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While reading about the setup of a VPN server, I have noticed the setup is very similar to that of a SSH server: there is an exchange of keys/certificates, a key password is setup, and even optionally two-factor authentication, besides firewall rules to avoid unauthorized access, for example.

Also, the OpenVPN for Android FAQ says I should delete the .ovpn files after importing them:

As OpenVPN is security sensitive a few notes about security are sensible. All data on the sdcard is inherently insecure. (...) The VPN profiles are only accessible by this application. (Do not forget to delete the copies on the sd card afterwards).

While I understand how much all that would be needed for a SSH server, since it gives you a shell to the system, I still fail to understand why a VPN server would need all that. I have read the VPN Wikipedia page, and it mentions that "VPNs may allow employees to securely access a corporate intranet while located outside the office", which is a different use case from just encrypting traffic, as mostly advertised nowadays.

But since I intend to setup a server mostly for encrypting my network traffic, what could be unintended consequences of leting someone authenticate to my VPN server? I believe OpenVPN for Android is used mostly for that purpose too, but it tells me I should keep my .ovpn files safe, in order to avoid that.

  • Why exactly are you trying to encrypt your network traffic? A VPN setup will encrypt your traffic between your computer and the VPN server, but after it reaches the destination the traffic is no longer encrypted. This makes it perfect for a corporate entity that wants to encrypt data between its employees and the home office. It doesn't really make sense if you want to encrypt your data going out into the internet in general (unless you want to obscure the origination point of your traffic). – David Sep 26 '17 at 20:27
  • @David I travel a lot, and connect to many shared WiFi networks. – Teresa e Junior Sep 26 '17 at 20:43
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They are essentially on your LAN (depending on your local configuration) and can do all kinds of fun things depending on how malicious they are. By just routing their internet through the tunnel and making it look like their victim is the one doing the downloading, someone can use your VPN as an internet connection for piracy, downloading child porn, as a control server for a bot net, or any other type of nefarious deed.

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