How to Use Always-On VPN on iPhone or iPad?

 Mehmood Hanif
  Oct 23, 2018

If you own an iPhone or iPad with iOS 7 or below, you can’t enable the “Always-On VPN” mode which forces your data to be sent only through a VPN. While Apple introduced this feature with iOS 8, accessing it isn’t as simple and quick as it perhaps should be.

In this easy-to-follow guide, we’ll explain how you can configure Always-On VPN on your iPhone or iPad for a permanent VPN connection. So, let’s get started!

What is Always-On VPN?

Since Always-On VPN is intended for business and corporate use, it should be enabled via a mobile device management server or a configuration profile. Once done, your device will always remain connected to the VPN, eliminating the need for you to constantly reconnect. And if your VPN connection drops, you won’t be able to connect to the Internet until it’s restored.

Things You’ll Need

The process of configuring Always-On VPN on your iPhone or iPad requires a little time and effort. It’s important to note though that the feature will only work with devices running iOS 8 or higher. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. IKEv2 VPN – First off, you must use an IKEv2 VPN on your iOS device. PureVPN, one of the biggest VPN providers out there, offers support for the IKEv2 protocol with AES-256 bit encryption.
  2. Supervised iPhone or iPad – To enable Always-On VPN with a configuration profile or on a mobile device management server, you’ll have to supervise your iPhone or iPad. We’ll cover how to do that in a bit.
  3. Mobile Device Management Server or Configuration Profile – Once you have supervised your iOS device, you’ll have to turn on this option via a mobile device management server or a configuration profile. If your iOS device is enrolled with an MDM, you can remotely enable this option.

How to Activate Supervised Mode on Your iOS Device?

If your iPhone or iPad isn’t supervised, you’ll first have to supervise it. Follow these steps to activate supervised mode on your iOS device:

  1. Preparing your iOS device will cause it to wipe its storage. Make sure to do a backup in iTunes so that you can restore from it later.
  2. Disable Find my iPad or Find my iPhone from the iCloud settings. You can’t supervise your iOS device if this option is enabled and it’ll show an error message instead.

  3. Install Apple Configurator on your Mac from the Mac App Store. This tool is required to put your iOS device in supervised mode.
  4. Once installed, connect the iPhone or iPad to your Mac and then launch Apple Configurator.
  5. Click Prepare located at the top of the window. Turn on Supervision and click Organization Info to enter the supervising organization’s information.

  6. Click Prepare located at the bottom of the window and Apple Configurator will prepare the device for supervision. This may take a while depending on your connection speed as everything will be set up from scratch.

  7. After the process is completed, you’ll have to set up your iOS device normally. You can either restore or set up as a new device.
  8. Go to Settings, then General, and then Profile & Device Management. You’ll find that your device is now supervised.

    How to Create an Always-On VPN Profile?

    Now, you’ll need to enable the Always-On VPN setting with a configuration profile. All you have to do is follow these steps:

  9. Click Supervise at the top of the window, with your iOS device connected to the Mac.
  10. Select your connected device, then click the (+) button located at the bottom and choose to Create New Profile.

  11. Click VPN from the list on the left and select Configure.
  12. Choose IKEv2 under Connection Type and the check the Always-on VPN (Supervised only) option. Note: If you want to learn about the best VPN protocols, you’ll find this resource useful.

  13. Enter the Server and Connection details as well as other information your VPN requires.
  14. If the server uses certificates, provide the certificates your iPhone or iOS will require by selecting Certificates.
  15. After the profile is created, enable it from the Profiles list and click Apply. Always-On VPN will now be activated on your iOS device!

Wrapping things up

And that’s about it! By following the steps mentioned above, you can use the Always-On VPN feature on your iOS device and stay connected to the VPN to protect your data sent over WiFi or cellular connections.

How to Use Always-On VPN on iPhone or iPad?

Mehmood Hanif

Mehmood Hanif has a genuine passion in covering the latest happenings in the cybersecurity and digital landscape. He likes getting out and about but mostly ends up spending too much of his time behind a computer keyboard.

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