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How To Setup a Cisco VPN

Posted by Jamie on May 29, 2019

Cisco is one of the most recognized names in networking. It is the name behind most enterprise routers, a good portion of internet backbone routers, firewalls, switches and network equipment. It also provides end user applications such as Cisco AnyConnect that is used in many colleges and universities as well as enterprises around the world. This tutorial will walk you through setting up a Cisco AnyConnect VPN.

A VPN is an essential tool in protecting your network traffic from surveillance. Whether that’s state-sponsored, ISP or hacking, encrypting your traffic keeps it away from prying eyes. Even if you have nothing to hide, securing your internet traffic is a fundamental part of computer security. Some educational establishments insist upon it and most companies that allow remote access to data or applications will too.

Cisco AnyConnect includes the client that you install on your devices and a web or Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA). Cisco ASA are a single device that includes a firewall, antivirus, spam filter, VPN server, SSL certificate device and more bolt-on features. Where we would once have used a separate hardware firewall, VPN server and antivirus solution, all can be encapsulated within a single device. It’s a neat way of securing your business. This one device secures all solution is one of the reasons ASA is so popular.

Setting up Cisco AnyConnect VPN

Setting up Cisco AnyConnect VPN is similar to setting up any VPN client. The approach depends on the device you’re installing it onto but once installed, setup is very straightforward. You can download Cisco AnyConnect VPN directly from Cisco but if you’re using it to connect to your college or employer, they should provide a link. You should use this link as it could contain the config file necessary to connect quickly.

For you to be able to connect to your VPN using Cisco AnyConnect, you’re going to need a login. If you’re connecting to a college or company network, your HR or IT support team should have sent you these at some point. You will not be able to connect without them.

Otherwise:

  1. Download the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client.
  2. Install the client onto your device using the InstallAnyConnect.exe file.
  3. Follow the setup wizard and select OK once complete.
  4. Allow the installation to authenticate if it requests to do so and select Finish once done.

The installer may not include any specific setup steps depending on where you accessed the downloader file from. The above example uses the Windows executable file. Android, Mac OS and other operating systems will use something else.

Setting up Cisco AnyConnect VPN on a Chromebook or Android device

Another example would be installing Cisco AnyConnect VPN on a Chromebook. I mention this specifically as it doesn’t use the standard app installation. While Cisco has a compatible Android app, it doesn’t work as well as it should so the company recommends using the Chrome extension instead. Just be aware that only Chrome traffic will be encrypted if you do this. All other traffic will not use the VPN.

  1. Download the Cisco AnyConnect Chrome extension from here.
  2. Select Add to Chrome and allow access to anything it asks for.
  3. Select Launch App to configure it.
  4. Select Add New Connection and enter your VPN login details.

Once the extension authenticates, you can set up a new connection, save it and use it whenever you need to connect.

Connecting Cisco AnyConnect VPN

Once installed, you can connect Cisco AnyConnect VPN at any time as long as you have the login details provided by your college or employer. Open the app, enter the network you want to connect to, enter your login details, hit Connect and you should see a connected window within a few seconds.

Some networks require two-factor authentication. If yours is one of those, acquire the code and enter it in the new 2FA window. Hit Continue and the VPN will connect. You should see a status on your device telling you that you have connected to the Cisco AnyConnect service.

To disconnect, either select the Windows notification or open the Cisco AnyConnect app on your device and select Disconnect. Give it a few seconds to disconnect from the secure network and a few more seconds for your devices to implement the default network settings. Now you should be able to use the internet normally outside the VPN.

The Cisco AnyConnect VPN client makes short work of securing internet traffic between an organization and remote clients. It is fast, secure and does an excellent job of keeping things simple for users. No wonder it’s so popular!

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This Guide Last Updated: May 29, 2019

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