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Virtual Private Networks

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What is a VPN?

A VPN is a secure connection across the internet to a private network.

We have two VPNs:

The University VPN
The University VPN 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
The School of Informatics OpenVPN 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.

Links to get you started

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. Some services are only available to computers on the University network, or on the School of Informatics network. If you use a VPN, you can be on the network - and access those services - wherever you are.
  4. 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. But inside that there is also a second firewall, around the School of Informatics network. Although the University VPN gives secure access to the University network, it does not give access inside the Informatics firewall. Only the Informatics OpenVPN can do that. So if you need to use a service which is only available on the Informatics network, you'll need to use Informatics OpenVPN.
  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: 
11/04/2019

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