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What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

A virtual private network, or VPN, is an encrypted connection over the Internet from a device to a network, such as the LBNL network. The encrypted connection helps ensure that sensitive data is safely transmitted and prevents unauthorized people from eavesdropping on the traffic and allows the user to conduct work remotely. The VPN also makes the device logically appear on the LBNL network, this can be useful to access resources that are restricted to the LBNL network. 

Why do I need to use VPN?

Maybe you don't?  The majority of Lab services are accessible from any place on the Internet, without VPN. You can access Gmail, Google Calendar, and the rest of the Google Suite without VPN. Zoom and video conferences doesn't need VPN. The the vast majority of Lab Business Systems, such as LETS and eBuy, are accessible without VPN.

However, there are a few situations where you might need VPN:

  • To access access resources at LBNL that are not available to the Internet; we're keeping a list at VPN Cyber Security Information
  • If you believe the network you are using is untrustworthy, for example a hotel or coffee shop, and you want additional security, use the VPN. 
  • To circumvent network filtering, the most notable example being traveling to China, where traffic is heavily filtered

How do I use VPN?

The instructions for setting up Cisco AnyConnect can be found here.

What login credential do I use to login to VPN?

User your Berkeley lab identity or (LDAP) credential to login to VPN. Do not use your AD credential, it will not work. 

Can I use VPN on a personally-owned computer?

Yes, you can, however, note that while connected to LBNL's VPN, all of your computer's network traffic will be routed through LBNL's network. When you browse the web, watch Netflix, or download a torrent file, your network traffic is tunneled to the Lab before being routed to its final destination. For all practical purposes, your computer is "at the Lab," and for that reason you may want to review the Lab's policy for appropriate computer use.

When my VPN tunnel is enabled, will network performance decrease?

While there is some overhead associated with VPN security features, end-users typically do not detect any performance degradation.  

Where can I get Cyber Security information about VPN?

Additional details about the VPN, including the subnets, use cases, and pros and cons are at VPN Cyber Security Information

Additional VPN resources: