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)
When you are not connected to the McGill network, you must use the VPN to access McGill restricted sites and resources, including:
- printing to uPrint machines via device drivers;
- accessing McGill computers and servers via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), e.g., staff computers, Banner INB and ApplicationXtender;
- personal drives (F:, P:, W:) on the McGill network
- accessing infrastructure management services;
- accessing McGill WMS sites on staging.mcgill.ca or on development servers such as RAS and QA;
- using some of the mobile apps recommended by McGill Libraries (Note: you do not need VPN to access Library resources via direct links on the Library website).
Please note: 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.
Resources that do not require VPN (whether on or off campus)
- McGill's public web site pages (www.mcgill.ca) and the site admin interface for live sites (it is required for staging sites)
- Outlook on the web (https://outlook.com/mcgill.ca)
- Personal storage on OneDrive (cloud file storage)
- Library resources (with the exception of mobile apps)
- Microsoft Teams and other Office 365 apps
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
- McGill students, faculty and staff (including retirees): You need a McGill Username and McGill Password.
- Affiliates and visitors: A sponsor who is a full-time McGill faculty or staff member can request a McGill Username for you by submitting the Affiliate account creation form.
- McGill-affiliated companies: A sponsor who is a full-time McGill faculty or staff member can request a "restricted VPN account" to allow external McGill-affiliated employees secure access to restricted servers and services (e.g., application servers) from off campus. Please contact the IT Service Desk and provide details about the affiliated party and the type of VPN access needed.
How to access McGill's VPN
- 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:
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.
Any time you need to access McGill restricted sites and resources, connect to McGill's VPN using the connection you created above.
- 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
- Click on the Cisco Secure Client icon.
- In the box that opens, click on the About icon.
- 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
- On iOS, if you have a previously configured a VPN connection named "McGill VPN", make sure to delete it before setting up your new VPN connection on Cisco Secure Client, or choose a different name for the new VPN connection.
- Once you have established that the Cisco Secure Client app works, delete any other McGill VPN connections you may have configured on your computer or mobile.
- When you have finished accessing McGill restricted sites, disconnect from the VPN.
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