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Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Introduction to Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

Some Oxford University online resources (particularly web pages) can only be accessed by computers that are directly connected to the Oxford University campus network. These restricted services include:

  • Connecting to local departmental services
  • HR Self-Service for accessing online payslips
  • Some departmental and college pages, e.g. some IT Services Shop price lists

Access to these restricted resources from outside the campus network is provided via the IT Services Virtual Private Network (VPN) Service. A VPN connection provides your computer with virtual connection to the campus network — it then behaves exactly as it would if you were actually on-campus.

You will also need to use the VPN service if you want to connect to the University network using OWL for University members

In addition, you cannot access files via Microsoft file-sharing unless you are using a computer directly connected to the Oxford University Network.

You don't need to use the VPN service if:

  • You are only accessing unrestricted services such as email etc.
  • You need to access the Libraries SOLO service (however you will need to sign in).

You cannot use the VPN service if:

  • You are using a machine in an internet café, public library etc. where you are not allowed to install new software.
  • Your Internet Service Provider blocks the use of VPN. The local networks at some other educational and commercial establishments do block VPN access. We also find that many AOL users are unable to use the older Cisco VPN client. The more recent Cisco AnyConnect VPN Clients may work better on these networks.
  • You are using a non Cisco VPN client that does not support XAUTH. XAUTH provides a measure of warning should a remote site attempt to redirect your login attempt in order to try and obtain your login credentials.

Please note: While connected to VPN, all your Internet traffic goes through the Oxford connection. You are therefore bound by our IT Rules and Regulations until you close the connection again.

Configuring Your Computer

Requirements for using the VPN Service

In order to use the VPN service you need the following.

  • A Remote Access account. You can register for this via the IT Services self-registration page.
    The password for your Remote Access account is separate from the one for your Oxford Single Sign-On (Nexus/WebLearn) account.
  • For Windows, OS X and Linux systems you must be able to log on to your computer using an account that has administrative access or is able to use sudo (Linux systems). For most home computer systems the normal account you use to log on to the computer will have the necessary access.
  • An existing connection to the Internet (broadband, LAN or dial-up).
  • A suitable VPN client. The table below gives links to Cisco VPN software and instructions for many desktop and laptop operating systems. Some operating systems such as the iPhone and iPod touch come with a native (built-in) client; again links to instructions are in the table below. For systems without a native client and where we do not have a Cisco VPN client there may be suitable third party software available. We provide some configuration information to help set these up but cannot provide full support and instructions for all such software.

Please note you may need to configure extra programs in order to access local departmental file shares etc. Please consult with your local IT Officers as to how you should configure your system in these situations.

Software and Instructions

Instructions for installing and configuring this software on a variety of systems, together with links to relevant downloads are given in the table below.

Operating System Instructions/Information Download software
Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and current Microsoft supported versions of Windows 10 x86(32-bit) and x64(64-bit) Configuring the Cisco AnyConnect Client for Microsoft Windows Registration
macOS 10.7 and above Configuring VPN clients on macOS  Not applicable
Linux Configuring the Cisco AnyConnect client for Linux Registration
Android Configuring the Cisco AnyConnect client for Android Not applicable
iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad Configuring the native VPN client for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad Not required
ChromeOS, Chromebook Configuring the Cisco AnyConnect client for ChromeOS Not applicable
Other VPN clients including 3rd party software Configuring other VPN clients Not applicable
All Cisco AnyConnect software (for registered ITSS) Not applicable ITSS VPN Software Download page

Further Information


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Written by IT Services. Latest revision 6 May 2020