Virtual Private Networking

After reading the previous pages, you might assume that it’s a piece of cake for business people to connect to their corporate networks across the Internet from wherever they happen to be: their homes, hotel rooms, or local Starbucks. But even though the steps on the preceding pages work fine if you’re dialing into your home machine, they’ll probably fail miserably when you want to connect to a corporate network. There’s one enormous obstacle in your way: Internet security.

The typical corporate network is guarded by a team of steely-eyed administrators for whom Job Number One is preventing access by unauthorized visitors. They perform this job primarily with the aid of a super-secure firewall that seals off the company’s network from the Internet.

So how can you tap into the network from the road? One solution is to create a hole in the firewall for each authorized user—software that permits incoming Internet traffic only from specified IP addresses like your Mac’s. Unfortunately, this setup isn’t bulletproof, security-wise. It’s also a pain for administrators to manage.

Another solution: You could dial directly into the corporate network, modem-to-modem. That’s plenty secure, but it bypasses the Internet, and therefore winds up being expensive. (Want proof? Try this simple test: Make a call from the Tokyo Hilton to the Poughkeepsie Sheet Metal home office. Have a look at your hotel bill when you check out.)

Fortunately, there’s a third solution that’s both ...

Get Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Panther Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.