The other night I needed to get some work done. Work that required access to my employer’s network. Access that required me to install the VPN software on my new laptop. And that’s when things started to go wrong.
You have to register with the VPN provider before can dowmload their VPN client. And it’s not just any registration process — it is a highly secure one that looks like some command and control freak setup the process. First you have to give them everything from your phone number to your job title. Then you have to come up with a password that has not only letters and numbers — get this — but mixed case. Because I’m sure crackers are getting into the provider’s web site to download this free software via exhaustive password guessing instead of just registering for free on the site. Happens all the time.
But just in case I forgot the password to download free software I got to pick not one, but two security questions. And oh — my login name has to have between 9 and 50 characters, with no spaces, at least one letter, and may contain numbers. I couldn’t make something up this silly.
So, I registered. Eventually. After going through maybe 200 “errors” presented by the regristration page screen was…. another page that said “Your session is no longer active.”
The second sign that something was wrong was… it didn’t actually work. Yep, every time I entered in a new user id it was … simply forgotten at the login screen. And the password reset screen.
One more point of joy — clicking on the “Log in” link at the web site’s home page gives you “The page you have requested is not available.” I’ll bet.
So I try copying over the MacOS application directory from my old laptop. And this is when I realized that the VPN provider folks are fools. It looks like the installation sprays its contents over a wide variety of directories, like some kind of … Windows install. If you just copy over the Application directory you find out that the crapware expects to find a library installed in /Library/Frameworks/.
Around the time I realize that this resembles a Windows install, I realize that most Mac OS users would never put up with this — Steve Jobs would have someone executed before putting up with this. The distinguishing difference between Windows users and Mac OS users is that one wants to use a computer and that the other wants to get work done — so there must be a Mac OS solution to this.
It turns out that Mac OS has the VPN built in. But wait… it requires a shared secret, which it is very careful to not let you see. However, it is stored in an encrypted form. Thinking once again that most people wouldn’t put up with this I start googling for a solution — and find a web site that will decrypt it for you. And possibly harvest it as well.
So, as a result of wanting to get work done, and school boy security engineering, I’m sending the shared secret over the Internet to a site I’ve never heard of to decrypt it.