected.

Do you connect to VPN from your iOS device? Share your experience and any tips you’ve learned along the way in the discussion thread below.