For security purposes, some Penn State technology services can only be accessed from devices (computers, cell phones, tablets, etc.) that are connected directly to the Penn State network. Devices that are connected to the Internet via a home network or cellular service, for example, are not permitted to use these services remotely because there is the risk of hackers breaking into Penn State systems.
Getting around this is a two-step process. First, you need to establish something called a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. What the VPN software does is create a secure connection from your device to the Penn State network. You log into the VPN software using your Penn State Access ID; this authenticates you. Second, you use Remote Desktop software to log into your work computer.
Please note: The information below is written for a computer running Microsoft Windows 10. The steps are similar if you are using a Macintosh or Linux machine.
VPN Setup Guide
This VPN Setup Guide describes:
- where to get the VPN software for your personal device;
- how to install the software; and
- how to configure the software and connect to the Penn State VPN.
To download the VPN software, open a web browser and go to http://downloads.its.psu.edu. (You may be prompted to enter your Penn State username and password.) Once you reach the site, click on the top choice, Connecting to Penn State, and then look for GlobalProtect VPN in the list. To the right of this heading are three operating systems: Windows, Macintosh, and Unix/Linux. Click on yours.
After you select the correct operating system, you will be directed to the next screen to download the software.
Click on the latest version of the software that is available; the download will start immediately. Once the download is complete, you can proceed to installing the software.
You will find the software in your Downloads folder; it will be called something like “PSU-GlobalProtect-VPN.” Double click the installer to launch it. Click the Next button.
On the next screen, you will need to accept the End-User License Agreement, then click Next.
On the next screen, click the Install button to begin the installation. This can take a couple of minutes to complete.
After the software is installed, click the Finish button to close out of the installer. The software has been installed successfully.
Connecting to the Penn State Virtual Private Network (VPN)
To connect to the VPN, launch the GlobalProtect VPN from the taskbar. (You may need to click on the up-arrow to show more icons.)
The first time you use the GlobalProtect software, you will need to tell it what address to connect to for the VPN to be created. You will be asked for your portal address; enter secure-connect.psu.edu. (In the future when you use this software, this address should already be selected.) Click Connect.
A window will pop up asking for your username and password. Enter your Penn State AccessID and password. (Note: Your AccessID is just your email address without the “@psu.edu.”) Click OK.
Both windows will close, and your VPN connection is now established. (A connection status window may appear; if so, you can ignore it.)
At this point you can use your Remote Desktop Connection software to connect to your office computer. (See the Remote Desktop Setup Guide below.)
When you are done using the remote desktop connection and you have logged off of your work computer, you will need to disconnect from the VPN. To do this, open the GlobalProtect client again from the taskbar. When the application opens, simply click Disconnect, then close out of the application.
Remote Desktop Setup Guide
Once you have established a VPN to Penn State, then you can run Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) software to log into your office computer remotely. This Remote Desktop Setup Guide describes:
- where to get the RDC software for your personal device;
- how to install the RDC software; and
- how to configure the RDC software and connect to your work computer.
Remote Desktop Connection is already installed on your Windows computer. You will find it in the Windows Accessories folder in your Start menu. Alternatively, you can click the magnifying glass in the bottom left corner of your screen and type “remote desktop” to find it. (Mac, Android, and iOS devices: Remote Desktop is available for free from the Mac App Store, Google Play, and the iOS App Store, respectively.)
No special installation is necessary.
Connecting to your work computer
Once you have established your VPN connection, launch the Remote Desktop application. A dialog box will appear; click Show Options to expand it.
In the Computer field, enter the IP address of your work computer. (Penn State Wilkes-Barre faculty and staff can get this by emailing [email protected] or 570-675-9140.)
Enter your user name into the User Name field. Your user name is your AccessID plus “@ad.psu.edu”.
Now click Connect. [Note: If you want to make things easier the next time you want to connect to your work computer, click the Save As… button, give the settings file a name, like “My Work Computer,” and save it to your Desktop. This will create an icon on your desktop that you can double-click to launch Remote Desktop with the above settings already entered.]
If a dialog box appears asking if you trust this remote connection, click the check box labeled “Don’t ask me again for connections to this computer” and then click Connect.
A dialog box will appear asking you for your username and password. Enter your AccessID and password, just like you do when you are logging into your computer at work (because that’s exactly what you’re doing).
You should now be remotely connected to your office computer. You will see your office computer’s desktop in a window. You can expand this window to full screen mode, so all you can see is your remote computer. This gives you more room to work.
When done working on your work computer, be sure to log off of it like you always do, and then disconnect from the VPN client. (See “Disconnecting” in the VPN Setup Guide above.)
For more information or assistance, contact the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Helpdesk at (570) 675-9140 or email us at [email protected]. Or create a ticket at https://pennstate.service-now.com and we will get back to you.