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IPsec Road Warrior/Mobile Client How-To

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This article is part of the How-To series.

Many types of devices may be connected to pfSense using IPsec, most notably Android (Phones and Tablets) and iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, etc) devices but anything that is capable of IPsec will typically work. Clients also exist for Windows, OSX, and so on.

This document covers the most common setup for mobile devices, which is IPsec using Xauth and a mutual Pre-Shared Key.

This setup has been tested and working on various Android and iOS devices (see text and links below for more detail). Other clients may work as well.

IPsec Server Setup

This is the setup for the pfSense side of the connection

Mobile Clients

  • Navigate to VPN > IPsec, Mobile Clients tab
  • Check Enable IPsec Mobile Client Support
  • Check Provide a virtual IP address to clients
  • Enter an unused subnet in the box, pick a subnet mask
  • Set any other desired options here
  • Click Save
  • Click Apply Changes
  • Click Create Phase1 (if it appears)

Phase 1 settings

  • Navigate to VPN > IPsec
  • Locate the Mobile Phase 1 in the list
  • Click "e" to edit the Mobile Phase 1
  • Enter the following settings:
    • Authentication method: Mutual PSK + Xauth
    • Negotiation mode: aggressive
    • My identifier: My IP address
    • Peer identfier: User Distinguished Name,
    • Pre-Shared Key: aaabbbccc (Use something much longer and more random!)
    • Policy Generation: Unique
    • Proposal Checking: Strict
    • Encryption Algorithm: AES 128
    • Hash Algorithm: SHA1
    • DH Key Group: 2
    • Lifetime: 86400
    • NAT Traversal: Force
    • Click Save

Phase 2 settings

  • Click "+" inside the Mobile Phase 1 to expand its Phase 2 list.
  • Click "+" to add a new Phase 2
  • Enter the following settings:
    • Mode: Tunnel
    • Local Network: (the local network, e.g. LAN, or to send everything over VPN)
    • Protocol: ESP
    • Encryption Algorithms: AES 128 *only*
    • Hash Algorithms: SHA1 *only*
    • PFS key group: off
    • Lifetime: 28800
  • Add additional phase 2 entries for additional local networks if necessary
  • Click Save
  • Click Apply Changes

User Settings

  • Navigate to System > User Manager
  • Add a user, grant the user the User - VPN - IPsec xauth Dialin permission, or add them to a group with this permission.
    • Note that for xauth, the password used is the password for the user, not the "IPsec Pre-Shared Key" field. That is used for non-xauth IPsec.

Firewall Rules

Don't forget to add firewall rules to pass traffic from clients

  • Firewall > Rules, IPsec tab
  • Add rules that match the traffic that should be allowed, or add a rule to pass any protocol/any source/any destination to allow everything.

IPsec SA Preference

  • System > Advanced, Miscellaneous tab.
  • Uncheck Prefer Old IPsec SA

Device Setup (Android)

NOTE: These settings are not present on all Android devices. See Android VPN Connectivity for more info.

  • Tap Settings, Networks & Wireless, VPN Settings, Advanced IPsec VPNs
  • From there, press the menu button, then add.
  • Connection Template: PSK v1 (AES, xauth, aggressive)
  • VPN Name: pfSense VPN (Or some other description)
  • VPN Server: IP of the server
    • The phone forces the keyboard to numbers, not sure if a hostname is supported.
  • Pre-Shared Key Type: text
  • Pre-Shared Key: PSK from the Phase 1 above
  • Identity Type: User FQDN
  • Identity:
  • Username: xauth username
  • Password: xauth password
  • Internal Subnet IP: Whatever subnet(s) were specified in Phase 2 above.
  • Finish

Device Setup (iOS)

  • Tap Settings > General > Network > VPN
  • Tap Add VPN Configuration
  • Tap IPsec
  • Description: pfSense VPN (Or some other description)
  • Server: IP of the server
  • Account: xauth username
  • Password: xauth password (or leave blank to be prompted every time)
  • Group Name:
  • Secret: PSK from the Phase 1 above


By default iOS will tunnel all traffic over the VPN, including traffic going to the Internet. If Internet sites are inaccessible once connected, a DNS server may need to be pushed to the client for it to use, such as the LAN IP address of the firewall if the DNS forwarder is enabled, or a public DNS server such as

The reason for the above is that the 3G provider is likely giving mobile devices DNS servers that are only accessible from their network. Once connected to the VPN the DNS servers are now being accessed via the VPN instead of the 3G network, and the queries are likely to be dropped. Supplying a local/public DNS server will work around that.