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This chapter is from the book

Creating Virtual Private Network Connections

With the MacBook, you have many different ways to connect to networks wherever you are. Many companies, however, only give you access to certain resources when you’re connected directly to their networks. This puts a small crimp on the idea of “working on the go.”

To get around the access problem, many organizations provide VPN, or Virtual Private Network, servers. Using a VPN server, your MacBook can use its current network connection (wireless, wired, through an iPhone, or using a WWAN card) to securely connect to your company’s network. You are able to access all of the same resources that you see when you’re sitting in your office chair.

Creating a VPN Connection

Snow Leopard supports three types of VPN connections—L2TP, PPTP, and Cisco IPSec. You need to find out from your network administrator which option is right for you, along with the settings you need to make the connection.

  1. Create a new VPN connection by opening the System Preferences and clicking the Network icon.
  2. Click the + button at the bottom of the interfaces pane.
  3. Choose VPN as the interface.
  4. Set the VPN type to the type specified by your network administrator.
  5. Enter a meaningful name for the VPN service, such as “Work VPN.”
  6. Click Create.
  7. A new VPN interface is created and added to the list of network interfaces. Make sure the VPN interface is highlighted.
  8. Configuration options appear on the right side of the network preference panel. Enter the server address and account information provided by your network administrator.
  9. Click the Show VPN Status in Menu Bar item. This adds a menu item to the menu bar so you can quickly connect and disconnect from a VPN.
  10. Click the Authentication Settings button.
  11. You are prompted for a method of authentication. Enter a password or choose one of the other available options as directed by your network administrator
  12. Click OK.
  13. If you have been given specific network settings by your network administrator, click the Advanced button and enter the options as described in “Manually Configuring Network Settings.”
  14. Click the Connect button to connect to the VPN.

Configuring VPN on Demand

VPNs, like cookies, are a “sometimes” thing. If you don’t need to have a VPN connection active, you shouldn’t because it slows down your computer and eats up resources on the VPN server itself. Snow Leopard provides a simple way to automatically connect to your VPN when you need it. If, for example, you try to access an intranet website, Snow Leopard detects what you’re doing and connects to your VPN server automatically.

  1. To configure VPN on Demand service, open the System Preferences and click the Network icon.
  2. Highlight your VPN interface in the interface list.
  3. Click the Advanced button.
  4. Click VPN on Demand in the button bar.
  5. Click the + button to add a domain that triggers your VPN connection. (If you enter a domain you no longer want, remove it with the – button.)
  6. Type the domain into the field that appears (for example, “intranet.mycompanydomain.net”).
  7. If multiple configurations have been created (see the next section), you can choose a specific configuration to trigger when making the connection.
  8. Click OK to finish setting up VPN on Demand.
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