In our world of working at the office, from other offices, from home, friends’ homes, airports, Starbucks or even from parks and other wi-fi hot spots, security of our Internet connections is a major concern. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) make it possible to connect securely to networks from remote locations. While employers normally provide VPN access to their networks for employees it is often useful for employees to have access to their personal networks at home – especially when they frequently work from home. However, setting up your own VPN can be costly and overwhelming if you do it the enterprise way. There are a few different ways to create your own secure network, but most are surprisingly difficult or at least to non-technical folks. Hamachi is an amazingly simple and free service for creating your own VPN.
I read about Hamachi a few months ago on my favorite site lifehacker.com and have been using it since. It has great appeal to the gaming community because it allows one to create your own LAN over the Internet, but it has a lot of potential for the working professional. I’m not saying working professionals shouldn’t play games . By creating your own Hamachi VPN you can create a secure network, which gives you access to files and services on any of your computers or servers.
Since the source code is not open, some people are concerned about the security around Hamachi. However, they claim “Nobody will be able to see what two Hamachi peers are talking about. Not even us.”
Hamachi is a zero-configuration virtual private networking application with an open security architecture…
A special effort went into designing and polishing Hamachi user interface. The result is sleek, simple and intuitive, while still very much functional. Everything you need, nothing you don’t.
Hamachi software contains no spyware, bannerware or any other -ware unrelated to its purpose. And it never will.
ExtremeTech has a very good article on setting up your own VPN.
ExtremeTech: Secure Surfing to Go: VPN Made Easy
Wikipedia has a fairly academic overview with many resources.
Profit42.com: Share iTunes music over the internet in 3 easy steps
Printing to your home printer from anywhere is also useful!
Transparent VPN, Printing From Anywhere with Hamachi
I have read a lot of complaints about problems with getting Remote Desktop (RDP) to work on Windows XP with Hamachi. Cyberonica has a very good article with a solution to this problem by explaining how to configure free Hamachi to run as a Windows service. This kind of bridges the gap between the free and the commercial version. Nice!
Cyberonica : Hamachi
Another “running Hamachi as a service” resource:
It’s a Tech World: Hamachi VPN Solution
If you like podcasts, Security Now! has several discussions on personal use of VPN and Hamachi. Look for the episodes titled Virtual Private Networks (VPN): Theory, “Hamachi” Rocks! and VPNs Three: Hamachi, iPig, and OpenVPN.
B.t.w. the Hamachi site is fairly basic, however, you can find more info on these sections of their site:
Comparisan between the Free and Premium versions
Hamachi Discussion Forums where you can also download the lates beta
Hamachi is not perfect. It is not open source and it uses UDP to create a tunnel that many firewalls block. However, chances are that you can easily create a VPN that will allow you to connect to your home network. Apparantly Hamachi is working on a solution that would do tunneling over an open Web port, but not as a free service. I guess that’s where the open source folks would step in .