What is a Virtual Private Network?
Information Systems & Technology (IST) provides a Virtual Private Network service to the campus community to facilitate access to campus-based network resources.
The VPN uses the public Internet to connect a remote computer, such as a home computer or a laptop, securely to the Waterloo network. The underlying principle is to make the remote computer seem as if it were physically connected to the campus network.
Advantages of a VPN
Access to network resources
The most apparent advantage of the VPN is that is allows users off-campus to connect to network resources such as network drives.
Simple to use
Once the VPN connection is started, it works in the background to manage all traffic between the off-campus computer and the campus resources. There is no need to start special file-transfer programs or other software to get at campus resources. Opening a file that resides on a campus-based network drive is as simple as opening a file on the local computer.
VPN connections are encrypted end-to-end, using the same Secure Sockets Layer/Secure Sockets Layer (SSL/TLS) encryption that secure websites use. This means that email, file sharing, web browsing, calendars - all of the data between the off-campus and on-campus computers is encrypted and secure.
Improved campus-wide strategy for IT security
With the campus VPN in place, it is now possible for IT managers on campus to be more pro-active in securing services. In particular, websites that provide sensitive services can be restricted to campus addresses only, and off-campus access can be provided through the authenticated VPN connection.
For more information on the Waterloo VPN, including technical specifications, visit the IST Services site.