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Setting up a VPN Router: Killing more than two birds with one sling-shot

Published 13/03/2018 in Internet Security - 0 Comments

VPNs have provided organizations and users with an effective way of maintaining privacy and security. This is very vital in case anyone needs to have access to public networks like the internet. By allowing the creation of virtual networks within known networks, VPN enables users to send private information through unsafe networks. Moreover, they also eliminate the geo-block limitations of certain web or internet-dependent applications. To maintain security in an organization or home for an array of devices, one of the best protocols to follow is setting up a VPN router.

A VPN service has limitations, however. For starters, not every device comes with a VPN client. Simply, VPN client is a software installed on your computer with which  you can enjoy VPN services. Most home appliances and devices such as gaming consoles do not come VPN enabled. What’s more, VPN service providers usually facilitate VPN networks per device rather than per client. As a result, this can be costly for some users or companies. The ideal way to solve such VPN setbacks is setting up a VPN router. In other words, we will need to set up a dedicated router for your VPN.

VPN: In order for many devices in anetwork to be protected you should learn about setting up a VPN router

Once a router is connected to a VPN, every device which accesses the internet via that router runs on that VPN. Therefore, setting up a VPN router ensures devices within the private network are safe from vulnerabilities within the public network. VPN routers connect all other devices and appliances as though they were sharing one VPN connection. This is not only an economically viable solution, but it is also quite quick and easy to set up. This is because not every device requires its own VPN connection to access information securely.

Process of Setting Up A VPN Router

The best way in setting up a dedicated VPN router is to operate the VPN service on a separate router from the main internet router. Secondary VPN routers enable devices which are connected either via cable or wireless connections to utilize the service. These may include desktop or handheld devices, office, and home appliances among others.

With a VPN connection, network managers can decide which devices will connect to regular internet services. These devices will be routed via the main router. On the other hand, those that will access the private network will access it via the VPN dedicated router.

Illustration of setting up a VPN router

The Requirements

A router is the first thing needed to set up the VPN service. It should have a Wide Area Network (WAN) port which will allow it to connect to the main router. A VPN firmware which will be installed in the router is also needed. Network administrators must always check whether the routers they intend on purchasing is compatible with the firmware they will be using. Most firmware developers have a database with the routers which support their software and make it accessible via their websites.

Pre-Setup

Before you begin to configure a dedicated VPN router, there are a few things to be done.

  • Identify and note down the LAN IP address of your main router. This is the address used to access your admin console on the router.
  • Find out the router model which you are using, this will come in handy while selecting a compatible firmware for your network.
  • Clicking the model number will redirect you to the firmware wiki page, which provides information such as installation instructions and recommended firmware versions for your router.
  • Other items that may be on the wiki include additional tools which the firmware may require to run optimally.

Setting Up

The initial step in setting up a VPN router is to plug it into the main router. This is done by using an Ethernet cable. The port used on the VPN router side is the WAN port, while on the main router, any LAN port can be used.

The next step would be to flash the new router to allow installation of the firmware.

  • Perform a 30/30/30 reset on your router. It entails turning the power on, off, and on again while holding the reset button for 30-second intervals in each turn.
  • Log in to the administrator’s page on the router and navigate to the firmware upgrade option. Select the .bin file for your firmware of choice under the files option and click start.
  • Wait for the upgrade which may take a few minutes and perform a second hard reset.

After the router is successfully flashed, open a browser and key in the IP address for the firmware installed. For instance, Tech Radar recommended DD-WRT has its IP address as 192.168.1.1. The default username for most of the new software is root and password, admin. The next step would be to set up a wireless access point with its unique SSID. This will allow switching from the VPN router to the regular router easily.

To avoid conflict between the LAN addresses of the main and the VPN router, change the address of preferably the VPN router under Setup-> basic setup option.

VPN router

Symbolic illustration of a VPN router.

Making the Router a Client

The VPN router is connected to the main router simply as another client. You can set up a preferred WAN connection type for your VPN router from the default DHCP. The static IP address is a viable alternative for this. Regardless of the connection type, it is crucial that the WAN IP address is noted down, usually available from the interface of the selected firmware. By now, you should be able to connect to the internet successfully.

Setting Up The VPN

Once you have successfully connected to the internet, it is time to set up your VPN connection. The VPN service providers should have guidelines on how to set up your connection. There are two options for setting up a VPN, either PPTP or OpenVPN.

With OpenVPN, the providers supply clients with some scripts and certificates which are to be copy-pasted onto the router database. There are guidelines provided for that. If you have successfully set up your router, the WAN IP address will have changed.

With PPTP, a server address is needed and is usually provided by the VPN service provider. There are a number of addresses to choose from, and users have the liberty to select which location they would want to ‘appear’ to be from. A VPN username and password is also required to set up PPTP. The PPTP client option is usually under Services-> VPN navigation. There should be a text box where users will input details supplied by the service provider. After this, you shall come to the end of setting up a VPN router and your VPN will be ready for use.

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