Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Hamachi: Free, Easy & Secure VPN
I started using Hamachi's VPN solution a few weeks ago and it's been great. It touts itself as "zero conf" which means it needs no configuration and you can just launch the client app and it magically works through firewalls. It runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Simply start the app and create a network with any name (up to 64 characters) and it will create a network as long as one with that name isn't already created. Passwords can be unlimited length. Anyone can launch the Hamachi client and join your network as long as they know your password.
The brilliance in Hamachi is two fold. First is the fact that it assigns each client a unique "public" IP address that looks like this: 5.x.x.x. The beauty of IP addresses which begin with 5 is that the IANA has reserved the entire block of 16 million IPs. This means Hamachi's IP addresses are valid but never assigned making them semi-private. Most private IPs are used on home computer's behind a NAT router which usually look like 10.x.x.x, 172.16.x.x, or 192.168.x.x, or self-assigned IP addresses like 169.254.x.x. The other nice thing is that the Hamachi Root Server is only used to initiate a connection by helping clients find each other. Once the connection is made each client on your VPN passes its encrypted traffic directly to other clients on the same network.