Using a VPN on the iPhone

The iPhone is known for many of its privacy and security features, but you may want to go even further if you are a part of an institution that requires incredible privacy in communication.  To do this you would set up a Virtual Private Network, which is a tool that is used to create secure communication even when it is facilitated by a network that is public.  The iPhone will support with a number of VPN servers, and here is a look at how to use a VPN with the iPhone.

The iOS is going to allow for a range of protocols and authentication methods so that it can adapt to your office condition.  Apple lists these in their support material as:

  • L2TP/IPSec with user authentication by MS-CHAPV2 Password, RSA SecurID or CryptoCard, and machine authentication by shared secret.
  • PPTP with user authentication by MS-CHAPV2 Password, RSA SecurID, or CRYPTOCard.
  • Cisco IPSec with user authentication by Password, RSA SecurID, or CRYPTOCard, and machine authentication by shared secret and certificates. Cisco IPSec supports VPN On Demand for domains you specify during device configuration.1
  • Juniper Junos Pulse and Cisco AnyConnect, using the appropriate VPN app from the App Store. VPN On Demand is supported for domains you specify during device configuration.2

iOS can use certificates in the following raw formats1:

  • PKCS#1 (.cer, .crt, .der)
  • PKCS#12 (.p12, .pfx)

If you have been using the L2TP/IPSec and the according authentication methods on your Mac with OS X then it should be fine when paired over to the iOS, which should also be true for Certificate for Machine Authentication and a Shared Secret key.

Learning how to set up a VPN on the iPhone or other iOS device is the easiest part of the process.  Start by going into the iPhone Settings and then select General, which is at the top of the third block of options.  Go down to Network, which is above Bluetooth, and then look towards the bottom where you will find VPN.  If you have not attached one yet then it will say Not Connected.

Go into VPN and there will be an On / Off switch, which you should turn On if you are trying to set up a VPN network on your iPhone. From there you will be given a menu with tabs for L2TP, PPTP, or IPSec.  You will need to add a description, server, account, password, and secret, as well as choose whether or not to turn on RSA SecurID and to “Send All Traffic.”  At the bottom you will set the Proxy to Off, Manual, or Auto.  The IPSEc Cisco system is slightly different in that you still do description and server, but then put in the account and password, and group name.  There will also be a switch about whether or not to use the Certificate.

If you are at the regular VPN menu you can also choose the Add VPN Configuration option to bring up the same prompt, or if you already have a configuration selected.  This is all contingent as to what your organization or business is already using and how they intend to configure.   If your configuration has been attached to your iPhone then there will be a regular VPN On / Off switch in the main Settings area directly below Wi-Fi.  You can also switch between accepted VPN configurations in the regular VPN menu, where you turned on the VPN switch.

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