OpenVPN Enabler for Monterey

This app works on both ARM and Intel Macs but only on MacOS Monterey. Please note: You may need to turn on port forwarding for port 1194 on the router for OpenVPN.

Step 1. Setting Up the OpenVPN Server

There are two panels — Server and Client. You use the same app to set up both the OpenVPN server and the OpenVPN client on the Mac. 

Note: Unlike using VPN Enabler for Mojave (which works simply with Apple’s built-in VPN client in Network Preferences), you need an app set up the OpenVPN client.

New! It offers an easy-to-use user interface to configure the powerful Mac OS firewall.

Enter the Domain Name (VPN Host Name field) of the machine you want to run OpenVPN Enabler on. That Domain Name must be publicly accessible from the Internet. Then, click on the Suggest IP Addresses button. Make any custom changes to those IP address fields, if necessary. Finally, click on the Start OpenVPN button, and that’s it. You have the OpenVPN Server running on your Mac.


Step 2. After Starting the Server

After you hit the Start OpenVPN button, you will see that a profile called Client-1 is automatically generated. You use this profile to set up the OpenVPN client.


Step 3. Exporting the Profile 

Export this profile (click on its name and the button will be enabled) and copy it to the OpenVPN client to set up the client-server connection. You can use the same profile for any number of clients (not so secure but we start with this because it’s simpler).

After you’ve hit the Export Profile button, look for this file, wherever you have saved it :

Copy this profile to the Mac or iOS device, either through AirDrop or through email or any other means.

Note: OpenVPN Enabler is also able to export a .ovpn file, next to the .mobileconfig file, in the selected directory. You can use this .ovpn file with any other OpenVPN client.


Step 4. Setting up the Client

a. If the client is an iOS device — except for one extra step, connecting to an OpenVPN Server from an iOS device is almost like what we did with the old Mojave Apple built-in VPN Server. Copy the above profile to the iOS device and install it in Settings. The extra step is that we need an app on the iOS device. For iOS, I didn’t write an OpenVPN client app because the one provided by OpenVPN suffices. Download it from their website. (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/openvpn-connect/id590379981) You don’t even need to open it or look at it. You just need to have it sitting on your iOS device. You launch the mobileconfig profile the usual way, by launching it from Settings or hitting the VPN button in Settings. Then watch if the VPN button shows it’s connected. (Hopefully).

b. If the client is a Mac — now we need an app. The OpenVPN app for MacOS is very Windows-centric. And so I wrote a Mac OpenVPN client and merge it in the same app as the one that enables the Server. Use the same OpenVPN Enabler app in the targetted client Mac, but use the Client tab. Drag the exported mobileconfig file onto a “well” just below the Start OpenVPN Client button.Once the file is dropped on the well, the OpenVPN Client app will extract the client parameters from the profile and set up the VPN client config. Then you’re ready to hit the Start OpenVPN Client button.

Once it is started, the VPN light turns from red to green.


Step 5. Testing the Client

Use Safari. Load the website : “http://checkip.dyndns.com”. 

Without the VPN turned on, it will show your “true” IP address — the network your Mac or iOS device is connecetd to. But with the VPN turned on, it will show the IP address of the OpenVPN Server. So on both the IOpenVPN Server mchine and on the client, you do the same thing : load checkip.dyndns.com. Compare the IP addresses returned – if they are the same, then you’ve successfully connected back to your VPN.

You can also try pinging other machines on your local network, where your VPN Server is. You ping using the local private IP addresses the VPN Server is on. (I can reach other machines on my remote local network via their IP addresses, and I can log in to them via File Sharing and do ssh, etc, but I can’t reach my VPN server machine by its local IP address. I can only reach it by the virtual 10.8.0.1 address that the VPN sets up. (So, still so much to learn).

Try it. But again, I can’t offer support :)


Firewall

This is new in version 3.1 (Needs a De-Install, first. But do note that you need to re-send the newly regenerated Profile to the VPN clients). The Mac OS built-in Packet Filter Firewall is turned on when the VPN Server is on. This is very useful. 

For example, while looking through your Apache web server logs, you might see your web server getting hit with suspicious activity from a certain IP address. Create a new record in the Other Threats list, as shown below. Then, enter that IP Address and "80, 443" as the Port Numbers. Then click Save to Firewall. That IP address will be blocked immediately. You can verify this with an IP address that you own — for example, that occupied by your iPhone (check your IP address with the http://checkip.dyndns.com site). Remove the block by deleting its record and clicking Save to Firewall again.

As a demonstration of the power of having control over your own firewall, the Mail Threats list is generated by scanning /var/log/postfix.log for repeated failed SASL LOGINs and grabbing their source IP addresses. You can run a job to scan and protect your mail server automatically, every few hours. Or you can generate that list at any time. Or, add manually to it. Then save the list to the firewall. If you’ve seen the Postfix log before you did this, you’ll see the end of repeated login chatter. 

This concept can be extended to the auto-scanning of attacks on web server, name server, and remote login ports, in future versions.


De-Installing OpenVPN Enabler

You can un-install OpenVPN Enabler by using the last menu item in the Help menu. It will shut down the OpenVPN daemon, if it is running, and remove all files installed by OpenVPN Enabler (in /usr/local/cutedge/openvpn). 

To stop the VPN Server without un-installing, Option-click on the Restart VPN button.


Release Log

3.0 November 19th 2021. OpenVPN Enabler for Monterey released. The OpenVPN version is 2.5.4. 

3.1 November 25th 2021. Added a Firewall panel. The built-in Mac OS Packet Filter (PF) firewall is turned on when the VPN Server is on. The Firewall pane has two tables at the moment : one for a “Mail Threats” table and another custom “Other Threats” table. The Mail Threats table is generated from scanning the Postfix log in /var/log, for IP addresses trying to gain access to your mail server by endlessly testing passwords. You can lock all of these rogue intrusive source addresses off your server, all at on go, by saving the list to your firewall (the Save to Firewall button). You can also turn on a job to scan and set your firewall every few hours. Then there is the Other Threats table to enter any suspicious address, and the relevant port numbers it may be attacking (say, ports 80 and 443 for web server). Leave the port number blank for denying all ports. To use this version of OpenVPN Enabler, you must do a De-Install, first before launching the app again, after which, all the stuff needed to do this firewall thing will be set up properly. But do note that you need to re-send the newly regenerated Profile to the VPN clients.

3.1.1 November 28th 2021. A bug in the Firewall-job.plist meant that the job to check for new Mail threats did not run. This version fixed that bug. Also, the Mail Threats table now separates new threats from threats that have already been blocked.There is now a time stamp shown for the last scan done for the mail server log, and the new threats are listed after that line. Also the table display always scrolls down to display the latest threats, if any. 

Download

OpenVPN Enabler for 
Monterey

The latest version is 3.1.1

It contains separate OpenVPN binaries — one for Intel and one for ARM Macs.

Please check out the Release Log


Contact
Bernard Teo