Find out how the eduVPN program, promoted in Portugal by Unidade FCCN, facilitates distance working for students, teachers and higher education staff in Portugal.

When, in March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic led to the adoption of distance learning and teleworking, some institutions in the RCTSthe Portuguese academic network, signaled the need for secure remote access to internal platforms or networks. In this context, the Unit FCCN has invested in the dissemination of a fast response without additional costs: eduVPN.

Originally created by the Dutch academic network - SURFnet - eduVPN was then developed by GÉANT, the association of European academic networks. For this reason, the program now has a European dimension. As such, this project promoted in Portugal by the FCCN Unit is aimed at the international research and education community, seeking to respond to local needs to be online safely .

As a VPN (Virtual Private Network) program, eduVPN was developed specifically to meet the needs of the academic community, creating a "tunnel" that protects data traffic, even when not browsing a secure network. In this way, it is possible to access resources of the home institution, from anywhere, in an economical way and without advertising interruptions.

eduVPN provides for two types of implementation. The secure and private access to public networks (providing secure gateways to access trusted networks, in case of using, for example, public Wi-Fi access points) and also the access to private networks (a solution in which the user can access resources in the internal network of his institution).

As part of the Unit's response FCCN to the needs of the RCTS community, an installation guide has been made available in Portuguese and a quick guide presents the main advantages of this program, which is available as software and can be implemented by any national research and education network or interested institution.

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"eduVPN meets our needs"

"During the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, given the increased need for teleworking, the remote access service (VPN) was one of the areas in which we felt the need to reinforce capacity," explains Marco Teixeira, from the Information and Communications Systems Services Unit at the University of Minho, before adding, "After some research, we chose eduVPN because it has the features that meet our needs."

The absence of financial and licensing costs, the simplicity of use, the integration of applications for the largest platforms and the architecture capable of performing horizontal scalability were some of the main added values found in this solution, reveals Marco Teixeira. The development and implementation were carried out in record time, he says, thanks to the proactivity and availability of the eduVPN team, which even managed to "incorporate some additional features that allowed an adequate implementation to the prerequisites and use cases".

As a result, eduVPN can now be used by the entire academic community of Universidade do Minho (teachers, staff, researchers or students), ensuring "a secure access to internal resources" , as well as to external resources that are only accessible through the use of a University IP address, "allowing also to increase the security of users when they are abroad or using public Wi-Fi points", concludes Marco Teixeira.

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