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Old 12-27-2006, 06:55 PM   #1
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Londinium
Distribution: CentOs 4, OSX Tiger
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fileserver - remote access suggestions


I recently setup a CentOS Samba fileserver for a small office. They've asked if I can give them access outside of the office.

I've not set anything like this up before, and I was wondering if anyone could suggest a setup? It would be ideal if they client could be authenticated via a certificate (I can issue those), and that security is maintained without a huge amount of maintenance by me!

The gateway is a Netgear DG834 router that has VPN abilities (apparently) but I'm wondering about the performance and implications of using VPN.

I realise this is a general question but I am quite unsure of how to proceed. Any input is welcome and appreciated.
Old 12-27-2006, 08:14 PM   #2
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The answer really depends on whether your clients use Windows or Mac/Linux. For Windows users, a VPN client tends to be easier. For Mac/Linux clients, SSH tunneling is more convenient (though they can certainly use VPN software as well). What client is needed, and the availability for each platform will be a concern. Cisco's VPN client is very popular, and almost universally available, but your router must be compatible with it.

Performance is the big issue with VPNs. Since many folks terminate VPNs on routers, the router must have dedicated hardware for the encryption. Without that, all processing is performed in the relatively small CPUs. It may work fine with a small number of sessions, but not scale. I'm not trying to convince you one way or the other - a small number of sessions may be enough for your application.

On the other hand, SSH terminates on server(s) or even workstations, which tend to have relatively powerful CPUs, and can easily handle dozens of sessions. SSH tends to be more flexible than VPN clients, which has both positive and negative aspects. You can do clever things like use local networked printers while sharing files remotely. That can sometimes be a challenge with some VPN clients. That same flexibility can let a client route traffic that you may not want over your company Internet connection.

There are a number of good books on VPNs, as well as SSH. There are many issues to consider if you want to keep your data secure, and it's worth your time to do some reading on the subject.
Old 12-27-2006, 08:20 PM   #3
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Londinium
Distribution: CentOs 4, OSX Tiger
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thanks for the reply. I've actually got a mixture of mac and windows clients! I've been reading some articles on VPN and they backup what you've said about performance. I'm going to read a bit about Putty or perhaps Cygwin and have think. I certainly know a lot more about SSH than VPN so I'd prefer to use that.

Thanks for the input and the links, a little late for Christmas but I'm sure I can treat myself to a good book!
Old 12-27-2006, 10:45 PM   #4
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theres always the option of a ssl vpn running from the server..

The client just needs a web browser to access the server then.. very platform independent, nothing really to configure on the client side..

And not only can they access the machine running the SSL VPN but you can configure it to allow them to access resources behind that machine.

Why Should I Use SSL-Explorer: Community Edition?

The 3SP SSL-Explorer is the ideal solution for anyone who needs remote access to their firewalled network resources.

You no longer to install dedicated VPN software. Neither do you need to manually set up cryptic protocol forwardings.

And best of all, it is totally free to use.

Last edited by farslayer; 12-27-2006 at 10:47 PM.


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