IT ServicesStaff

Working Remotely

Photo: Hand using a keyboard.

Remote Working Portal

The Remote Working Portal is available to everyone at the University, and is accessed simply by entering the easy to remember link https://vpn.lboro.ac.uk/ (VPN stands for Virtual Private Network).

This web based system will provide access to many services previously only available on-campus. No firewall holes are required and the system will work on different types of the computer from your home to locations around the world.

Services available for staff and students include:

Staff E-mail Directory,
Staff Telephone Directory,
University Library - On-line Resources
Apply for a New University ID Card.

Services available for staff only include:

Agresso Corporate System
[Authorise orders sub £25k from off site]

Simply enter the URL https://vpn.lboro.ac.uk into the address bar at the top of the Web browser and press Enter. You can add the URL to your Favourites.

Enter your Username and Password and click Login.

How to Use Remote Working Portal

Screen image: VPN Screen.

The portal home page is displayed above. A menu down the left-hand side gives access to:

  • Home - the home page,
  • Web Applications,
  • Application Access - not available for Macintosh,
  • Telnet/SSH Servers.

At the top of the right-hand screen is an area available on all of the portal screens, with Address, <GO>, Logout, and Close options.

Beneath this is a Welcome message (which can be collapsed by clicking the minus sign), and a list of Web Bookmarks (which can also be collapsed).

Beneath this is a clickable list of Web Bookmarks giving access to Web Applications.

Note that Macintosh users may wish to use Cisco Anyconnect instead of Application Access or Telnet/SSH.

Web Applications

Access to the following web applications are available:

  • Loughborough University Home Page,
  • Loughborough University Intranet,
  • Staff E-mail Directory,
  • Staff Telephone Directory,
  • University Library - On-line Resources,
  • Agresso Corporate System - Authorise orders under £25,000 (staff only),

These applications (apart from the University Home Page) were previously available "on campus" only. You can now access them via the VPN. If there are any we have omitted, you can access them from the University Home Page.

To access any of them, either select the required option from the Home Page under Web Bookmarks (expanding by clicking the plus sign if necessary), or by selecting Web Applications and selecting from its Web Applications menu.

Screen image: VPN Screen - Web Applications.

Once you access any of these, the portal window is replaced by the relevant web page. However, while you are accessing via the portal, the following toolbar will be available at the top right-hand corner of the web page:

Screen image: VPN Toolbar.

Button: Toggle.  The first button, showing a left / right double headed arrow will toggle moving the toolbar to the top left or top right corner of the relevant web page. Use this if the toolbar is too difficult to see over the underlying web page. 

Button: URL. The second button, an arrow on a sign-post, allows you to enter a URL. You can use this if there are any "on campus only" options we have missed.

Button: Home. The third button, a house, takes you back to the portal home page.

Button: Close. The last button, a white cross in a red button, allows you to close / disconnect / log off.

Application Access

Screen image: VPN Screen - Web Applications.

For staff users who need to access a desktop computer or research based Unix / Linux system, there is no longer a need to register for a specific firewall hole to be created. The Remote Working Portal allows authenticated users access to their University systems from any location, once connected through the "'Remote Working Portal".

Access to other computer systems via "Smart Tunnel" is available to Microsoft Windows users only, users of Mac OS X and Unix/Linux computers should select the Telnet/SSH Servers button on the left (see below).

Users of Internet Explorer 7 and above need initially to follow the Steps to add https://vpn.lboro.ac.uk to the list of trusted sites, in the FAQ's tab above. 

Click the Start Smart Tunnel button and accept the Cisco prompts until your web page displays Smart Tunnel has been started.

Start the application you use to access your computer remotely, this can be either Microsoft Remote Desktop or PuTTY. Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection can be found in the Start menu (see below) and PuTTY is located in University IT Services on a Standard Staff Desktop computer, or can be downloaded from the PuTTY Web Site (also see below).

The web page will need to remain open on the computer for the system to work, however feel free to minimise the window.

To use Microsoft Remote Desktop to access your Windows Computer from off-campus

To use Microsoft Remote Desktop to access your Windows Computer from off-campus

If you have left your Windows computer in your office switched on and connected to the network, you can connect to it from off-campus and use it remotely (e.g. from your laptop at home, or from an Internet cafe anywhere in the world).

Initial steps

You may need help from your local IT Support Staff to find the I.P. Address of the computer and to set up permission to access via remote desktop. See the Remote Desktop Access tab above for set up instructions.

To access

To access the computer remotely, on the remote computer (at home or in an Internet cafe), start Smart Tunnel as described above. Start Microsoft Remote Desktop: from your Start button select Programs then Accessories then Communications and finally Remote Desktop Connection.

Screen image: Remote Desktop Connection.

Before you connect, by default the connection will be displayed full screen. We recommend that you first click the Options >> button, and then select the Display tab. The following screen will be displayed:

Screen image: Remote Desktop Connection - Display.

Use the Remote desktop size slider to reduce the size of the screen resolution to be used. Click on the General tab.

Screen image: Remote Desktop Connection - General.

For Computer enter the I.P. Address (obtained in How to Set Up Using Remote Desktop) e.g. 131.231.82.28 and enter your User name and Password, and then click Connect. If your credentials are not accepted at this stage, please try adding lunet\ in front of your User name, ie so that the User name entry reads lunet\username.

A window will appear on your screen with the remote computer's screen displayed in it - anything that you do in this screen happens on the remote computer. If you do display the screen full-size, there is a floating tab at the top of the screen with the computer name displayed and Minimize, Restore Down, and Close buttons on the right-hand side. Use the Restore Down button to display the screen not full size.

When you have finished, Log Off from the remote computer, and then close the Remote Desktop Computer window. You can now continue using the portal, or use its Logout option to finish your session.

Using PuTTy

To access a server, on the remote computer start Smart Tunnel as described above.

Start PuTTy: from the Start menu select Programs, then University IT Services then Secure Telnet (Putty).

Screen image: PuTTy Configuration.

Enter the Host Name (or IP address) - the server manager will need to provide you with this. For Protocol select SSH (Secure Shell), and the Port number should be 22. Click Open.

Screen image: PuTTY.

Enter your Username and press ENTER. Enter your Password and press ENTER.

When you have finished, type exit and ENTER, and the PuTTY screen will close. You can now continue with more portal work, or use the portal's Logout mechanism.

Telnet / SSH Servers

Screen image: VPN Screen - Telnet / SSH Servers.

For staff users who need to access a research based Unix / Linux system, there is no longer a need to register for a specific firewall hole to be created. The Remote Working Portal allows authenticated users access to their University systems from any location, once connected through the "Remote Working Portal".

If you are using a Microsoft Windows computer and would prefer to use PuTTY for SSH, select the Application Access button on the left, and use the instructions above.

Otherwise, simply type in the address of the computer running SSH (secure shell) within the space marked Address. Make sure that you select SSH:// from the drop-down menu. When you are ready, click the <GO> button.

You will need to accept pop up messages before entering your username and password in the authentication prompt.

Stage 1: Find the I.P Address

From the Start menu select Run. In the Run dialogue type cmd and press ENTER.

Type ipconfig.

Windows IP Configuration
Ethernet adapter Wireless Network Connection:
        Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . : lboro.ac.uk
        IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 131.231.185.183
        Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.254.0
        Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 131.231.184.1
Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:
        Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . : lboro.ac.uk
        IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 131.231.82.28
        Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.248.0
        Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 131.231.80.1
Ethernet adapter Bluetooth Network Connection:
        Media State . . . . . . . . . . . : Media disconnected

Find the I.P. Address for the Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection (not the Wireless nor the Bluetooth if present).

Type exit.

Stage 2: Allow Remote Desktop Access

If you have an administrator account on the computer, you can do this yourself. Otherwise you will need help from your IT Support Staff.

1

Log on

Log on as Administrator and Right-click Computer and Properties

2 Screen image: System Properties - Remote.

Remote tab

Select the Remote tab.

3

Allow to remotely connect

Ensure that Allow users to connect remotely to this computer is selected.

4

Select Remote Users

Click on the Select Remote Users... button.

5

Add the user

Add the user to the Remote Users group. Click OK. Click OK.

Please remember to click the Logout button when you have completed your session. Doing so ensures that your Remote Working Portal session is ended securely and subsequent users of the PC are not able to re-initiate your session masquerading as you, and is important regardless of whether you are using your own computer or not. If you are using a computer that you do not own then we also recommend that you close all web browser windows and optionally reboot the computer on completion of your session.

Please disconnect from the VPN when you do not need it and remember that when connected to the VPN you are bound by the University's IT Acceptable Use Policies.

Remote Working Portal FAQ's

What software do I need to access the 'Remote Working Portal'?

Any up to date web browser on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux will give access to the majority of features in the 'Remote Working Portal'.

Microsoft Windows is required to use the 'Application Access' area of the portal which allows users to load 'PuTTY' or the 'Remote Desktop Connection' applications to gain access to on campus resources.

Java is required to utilise the built-in SSH terminal software.

When using the portal, why can't I see the name of the website?

The URL, or text in the address bar, will be obfuscated and will appear as a set of numbers and letters. This is normal and is just the way the system works. You can navigate through the site using the small bar in the top right hand corner and still follow links as normal.

Why doesn't Smart Tunnel work with Internet Explorer 7 and above?

You need to add https://vpn.lboro.ac.uk to Internet Explorer's list of trusted sites:

  1. Press Alt to see the menu system.
     
  2. Select Tools and then Internet Options.
     
  3. Select the Security tab.
     
  4. Select Trusted Sites and then click Sites.

Screen image: Internet Options - Security tab.

5. For Add this website to the zone type: https://vpn.lboro.ac.uk, and click Add.
 
6. Click Close.
 
7. Click OK.
 
8. Close Internet Explorer and re-start it.


The vpn portal will be in your list of Trusted Sites, and all should now work.

 

 

An online journal or database site does not work correctly,why is this?

This is caused by an interaction between the rewriting mechanism of the Remote Working Portal and how the journal / database operates. The best solution is to install the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client and then access the site directly after connecting to the VPN using the AnyConnect client (i.e. after launching the AnyConnect client and logging in through it, go to the Library's web site and click through to access the resource using your web browser without going through the Remote Working Portal first). Follow the Instructions for installing and using the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client for your operating system.

The journals and databases which we have identified as being problematic when accessed through the Remote Working Portal so far are:

  • Analytical Chemistry (American Chemical Society Journals)
  • informaworld
  • RefWorks
  • SciFinder Scholar

If you do find a site which is not on the list above then please get in touch with us so that we can update the list. The best way to do this is to send an e-mail to IT.Services@lboro.ac.uk and quote the name of the journal or database you were trying to access.