Always On VPN Disconnects in Windows 11

Always On VPN administrators migrating their endpoints to Windows 11 may encounter a scenario where Always On VPN randomly disconnects when the VPN profile is deployed using Microsoft Intune. The same configuration deployed to Windows 10 devices works reliably, however. In addition, Always On VPN profiles deployed using PowerShell (natively or with SCCM) or PowerON DPC do not experience this problem.

Troubleshooting

Administrators troubleshooting this issue will find the root cause is associated with the Always On VPN profiles being removed and replaced each time the device syncs with Intune. This occurs even if there are no changes to the configuration. Removing and replacing the Always On VPN profiles on each device sync is unnecessary, of course, but is also highly disruptive to connected users.

Intune and XML

The Intune team identified the issue, and a fix was made available in the August update. However, many of you have reported the issue persists with some Windows 11 clients after installing the latest updates. Further investigation indicates that although the issue has been resolved when using Intune and the native VPN device configuration profile template, the problem still occurs when using the Custom device configuration template.

Workaround

Microsoft is aware of the issues with deploying Always On VPN client configuration settings using XML in Intune, but there’s no indication when or if they will fix it. Until then, administrators have two options to address this problem.

Native VPN Template

When deploying Always On VPN client configuration settings to Windows 11 endpoints, use the native VPN device configuration template, as shown here.

Using the native VPN template does have some limitations, however. The following settings are not exposed using the native VPN template and can only be configured using XML.

XML

If you must use XML, I’ve had some success by ensuring the order of XML settings is exactly as Intune expects. Follow the steps below to confirm the XML settings order in your XML configuration file.

  1. Deploy your XML file with Intune.
  2. Run Get-VpnClientProfileXML.ps1 to extract the deployed XML settings.
  3. Compare the order of settings to your existing XML.
  4. Make changes to ensure all settings in your XML are in the same order as the extracted XML.
  5. Publish a new XML configuration file using Intune and test.

I’ll caution you that this workaround doesn’t always work reliably. Some customers report that this solved their problems entirely, while others have indicated it does not. My testing shows the same results. Let us know in the comments below if this works for you!

Additional Information

Always On VPN Windows 11 Issues with Intune

Always On VPN PowerShell Script Issues in Windows 11

Always On VPN and Interface Metrics

Always On VPN DNS Registration Update Available

In Windows, each network interface identified by the operating system is assigned a metric value. Interface metrics are settings that determine the priority or preference of network interfaces when there are multiple active network connections. The Windows networking stack uses these metrics to determine which network interface should be used for routing traffic when multiple network interfaces are available. Network interface metrics are critical for Always On VPN administrators to understand because they can impact how name resolution requests are processed when an Always On VPN connection is established.

Metric Values

By default, Windows automatically assigns metric values to network interfaces (including VPN interfaces) based on various factors, including the connection speed, link state, and interface type. It tries to select the most suitable interface for general internet connectivity.

Metrics and DNS

Windows will also use the network interface with the lowest metric value as the preferred interface for sending DNS queries by default. This means that DNS queries will be routed through the network interface with the lowest metric value, assuming it is available and connected. When an Always On VPN connection is established, DNS queries may fail or return unexpected results if the network interface metrics are not configured optimally.

Split DNS and Wired Ethernet

Split DNS (sometimes called ‘split brain DNS’) is when the DNS namespace is the same internally and externally. The most common scenario where interface metric settings interfere with DNS operation is when using split DNS and the endpoint is connected to the Internet with a wired Ethernet connection. In this scenario, the Ethernet interface will be assigned the same or lower interface metric value as the Always On VPN interface, which can yield unexpected results.

Viewing Metrics

Always On VPN administrators can view currently assigned interface metric values by running the following PowerShell command.

Get-NetIpInterface

Assigning Metrics

Most Always On VPN administrators will never have to change interface metric settings. However, if your implementation uses split DNS and some of your endpoints connect using wired Ethernet connections, you may need to update the interface metric settings to ensure proper DNS operation. Choose a setting for the interface metric value that is lower than the wired Ethernet interface. I’ve used a value of ‘3’ without issue for many years. Use one of the following methods to update the interface metric for Always On VPN connections.

PowerShell

Updating interface metric settings in Windows can be accomplished by running the Set-NetIpInterface PowerShell command.

Set-NetIpInterface -InterfaceAlias <connection name> -InterfaceMetric 3

Note: Using PowerShell to assign the interface metric is not persistent! While this method is suitable for local validation testing, you should use one of the following methods to implement this change permanently.

Rasphone.pbk

To assign the interface metric permanently, Always On VPN administrators can edit the following settings in the rasphone.pbk configuration file.

IpInterfaceMetric=3

Ipv6InterfaceMetric=3

Administrators can automate updating this setting using the Update-Rasphone.ps1 PowerShell script. In addition, the following scripts can be used with Microsoft Intune remediation.

Detect-DeviceIpv4InterfaceMetric.ps1

Remediate-DeviceIpv4InterfaceMetric.ps1

Detect-DeviceIpv6InterfaceMetric.ps1

Remediate-DeviceIpv6InterfaceMetric.ps1

Detect-Ipv4InterfaceMetric.ps1

Remediate-Ipv4InterfaceMetric.ps1

Detect-Ipv6InterfaceMetric.ps1

Remediate-Ipv6InterfaceMetric.ps1

DPC

Organizations using PowerON Platforms’ Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC) to manage Always On VPN client configuration settings with Active Directory and group policy or Microsoft Intune can enable the VPN Tunnel Metric setting.

Additional Information

Get-NetIpInterface PowerShell Command

Set-NetIpInterface PowerShell Command

Managing Always On VPN Client Settings with DPC

Always On VPN DPC with Microsoft Intune

Always On VPN DPC Advanced Features

Always On VPN DPC Video Demonstration

PowerON Platforms Always On VPN Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC)

Azure Conditional Access Certificates with SID Information Now Available

I recently wrote about changes to certificate-based authentication affecting Always On VPN implementations. These changes were introduced by Microsoft’s security update KB5014754. When the update is installed on domain controllers and enterprise Certification Authorities (CAs), administrators can perform strong user mapping for certificates used for Active Directory authentication. However, when first introduced, the update came with some serious limitations that prevented administrators from enabling full enforcement mode for certificate mapping.

Limitations

When KB5014754 is installed on an enterprise issuing CA, a new certificate extension (1.3.6.1.4.1.311.25.2) is added to the issued certificate that includes the principal’s (user or device) Security Identifier (SID). However, this only occurs when an online template is used. An online template is one with the subject name built from Active Directory information. The SID is not embedded in certificates issued using an offline template. Offline templates are templates where the subject name is supplied in the request. There are two scenarios where this causes problems for Always On VPN.

Microsoft Intune

Certificates delivered with Microsoft Intune via the Intune Certificate Connector use an offline template. This applies to certificates using PKCS or SCEP. Today, the SID is not embedded by issuing CAs using offline templates.

Azure Conditional Access

The short-lived certificate issued by Azure when Conditional Access is configured for Always On VPN did not include the SID. However, that recently changed.

Recent Updates

Today we can scratch Azure Conditional Access off the list of limitations for Always On VPN. Microsoft recently introduced support for the new SID extension in Azure Conditional Access certificates, as shown here.

Now when an Azure Conditional Access certificate is issued to an on-premises user or device account that is synced with Azure Active Directory, Azure Conditional Access will include the SID information in the issued short-lived certificate.

Intune

Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for Microsoft to address the limitation with certificates delivered using Microsoft Intune. Hopefully we’ll see an update for that later this year.  

Additional Information

Certificate-Based Authentication Changes and Always On VPN

Microsoft KB5014754

Digital Certificates and TPM

Microsoft Intune Certificate Connector Service Account and PKCS