Virtual Private Network Information

What is Virtual Private Networking (VPN)?

Virtual Private Networking (VPN) uses encryption and key exchange to provide secure communication over insecure networks. Typically a VPN is used to connect a remote computer or network back to an organization's primary network where protected resources reside.

For example, to access ISU file servers from your home or a hotel network you must use VPN to establish a secure connection to ISU first; access is not allowed over the public internet.

When should I use VPN?

Any time you need to access sensitive resources at ISU from outside the ISU network you should consider using VPN. Some resources require VPN while others use alternate forms of security. You should always use VPN when accessing ISU resources over a wireless network.

NOTE: The instructions below assume you are using a machine with Windows Vista.  If you're installing VPN on a Windows XP machine, you will need to be logged in as 'Administrator' before you begin.

Installing VPN client software

  1. In your web browser, go to
  2. Login with your Net-ID and password
  3. You will be connected to the CISCO AnyConnect VPN client which will detect that your computer needs to install software and initiate the process
  4. When the User Account Control box appears, type in your administrator password.
  5. Click OK
  6. You will see a new window: 'Do you want to install this software?'  Click 'Install'.
  7. You may be asked for your adminstrator password a second time.  Enter it and click OK.
  8. When installation is complete, you will see 'Connection established' in the center box.  You will also see a small VPN icon in your systray with a padlock indicating that you are connected.

NOTE: If the automatic installation fails, you can still install VPN manually

Connecting VPN

  1. In your web browser, go to 
  2. Log in with your Net-ID and password

Disconnecting VPN

  1. Right-click the VPN icon in your system tray near the clock
  2. Choose Disconnect

Additional Information

For additional information about virtual private networking at Iowa State please contact the Extension IT Support Hotline.