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Linux Journal: Setting up a VPN Gateway

Dec 14, 2001, 12:21 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Duncan Napier)
"A virtual private network (VPN) is a tool that enables the secure transmission of data over untrusted networks such as the Internet. VPNs commonly are used to connect local area networks (LANs) into wide area networks (WANs) using the Internet. Perhaps you need to build a VPN between two offices but are not sure if the large infrastructure costs associated with an enterprise-level VPN solution are justifiable. The performance of applications that are intended for use over LANs (for example those that use network file sharing) seriously can be degraded over WAN connections. Likewise, lower bandwidth and longer latency in WAN connections can affect adversely the reliability and performance of groupware and thin-client applications. Perhaps you have a home office and would like to use your high-speed internet access to connect seamlessly and securely to your office LAN through an IPSec-capable router. Or perhaps you are just curious about VPNs and IPSec in general and want to experiment.

The VPN firewall discussed in this article will run on just about any 486-or-better PC that has 16MB or more main memory and two Linux-compatible Ethernet network cards. The idea is to provide a starting point from a single, self-contained package that will allow you to create robust, secure, scalable and highly configurable VPNs that also are interoperable with many common commercial VPN implementations. If you wish to experiment on a low-maintenance firewall-VPN gateway, then the package discussed here might be ideal for you.

This article shows you how to set up, at minimal expense, a working VPN gateway that uses the IETF's (Internet Engineering Task Force) IPSec (internet protocol security) specification. IPSec is an open standard and is supported by virtually all major firewall software and hardware vendors, such as Lucent, Cisco, Nortel and Check Point. This package will give you a widely interoperable IPSec that uses the de facto standard 3DES encrypted, MD5-authenticated site-to-site or point-to-site VPN. You should be able to do this without resorting to a full Linux distribution or recompiling a standard Linux kernel with a kernel IPSec module."

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