VPN – The Basics

By | July 28, 2020

VPNAs you continue working the majority of the time from home, we recommend that you take a fresh look at using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, for all Duke-based work.  Here’s what you should know:

But first, here’s our Tech Tip of the Week

Sending an email to a large group of people?

Consider using the BCC function for your recipients.  That helps prevent everyone on the email from receiving routine updates, thank-you notices, etc. when people accidentally use Reply All.  (Hint:  That’s what I’m using for Tech Tuesday – even an accidental Reply All will only come to me.)

If all email recipients don’t need to see responses, they’ll appreciate the courtesy.

Answers to some of your VPN questions –

  • What are the main benefits of a VPN?
    • A VPN hides your computer’s IP address from hackers and websites
      • Your location & device are unknown – you appear as the VPN server, not your device
    • All traffic entering and leaving your device is encrypted
      • Your data is safe and secure at all times.
    • Your internet activity remains private
    • Travel internationally?  A VPN can make it appear to websites as if you are back home in the US.
    • OR – a VPN can make it appear that you are in another country/city when you are, in fact, home.
  • Do I need a VPN if I’m using my home WiFi?
    • While your network traffic within your home network is encrypted, once it leaves your house, it is no longer encrypted and can be monitored.
    • Using a VPN protects your data and network traffic even after it leaves your house.
  • Can I still be hacked if I use a VPN?
    • A VPN prevents attacks that track, monitor or steal data.
    • A VPN does not protect you if you visit a malicious site and pick up a virus.
      • You’ll still need to use a virus protection program.  We have installed a virus protection program you’re your Duke-owned computer.
    • How do I get a VPN?
      • There are many private VPNs available online.  Use the link below (in Extra Credit) to find one that suits your requirements.
      • When selecting a VPN, be sure to look at customer comments and industry rating.  Select one that offers:
        • No vendor logging or monitoring
        • Strong encryption
        • No advertisements
        • Multiple devices (use it on your PC, mobile device, tablet, etc.)
      • Is there a cost for a private VPN?
        • There are free VPNs, but they contain ads and/or monitor and sell your activity.
      • Does Duke cover the cost for a private VPN?
        • No, but they offer the Duke VPN for you to use if you’d like to use one.
      • Can I use Duke’s VPN for private internet activity?
        • It will appear to all of the websites you visit that you are located at Duke.
        • It may slow down your browsing a little.

How Do I use the Duke VPN?

Here’s a link to the Duke VPN page. The steps you’ll follow:

  • Before installing the VPN client, set up your Multifactor Authentication
  • Download and run the Cisco AnyConnect install file
  • Once the installation is complete, open Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client
  • In the Connect box type: duhs.duke.edu
  • Enter your NetID and Password
  • For Security Key or Second Password, enter your Multifactor Authentication code from DUO Mobile
  • Click OK
  • Once connected, the dialog box will disappear
  • When you are finished with the VPN
    • Open Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client
    • Select the Disconnect option

Extra Credit

  • Get a Private VPN and use it on all devices
    • Using a private VPN provides an encrypted connection for all of your devices, not just your main computer.
    • Here’s a comparison of different private VPN services from a trusted source.  If you’d like a recommendation for a basic, easy-to-use personal VPN, try TunnelBear.

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