Recently, the Nevada System of Higher Education (NMSU) launched its new cyber security initiative, the Nevada Cybersecurity and Information Trust (NCIT) Lab, and provided its campuses with the resources to connect to a virtual private network (VPN) service.
The goal of the NCIT Lab is to “[promote] a culture of cybersecurity and digital trust among students, faculty, and staff, and [create] a safe and secure campus environment.” Establishing a safe and secure campus environment is an important initiative for any university, especially in light of recent campus hacks and data breaches.
What is a VPN, and Why Should You Connect to One?
Before we can answer the question of how to connect to a VPN on NMSU’s campus network, we need to discuss what a VPN is and why you would want to connect to one.
A VPN is a virtual private network — a private network within a public network. It sets up a secure connection between your computer and another network or server, while also allowing you to access the internet as usual. You are still using your own internet connection to access the private network, but the security measures of your VPN ensure that only you can access the data. When you are using a VPN, your internet traffic is protected as it leaves your device and travels to the server.
This is particularly important if you are using public Wi-Fi while on campus, because not only is your data vulnerable while it travels over the public network, but any hacker can potentially access your account and steal your personal information. A VPN service encrypts all your internet traffic while you are connected to a public network, so it is safer to use than unencrypted Wi-Fi. If your personal information is ever stolen, encrypted traffic makes it much more difficult for others to access your data since the information is scrambled. Once again, VPNs provide strong security protection without affecting your daily use of the internet.
How to Connect to a VPN on NMSU’s Campus Network
Now that we know what a VPN is and why you would want to use one, let’s dive into how to connect to one on NMSU’s campus network.
As mentioned, the NCIT Lab provides resources to connect to VPNs, so you can rest assured that your university’s network is taking the necessary measures to secure your information.
The most convenient way for you to connect to a VPN is via the internet browser on your computer or mobile device. All you need to do is enter the address of the VPN’s website into the browser and follow the instructions to connect. To ensure that you are always using the most up-to-date version of the VPN’s website, you should also consider connecting through the browser’s VPN app, which will also provide you with the option to connect to a server near you. You can download the app for your computer or mobile device.
If you are an NMSU student, you can also connect to a VPN through the MyNMSU portal. Just make sure to click the “More Options” button to the right of the VPN server address before you connect.
Beyond connecting to a VPN through your browser, you can also set up a VPN connection manually on your computer or mobile device. For this example, we will be using the ExpressVPN app, but any reputable VPN service should be able to help you with this. Just make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly. Once you have set up your VPN connection on your device, you can either use the app to connect to the VPN or you can manually enter the VPN’s server address into the app and connect that way.
Once You Are Connected, What Next?
Once you have connected to a VPN on your computer or mobile device, you need to take a few minutes to review the settings. This will depend on the type of VPN you have connected to, but you can find your way around most VPNs’ settings with little to no trouble. Once you have set the VPN up with the appropriate server location, you can begin using the internet as usual while also being confident that your personal information is safer than ever before. Remember: always check for updates to the VPN’s software so that you’re always using the most up-to-date version of it. Updating the software also ensures that your VPN will always be able to protect you if a hacker targets you specifically or if the VPN’s servers are ever compromised. Additionally, be sure to cancel your VPN subscription if you experience any issues with it. Most importantly, use common sense and follow the advice of cybersecurity experts so that your personal information is always safe.