Secure Remote Access: Connect with Cisco (Linux)


The Secure Remote Access service ( can be used by University students, faculty, and staff to access restricted University online resources when off campus or while using Wireless PittNet. These resources include data on departmental servers or databases. The service also enables you to use the SSH or RDP protocols to access remote computers.

A separate, supplemental VPN service is also available to meet more specialized needs. This supplemental VPN service must be used in place of the Secure Remote Access service by users of 64-bit Linux workstations or versions of Linux without a graphical user interface (GUI) or Web browser.

This document explains how to configure a virtual private network connection (VPNC) for the Ubuntu operating system using Yum or Aptitude package manager.

Connection Requirements

You must be approved by your Responsibility Center Account Administrator to access restricted network resources using a virtual private network connection. Contact the Technology Help Desk at 412-624-HELP [4357] to request the service.

Prior to configuring the connection, you must obtain the following:

  • A network connect role (configured by the Technology Help Desk)
  • A pre-shared text key (provided by your department’s IT administrator or Responsibility Center administrator)
  • Group name information (provided by your department’s IT administrator or Responsibility Center administrator)

Configure the Virtual Private Network Connection

  1. Use Yum or Aptitude-get to install “vpnc” by typing: $ sudo apt-get install vpnc
  2. Edit the configuration file by typing: $ sudo nano /etc/vpnc/pittvpn.conf
  3. Enter the following configuration settings:
    IPSec gateway
    IPSec ID <your department’s group name>
    IPSec secret <your department’s pre-shared text key>
    Xauth username <your University Computing Account username>

Establish a Secure Connection

  1. Type the following command: $ sudo vpnc pittvpn

Disconnect from the Service

  1. Close any applications that are using the secure connection.
  2. Type the following command: $ sudo vpnc-disconnect

Note: You may use the secure connection for up to four hours at a time or may be idle up to 30 minutes before you will be automatically disconnected from the service.

Tags: Secure Remote Access Linux Help Sheet