Unsurprisingly, pfSense is such a popular open-source firewall and router solution. It is appropriate for residential, corporate, and enterprise users and allows you to create a fully customizable and secure router. Regular updates, an easy-to-use interface, and backup configuration files are all advantages. Additionally, the platform is flexible and adaptable; you may construct different subnets and add-ons are available for additional customization. While pfSense is a secure platform, understanding how to configure a VPN in combination with the platform is a good idea.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts all traffic to and from any connected devices, leaving your data unreadable to anybody watching you. This includes your ISP, government authorities, and hackers. Additionally, a VPN routes data via a secondary server located in the location of your choosing. This enables you to circumvent restrictions and access websites that are ordinarily unavailable to people in your actual location.
While pfSense is well-suited for usage with VPNs, not all VPNs are compatible. The following factors guided our selection of the top pfSense VPNs:
- Provides lessons for configuring pfSense VPN.
- Possesses a slew of robust security measures.
- Does not maintain user activity logs.
- Provides rapid, dependable connectivity.
- Provides responsive and competent client service.
How to configure pfSense VPN
The specific configuration of pfSense VPN may vary significantly based on the provider you pick. Although instructions for our preferred providers are included below, here are the basic steps for configuring a VPN with pfSense. (Note that this installation procedure presupposes that you have previously installed and configured your pfSense software for basic routing.)
- Subscribe to the VPN service mentioned below. NordVPN is recommended.
- Log onto your VPN provider’s website and download the VPN configuration files for the server location in which you want to connect.
- Navigate to System > Cert. Manager from your pfSense dashboard.
- Select Add under CAs to add a new certificate authority (CA).
- Give the CA a name (for example, the name of your VPN provider) and from the Method menu, choose Import an existing Certificate Authority.
- Copy the <ca> section from your configuration files for the Certificate data field. Take note that this part, as well as others in the configuration files, may have a different name depending on your VPN.
- Click the Save button.
- To add a new certificate, go to the Certificates tab and click Add.
- Give the certificate a name and from the Method option, choose Import an existing Certificate.
- Copy the cert> section from your configuration files into the Certificate data field.
- Copy the key> section from your configuration files into the Private key data field.
- Click the Save button.
- After installing your certificate, you must add your VPN client. Select Add from VPN > OpenVPN > Clients.
- The following information must be provided and may be found in the setup guidelines for your selected VPN below:
- Detailed Information
- Configuration of User Authentication
- Cryptographic Configurations
- Tunnel Configurations
- Configuration Advanced (where applicable)
Once you’ve entered and saved these settings, you’ll want to verify that you’ve connected to OpenVPN successfully. To see the status of an OpenVPN connection, go to Status > OpenVPN. The term up indicates that the connection was successful in the Client Instance Statistics section, under Status.
Best VPN for pfSense
NordVPN is our top recommendation for pfSense VPN. With over 5,000 servers in several countries, it dwarfs many other VPNs in terms of network capacity and is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve examined. It has been tried and tested with pfSense and includes installation instructions. NordVPN is reasonably priced yet packs a punch in terms of security features and is particularly good at circumventing geo-restriction.
Military-grade encryption with absolute forward secrecy is included, as is a kill button and leak prevention. Additionally, servers tailored for particular operations such as double VPN (routing traffic via two servers), VPN traffic obfuscation (suitable for countries such as China), and P2P filesharing are available. NordVPN maintains no logs.
Native applications are available for Linux, MacOS, Windows, Android, and iOS, and each plan has a six-connection limit. A router is considered to be a single connection. Support is provided 24 hours a day.
What are the advantages of using pfSense?
pfSense, by itself, provides a plethora of advantages to users. This open-source security architecture is flexible and adaptable, allowing you to create a router that is uniquely yours. Several of its distinguishing characteristics include the following:
- Add-ons such as cloud security features are available.
- Backup configuration files that allow you to create a backup of your router in case anything goes wrong.
- An option for configuring the routing of certain traffic patterns (split tunneling).
- The capability to build subnets, such as a guest network and a private network.
- A simple-to-use rules setup interface that is far less cumbersome than those seen on a large number of other routers.
- Continuous upgrades assist in reducing the danger of hacking attempts.
Why would you want to utilize a VPN with pfSense?
So how does a VPN fit into all of this? A VPN complements the pfSense software by enhancing the security of your data. Even while pfSense is updated regularly (unlike the majority of router software), the issue persists since routers are attractive targets for hackers. A VPN encrypts all communication between the router and the Internet. This implies that even if a hacker has access to your data, it will be rendered illegible. Numerous VPNs provide extra security features such as leak prevention and anti-malware protection. Additionally, the nature of a VPN protects against DDoS assaults.
Additionally, a VPN may help you bypass limitations and gain access to content that would otherwise be restricted. When you connect to a VPN server, your traffic is routed via the server on its way to the target website. Because you may choose the country where your VPN server is located, you can create the illusion of being someplace else. As a result, you’ll be able to access geo-restricted streaming platforms and gaming websites, as well as any content that has been prohibited in your country.
Another advantage of encrypting communication and passing it via a separate server is that anybody monitoring your activities, such as your internet service provider or a government agency, will be unable to determine its destination. This stops them from monitoring your activities on the Internet, such as which websites you visit and which items you download.
You do not want all of your traffic to be routed via VPN? This is not a problem, since pfSense’s split tunneling capability enables you to selectively connect devices to the VPN.
Is it possible to utilize a free VPN with pfSense?
Most likely not. The majority of free VPNs have limited features and would be unsuitable for usage with pfSense for a variety of reasons. While most free VPNs provide native programs for a variety of OS systems, they are unlikely to handle more advanced configurations such as routers.
Even if you are successful in configuring the VPN with pfSense, there are further practical challenges to address. Typically, these services operate on a limited number of servers with a high volume of people attempting to access them. This results in lengthy wait times and sluggish connectivity, creating an infuriating experience.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of free VPNs is their reputation for poor security and privacy. Numerous websites have been discovered to utilize insecure encryption or none at all, and some even include malware. Others track your internet activities to sell your information to third-party advertising. None of this is good news if you’re seeking to strengthen the security of your home or business network.
The preferred alternative is to invest a few bucks each month on a trustworthy pfSense VPN.