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Virtual Private Networks

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A VPN is a secure connection across the internet to a private network. The University has two VPN services:

The University VPN Service
The University VPN Service routes all of a computer's network traffic through the University network, encrypting it securely on the way. Whatever the computer's physical location, it is effectively on the University network.
The Informatics OpenVPN Service
The School of Informatics OpenVPN service can do the same job for the School of Informatics network. Alternatively it can encrypt only traffic to the School network, leaving other traffic untouched.

Why use a VPN?

There are several reasons.

  1. It gives a secure private connection to our network from anywhere on the internet.
  2. Both the University network, and inside that the School of Informatics network, are protected by firewalls which shut out most external traffic. A VPN gives your computer a route through the firewall from outside.
  3. Your computer can be made to appear as if it was on the University (or School) network. This can be useful when using internet sites which are only accessible from University (ed.ac.uk) addresses.

Why use the Informatics OpenVPN?

  1. The University network is protected by a firewall which shuts out most external traffic. However there is a second firewall, this time around the School of Informatics network. Although the University VPN Service gives secure access to the University network, it does not give access inside the Informatics firewall. Only the Informatics OpenVPN service can do that.
  2. The University VPN routes all network traffic through the University network, but this might not always be desirable for personal network traffic. The Informatics OpenVPN service gives the choice of either routing all traffic or just School of Informatics-related traffic.
  3. When trying to use an internet resource which is only available to computers with an inf.ed.ac.uk address.
Last reviewed: 
05/05/2017

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