With the introduction of Snow Leopard and Lion the Cisco VPN tool that I introduced our faculty to stopped working.  Or rather, it didn’t stop working but I no longer needed a third party app to connect with the schools network.  We mainly introduced the tool so faculty could work on their grades at home since the grade program was domain-based.  With the Cisco VPN client faculty were able to connect to school, login with their AD credentials and their computer would  ‘think’ it was on the school’s network.

When Snow Leopard came out it had the ability to make that connection within the operating system but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work.  After a few half-hearted attempts to search for the answer on Google I finally searched in earnest, and the solution I found (and credit) can be found below.

  1. Make a VPN connection in your Network Preferences pane. Be sure to choose “Cisco IPsec” for the VPN Type.
  2. Enter your VPN server and credentials into the VPN Network Preferences. This will be your VPN username and password that your Network Admin gave you.
  3. Open the .pcf file in a text editor. Copy the text from the ‘enc_GroupPwd’ field, paste it into the form on this web site: http://www.unix-ag.uni-kl.de/~massar/bin/cisco-decode and click ‘decode!’. Select and copy the text next to ‘clear:’ and go to the next step.
    (Note: if there isn’t anything in ‘enc_GroupPwd’ but there is something in ‘GroupPwd’ they you can skip this step. Just copy the text from ‘GroupPwd’)
  4. Go back to the Network Preferences panel and click on the “Authentication Settings…” button.
  5. Paste the text you copied from the decoding web site (or the ‘GroupPwd’ field of the .pcf file if you had that instead) into the ‘Shared Secret’ text box.
  6. Copy+Paste the text from the ‘GroupName’ field of the .pcf file into the ‘Group Name’ text box and click ‘OK’.
  7. Now you can try it out by clicking the ‘Connect’ button (and click ‘Apply’ if it asks which it probably will.)
Thanks to Michael Erb for finding this solution and posting it.