Always On VPN April 2023 Security Updates

Heads up, Always On VPN administrators! This month’s patch Tuesday includes fixes for critical security vulnerabilities affecting Windows Server Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS). Crucially there are remote code execution (RCE) vulnerabilities in the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) (CVE-2023-28232), the Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) (CVE-2023-28219, CVE-2023-28220), the Point-to-Point over Ethernet (PPPoE) protocol (CVE-2023-28224), and the Internet Key Exchange (IKE) protocol (CVE-2023-28238). The vulnerabilities in PPTP and L2TP are especially urgent as they allow an unauthenticated attacker to exploit them. There is also a denial-of-service (DoS) vulnerability (CVE-2023-28234) in the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) protocol.

Exposure and Risk

The RCEs in PPTP, L2TP, and PPPoE should present limited risk as these protocols aren’t commonly used for Always On VPN (PPPoE and PPTP aren’t supported for Always On VPN, in fact). However, organizations may be using these protocols for other purposes. In addition, improperly configured edge firewalls could allow these connections even though administrators may not be actively using them. An attacker could also exploit these vulnerabilities with access to the RRAS server from the internal network.

Attack Surface Reduction

Always On VPN administrators are advised to ensure that only protocols and ports for VPN protocols in use are allowed through the edge firewall. Also, administrators should disable any unused protocols and services in RRAS to reduce the attack surface on their RRAS servers. To do this, open an elevated PowerShell command window on the RRAS server and run the following commands to disable support for the PPTP, L2TP, and PPPoE protocols.

netsh.exe ras set wanports device = “WAN Miniport (L2TP)” rasinonly = disabled ddinout = disabled ddoutonly = disabled maxports = 0

netsh.exe ras set wanports device = “WAN Miniport (PPTP)” rasinonly = disabled ddinout = disabled ddoutonly = disabled maxports = 1

netsh.exe ras set wanports device = “WAN Miniport (PPPOE)” ddoutonly = disabled

Restart-Service RemoteAccess -PassThru

Additional Vulnerabilities

This month’s update also includes fixes for other vulnerabilities that may impact Always On VPN deployments. Specifically, there are RCEs in Windows Network Address Translation (NAT) (CVE-2023-28217) and Windows Network Load Balancing (NLB) (CVE-2023-28240), and a DoS vulnerability in Windows Transport Layer Security (TLS) (CVE-2023-28234).

Update Now

Administrators should patch their RRAS servers as soon as possible to avoid potential compromise of the RRAS server in their environments.

Additional Information

Always On VPN SSTP Security Configuration

Always On VPN NPS and PEAP Vulnerabilities

The February 2023 security updates for Windows Server address multiple vulnerabilities that affect Microsoft Always On VPN administrators. This latest update addresses multiple critical and important vulnerabilities in the Network Policy Server (NPS), commonly used to perform RADIUS authentication for Always On VPN servers. Specifically, there are several Remote Code Execution (RCE) and Denial of Service (DoS) vulnerabilities with Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol (PEAP). PEAP with user authentication certificates is the authentication protocol of choice for Always On VPN user tunnel authentication.

Vulnerabilities

The following is a list of vulnerabilities in PEAP addressed in the February 2023 security update.

  • CVE-2023-21689Microsoft PEAP Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (critical)
  • CVE-2023-21690Microsoft PEAP Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (critical)
  • CVE-2023-21691Microsoft PEAP Information Disclosure vulnerability (important)
  • CVE-2023-21692Microsoft PEAP Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (critical)
  • CVE-2023-21695Microsoft PEAP Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (important)
  • CVE-2023-21701Microsoft PEAP Denial of Service Vulnerability (important)

Mitigation

Unauthenticated attackers can exploit the RCE vulnerabilities in PEAP on Microsoft Windows NPS servers. However, NPS servers should not be exposed directly to the Internet and would require an attacker to have access to the internal network already. However, administrators are advised to apply this update to their NPS servers as soon as possible. In addition, organizations that deploy the NPS role on enterprise domain controllers should update immediately.

Additional Information

February 2023 Update for Windows Server 2022 (KB5022842)

February 2023 Update for Windows Server 2019 (KB022840)

February 2023 Update for Windows Server 2016 (KB5022838)

Certificate-Based Authentication Changes and Always On VPN

Microsoft introduced important changes affecting certificate-based authentication on Windows domain controllers as part of the May 10, 2022 update KB5014754 that may affect Always On VPN deployments. The update addresses privilege escalation vulnerabilities when a domain controller is processing a certificate-based authentication request. The recommendation from Microsoft is that the update be applied to all Windows domain controllers and Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) servers as soon as possible.

Updated 5/20/2022: An out-of-band update to address authentication issues reported with this update is now available. Updates are available for Windows Server 2022, Windows Server 20H2, Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, and Windows Server 2008 SP2.

Certificate Services

After applying the update to certification authority (CA) servers, a non-critical extension with Object Identifier (OID) 1.3.6.1.4.1.311.25.2 is added to all issued certificates with the user or device security identifier (SID) included. Domain controllers with the update installed will use this information to validate the certificate used for authentication and ensure that it matches the information in Active Directory.

Domain Controllers

The update operates in Compatibility Mode, by default, when applied to domain controllers. Windows monitors authentication requests and records audit events for certificates presented for authentication under the following conditions.

No strong mapping (event ID 39) – The certificate has not been mapped explicitly to a domain account, and the certificate did not include the new SID extension.

Certificate predates account (event ID 40) – A certificate was issued before the user existed in Active Directory, and no explicit mapping could be found.

User’s SID does not match certificate (event ID 41) – A certificate contains the new SID extension, but it does not match the SID of the corresponding user account.

Certificate Mapping

Administrators can map certificates explicitly to accounts in Active Directory, but this results in a significant administrative burden in most environments. A better option is to reissue user and device authentication certificates after applying the KB5014754 update to all issuing CA servers.

Reenroll Certificates

Administrators should reissue user and device authentication certificates after applying the KB5014754 update. Open the Certificate Templates management console (certtmpl.msc), identify the user or device authentication certificate template, then right-click on the template and choose Reenroll All Certificate Holders.

Enforcement Mode

After applying update KB5014754, administrators should monitor domain controller event logs for event IDs 39, 40, and 41. Once all certificates have been updated, and none of these events have been recorded for 30 days, administrators can switch to Full Enforcement Mode by enabling it in the registry on all domain controllers.

Key: HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\KDC
Value: StrongCertificateBindingEnforcement
Type: DWORD
Data: 2

Updated 12/8/2022: Microsoft has pushed back the original enforcement date of May 9, 2023, to November 14, 2023 “or later”. Stay tuned!

Known Issues

There have been some reports of authentication issues after installing the KB5014754 update. Early indications are that device authentication certificates missing a Subject Alternative Name (SAN) entry are to blame. Administrators are encouraged to update their device certificates to include the SAN entry. Optionally, but not recommended, administrators can place the update in disabled mode by editing the registry.

Note: An out-of-band update for these authentication issues is now available. See the reference links at the top of this article for more information.

Caveat

It’s important to understand that this new OID is added only to online templates. Online templates are those that build the subject information from Active Directory. Unfortunately, this new OID is NOT applied to offline templates (templates where the subject name is supplied in the request), such as those used for delivering certificates with Microsoft Endpoint Manager/Intune using PKCS or SCEP. It is impossible to move to enforcement mode when issuing user or device authentication certificates with Microsoft Endpoint Manager or Intune today. Microsoft is aware of this limitation and is working to address this issue as we speak. I expect a fix to be available sometime before the May 2023 deadline when Microsoft permanently switches on enforcement mode.

Additional Information

KB5014754 – Certificate-based authentication changes on Windows domain controllers

Microsoft Windows Always On VPN Users Prompted for Certificate

Microsoft Windows Always On VPN Clients Prompted for Authentication when Accessing Internal Resources

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