* About: Virtual Private Network (VPN)


Overview | When to use it | Who can use it | How to request & access | Cost | Availability | Best practices & policies | Training & documentation | Support

Service overview

The McGill VPN allows for secure communications over the Internet to a specific network, such as McGill's network. It requires user authentication and uses the SSL protocol to encrypt data. This method ensures that only members of the McGill community have access to the network and that the data they are sending is secure.


NOTE: VPN connection is NOT needed to access most Library resources (with the exception of some mobile apps):

  • McGill students, faculty and staff can simply click on any resource link from the Library website and they will be prompted to sign into EZproxy, a service which provides access to the materials you are allowed to view based on your student, faculty or staff member status.
  • McGill alumni can now access Electronic resources for alumni from off-campus via EZ Proxy, by simply signing in with their McGill Username and Password when prompted.

Due to licensing restrictions, only McGill students, faculty and staff are allowed to access restricted library resources, whether through VPN or EZproxy.

You will be prompted to authenticate with 2FA every time you log into VPN. This applies to all staff, faculty, and students working at McGill, regardless of whether a user is on campus or off campus. 


When to use the Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Not sure if you need to use VPN?

See When to use VPN and Remote Desktop (RDP)

Who can use it

McGill students, faculty, staff, affiliates (non-McGill staff who work in McGill-affiliated hospitals, or McGill-affiliated companies/professionals providing services to McGill), and visitors (such as visiting faculty). Retired faculty and staff are also eligible.

How to request and access the service

What credentials you need to set up a VPN connection


VPN access requires two-factor authentication (2FA).

How to access McGill's VPN

  1. To set up a VPN connection in most cases you will need to install the Cisco Secure Client app on your computer. Select the instructions appropriate for your operating system:

    Mac OS
    Linux / Ubuntu
    iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)

    Other: If your platform is not listed here please contact the IT Service Desk and they will assess your VPN needs on a case-by-case basis - in many cases there are alternatives.

  2. Any time you need to access McGill restricted sites and resources, connect to McGill's VPN using the connection you created above.

  3. Once you have finished accessing McGill restricted sites, disconnect from the McGill VPN as there are a limited number of simultaneous VPN connections available.

NOTE: Verify the version of Cisco Secure Client

  1. Click on the Cisco Secure Client icon.
  2. In the box that opens, click on the About icon.

    Screenshot of information box with arrow indicating the About or Information (i) icon

  3. The next screen will display the version number.

NOTE: Automatic timeout

VPN connections are terminated automatically after 48 hours, regardless of being active or not.


There is no cost associated with this service. If you are a student, the cost is covered under the IT portion of your student fees.


This service is available 24 X 7, except during scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Check the System Status page for announcements regarding service interruptions.

Best practices & policies

Training & documentation

See VPN setup instructions in the How to access section of this article.


Report an issue/Request support for VPN

Contact the IT Service Desk