• United States

Looking for a simple but secure VPN

May 31, 20042 mins

I have a small construction company and live 35 miles from my office.  What is the simplest, yet most secure method to use VPN  technology to hook up to my office from home and vise versa? Linksys states that they have the solution; i.e., VPN  router/gateway.  Do you agree?  Is there a better solution? Do I need third party software if using the VPN router/gateway?

— Tom Gorman

A simple option that you can look at is a service called GoToMyPC – it would be handy for those times you’re at a remote location and need to get into your PC. The problem is that if someone happens to guess or see your login and password, he now has the keys to do pretty much anything he wants to.  You can also use PC/Anywhere for remote access but it runs the same password risk as GoToMyPC.

So “simple and secure” may be somewhat of an oxymoron. Linksys is one option but for a business such as yours, I’d look for a more industrial-strength answer. This is especially true  since, the last time I checked, the Linksys system you mention didn’t come with a VPN client, which means you’d have to get third-party software, which could bring problems of its own (for example, conflicts with other device drivers).

One affordable option would be Cisco’s PIX 501 – a firewall/VPN  device that I’ve seen selling on eBay for under $500. 

With a PIX at each end of the connection, you can set up a VPN  tunnel between locations, without having to do anything to the PCs at either end (this is called a site to site VPN  connection).  You can get  access to computers at one location from the other.  If it turns out your access needss are mostly one way (for example, you always connect from the road to your office, but never the other way around), you can put just one PIX in and then use the included VPN  client software to get a secure link to the office.