OpenVPN could be easy

Technical Skill: High


OpenVPN - how to do IT


Skip to Instructions


Be "somewhat" safe online by using a VPN (virtual private network). This protects you, to some degree, while you are on the Internet. There are a lot of explanations about this so I won't repeat it here. To simply use a VPN to browse from your computer, there are many choices like https://openvpn.net/. Sign up for an account, pay a small fee, download their client and install on your device, and you are ready to go. They have instructions and help if you have an account.


What I explain here is how to put a VPN on your router and connect to it from a remote location so it's kind of the reverse of using a VPN to browse the Internet.


Why you would want to do this? If you want to safely connect into your home or business network from a remote location. For instance, you can have access to your computer from another location without opening ports on the router. (don't open ports on your router). To see if any ports are open go to https://shodan.io and put your Internet facing IP in the search box.


This instruction is for someone who understands network basics, OpenVPN, and routers. I do and it was difficult to do it so I wrote this to remind myself and help you. But if you don’t understand networking, some of this won’t make any sense. If I had followed the directions instead of poking around for an hour it would have been much easier. 😊


Instructions

1. Purchase a router that already has OpenVPN. Some Netgear routers, like Nighthawk, support it and make it fairly easy to use by just checking a box and clicking an Apply button. This is the Netgear instruction link

2. Make sure you put a complex password on your router.

3. Create a DNS account.

a. Go to https://freedns.afraid.org .

b. Create account and a subdomain.

c. Download the automatic updater and run it on your pc so it updates the IP address assigned by your Internet provider. If you want the make the FreeDNS updater run when Windows starts - check out this instruction link.


4. On your router enable OpenVPN if it has that option. If not, you may be able to update your router's firmware with open source but it's risky if you don't know what you are doing. See this wiki for a list. If you do this, back up your current config first in case you need to restore it. If you use the wrong firmware, your router may be not start and be bricked.

5. Download the configuration files for iPhone and Windows. There are buttons for Windows, iPhone, and Android.

6. Extract the .zip files to a folder.

7. Open the iPhone client3.ovpn with notepad and do not check “Always use this app to open…”.

8. Modify the IP address or web address of the client3.ovpn to match the dns.afraid.org subdomain.

9. Do the same thing with the Windows client1.ovpn file.

10. Save your keys to a wallet!!


iPhone

11. Install a Ping utility app on the iPhone.

12. Install OpenVPN on the iPhone.

13. For iPhone there are 4 files.

· ca.crt

· client.crt

· client.key

· client3.ovpn


14. Copy the files to your iPhone

a. Open iTunes

b. Plug iPhone to computer usb port

c. Wait for iPhone to have an Allow dialog

d. Enter your phone pass code

e. On iTunes click on the phone icon next to the Music dropdown

f. Go to the File Sharing menu

g. Click on OpenVPN then Add File

h. Find the 4 files you downloaded from the router

i. Click on the first file then press Ctrl + A or hold Ctrl key down and select all 4 files

j. Click open

k. The 4 files should appear in the iTunes OpenVPN Documents area

l. Click the Sync button at the bottom of iTunes

m. When finished you can exit iTunes


15. On your iPhone start the OpenVPN app

16. It should find the file you copied over and show it when the app opens

17. Add it to the profile.

18. To test it, make sure the phone is NOT connected to the local wireless network but only cellular.

19. Start the VPN and it should connect and turn green.

20. Use the Ping utility app to ping an IP address on your router local network.


VPN GUI - Windows Instruction

1. Download the client utility from http://openvpn.net/index.php/download/community-downloads.html and install it on the devices where you want to run the VPN client.

2. Locate the 4 files for Windows from Step 5 above. Copy the 4 files to the folder where the VPN client is installed on your device. For a client device with Windows 64-bit system, the VPN client is installed at "C:\Program files\OpenVPN\config\" by default.

3. For a client device with Windows, you need to modify the VPN interface name to "NETGEAR-VPN". The VPN interface usually has a Device Name as "TAP-Windows Adapter".

4. Client utility must be installed and run by a user who has administrative privileges.

5. For help connecting using OpenVPN clients, please refer to http://openvpn.net/index.php/open-source/documentation/howto.html#quick


The next thing you need to do is to set up your computer for remote access which I do not explain here... at least yet. It is also complicated but you can access Windows10 from another location with a laptop, your smartphone, etc. It's very handy.


The newer Netgear routers make it fairly easy to enable OpenVPN with a checkbox and Apply button. It also provides a one click download for Windows, iPhone, and Android configuration files and links to instructions. The most difficult part for me was getting my iPhone to appear in iTunes so I could transfer the OpenVPN configuration files to it.

 

© copyright 2021 h mark taylor

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