Using Sophos Connect VPN Client

Hey everyone,

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 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 Since the Cisco client is pretty outdated now, we decided to re-purpose that feature for now, and use it as the preferred method for configuring Sophos Connect.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:

Looking forward to your feedback, and happy testing!

[edited by: FloSupport at 7:15 PM (GMT -7) on 28 Sep 2020]
  • Hi Alan,

    Just been playing with the Sophos Connect client as one of our clients has run into a difficulty with L2TP and I've noticed that it is not assigned to User Groups but is instead assigned to Users.

    Is this meant to be the case or in a future version (hopefully the next version) will it be against groups instead?

    If it is staying against Users this is highly inefficient, when an XG is first deployed into a Customers infrastructure there are no Users and we cannot import them until they have been seen by the XG either via STAS or an alternative logon method. Additionally, each time a new user is on boarded they will have to ask the user to log onto the User Portal or force an at location logon via Captive Portal or STAS.

    This is unsupportable in large user environments.

    Looking forward to your reply.


  • Hey Emile,

    The client is being released now, because it's at a point where we're happy with the features, and stability, but we only had opportunity to make small, superficial changes in the firewall. In v18, we'll make broader changes, which should remove the need for the scadmin utility, and a number of other significant changes, which should include both user and group support. 

  • Hi Alan,

    I'm not sure what part of my comment you are referring to.

    I am asking when is the Sophos Connect/Cisco VPN configuration on the XG side going to be possible to assign to groups and not direct to users?

    It's bad enough that the SSL VPN still uses the local Firewall Group membership and not dynamic AD backend but to limit the Sophos Connect VPN this way when there looks to be a big driver to get people onto it, that just seems highly irregular and bad feature examination.

    Remember in the v17 post I said there are things that make for a "death by a thousand cuts", this is another one of those cuts where the feature is good, but the minutiae details are poorly implemented.

    Please can you let me know if the assignment to groups is on the feature roadmap for v17.6 or v18 please?


  • EmileBelcourt said:
    Please can you let me know if the assignment to groups is on the feature roadmap for v17.6 or v18 please?

    Sorry I wasn't clear. yes, that's targeted for v18. 

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