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I've got a home LAN, behind a Comcast cablemodem and router. I would like to be able to access one of my machines from outside (via screen sharing or remote logon) but am wary of opening any potential security holes enabling access to our LAN. Is there any such thing as reasonably safe external access that doesn't compromise the whole LAN, and if so, where can I read about best practices for how to implement it?

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  • You can use Remote Desktop which is built into Windows, be sure both machines are full patched using Windows updates before using RDP....support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4028379/… – Moab Oct 11 '19 at 22:13
  • I use a VPN box (Cisco) and have Radmin Server running. I can securely access my home network. Cisco RV series has a GUI VPN setup that is fairly easy to work with – John Oct 11 '19 at 23:25
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If you opt for a raw remote desktop connection..

  • Using TeamViewer can be a safe way to access the computer.
  • Google also provides a remote method, though this always broke for me left and right.
  • You could just use RDP. Windows' Remote Desktop. Just set a strong password for your username (or use a new user), and change the RDP's port. This should be plenty safe already.

For a full network, you need... a VPN. Virtual Private Network.
There are three types, I'd say:

Peer to peer:
Where you just connect each peer into a virtual network. No mess, no big setup required:

  • You can use Hamachi to build a VPN between computers. It is limited to a few clients in the free version.
  • You can use ZeroTier One - which is a completely free tool without limits to build out a similar VPN to Hamachi. Hamachi seems to work a tiny bit better, as in it is sometimes easier to set up.
  • TeamViewer has an in-built VPN. Though, Hamachi just has a user limit, ZeroTier has no limit... while Teamviewer will nag the hell out of you.

Router-based:

Most routers starting from a ~30$ price range can actually set up a VPN server for you. All you have to do is check your router's manual and look for VPN. Keep in mind, this applies to aftermarket routers that you purchase separately. Most modems/routers the ISPs give out don't have this feature.

So once you verify you have it, follow the manual. In my case, with ASUS, I set up a few things like authentication type and whatnot, and then I can just grab the config files that I load up my computers. Boom, it's done.

Server-based (ie.: OpenVPN):

This is the most tedious to set up. One could argue that learning how to set up a VPN server can be beneficial if you are interested in computers and whatnot. Not a bad reasoning honestly. It is useful at times. For this, I will not post a full guide, you can find millions online - both in video, or article form. Whichever is easier to digest.

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