Using Mac native VPN client with Cisco VPN

First post of the year! A colleague of mine just emailed to ask how to connect to our network from his Macbook Pro whilst abroad. The quick and easy answer is to use our company VPN which still runs on a Cisco VPN 3000 concentrator, but this information is equally valid for ASA or IOS based IPSec VPN setups. As the colleague’s Macbook is a newish one and running Lion in 64 bit mode, the current Cisco VPN client for Mac will not work. I know there are solutions to make the machine run in 32 bit mode, but the easiest way is to run the Mac VPN client. Here’s my step-by-step guide.

First go to the ‘System Preferences’ , by clicking the apple icon in the top left hand corner of the screen. Then select the ‘Network’ icon from the ‘Internet and Wireless’ section.

Click the ‘+’ just above the padlock at the bottom left hand side to create a new network selection, when you do, you’ll see a new ‘sub’ window pop up:

Select a ‘VPN’ interface, then ‘Cisco IPSec’ for the type. The ‘Service Name’ is just for your own reference, after all you may have more than one VPN set up. Click on the ‘Create’ button when done.

So now you need to enter the ip address or hostname of the VPN server, which could be an ASA, Router, PIX or Concentrator. Add your username and password here. Although some VPN servers will allow local storage of the user’s password, we don’t so you’ll be prompted for the password when the group authentication stage has passed. Click on ‘Authentication Settings’ to add the group information.

Add the ‘Group Name’ provided and the ‘Group Passwword’ or ‘Shared Secret’ is also added here. When done click on ‘OK’ and the sub box will close. Now click on ‘Connect’, providing everything is set correctly on the server side, you should be away.


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