zrok VPN

zrok VPN

The latest version of zrok has a new capability -- host-to-host VPN tunnel.

TL;DR version

On VPN host

$ sudo -E zrok share private --headless --backend-mode vpn
[   0.542]    INFO sdk-golang/ziti.(*listenerManager).createSessionWithBackoff: {session token=[589d443c-f59d-4fc8-8c48-76609b7fb402]} new service session
[   0.705]    INFO main.(*sharePrivateCommand).run: allow other to access your share with the following command:
zrok access private 3rq7torslq3n
[   0.705]    INFO zrok/endpoints/vpn.(*Backend).Run: started

On VPN client

$ sudo -E zrok access private --headless 3rq7torslq3n
[   0.201]    INFO main.(*accessPrivateCommand).run: allocated frontend '50B5hloP1s1X'
[   0.662]    INFO main.(*accessPrivateCommand).run: access the zrok share at the following endpoint: VPN:
[   0.662]    INFO main.(*accessPrivateCommand).run: -> CONNECTED Welcome to zrok VPN
[   0.662]    INFO zrok/endpoints/vpn.(*Frontend).Run: connected:Welcome to zrok VPN

At this point your VPN host and client are connect with VPN -- you can access host resources via host IP address (, client IP will be from block.

Longer Read

If you just want to learn more and what options are available the best place to start is on zrok doc page. Also check out a ZitiTV episode where I discuss zrok VPN with the host, Clint.

Why? What took so long?

Both fair questions, so a little background. We (OpenZiti project) and me personally do not consider VPN solutions particularly zero-trust-worthy. There a number of reasons for that:

  • VPNs operate at the network packet level not application level. This means that they will forward any matching packet into the private network whether or not there is a legitimate target for it.

  • VPNs have no concept of application access control -- meaning everyone connecting to a private network gets the same access to network resources.

For those reasons we built OpenZiti on the foundation of strong zero-trust principals.

...But people still want an easy way of remote access to home or office with good enough security that VPN gives them.

So, you want a VPN I'll build you a VPN. How hard can it really be??

Enter zrok

If you have not yet tried or heard about zrok, I invite you to read the zrok series on this very blog.

The reasons we chose to implement VPN as part of zrok are the following:

  • super easy to start and use

  • well established share/access pattern: both side are in sync on what mode is used

  • easy to add another backend mode

VPN implementation

Under the hood, the zrok framework already has all the necessary components for creating shares, accessing them, and establishing connections between the access and share sides. So all I needed to do to implement VPN mode:

  • open virtual network device (tun)

  • configure network addresses and routes

  • read packets and forward them

  • ... Wait ... that was it? Took me a few hours. What was the fuss about?

zrok VPN future

The initial zrok VPN release is somewhat simple and minimal. It currently provides only a host-to-host VPN functionality. We have some ideas how we want to continue improving it: better routing support, DNS, VPN mesh, mobile client -- are just some of them.

Please give it a try and let us know how you like it, what features you want to see, and, of course, any bugs that you encounter.