There may come a time that you want to set up remote access to a location that doesn't have a Windows 2000 or 2003 server. If that's the case, you can use Windows XP as a Remote Access Server, accepting incoming calls from outside clients. XP doesn't offer the same level of security that Windows RRAS does; you can't use callback to authenticate a user, for example. However, even simple incoming connections can be made a little more secure by using the encryption feature in XP's Incoming Connection Properties dialog box.
To open the Incoming Connections Properties dialog box, double click on the Network Connections control panel. Then right click on Incoming Connections and select the Properties command from the context menu. Click on the Users tab. On that tab select the "Require all users to secure their passwords and data," check box. This setting requires that passwords and data transferred in a remote connection be encrypted.
Having turned on encryption for the remote access service you also need to enable this option as part of the dial up connection on client systems. On your users' computers open the Properties dialog box for the dial up connections using the procedure described in the previous paragraph. Click on the Security tab, then click on the Requires Secure Password in the Validate My Identity As Follows check box. Also select the Require Data Encryption (Disconnect If None) setting. No connection will be allowed unless an encrypted password is detected by an authentication protocol, making the Windows XP remote incoming connection more secure.
Barrie Sosinsky is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.