Virtual Private Networking - What is it? Why Use it?

What is Virtual Private Networking (VPN)?

Virtual Private Networking (VPN) uses encryption and key exchange to provide secure communications over insecure networks. Typically, VPN is used to connect a remote computer or network back to an organization's primary network where protected resources, like your access to email or shared drives, reside. When you connect through a field office network, you're automatically connecting through a Virtual Private Network. However, you can also use VPN on an individual basis to connect to protected resources when you're not on the IASTATE network.

When should I use VPN?

Any time you need to access sensitive resources at ISU from outside the ISU network and/or on your personal computer, you should use VPN. Some resources will 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 your are using a machine with Windows. If you're installing VPN on a machine with a different OS, for example a Macintosh, you will start from the same location and follow the instructions.

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 what your computer needs to install and initiate the process
  4. If you see 'This website wants to install the following add-on: 'AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client' from 'Cisco Systems, Inc.' Click Install.
  5. When requested, type in your Administrator password
  6. You should see a window titled 'AnyConnect Mobility Client Downloader, followed by a window that says 'Preparing to install...
  7. If asked for your Administrator password a second time, enter it and click OK.
  8. When installation is complete, you will see 'Connection established in the installation window. You should also see a small VPN icon in your system tray with a padlock indicating that you are connected.

NOTE: if automatic installation fails, you can also install VPN manually.

Connecting to VPN

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

When the VPN connection is established, you should see a small VPN icon in your system tray with a padlock.

Disconnecting from VPN

  1. Right-click the VPN icon in your system tray
  2. Choose Disconnect from the menu

For additional information, please contact the Extension IT Computer Support Hotline.