The situation is this,

I have a desktop machine at home and a work laptop which i connect to my home network via wireless. I then connect to my works network using a vpn. When the VPN is connected on the work laptop all of the remote machines are visible on my desktop so it looks like hundreds of machines are connected to my home netowrk - should this be the case? I thought the whole idea of VPN was that it was private. If this is the case then anytime I connect using a public access point my corporate network is visible to other people on the network.

  • It completely depends on how the VPN is setup.
    – Zoredache
    Sep 7, 2010 at 17:50
  • The network is private from other people on the network. If your computer has the VPN client set up to act as a bridge, then other machines on your home network will see those machines on the other side (though they may not have access, depends on configuration.) Usually the VPN client is configured only to allow access from your "local" laptop to the remote network and not allow others to see things; depends on config. Sep 7, 2010 at 17:55

3 Answers 3


At the end of the day, browsing the network in Network Neighborhood or My Network Places is facilitated via NetBIOS over TCP. My suspicion is that your home workgroup name matches your work domain name, or that you're browsing the network via the "Entire Network" selection in My Network Places and that you're specifically selecting the work network from the list of available networks. The fact that it shows up at all on the home desktop is because NetBIOS packets are travelling over the VPN connection and these packets (browse list announcements) are broadcast on the local network, so your desktop picks up these announcements and builds a browse list from them. That being said, no other computer on the local network has access to these work computers except via the VPN connection, so someone would have to hack the VPN connection on your laptop and "piggy back" a ride on the VPN connection in order to access your work network.

  • Also, this behavior is not specific to the VPN. All Windows hosts operate in the same manner. To verify this you can power up your laptop on your home network without the VPN connected and you should see the desktop and laptop in your network.
    – joeqwerty
    Sep 7, 2010 at 18:30

Sounds like something's not setup correctly. You should ask your system administrator to see how they have things setup. It really shouldn't be doing that by default.

It's "private" in the sense that the rest of the internet shouldn't be able to see what's going on, even though the tunnel has been built from your home to your work over the public internet.

Your work network should only be visible to you at that system, or someone who has compromised your system. The other users at a hotspot (or even in your home) should not see the corporate network "through" your machine.

Maybe you have some sort if internet connection sharing setup on your laptop?

  • Technically I'd say it shouldn't be the case; if his network is infected with something or has someone hopping on it and exploring, this is a doorway into the corporate network behind the firewall. Usually sysadmins don't config the VPN client to allow this kind of bridging. Who knows what happens if this guy is in a metro area Starbucks and VPN's in... Sep 7, 2010 at 17:56
  • You are right - I think you are replying to my initial answer but I revised it a minute or two after. I had mis-read the question a bit. Cheers.
    – Matt
    Sep 7, 2010 at 18:14

VPN is private because is the way to create a private network over the "public" internet. It's like tunneling in your LAN, and LANs are to share resources in both ways.

The answer depens on how trustful is the network you are connecting to, and if there's need to access the roadwariors resources while connected.

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