ARCHIVED: What is a pre-shared key or shared secret?
A pre-shared key (PSK) or shared secret is a string of text a VPN (virtual private network) or other service expects to get before it receives any other credentials (such as a username and password). Microsoft Windows calls this string the "pre-shared key for authentication", but in most operating systems it is known as a "shared secret".
When creating an IPsec VPN connection, the VPN server will not allow the authentication process to continue until the correct string of text is given. Unless the VPN server receives the shared secret, a username and password cannot be sent, and the connection will be refused. A shared secret is thus a kind of password, albeit a weak one known by a large number of people.
Note: For VPN when connecting from off campus, use the recommended SSL VPN if your campus supports it. The IPsec VPN at IUB and IUPUI will eventually be retired.
Pre-shared keys are also used in a type of encryption called WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK, sometimes used for home wireless networks. This type of encryption is not used at Indiana University.
Last modified on January 07, 2013.