How to set up your own virtual private network (Part 2)

3/27/2012 4:40:14 PM

How to set up your own virtual private network (Part 2)

Set up a mesh VPN

The process to set up a VPN with Hamachi depends on the network you want to make. A mesh network is suitable for most domestic purposes and easy to set up. To begin, just need to install client application and click the large button “Power On”. You will be asked to name your computer on Hamachi: default suggestion is the name of your computer using on the current Windows network; but because Hamachi is completely private, you can choose another name if you want.

Description: mesh VPN

When you complete it, your computer will be assigned IPv4 and IPv6 for Hamachi (you will see them on the top of the window). They are only used on Hamachi network, and will not interfere with current connections. The only exception is that while Hamachi works, you can’t access to any websites using IPv4 address in the range 5.x.x.x: Hamachi uses this range for VPN connections, but it is also used by an internet registration company based in Netherland. However, in reality, it just affects to a small number of special websites, so it’s not sure that you will have problems.

When your computer is registered with Hamachi, you can set a mesh network by clicking blue button “Create a new network” and enter new name and password for the network. The name of the network must be unique all over the world, so it could waste time searching for a valid name, and of course, password should be hard to be guessed.

Now you can set up VPN from this PC to other connected PC – or Mac – around the world. Just need to install the software on remote system, press the power button and name this client. Click “Join an existing network”, enter the name and password of the network and you will be connected – it’s really simple.

In the main Hamachi window, you will see the name and address of other computers and if you return the first computer, you will see your new client listed there. On the left of each name of clients, you will notice a color indicator. Green means that the client is connected successfully with the VPN; blue means that it may get trouble with the transition between gates on the router: in this case, read Hamachi guideline to find the instruction for TCP gate or static UDP configuration.

The communication throughout VPN

When your client is present in Hamachi interface, you can click right on its name to see many different menu options. Ping option will send a TCP package to the client to confirm that it actually works and reacts. Chat allows you to open a window to communicate directly with other PC users. The network admin can also evict a client from the network, if necessary.

A more useful option is Browse, which opens a new Explorer window shows available network resources on selected computers. All traffic transferred Hamachi is encrypted with 256bit AES encryption – in the words of LogMein, it ‘uses the same encryption as banks” – so you can consider the security of this connection as same as local LAN. However, note that Hamachi just provide the connection: you also need a valid account on a remote PC to access shared drivers, and you may be asked to enter the password. If you are trying to access shared resources stored on Mac from the PC client, you have to make sure that SMB sharing option is enabled.

If you want to perform more advanced online tasks, you can use Hamachi name and IP address of the remote PC, as described in the client list, to access it directly, as if it stayed on your home network. By this way, you can easily access shared documents along with printers, storage forms and other resources such as webpages. You are able to configure game and internet tool to work with one or many PC connected to VPN as well.

Advanced networks

Mesh is the most convenient network for normal use because it is simple to set up and manage. If you want to create a hub-and-spoke network, you need a more advanced configuration. It is done through LogMein web interface – an interface you will be familiar if you used remote desktop service of the company. From the web control panel, you can establish a new network, accept or decline participation requests, and configure access permission.

It is a similar story if you want to configure a gateway network yourself. Here you have to use web administration interface to let network nodes act as gateway servers, and to manage client access. There are some technical limitations to consider: Mac can’t act like a gateway node now, as well as spokes can’t be members of a domain. For more details about how to set up and manage hub-and-spoke and gateway network, you will find more documents on LogMeIn website.


Free VPN for free talk

VPN is not the only way to share private resources. Combining with a remote proxy, it can be a valuable tool to access limited websites and services.

For example, in some countries, important websites of local authorities may be blocked or the access can be tracked. By using a VPN to connect to the proxy server outside the country, local people can access blocked website that nobody knows their location or track their traffic.

Similarly, browsing through a proxy connected VPN enables secure transactions – for instance, online shopping or banking – when you are connected to unsafe network, such as wireless public network. Without VPN, wireless traffic could be blocked by a blocking application and transactions are recorded by the administrator of that public network.

Although VPN is a vital part of this formula, only it is not enough – you also need someone to run a proxy to access. Luckily, there are several online services that you can use, often free, though some services may limit bandwidth or set limits on data transfer monthly. You will find free client application – Hotspot Shield on DVD, under Resources | Security or you can download at http://hotspotshield.com. Other options compose of CyberGhost (http://cyberghostvpn.com) and OpenVPN (http://openvpn.net).



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