Importance of Monitoring VPN Connections

Virtual Private Networks are encrypted and authenticated connections established between two hosts across an insecure and public network, namely the Internet. These connections enable remote workers and frequent travelers to access private and internal company resources from an external location such as a home environment, or coffee shop. In this scenario, one end of the tunnel is the user’s computer running a VPN client, while on the other end there’s a VPN server (or VPN concentrator) located at a corporate site.

VPN tunnel across the Internet

VPN tunnel across the Internet

LAN to LAN VPN Connections

A LAN-to-LAN connection is another type of VPN . In this setup, two endpoints establish a VPN tunnel to enable several users at each location to access resources on the other side of the tunnel. The main difference from the previous configuration is that here, the two endpoints are VPN routers located in two geographically separate corporate facilities. For the network users, this setup is transparent. That is, they don’t need to install any VPN client on their computers because the VPN configuration is applied to the routers.

LAN to LAN VPN tunnel

LAN to LAN VPN tunnel

How to VPN with NetBeez

Let me present a method for monitoring your VPN with NetBeez.  This monitoring method covers the first type of VPN setup.  The setup is fairly simple and can be implemented for free. It took me no more than twenty minutes (excluding the time needed to download the software involved). With this procedure, I am looking to validate the availability and performance of the VPN service that is established between a user’s computer and VPN concentrator.

NetBeez agent configured as a VPN Client

NetBeez agent configured as a VPN Client

There are different VPN technologies used by companies today. Here are some examples:

To monitor your VPN service, you will need the following resources:

  1. An existing VPN setup, including a working VPN account that will be used to monitor the VPN service.
  2. A Linux, Windows, or Mac OS X computer that will be used to load the NetBeez monitoring agent. if you are using Windows or Mac OS X, you will also need to install vBox manager, available for free here.
  3. A NetBeez instance.

After the setup, you will be able to:

  1. Verify that the VPN concentrator is working and accepting VPN connections
  2. Measure network performance across the tunnel
  3. Measure uptime of the tunnel

Setup NetBeez to Monitor a VPN

  1. If you don’t already have a NetBeez instance, request one here.
  2. Install the VPN client software you will be using to establish the secure tunnel.
  3. Install the NetBeez monitoring agent on the computer:
    1. If you have Linux, just follow the instructions to install a software agent
    2. If you have Mac OS X or Windows, install vBox manager and then import the NetBeez virtual agent.
  4. Configure the NetBeez monitoring agent:
    1. You can skip this step if you have installed a software or a docker agent.
    2. If you have Windows or Mac OS X, make sure that the NetBeez virtual agent has Internet connectivity. In my testing, I configured the network settings of my virtual appliance in NAT mode.

  1. Once you see the agent reporting to your NetBeez dashboard, you can now configure:
    1. One test to an internal corporate resource. This test traffic is flowing across the VPN tunnel, monitoring availability and performance
    2. One test to the public interface of the VPN concentrator (assuming it allows ICMP traffic inbound).
    3. If you have an agent on your internal network, you can also create a periodic Iperf test to measure bandwidth available across the tunnel.

  1. That’s all, folks! Now you can review the up/down status of your VPN tunnel as well as network performance metrics, like the network latency as shown in the test below.

I hope this post provided a starting point to start monitoring your VPN service in a simple yet effective way. This setup will allow you to detect when the VPN service is unavailable to your remote users. If you want to learn more about this configuration, or just need help in the setup, feel free to reach out by scheduling a demo with me.