Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

VPN & remote access

Most people with a valid MSD IT network account can use the MSD IT Services VPN service to enable them to work effectively while away from their main office or networked computer. Once logged into VPN, your computer is - electronically speaking, and regardless of  your physical location (at home, at a conference, working abroad) - part of the Oxford network. This allows access to internal University services and resources, including web sites & library systems.  If you are using the MSD IT Services VPN then you will also have access to services you would have on your own departmental network, including Remote Desktop access.

MSD IT Services VPN Service

MSD IT Services provides a VPN service which enables access to all central services that require you to be on the University networks, remote desktop access and other services restricted to MSD IT services networks. The server address is: and the credentials required are the same as your MSD IT network account.

If the Cisco VPN client is not already installed, you can obtain it by logging using your MSD IT network credentials to and installing the appropriate AnyConnect Client.

If you experience difficulty accessing Library, Research@Oxford, or CoreHR resources, please use also listed as MSD IT Services VPN (Journals) in the Cisco AnyConnect client.
VPN access box

Installing the CISCO AnyConnect client on macOS

When installing the VPN client on a Mac, only select the VPN client & none of the other options.
CISCO Any Connect options

THE Central Oxford University VPN SERVICE

Members of the University can also use the Oxford Virtual Private Network (VPN) service provided by central IT Services.

Use of the central IT Services VPN also requires the Cisco VPN client software to be installed on your computer.  Windows and Apple users can download the Cisco VPN client from their IT Services Registration page. Non-Cisco clients, including the VPN one built-in to Apple devices, are not able to connect to the service.

Once the Cisco VPN client is installed, you can login to the central IT Services VPN using your SSO (Oxford username) credentials, then connect to a range of 'internal access only' web and data services. (VPN is also needed for staff access to the OWL wireless service)

Your Remote Access password continues to be required in order to use the Eduroam wireless service.

You cannot use the Central IT Services VPN service for Remote Desktop connections to office machines.

Remote Network login

You can use the VPN services to access your network drives on a computer that has been configured for use on an MSD IT network:


On a Windows computer configured for an MSD IT network connection, you should follow this sequence:

  1. Login to your computer (Computer only, not Network login)
  2. Connect to your local network
  3. Login to the CISCO VPN AnyConnect client & connect to
  4. Login to the OES network (via 'N' in taskbar)

CISCO Start Before Login (SBL)

IMPORTANT: 'Start Before Login' is only possible when using the VPN service & CISCO AnyConnect client provided by MSD IT. You cannot use SBL with the central IT Services VPN Service, i.e.

'Start Before Login' allows you to login to the MSD IT VPN service prior to logging into your computer and then immediately log in to both your computer & the MSD IT network. This feature is only available for Microsoft Windows.

If you have the CISCO AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client version version 4.8.03036 or above installed and the CISCO Start Before Login (SBL) addition, you can sign into VPN before logging in to the computer. To check which version of the CISCO client you have, click on the information icon in the VPN client popup window.

Screenshot of the VPN box showing a red  arrow pointing at the information icon

If you need help with installing the latest CISCO AnyConnect client and/or SBL please contact the Service Desk.

With these installed you can start the CISCO VPN service before logging in. To do this click on the two over lapping screens on the Windows 10 login screen.

Screenshot displaying two small screens and a red arrow on top of them

This will pop up the usual CISCO VPN login window. If 'MSD IT Service VPN' isn't showing, type:  Note if you are connected to the OWL Wi-Fi network you need to connect to instead which may appear as "MSD IT VPN (journals)".

CISCO text box with the VPN information

You will then need to enter you MSD IT network/OES/Novell username & password.

CISCO access boxes username and password

Once the CISCO service has started, you will be able to log in directly to the MSD IT network as if you were on a wired network and this will also work on a computer for which this is your first logon.

network login where the username is needed


MAC os

  1. Login to your computer
  2. Connect to your local network
  3. Activate an Oxford VPN connection
  4. In the Finder 'Go' menu, select;  Connect to server: smb://   Login using your MSD IT network username. (dept must be changed to match your departmental server name.)
  5. Select the network drive you wish to access.

Please contact the Service desk or call 2-80030 for assistance.