Always On VPN and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Always On VPN and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is a term that administrators are likely familiar with, as it is one of the hottest marketing buzzwords in circulation today. ZTNA can mean different things depending on the deployment scenario. ZTNA is fundamentally about enforcing the principle of least privilege for endpoints connecting remotely to the corporate network when it comes to enterprise mobility and remote access.

Trusted Access

Historically, VPNs and even DirectAccess granted full, unrestricted network access to authenticated devices and users. Once the endpoint has an IP address, and in the absence of other controls (routing limitations, firewall access controls, etc.), the user could access any resource on the internal network. The rationale was that authenticated devices and users should be considered “trusted”.

Limitations

The Trusted Access model has some significant limitations. It assumes that all traffic from authorized users and devices is legitimate. However, if an endpoint is compromised, an attacker has broad access to the internal network, which is not ideal from a security perspective.

Zero Trust

Zero Trust Network Access is a concept where administrators define explicitly the minimum level of access required to support remote workers. Instead of granting full network access to the endpoint, controlling access using fine-grained policies is enforced on the VPN connection. Configuring limited network access for Always On VPN clients dramatically reduces exposure of the internal network to compromised endpoints.

ZTNA Management

There is a significant management burden associated with this approach, however. Administrators must identify each application requiring VPN access and determine all associated protocols and ports to be allowed, and internal resources to which they will communicate. Although this task isn’t difficult if clients require access to a small subset of internal resources, it can be a substantial undertaking if clients require access to many internal resources from numerous client applications.

Moving Targets

Making things more challenging is that application and network infrastructure often change constantly, requiring administrators to manage network access continually to ensure application availability. When adding new applications or changing the internal infrastructure, updating the configuration on all remote endpoints will be required.

Updating Always On VPN configuration for devices managed with Microsoft Endpoint Manager (formerly Intune) isn’t difficult. However, it can be more challenging when using PowerShell with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or another endpoint management platform.

Traffic Filters

ZTNA can be configured with Always On VPN using Traffic Filters. With Traffic Filters, administrators can apply fine-grained access control for VPN traffic based on a combination of the following.

  • Source IP address (IP address, address range, or subnet)
  • Destination IP address (IP address, address range, or subnet)
  • Protocol (TCP, UDP, IP, etc.)
  • Source Port
  • Destination Port

Endpoint Manager Configuration

Configuring Traffic Filters for Always On VPN connections can be performed using Microsoft Endpoint Manager. Open the Endpoint Manager management console (https://endpoint.microsoft.com), navigate to the Always On VPN device configuration profile, then perform the following steps.

  1. Expand App and Traffic Rules.
  2. Click Add next to Network traffic rules for this VPN connection.
  1. Enter a descriptive name in the Name field.
  2. Select Split tunnel from the Rule type drop-down list.
  3. Enter “6” in the Protocol field.
  4. Enter “3389” in the Lower port and Upper port fields in the Remote port ranges section.
  5. Enter an IPv4 address in the Lower IPv4 address field.
  6. Enter an IPv4 address in the Upper IPv4 address field. Enter the same IPv4 address as the lower address to specify a single host.
  7. Click Save.

The example above shows a traffic filter restricting access to TCP port 3389 (Remote Desktop Protocol) from all VPN clients to the 172.16.0.0/24 network.

Note: Repeat these steps to create as many traffic filters as required for any processes or applications that must communicate over the Always On VPN connection.

XML Configuration

Traffic Filters can also be configured using custom XML. To implement the same Traffic Filter described previously, add the following code between the <VPNProfile> and </VPNProfile> tags in your XML configuration file.

<TrafficFilter>
   <Protocol>6</Protocol>
   <RemotePortRanges>3389</LocalPortRanges>
   <RemoteAddressRanges>172.16.0.0/24</RemoteAddressRanges>
</TrafficFilter>

Note: Address ranges used in Traffic Filters can be defined using CIDR notation in XML, but they are not supported using Microsoft Endpoint Manager today.

Default Deny

When configuring a Traffic Filter for an Always On VPN profile, an implicit “deny all” rule is automatically enabled. Any traffic not explicitly defined in a Traffic Filter will be denied, including unsolicited inbound traffic, which has crucial implications for the device tunnel because it is used commonly for system management of remote devices.

Direction

Traffic Filters are enabled for the Outbound direction only, by default. Beginning with Windows 10 2004, Microsoft introduced support for Inbound traffic filters. Before Windows 10 2004, configuring a Traffic Filter on the device tunnel would break manage-out scenarios by denying all unsolicited inbound network access.

As of this writing, configuring inbound Traffic Filters using Microsoft Endpoint Manager is not supported. They are only configurable using custom XML.

To implement a Traffic Filter to allow inbound RDP access from the internal network over the device tunnel, add the following code between the <VPNProfile> and </VPNProfile> tags in your XML configuration file.

<TrafficFilter>
   <Protocol>6</Protocol>
   <LocalPortRanges>3389</LocalPortRanges>
   <RemoteAddressRanges>172.16.0.0/16</RemoteAddressRanges>
   <Direction>Inbound</Direction>
</TrafficFilter>

Note: When configuring inbound Traffic Filters, specify the port of the listening process or application using the LocalPortRanges field.

Application Filters

Administrators can combine Application Filters with Traffic Filters to control network access over the Always On VPN connection even more granularly. Applications can be defined by the following.

  • Package Family Name (PFN) – This is the unique name of a Microsoft Store application. Use the Get-AppxPackage PowerShell command to find the PFN for an application.
  • File Path – This is the full path to any executable on the file system. For example, c:\Windows\System32\mstsc.exe.
  • SYSTEM – This allows Windows kernel-mode drivers (such as ping.exe and net.exe) to send traffic over the Always On VPN connection.

As of this writing, configuring Application Filters using Microsoft Endpoint Manager is not supported. They are only configurable using custom XML.

Application Filter Examples

Below are three examples showing different Application Filters based on file path, Package Family Name, and SYSTEM.

File Path

This example shows a Traffic Filter configured to allow RDP access to an internal subnet using the native Windows Remote Desktop client (mstsc.exe).

<TrafficFilter>
   <App>
      <Id>C:\Windows\System32\mstsc.exe</Id>
   </App>
   <Protocol>6</Protocol>
   <RemotePortRanges>3389</RemotePortRanges>
   <RemoteAddressRanges>172.16.0.0/24</RemoteAddressRanges>
</TrafficFilter>

Package Family Name

This example shows a Traffic Filter configured to allow RDP access to an internal subnet using the Microsoft Windows Store Remote Desktop client.

<TrafficFilter>
   <App>
      <Id>Microsoft.RemoteDesktop_8wekyb3d8bbwe</Id>
   </App>
   <Protocol>6</Protocol>
   <RemotePortRanges>3389</RemotePortRanges>
   <RemoteAddressRanges>172.16.0.0/24</RemoteAddressRanges>
</TrafficFilter>

SYSTEM

This example shows a Traffic Filter configured to allow the netsh.exe process access to an internal subnet.

<TrafficFilter>
   <App>
      <Id>SYSTEM</Id>
   </App>
   <Protocol>6</Protocol>
   <RemotePortRanges>445</RemotePortRanges>
   <RemoteAddressRanges>172.16.0.0/24</RemoteAddressRanges>
</TrafficFilter>

This example shows a Traffic Filter configured to allow the ping.exe process access to an internal subnet.

<TrafficFilter>
   <App>
      <Id>SYSTEM</Id>
   </App>
   <Protocol>1</Protocol>
   <RemoteAddressRanges>172.16.0.0/24</RemoteAddressRanges>
</TrafficFilter>

Note: Ping uses ICMP (IP protocol 1), which is a network layer protocol. As such, defining ports for the filter is not required.

IPv6 Compatibility

Sadly, the filtering techniques described in this article do not work when also configuring IPv6 on the Always On VPN connection. As of this writing, enabling Traffic Filters when an IPv6 address is assigned to the VPN interface is not supported. More details can be found here.

Always On VPN Traffic Filters and IPv6

Summary

Configuring Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) with Windows 10 Always On VPN is not trivial. Still, with attention to detail, it can be a highly effective tool to enforce fine-grained network access policies and reduce exposure of the internal network to compromised endpoints. Combining Traffic Filters with Application Filters allows administrators to tightly control Always On VPN access and ensure the principle of least privilege is applied.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN Traffic Filters and IPv6

Windows 10 Always On VPN User Tunnel XML Configuration Reference File

Windows 10 Always On VPN Device Tunnel XML Configuration Reference File

Windows 10 Always On VPN VPNv2 CSP Reference

IP Protocol Numbers

Always On VPN Traffic Filters and IPv6

Always On VPN Windows Server RRAS Service Does Not Start

Using Traffic Filters with Always On VPN provides administrators the option to configure a true Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solution for their field-based users and devices. By enabling traffic filtering, network access over the Always On VPN connection can be controlled using fine-grained policies. Traffic Filter rules can be configured to restrict access based source and destination IP addresses, protocols, and source and destination ports. Administrators can further restrict access based on the application generating the traffic.

IPv6

While testing these features recently, I learned that the Microsoft Endpoint Manager (formerly Intune) user interface does not appear to support IPv6 when configuring traffic filter rules. As you can see here, the UI explicitly asks for an IPv4 address and complains when entering an IPv6 address in the address field, as shown here.

Interestingly, it is possible to add IPv6 addresses in XML, as follows.

<TrafficFilter>
   <App>
      <Id>Microsoft.RemoteDesktop_8wekyb3d8bbwe</Id>
   </App>
   <Protocol>6</Protocol>
   <RemotePortRanges>3389</RemotePortRanges>
   <RemoteAddressRanges>2001:470:f109::/48</RemoteAddressRanges>
</TrafficFilter>

Connection Failure

Unfortunately, after loading the XML on a test client, the Always On VPN connection fails with the following error message.

“Can’t connect to <ConnectionName>. Catastrophic failure.”

In addition, the Application event log records an event ID 20227 from the RasClient source with the following error.

“The user <UserName> dialed a connection name <ConnectionName> which has failed. The error code returned on failure is -2147418113.”

Workaround

At this time, the only known workaround is to update the configuration on the RRAS server to use IPv4 addressing for VPN clients.

Summary

Unfortunately, IPv6 is still a second-class citizen when it comes to Always On VPN. Although enabling IPv6 works well in most common deployment scenarios, the Microsoft Endpoint Manager management console often fails to accept IPv6 entries in IP address fields. In addition, some advanced features such as traffic filtering are incompatible with IPv6.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Windows 10 Always On VPN Windows Server RRAS Service Does Not Start

Always On VPN Proxy Server Configuration

Always On VPN Proxy Server Configuration

Web proxy servers are not as common today as they once were, but a few organizations still leverage them to provide secure Internet access for their employees. Commonly they are used to inspect and control Internet traffic and to enforce acceptable use policies. Some organizations may wish to extend this protection to Always On VPN clients in the field by enabling force tunneling. Administrators can define a web proxy server for Always On VPN connections globally for web traffic or individual websites or domains.

VPN Proxy

A VPN web proxy server can be defined when the Always On VPN user tunnel connection uses force tunneling. Although you can still configure a VPN web proxy server with split tunneling enabled, it will not work. It is only functional when force tunneling is in use.

Administrators can configure a VPN web proxy server using the Microsoft Endpoint Manager UI or custom XML deployed with Endpoint Manager or PowerShell. Administrators can define a VPN web proxy server explicitly, or a proxy automatic configuration (PAC) file can be specified.

Note: VPN proxy server settings only work when force tunneling is enabled. Force tunneling is an unsupported configuration for the device tunnel, making the global proxy server setting for the device tunnel unsupported.

Proxy Autoconfiguration

Perform the following steps to configure a VPN web proxy server with a PAC file in Endpoint Manager.

  1. Expand the Proxy section in the Configuration settings of the Always On VPN configuration profile.
  2. Enter the URL for the PAC file in the Automatic configuration script field. Be sure to include the port number in the URL when using a non-standard port.
  3. Leave the Address and Port number fields blank.
  4. Choose Enable or Disable from the Bypass proxy for local addresses drop-down list.

To configure a VPN web proxy server with a PAC file using custom XML, include the following code between the <VPNProfile> and </VPNProfile> tags in the Always On VPN XML configuration file.

Explicit Proxy

Perform the following steps to configure an explicit VPN web proxy server in Endpoint Manager.

  1. Enter the IP address, hostname, or fully qualified domain name (recommended) in the Address field.
  2. Enter the port number in the Port number field.
  3. Choose Enable or Disable from the Bypass proxy for local addresses drop-down list.

To configure an explicit VPN web proxy server using custom XML, include the following code between the <VPNProfile> and </VPNProfile> tags in the Always On VPN XML configuration file.

Namespace Proxy

Administrators can also define VPN web proxy servers on a per-namespace or per-hostname basis. Namespace VPN proxy servers can be helpful for scenarios where routing public websites over the Always On VPN connection is required. Most commonly, this is necessary because the public website restricts access to the IP address of the on-premises Internet gateway.

A namespace VPN proxy server is implemented using a Name Resolution Policy Table (NRPT) rule. At the time of this writing, a bug in Microsoft Endpoint Manager prevents administrators from deploying this option using the UI.

As you can see here, administrators can specify a proxy server as part of an NRPT rule in the Endpoint Manager UI. Notice this section of the UI validates the proxy FQDN correctly.

Always On VPN Proxy Server Configuration

However, when you try to save the configuration profile, Endpoint Manager returns the following error.

“Unable to save due to invalid data. Update your data then try again: ProxyServerUri must be a valid URL or be empty.”

Interestingly, when entering a URL such as http://proxy.lab.richardhicks.net:8080/ in the Proxy field, the Endpoint Manager UI accepts it and successfully validates. But according to the VPNv2 Configuration Service Provider (CSP) reference, the value must be entered as an IP address. A hostname or FQDN also works based on my testing. Entering a URL as shown in the example above will not work at all.

With that, the only way to implement a namespace VPN web proxy server is to use custom XML. To do this, include the following code between the <VPNProfile> and </VPNProfile> tags in the Always On VPN XML configuration file.

Include the leading “.” to specify the entire domain, as shown above. Omit the leading “.” to specify an individual host (for example, app.richardhicks.com). Repeat this section for each additional host or domain, as required.

Caveat

Unfortunately, the Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser is the only browser that functions with the namespace VPN web proxy server. All modern web browsers, including Microsoft Edge, ignore the namespace proxy setting entirely, which seriously limits this feature’s usefulness in most organizations today.

Workaround

If routing a public website over the Always On VPN tunnel is required, adding its IP address(es) to the Always On VPN connection’s routing table is needed. However, doing this presents some unique challenges, as public websites frequently have many IP addresses, which are often dynamically changing. Also, it is common for public websites to pull content from many different domains or use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), making the problem of identifying which IP addresses to add to the Always On VPN connection’s routing table even more challenging. Further, administrators must update the client configuration each a public website’s IP address changes, adding significant management overhead.

Summary

Routing client Internet traffic through an on-premises web proxy server for Always On VPN clients works well when force tunneling is enabled. Administrators can explicitly define a web proxy server or use a proxy automatic configuration (PAC) file. All web browsers work without issue in this scenario. Using a namespace proxy is only effective when browsing with Microsoft Internet Explorer. All modern web browsers, including Microsoft Edge, ignore namespace proxy settings.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN and the Name Resolution Policy Table (NRPT)

Windows 10 VPNv2 Configuration Service Provider (CSP) Reference

Windows 10 Always On VPN Client DNS Server Configuration

Removing Always On VPN Connections

Removing Always On VPN ConnectionsMuch has been written about provisioning Windows 10 Always On VPN client connections over the past few years. While the preferred method for deploying Always On VPN is Microsoft Intune, using PowerShell is often helpful for initial testing, and required for production deployment with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM). That said, there will invariably come a time when an administrator has to remove an Always On VPN connection. It is not as simple as you might think.

PowerShell

There are a variety of ways to remove an existing Always On VPN connection, with the quickest and simplest being PowerShell and the Remove-VpnConnection cmdlet.

Get-VpnConnection -Name ‘Always On VPN’ | Remove-VpnConnection -Force

There are several limitations to this method, however.

Active Connections

Administrators will quickly realize that PowerShell fails to remove a VPN connection that is currently connected. As shown here, attempting to remove an active VPN connection will return the following error message.

“The VPN connection [connection name] cannot be removed from the local user connections. Cannot delete a connection while it is connected.”

Removing Always On VPN Connections

Registry Artifacts

Removing Always On VPN connections using PowerShell commonly leaves behind registry artifacts that can potentially cause problems. For example, there are several Always On VPN-related registry entries in several locations including the HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\EnterpriseResourceManager\Tracked hive that may not be deleted when removing an Always On VPN connection. When provisioning a new Always On VPN connection after deleting one with the same name previously, the administrator may encounter the following error message.

“Unable to create [connection name] profile: A general error occurred that is not covered by a more specific error code.”

Removing Always On VPN Connections

Note: This error can also be caused by improperly formatted XML configuration files. More details here.

Remove-AovpnConnection Script

Veteran Always On VPN administrators are likely familiar with PowerShell scripts I’ve created called New-AovpnConneciton.ps1 and New-AovpnDeviceConnection.ps1, which are hosted on my GitHub. These scripts are adapted from code samples published by Microsoft to which I have included additional functionality. To address the limitations highlighted in this article I have published a new PowerShell script called Remove-AovpnConnection.ps1. It will remove any Always On VPN connection, even those that are currently active. It also includes logic to remove known registry artifacts common to Always On VPN. Download the script from GitHub and use the following syntax to remove an Always On VPN connection, established or not.

.\Remove-AovpnConnection.ps1 -ProfileName [connection name]

Running this PowerShell command will forcibly remove an Always On VPN connection. Use the -DeviceTunnel switch when removing a device tunnel connection (requires running in the system context). I have also included a -CleanUpOnly switch to remove registry artifacts when the VPN connection was previously removed using another method.

Updated Installation Scripts

I have also updated New-AovpnConnection.ps1 to include these registry clean up steps. This will prevent future errors when provisioning an Always On VPN client where a connection of the same name was removed previously.

Note: New-AovpnConnection.ps1 has also been updated to support device tunnel deployments. As such, I have deprecated New-AovpnDeviceConnection.ps1. Simply use New-AovpnConnection.ps1 with the -DeviceTunnel switch to deploy an Always On VPN device tunnel.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN Device Tunnel Configuration using PowerShell

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Unable to Create Profile General Error

 

Always On VPN Device Tunnel with Azure VPN Gateway

Always On VPN Device Tunnel with Azure VPN GatewayAlways On VPN is infrastructure independent, which allows for many different deployment scenarios including on-premises and cloud-based. In Microsoft Azure, the Azure VPN gateway can be configured to support Windows 10 Always On VPN client connections in some scenarios. Recently I wrote about using the Azure VPN gateway for Always On VPN user tunnels. In this post I’ll describe how to configure the Azure VPN gateway to support an Always On VPN device tunnel.

Limitations

There are a few crucial limitations that come with using the Azure VPN gateway for Always On VPN. Importantly, the Azure VPN gateway can support either user tunnels or device tunnels, not both at the same time. In addition, Azure supports only a single VPN gateway per VNet, so deploying an additional VPN gateway in the same VNet to support Always On VPN user tunnels is not an option.

Root CA Certificate

The Always On VPN device tunnel is authenticated using a machine certificate issued to domain-joined Windows 10 Enterprise edition clients by the organization’s internal Certification Authority (CA). The CA’s root certificate must be uploaded to Azure for the VPN gateway to authorize device tunnel connections. The root CA certificate can be exported using the Certification Authority management console (certsrv.msc) or via the command line.

Export Certificate – GUI

Follow the steps below to export a root CA certificate using the Certification Authority management console.

1. On the root CA server, open the Certification Authority management console.
2. Right-click the CA and choose Properties.
3. Select the CA server’s certificate and choose View Certificate.
4. Select the Details tab and click Copy to File.
5. Click Next.
6. Choose Base-64 encoded X.509 (.CER).

Always On VPN Device Tunnel with Azure VPN Gateway

7. Click Next.
8. Enter a location to save the file to.
9. Click Next, Finish, and Ok.

Export Certificate – Command Line

Follow the steps below to export a root CA certificate using the command line.

1. On the root CA server, open an elevated command window (not a PowerShell window).
2. Enter certutil.exe -ca.cert root_certificate.cer.
3. Enter certutil.exe -encode root.cer root_certificate_base64.cer.

Copy Public Key

1. Open the saved root certificate file using Notepad.
2. Copy the file contents between the BEGIN CERTIFICATE and END CERTIFICATE tags, as shown here. Use caution and don’t copy the carriage return at the end of the string.

Always On VPN Device Tunnel with Azure VPN Gateway

Point-to-Site Configuration

The Azure VPN gateway must be deployed as a Route-Based gateway to support point-to-site VPN connections. Detailed requirements for the gateway can be found here. Once the VPN gateway has been provisioned, follow the steps below to enable point-to-site configuration for Always On VPN device tunnels.

1. In the navigation pane of the Azure VPN gateway settings click Point-to-site configuration.
2. Click the Configure now link and specify an IPv4 address pool to be assigned to VPN clients. This IP address pool must be unique in the organization and must not overlap with an IP address ranges defined in the Azure virtual network.
3. From the Tunnel type drop-down list select IKEv2.
4. In the Root certificates section enter a descriptive name for the certificate in the Name field.
5. Copy and paste the Base64 encoded public key copied previously into the Public certificate data field.
6. Click Save to save the configuration.

Always On VPN Device Tunnel with Azure VPN Gateway

VPN Client Configuration

To support the Always On VPN device tunnel, the client must have a certificate issued by the internal CA with the Client Authentication Enhanced Key Usage (EKU). Detailed guidance for deploying a Windows 10 Always On VPN device tunnel can be found here.

Download VPN Configuration

1. Click Point-to-site configuration.
2. Click Download VPN client.
3. Click Save.
4. Open the downloaded zip file and extract the VpnSettings.xml file from the Generic folder.
5. Copy the FQDN in the VpnServer element in VpnSettings.xml. This is the FQDN that will be used in the template VPN connection and later in ProfileXML.

Create a Test VPN Connection

It is recommended to create a test VPN connection to perform validation testing of the Azure VPN gateway before provisioning an Always On VPN device tunnel broadly. On a domain-joined Windows 10 enterprise client, create a new VPN connection using IKEv2 with machine certificate authentication. Use the VPN server FQDN copied from the VpnSettings.xml file previously.

Always On VPN Device Tunnel with Azure VPN Gateway

Create an Always On VPN Connection

Once the VPN has been validated using the test profile created previously, an Always On VPN profile can be created and deployed using Intune, SCCM, or PowerShell. The following articles can be used for reference.

Deploy Always On VPN device tunnel using PowerShell

Deploy Always On VPN device tunnel using Intune

IKEv2 Security Configuration

The default IKEv2 security parameters used by the Azure VPN gateway are better than Windows Server, but the administrator will notice that a weak Diffie-Hellman (DH) key (Group 2 – 1024 bit) is used during IPsec phase 1 negotiation.

Always On VPN Device Tunnel with Azure VPN Gateway

Use the following PowerShell commands to update the default IKEv2 security parameters to recommended baseline defaults, including 2048-bit keys (DH group 14) and AES-128 for improved performance.

Connect-AzAccount
Select-AzSubscription -SubscriptionName [Azure Subscription Name]

$Gateway = [Gateway Name]
$ResourceGroup = [Resource Group Name]

$IPsecPolicy = New-AzVpnClientIpsecParameter -IpsecEncryption AES128 -IpsecIntegrity SHA256 -SALifeTime 28800 -SADataSize 102400000 -IkeEncryption AES128 -IkeIntegrity SHA256 -DhGroup DHGroup14 -PfsGroup PFS14

Set-AzVpnClientIpsecParameter -VirtualNetworkGatewayName $Gateway -ResourceGroupName $ResourceGroup -VpnClientIPsecParameter $IPsecPolicy

Note: Be sure to update the cryptography settings on the test VPN connection and in ProfileXML for Always On VPN connections to match the new VPN gateway settings. Failing to do so will result in an IPsec policy mismatch error.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN User Tunnel with Azure VPN Gateway

Windows 10 Always On VPN IKEv2 Security Configuration

Windows 10 Always On VPN Device Tunnel Configuration using Microsoft Intune

Windows 10 Always On VPN Device Tunnel Configuration using PowerShell

Windows 10 Always On VPN Options for Azure Deployments

Windows 10 Always On VPN IKEv2 Features and Limitations

Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

Always On VPN with Azure GatewayRecently I wrote about VPN server deployment options for Windows 10 Always On VPN in Azure. In that post I indicated the native Azure VPN gateway could be used to support Always On VPN connections using Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) and Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP). In this post I’ll outline the requirements and configuration steps for implementing this solution.

Requirements

To support Always On VPN, point-to-site VPN connections must be enabled on the Azure VPN gateway. Not all Azure VPN gateways are alike, and point-to-site connections are not supported in all scenarios. For Always On VPN, the Azure VPN gateway must meet the following requirements.

VPN SKU

The Azure VPN gateway SKU must be VpnGw1, VpnGw2, VpnGw3, VpnGw1AZ, VpnGw2AZ, or VpnGw3AZ. The Basic SKU is not supported.

VPN Type

The VPN type must be route-based. Policy-based VPN gateways are not supported for point-to-site VPN connections.

Limitations

Using the Azure VPN gateway for Always On VPN may not be ideal in all scenarios. The following limitations should be considered thoroughly before choosing the Azure VPN gateway for Always On VPN.

Device Tunnel

RADIUS/EAP authentication for user tunnel connections is not supported if the Azure VPN gateway is configured to support device tunnel with machine certificate authentication.

Maximum Connections

A maximum of 250, 500, and 1000 concurrent IKEv2 connections are supported when using the VpnGw1/AZ, VpnGw2/AZ, and VpnGw3/AZ SKUs, respectively (x2 for active/active gateway deployments). In addition, a maximum of 128 concurrent SSTP connections are supported for all VPN gateway SKUs (x2 for active/active gateway deployments).

Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

Reference: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/vpn-gateway/vpn-gateway-about-vpngateways#gwsku

RADIUS Requirements

To support Always On VPN connections, the Azure VPN gateway must be configured to authenticate to a RADIUS server. The RADIUS server must be reachable from the VPN gateway subnet. The RADIUS server can be hosted in Azure or on-premises. Before proceeding, ensure that any network routes, firewall rules, and site-to-site VPN tunnel configuration is in place to allow this communication.

RADIUS Configuration

Guidance for configuring Windows Server NPS for Always On VPN can be found here. The only difference when configuring NPS for use with Azure VPN gateway is the RADIUS client configuration.

Open the NPS management console (nps.msc) and follow the steps below to configure Windows Server NPS to support Always On VPN client connections from the Azure VPN gateway.

1. Expand RADIUS Clients and Servers.
2. Right-click RADIUS Clients and choose New.
3. Enter a descriptive name in the Friendly name field.
4. Enter the Azure VPN gateway subnet using CIDR notation in the Address (IP or DNS) field. The gateway subnet can be found by viewing the properties of the Azure VPN gateway in the Azure portal.
5. Enter the shared secret to be used for RADIUS communication in the Shared secret field.

Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

Azure VPN Gateway Configuration

To begin, provision a Virtual Network Gateway in Azure that meets the requirements outlined above. Guidance for implementing an Azure VPN gateway can be found here. Once complete, follow the steps below to enable support for Always On VPN client connections.

Enable Point-to-Site

Perform the following steps to enable point-to-site VPN connectivity.

1. In the navigation pane of the Azure VPN gateway settings click Point-to-site configuration.
2. Click Configure Now and specify an IPv4 address pool to be assigned to VPN clients. This IP address pool must be unique in the organization and must not overlap with any IP address ranges defined in the Azure virtual network.
3. From the Tunnel type drop-down list select IKEv2 and SSTP (SSL).
4. In the RADIUS authentication field enter the IPv4 address of the RADIUS server. At the time of this writing only a single IPv4 address is supported. If RADIUS redundancy is required, consider creating a load balanced NPS cluster.
5. In the Server secret field enter the RADIUS shared secret.
6. Click Save to save the configuration.

Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

VPN Client Configuration

Perform the following steps to configure a Windows 10 VPN client to connect to the Azure VPN gateway.

Download VPN Configuration

1. Click Point-to-site configuration.
2. Click Download VPN client.
3. Select EAPMSCHAv2 (yes, that’s correct even if EAP-TLS will be used!)
4. Click Download.
5. Open the downloaded zip file and extract the VpnSettings.XML file from the Generic folder.
6. Copy the FQDN in the VpnServer element in VpnSettings.XML. This is the FQDN that will be used in the template VPN connection and later in ProfileXML.

Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

Create a Test VPN Connection

On a Windows 10 device create a test VPN profile using the VPN server address copied previously. Configure EAP settings to match those configured on the NPS server and test connectivity.

Create an Always On VPN Connection

Once the VPN has been validated using the test profile created previously, the VPN server and EAP configuration from the test profile can be used to create the Always On VPN profile for publishing using Intune, SCCM, or PowerShell.

IKEv2 Security Configuration

The default IKEv2 security parameters used by the Azure VPN gateway are better than Windows Server, but the administrator will notice that a weak DH key (1024 bit) is used in phase 1 negotiation.

Always On VPN with Azure Gateway

Use the following PowerShell commands to update the default IKEv2 security parameters to recommended baseline defaults, including 2048-bit keys (DH group 14) and AES-128 for improved performance.

Connect-AzAccount
Select-AzSubscription -SubscriptionName [Azure Subscription Name]

$Gateway = [Gateway Name]
$ResourceGroup = [Resource Group Name]

$IPsecPolicy = New-AzVpnClientIpsecParameter -IpsecEncryption AES128 -IpsecIntegrity SHA256 -SALifeTime 28800 -SADataSize 102400000 -IkeEncryption AES128 -IkeIntegrity SHA256 -DhGroup DHGroup14 -PfsGroup PFS14

Set-AzVpnClientIpsecParameter -VirtualNetworkGatewayName $Gateway -ResourceGroupName $ResourceGroup -VpnClientIPsecParameter $IPsecPolicy

Note: Be sure to update the cryptography settings on the test VPN connection and in ProfileXML for Always On VPN connections to match the new VPN gateway settings. Failing to do so will result in an IPsec policy mismatch error.

Additional Information

Microsoft Azure VPN Gateway Overview

About Microsoft Azure Point-to-Site VPN

Windows 10 Always On VPN IKEv2 Security Configuration

 

 

 

Deploying Always On VPN with Intune using Custom ProfileXML

Deploying Always On VPN with Intune using Custom ProfileXMLWhen deploying Windows 10 Always On VPN using Microsoft Intune, administrators have two choices for configuring VPN profiles. They can use the native Intune user interface (UI) or create and upload a custom ProfileXML. The method chosen will depend on which features and settings are required.

Microsoft Intune

Intune has an intuitive user interface (UI) that can be used to configure and deploy Always On VPN profiles to Windows 10 clients. Guidance for using the UI to deploy Windows 10 Always On VPN with Microsoft Intune can be found here. However, Intune does not expose all Always On VPN settings to the administrator, which can be problematic.

Missing from Intune

At the time of this writing (updated March 2021), the following Always On VPN settings cannot be configured natively using the Intune UI.

  • Disable class-based default route
  • Exclusion routes
  • LockDown Mode
  • IPv6 routing (broken in Intune)

To implement any of the above features or settings the administrator must create and upload a custom ProfileXML.

ProfileXML

ProfileXML is a node within the VPNv2 Configuration Service Provider (CSP). When configuring Always On VPN using the Intune UI, each setting is configured individually. By contrast, the ProfileXML node includes all Always On VPN settings in a single configuration file. It can be deployed using Intune or PowerShell. Sample ProfileXML files for both user and device tunnels can be downloaded from my GitHub repository.

ProfileXML and Intune

I’ve already documented how to deploy an Always On VPN device tunnel configuration using Intune, so this post will focus on deploying the user tunnel using ProfileXML.

Once ProfileXML has been configured, open the Intune management console and follow the steps below to deploy it using Intune.

Create Profile

1. In the navigation pane click Device Configuration.
2. Click Profiles.
3. Click Create Profile.
4. Enter a descriptive name for the new VPN profile.
5. Select Windows 10 and later from the Platform drop-down list.
6. Select Custom from the Profile type drop-down list.

Custom OMA-URI Settings

1. In the Custom OMA-URI Settings blade click Add.
2. Enter a descriptive name in the Name field (this name will appear in the Windows UI on the client).
3. Enter ./User/Vendor/MSFT/VPNv2/Always%20On%20VPN/ProfileXML in the OMA-URI field. I’ve used Always On VPN as an example here, but you can use any text you like. If it includes spaces they must be escaped using %20, as shown here. Also, don’t forget to include the leading “.“.
4. Select String (XML file) from the Data type drop-down list.
5. Click the folder next to the Select a file field and select your ProfileXML file.
6. Click Ok.

Deploying Always On VPN with Intune using Custom ProfileXML

Important Note: The File contents window must show the contents of your ProfileXML. If the contents are unreadable the XML file contains encoding that will not work. If this happens, copy the contents of your ProfileXML to another new text file and upload again.

Assign Profile

Follow the steps below to assign the Always On VPN profile to the appropriate user group.

1. Click Assignments.
2. Click Select groups to include.
3. Select the group that includes the target users.
4. Click Select.
5. Click Save.

Deploying Always On VPN with Intune using Custom ProfileXML

Demonstration Video

A demonstration video with guidance for deploying a Windows 10 Always On VPN user tunnel using the native Microsoft Intune UI as well as custom ProfileXML can be found here. The custom ProfileXML guidance starts at 7:52.

Additional Information

Deploying Windows 10 Always On VPN with Microsoft Intune

Deploying Windows 10 Always On VPN Device Tunnel using PowerShell

Windows 10 Always On VPN IKEv2 Security Configuration

Windows 10 Always On VPN LockDown Mode

Windows 10 Always On VPN Scripts and Sample ProfileXML Files on GitHub

Always On VPN Users Prompted for Certificate

Always On VPN Users Prompted for CertificateWhen deploying Windows 10 Always On VPN using Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol (PEAP) authentication with client certificates, administrators may find the VPN connection does not establish automatically. In this specific scenario the client is prompted to select a certificate to use to authenticate to the VPN server.

Always On VPN Users Prompted for Certificate

Multiple Certificates

This can occur when certificates from multiple Certification Authorities (CAs) are issued to the user that include the Client Authentication Enhanced Key Usage (EKU). When this happens, the user is forced to select the correct certificate to use for VPN authentication.

Clearly this is less than ideal, as it not only breaks the seamless and transparent nature of Always On VPN, the user may select the wrong certificate resulting in authentication failure. Ideally the client should be configured to select the correct certificate without user interaction.

Certificate Selection

Follow the steps below to configure automatic certificate selection for VPN authentication.

  1. On a VPN client, right-click the Always On VPN connection and choose Properties.
  2. Select the Security tab.
  3. In the Authentication section click Properties below Use Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP).
  4. In the Select Authentication Method section click Configure.
  5. In the When connecting section click Advanced.
  6. Check the box next to Certificate Issuer.
  7. Select the root CA used to issue client authentication certificates for VPN authentication.
  8. Click Ok four times to save the configuration.

Always On VPN Users Prompted for Certificate

Once complete, export the EAP configuration to XML from the VPN client and paste the new settings in Intune or in your custom ProfileXML.

Certificate Purpose

By default, a client certificate requires only the Client Authentication EKU to establish a VPN connection. In some cases, this may not be desirable. For example, consider a deployment where Client Authentication certificates are issued to all users for Wi-Fi authentication. Depending on the Network Policy Server (NPS) configuration, these certificates may also be used to authenticate to the VPN.

VPN Specific Certificate

Follow the steps below to create a user authentication certificate template to be used exclusively for VPN authentication.

Certificate Template

  1. On the CA server, open the Certificate Templates management console (certtmpl.msc).
  2. Right-click the certificate template configured for VPN authentication and choose Properties.
  3. Select the Extension tab.
  4. Highlight Application Policies and click Edit.
  5. Click Add.
  6. Click New.
  7. Enter a descriptive name for the new application policy.
  8. Copy the Object identifier for later use and click Ok four times to save the configuration.

    Always On VPN Users Prompted for Certificate

  9. If certificate autoenrollment is configured and the certificate is already provisioned to users, right-click the certificate template and choose Reenroll All Certificate holders.

Client Configuration

  1. On the VPN client, follow the steps outlined previously to configure certificate selection.
  2. In addition to choosing a certificate issuer, select Extended Key Usage (EKU).
  3. Uncheck All Purpose.
  4. Select Client Authentication and the following EKUs.
  5. Click Add.
  6. Click Add once more.
  7. Enter the name of the custom EKU policy created previously.
  8. Enter the custom EKU object identifier copied previously from the custom policy.

    Always On VPN Users Prompted for Certificate

  9. Click Ok twice.
  10. Uncheck AnyPurpose and the following EKUs.
  11. Click Ok four times to save the configuration.

Always On VPN Users Prompted for Certificate

Once complete, export the EAP configuration to XML from the VPN client and paste the new settings in Intune or in your custom ProfileXML.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN Clients Prompted for Authentication when Accessing Internal Resources

Get-EapConfiguration PowerShell Script on GitHub

Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training

Always On VPN ProfileXML Editing and Formatting with Visual Studio Code

Always On VPN ProfileXML Editing and Formatting with Visual Studio CodeWindows 10 Always On VPN is designed to be implemented and managed using a Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform such as Microsoft Intune. With Intune specifically, there is an option to configure an Always On VPN profile in the UI. However, it provides only limited support and does not include all settings and options required for many deployments. Crucially, IKEv2 advanced security settings cannot be configured using the Intune portal. Also, there is currently no option for configuring a device tunnel with Intune. In these scenarios the administrator must manually create a ProfileXML file and provision it using Intune, System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), or PowerShell.

ProfileXML

ProfileXML includes all settings that define the Always On VPN connection. The options and settings available are documented in the VPNv2 Configuration Service Provider (CSP) reference on Microsoft’s web site. ProfileXML is formatted using elements and settings within those elements. The formatting and syntax are critical to ensuring proper operation. Any error in syntax or formatting can result in an error, such as those described here.

XML Readability

Formatting is also important for readability, which is often helpful when reviewing configuration settings or troubleshooting syntax errors. For example, an element may be defined correctly but may be nested wrong. Often XML files are created with all text being left-justified, or with everything on a single line, making the content difficult to read. Using a file editor that recognizes XML files can be beneficial.

Visual Studio Code

To create, edit, and review ProfileXML it is recommended that a proper editing tool be used. I recommend using Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code. It is free, and it is especially helpful when editing XML files. Visual Studio Code can be downloaded here.

XML Tools VS Code Plug-In

To further enhance Visual Studio Code’s XML editing and formatting capabilities I recommend installing the XML Tools plug-in. This tool extends the native features of VS code for handling XML files. One important thing it adds is a formatting feature that will make your ProfileXML much easier to manage. The XML Tools plug-in for VS Code can be downloaded here.

XML Formatting

Once the XML Tools plug-in for VS code has been installed, formatting XML for readability is straightforward. Simply right-click anywhere in the document and choose Format Document.

Always On VPN ProfileXML Editing and Formatting with Visual Studio CodeOnce complete, the XML document will be formatted with proper indenting and nesting of elements, as shown here.

Always On VPN ProfileXML Editing and Formatting with Visual Studio CodeSummary

Formatting and syntax must be strictly adhered to when creating a ProfileXML file for Windows 10 Always On VPN. Using Visual Studio Code with the XML Tools plug-in allow the administrator to create and edit XML with proper formatting, which greatly improves readability and allows for streamlined configuration review and troubleshooting.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Colin, an avid reader of the articles on this web site for this tip. Thanks, Colin! 🙂

Additional Information

Always On VPN and DirectAccess Scripts and Sample Files on GitHub

Always On VPN IKEv2 Security Configuration

Always On VPN Device Tunnel Step-by-Step Configuration using PowerShell

Always On VPN Hands-On Training Classes in 2019

Always On VPN Unable to Create Profile General Error

Always On VPN Unable to Create Profile General ErrorWhen configuring a Windows 10 Always On VPN profile connection using the Microsoft-provided MakeProfile.ps1 PowerShell script or my PowerShell Always On VPN deployment script, the creation of a new connection may fail and the administrator may encounter the following error message.

Unable to create [connection name] profile: A general error occurred that is not covered by a more specific error code.

Always On VPN Unable to Create Profile General Error

This error message is, of course, terribly ambiguous and provides no real actionable information for the administrator to resolve the problem with. This makes troubleshooting this error somewhat challenging.

Probable Cause

In my experience, this error message is almost always related to a syntax error in ProfileXML. For example, to generate the error message above, my XML file included the following error.

Always On VPN Unable to Create Profile General Error

In this example, the setting should be True or False. The setting “foo” is unrecognized and causes the ambiguous error message. It can also happen if mutually exclusive configuration settings are defined. For example, it can occur if the DisableClassBasedDefaultRoutes element is set to true when the RoutingPolicyType element is set to ForceTunneling.

Error Resolution

The only way to resolve this error is to ensure there are no configuration errors for any defined elements in ProfileXML. Review the file carefully for errors such as typos or elements that are out of place. Refer to the VPNv2 Configuration Service Provider (CSP) ProfileXML XSD for detailed syntax examples. In addition, I have some sample ProfileXML configuration files that can be used for reference on my GitHub page.

XML Format Validation

To ensure ProfileXML is properly formatted, it is recommended that an XML editor be used when generating or editing the configuration file. This will ensure that all defined elements are well-formed, and that all tags are properly closed. Use caution though, because some XML editors (including some popular online formatting tools) will insert XML version and encoding information at the beginning of the file. This information must be removed from ProfileXML prior to deployment.

Additional Information

Windows 10 VPNv2 Configuration Service Provider (CSP) Reference

Windows 10 VPNv2 Configuration Service Provider (CSP) ProfileXML XSD Native Profile Examples

Windows 10 Always On VPN PowerShell Scripts and Sample ProfileXML Configuration Files on GitHub

Free Online XML Formatter

Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training Classes for 2019

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