I wanted to highlight one of the features listed in XG v17.5 - Sophos Connect. Sophos Connect is a new IPsec VPN client, included with XG v17.5. This is a preview release, where we decided to make the client available now, before we've made all of the XG improvements we are planning. The client, as it stands now, is a cross platform (Windows and Mac) IPsec client with a simple user interface, and a compelling set of features, that are finished, and available for use now. We didn't want to sit on that while waiting for the rest of our plans to be completed, so we decided to get that out to you sooner, even though the total admin user experience still needs a few significant improvements.
In XG, you'll notice that the Cisco VPN tab under VPN, has been re-named Sophos Connect, and now offers a download for the new IPsec clients and admin utility. While you can create a split tunnel remote access policy on the IPsec tab, this doesn't yet offer a client IP range. So clients will connect and communicate over the tunnel, using whatever IP they are using locally, on the network they're in. While this might work in some cases, it runs into problems, as soon as your users are connected from a subnet that conflicts with a network being accessed over the tunnel. Having visited a hotel or two that gave out addresses in massive 10.0.0.0/8 subnet ranges, the possibility of a conflict using that configuration is pretty significant. Meanwhile, the feature originally built to work with the now-antiquated Cisco IPsec VPN client solves this, and does offer a client IP range, but doesn't allow you to configure a split tunnel. Since the Cisco client is pretty outdated now, we decided to re-purpose that feature for now, and use it as the preferred method for configuring Sophos Connect.
This makes for a more robust configuration, but the policy generated by that feature, only offers a full-tunnel. While that may be enough in some cases, most of you are looking for a VPN client that allows split tunneling. The tunnel will support split tunneling, but the UI doesn't yet offer that capability. We could slap in the feature, but we also want to move to a more modern method of pushing policy from the firewall when the tunnel connects, rather than leaving all of that up to the config file. So for now, we've taken a short-cut, (this is an early access release after all :) ) and provided a simple policy editor utility. This also let us expose some of the other great features Sophos Connect offers, like the ability to send Security Heartbeats over the tunnel, or an auto-connect when remote capability.
Ultimately, we will resolve these limits in XG directly, but for the time being, Sophos Connect Admin will let you customize your policies then deploy them to your users. It's a temporary solution needed to let you use these features, until we can add them into the firewall itself, and one of the big reasons this client will remain as a long term early access release, after 17.5 goes to GA.
The client is free, and will remain free in the future, and is available to download from within XG today. The client is now available for early access, so we look forward to your testing and feedback. At the end of the XG EAP, the client code should also be considered at a GA quality at that time, but because of the limits I mentioned earlier, we'll continue to offer it as a longer term EAP release, until some time mid next year.
The download is in the firewall now, under VPN > Sophos Connect client. Also, if you've just updated to v17.5, be sure the firewall has downloaded the client, under Backup & Firmware > Pattern updates, before you try to grab a copy. The package you'll get from the firewall will contain three programs. Sophos Connect for Windows, Sophos Connect for Mac, and Sophos Connect Admin, which is only available for windows.
You can find instructions in installing and troubleshooting the client, here: https://docs.sophos.com/nsg/sophos-connect/help/en-us/nsg/scon/concepts/AboutSophosConnect.html
Looking forward to your feedback, and happy testing!
We are using Sophos Connect for macOS which is only IPSec client until v2 I guess. We are experiencing less performance than other VPN IPSec clients, like native built-in macOS IPSec client. Sophos Support told me I need to wait to v2 which will be released soon. Have you ever heard about this lack of performance transferring files through remote VPN with Sophos Connect? In addition, IPSec is supposed to be faster than VPN SSL, but same performance on file transfers testing Forticlient SSL VPN for Mac with Fortigate 90 E and Sophos Connect IPSec for Mac client with Sophos XG 210.
Thanks in advance for your reply.
You can expect SSL VPN to be notably faster than IPsec on XG - at least for remote access. The same is not true for site-to-site, due to kernel level optimizations for IPsec on the firewall side. We are still a ways away, unfortunately, from releasing an SSL client for mac, but until we do, you may want to look at the Mac client from OpenVPN. It is the best OpenVPN client option for Mac today, and will work with the ovpn files generated by XG.
Thanks for your reply.
I've tried with SSL instead of IPsec for remote access and we experience better performance transferring files.
Just one another question related to that subject. One of our new customer have just to start to work with VPN for remote access with Sophos XG Firewall. This company finally understood the necessity to keep their communications secure. However, some employees are experiencing less performance since they are working with VPN. Before, they did connect to the remote server over AFP/SMB plane port opened on their old Firewall. This company comes from graphical environment and works with huge files. We always recommend to transfer files to computer and work the files locally, but in some job users profiles they need to work online with the files.
We understood that working with VPN (whatever IPSEC/SSL) cause delay due to cypher processes on both sides (client and Firewall).
Do you know if is there any workaround or any advice to improve the current remote VPN performance?
Thanks in advance for your time!