VPNs have been around for years and years, but they are becoming more popular as time moves forward. Encryption and security technologies are becoming increasingly important – even for home users – as the Internet becomes less and less secure. Though we like to think the best about human nature, the government, black hat hackers, and unethical employees working at an ISP can (and have) accessed people’s data as it is in transit through the public Internet.
To protect yourself online, a VPN tunnel will work wonders. By encrypting your traffic between the sending host and its ultimate destination, there is nothing an attacker can do to access you data without the encryption key.
The good news is that you can create your own VPN tunnel back to your home network with very little time and money. In fact, if your router is compatible with DD-WRT software, you can download and install if for free to take advantage of VPN technology.
To take advantage of the VPN technology on your DD-WRT router, we will give you the steps to implement a PPTP connection to your router. It’s simple to configure, simple to use, and it is even already implemented on Windows. However, there are more complex VPN tunnel configurations you can implement that add security features, such as an OpenVPN tunnel.
Creating a VPN Server on Your DD-WRT Router
The Configuration Process
- To start, simply open the configuration page of your DD-WRT router in a web browser. If you don’t know the IP address of your router, you can open up the command prompt and run the ipconfig command on a windows platform or the ifconfig command from a Mac of Linux platform. Look for the IP address that is labeled ‘default gateway.’
- Login with your username and password and click on the Services tab to get started. Next, click on the PPTP tab and enable the PPTP server option.
- Now you will want to enter the IP addresses of all valid users. If you are going to be the only user, it is more secure to only enter your IP address as opposed to leaving it open for anyone to gain access. However, if you want, you can enter a range of IP addresses.
- Now enter username and password combinations in the CHAP-Secret textbox in the following format:
- username1 * password1 *
- username2 * password2 *
For more advanced users that have a working knowledge of network services, you also have the option of adding the credentials of a RADIUS server for authentication purposes.
Test Your Configuration
- If you are running Windows 7 or later versions, you can start testing your connection by opening up the Network and Sharing Center and clicking on Setup a New Connection or Network.
- As you browse through the configuration wizard, simply click on Connect to a Workplace and click the next button.
- Now click on Use My Internet Connection (VPN). Then enter the router’s IP information that we found in step 1 of the previous section. Also, enter a name for this destination.
- Enter in the username and password you configured for the connections. If they don’t work, be sure that you double check the format and that you entered the asterisks (*) accordingly. After a few moments, you should successfully login.
If your router has a dynamic public IP address, you have two options. The more preferred option is to assign a name to your router that will always point to your router’s IP address. The less preferred option is to constantly check to see if the dynamic IP address leased from your ISP has changed. The second option is annoying, but hey, it works. There are even small programs and utilities that you can configure to send you an email when the IP address from your ISP has changed.
However, you can use No-IP for free dynamic DNS. If you do decide to go this route, just remember to enter the hostname of your device instead of its IP address to successfully connect to your VPN.