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Beginners Guides: VPNs and Internet Connection Security

Beginners Guides: VPNs and Internet Connection Security - PCSTATS
Abstract: This article is intended to deal with creating Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to connect a home network with the outside world.
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External Mfg. Website: PCstats Nov 16 2005   Mike Dowler  
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Setting up a VPN continued

When you allow VPN connections, Windows XP creates a Remote Access Server virtual network adaptor (RAS server) to handle the connections and hand out IP addresses to incoming connections. Each connection needs an IP address in the same network range as the one assigned to the RAS server in order to connect successfully. By default, the server is set to give out these addresses automatically as clients dial in.

The following screen allows you to specify the IP address settings that the remote computer will receive for the connection, if any. Using DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) to assign addresses (the default) will give the server and any connected VPN clients an address in the 169.254.xxx.xxx automatic private address range. Alternatively, you can specify a range of IP addresses to use. If you choose to do this, be sure to enter more than one address, as the RAS server will automatically take the first available address for itself.

You can also allow remote computers to use their own IP address settings, but this can cause connectivity problems. Note that if you want to allow computers within your local network to access files and folders on a remote computer that has connected via a VPN, as opposed to just allowing the remote computer access to the local computers, you must ensure that the IP address range used for VPN clients is in the same network as your LAN uses. Otherwise, the VPN client will be able to access the network, since the RAS server acts as a gateway for it, but computers within the network will not be able to connect to it.

For example, if your local network uses the 192.168.5.xxx network, you must specify IP addresses in the 192.168.5.xxx range for VPN clients also if you wish them to be accessible from your network.

To set up a remote computer to connect to your network via a VPN, you need a connection to the Internet, obviously, and some form of VPN client software that supports either PPTP or L2TP/Ipsec. Windows 2000/XP computers have this functionality built in, but Windows 98 and ME have PPTP only VPN clients that must be installed from the operating system CD using add/remove programs. Microsoft has free L2TP/IPsecVPN client software available for download that supports NT 4.0 and Windows 98/ME.

Windows 95 is not supported, though there may be third party VPN clients out there that will do the trick. We will describe setting up the connection on a Windows XP client, but the same options and general procedures apply for using the VPN client with other Microsoft operating systems also.

To set up a VPN client in Windows XP:

Go to start/programs/accessories/communication and start the new connection wizard. Select 'connect to the network at my workplace' the choose 'virtual private network connection.' In the current window, you can name the connection if you wish. This will only affect how it appears in the network connection properties window.

The next window governs whether Windows XP will attempt to connect to the Internet when you connect to the VPN. If you have always-on Internet like cable, or if you do not wish WindowsXP to dial your ISP for you, select 'do not dial the initial connection.'

You will now be prompted for the host name or IP address of the computer you are attempting to connect to. If your VPN server computer has DSL Internet, or some other form of dynamic IP connection, it is best to use a dynamic DNS service such as www.no-ip.com and substitute the hostname they will provide you with for the current IP address of your server.

This ends the basic configuration, but there are some more options we can look at which will be covered next.

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Contents of Article: PCstats
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: VPNs and Internet Connection Security
 Pg 2.  Network Tunneling
 Pg 3.  Types of VPN - PPTP
 Pg 4.  L2TP with IPSec
 Pg 5.  Creating a VPN in Windows XP
 Pg 6.  — Setting up a VPN continued
 Pg 7.  VPN and Security Options

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