A virtual private network (VPN) is a way to use a public network, such as the Internet, as a vehicle to provide remote offices or individual users with secure access to private networks. FortiOS supports the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), which enables interoperability between FortiGate units and Windows or Linux PPTP clients. Because FortiGate units support industry standard PPTP VPN technologies, you can configure a PPTP VPN between a FortiGate unit and most third-party PPTP VPN peers.


This section describes how to configure PPTP and L2TP VPNs as well as PPTP passthrough. This section includes the topics:

  • How PPTP VPNs work
  • FortiGate unit as a PPTP server
  • Configuring the FortiGate unit for PPTP VPN
  • Configuring the FortiGate unit for PPTP pass through
  • Testing PPTP VPN connections
  • Logging VPN events
  • Configuring L2TP VPNs
  • L2TP configuration overview


How PPTP VPNs work

The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol enables you to create a VPN between a remote client and your internal network. Because it is a Microsoft Windows standard, PPTP does not require third-party software on the client computer. As long as the ISP supports PPTP on its servers, you can create a secure connection by making relatively simple configuration changes to the client computer and the FortiGate unit.

PPTP uses Point-to-Point protocol (PPP) authentication protocols so that standard PPP software can operate on tunneled PPP links. PPTP packages data in PPP packets and then encapsulates the PPP packets within IP packets for transmission through a VPN tunnel.

When the FortiGate unit acts as a PPTP server, a PPTP session and tunnel is created as soon as the PPTP client connects to the FortiGate unit. More than one PPTP session can be supported on the same tunnel. FortiGate units support PAP, CHAP, and plain text authentication. PPTP clients are authenticated as members of a user group.

Traffic from one PPTP peer is encrypted using PPP before it is encapsulated using Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) and routed to the other PPTP peer through an ISP network. PPP packets from the remote client are addressed to a computer on the private network behind the FortiGate unit. PPTP packets from the remote client are addressed to the public interface of the FortiGate unit. Seethe figure below.

PPTP control channel messages are not authenticated, and their integrity is not pro- tected. Furthermore, encapsulated PPP packets are not cryptographically protected and may be read or modified unless appropriate encryption software such as Secure Shell (SSH) or Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is used to transfer data after the tunnel has been established.

As an alternative, you can use encryption software such as Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption (MPPE) to secure the channel. MPPE is built into Microsoft Windows cli- ents and can be installed on Linux clients. FortiGate units support MPPE.


Packet encapsulation

Shown above, traffic from the remote client is addressed to a computer on the network behind the FortiGate unit. When the PPTP tunnel is established, packets from the remote client are encapsulated and addressed to the FortiGate unit. The FortiGate unit forwards disassembled packets to the computer on the internal network.

When the remote PPTP client connects, the FortiGate unit assigns an IP address from a reserved range of IP addresses to the client PPTP interface. The PPTP client uses the assigned IP address as its source address for the duration of the connection.

When the FortiGate unit receives a PPTP packet, the unit disassembles the PPTP packet and forwards the packet to the correct computer on the internal network. The security policy and protection profiles on the FortiGate unit ensure that inbound traffic is screened and processed securely.

PPTP clients must be authenticated before a tunnel is established. The authentication process relies on FortiGate user group definitions, which can optionally use estab- lished authentication mechanisms such as RADIUS or LDAP to authenticate PPTP cli- ents. All PPTP clients are challenged when a connection attempt is made.

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About Mike

Michael Pruett, CISSP has a wide range of cyber-security and network engineering expertise. The plethora of vendors that resell hardware but have zero engineering knowledge resulting in the wrong hardware or configuration being deployed is a major pet peeve of Michael's. This site was started in an effort to spread information while providing the option of quality consulting services at a much lower price than Fortinet Professional Services. Owns PacketLlama.Com (Fortinet Hardware Sales) and Office Of The CISO, LLC (Cybersecurity consulting firm).

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