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SSL VPN Overview

SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Network) allows users to remotely access restricted network resources via a secure and authenticated pathway by encrypting all network traffic and giving the appearance that the user is on the local network, regardless of geographic location. This protocol achieves a higher level of compatibility with client platforms and configurations for remote networks and firewalls, providing a more reliable connection. While Northwestern Information Technology (IT) continues to offer its traditional VPN to the University community at large, SSL VPN is the next generation of VPN service.

Who Can Use SSL VPN SSL VPN allows access to administrative systems, critical infrastructure, and sensitive information maintained by system administrators. SSL VPN access can be granted to University system administrators as well as vendors and other external collaborators, provided that the user has a valid NetID and password and is in an LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) group with SSL VPN access.


There are two SSL VPN options (Note: Enabled features will be determined by user need and the nature of applications and resources that need to be accessed):

Note: SSL VPN is intended to access resources that are restricted and not as a general access solution for resources accessible to the entire Internet.

Advanced Features

Additional advanced features are available based on user need.


Access to online resources through SSL VPN is based on LDAP groups. Northwestern IT must establish groups and configure resource access. The local group administrators are responsible for managing the membership of the LDAP groups.


Any request for SSL VPN access should be submitted to Northwestern IT at Northwestern IT will coordinate requests for access and contact the requestor, data steward and other authorities as deemed appropriate for consideration and discussion of the access request.

All orders must include response to the following information:

A Northwestern IT network engineer will contact the department to discuss and evaluate specific SSL VPN needs. For questions about ordering this service, contact the Northwestern IT Support Center.

Last Updated: 17 March 2020

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