The University of Texas at Austin

Virtual Private Network

Visibility of Computers When Connected to VPN

Some users have wondered whether their computers are visible to other VPN users. Anytime you are on a computer network, other users may be able to see your computer. The can probe the network and "ping" your system if they know your IP address. Many hacker programs and viruses also randomly search computer addresses until they find one that is vulnerable to attack. (Such activity is a violation of the UT Austin Acceptable Use Policy.)

To protect your computer and the campus network from these abuses, it is extremely important to use a firewall and anti-virus software. Your system is not more at risk because of the VPN, but be aware that you are just as vulnerable as if you were physically connected to the network on campus. Viruses tend to travel quickly on campus due to the large number of computers connected to the UT network. A firewall and anti-virus software helps protect your machine. Check the pages on protecting your computer for more instructions. UT Austin employees are required to use firewall and anti-virus software.

Also, if you have enabled file sharing on your system, that makes any shared drives or folders visible to other network users. Be careful about designating shared folders, and always remember to password-protect those folders. Most operating systems allow you to designate which users can designate what folders, as well as what activities those users can perform within that folder.

Last updated November 16, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

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