Always On VPN Short Name Access Failure

Using Microsoft Endpoint Manager (Intune), administrators can provision Always On VPN to devices that are Azure AD joined only. Users accessing on-premises resources from these devices can still use seamless single sign-on, making this deployment option popular for organizations moving to the cloud.

Short Names

After deploying Always On VPN to Windows 10 devices that are Azure AD joined only and configured to use client certificate authentication, administrators may find that users cannot access on-premises resources by their short name, such as \\app1. The connection fails and returns the following error message.

“Windows can’t find <servername/sharename>. Check the spelling and try again.”

FQDN

Interestingly, on-premises resources are accessible using their fully qualified domain name (FQDN), such as \\app1.corp.example.net.

Troubleshooting

Testing name resolution using the short name works as expected, and the resource is reachable at the network layer, as shown here.

Workaround

This issue is related to how Windows performs authentication when connected via VPN. To resolve this issue, edit the rasphone.pbk file and change the value of UseRasCredentials to 0. Rasphone.pbk can be found in the $env:AppData\Microsoft\Network\Connections\Pbk folder.

After updating this setting, restart the VPN connection for the change to take effect.

Proactive Remediations

While helpful for testing, editing rasphone.pbk manually obviously does not scale well. To address this, consider using Intune Proactive Remediations. Intune Proactive Remediations allows administrators to deploy detection and remediation PowerShell scripts to monitor specific settings and update them if or when they change. Proactive Remediations will ensure the setting is applied consistently across all managed endpoints.

GitHub Repository

I have created a new GitHub repository dedicated to PowerShell scripts for Endpoint Manager Proactive Remediations for Always On VPN. There you will find detection and remediation scripts for the UseRasCredentials settings change described in this article.

Additional Information

Always On VPN Endpoint Manager Proactive Remediation Scripts on GitHub

Endpoint Manager Proactive Remediations Tutorial

Always On VPN Trusted Network Detection

Always On VPN Trusted Network DetectionWhen deploying Windows 10 Always On VPN, administrators can configure Trusted Network Detection (TND) which enables clients to detect when they are on the internal network. With this option set, the client will only automatically establish a VPN connection when it is outside the trusted network. Trusted network detection can be configured on both device tunnel and user tunnel connections.

TND Operation

When trusted network detection is configured, the VPN client will evaluate the DNS suffix assigned to all physical (non-virtual or tunnel) adapters that are active. If any of them match the administrator-defined trusted network setting, the client is determined to be on the internal network and the VPN connection will not connect. If the DNS suffix is not present on any of these adapters, the client is determined to be outside the internal network and the VPN connection will establish automatically.

TND Configuration

Trusted network detection is defined in the Intune UI or in ProfileXML as a string that matches the DNS suffix assigned to clients on the internal network. In this example, the DNS suffix on the internal network is lab.richardhicks.net.

Always On VPN Trusted Network Detection

Note: Your organization might have more than one DNS suffix. Ensure that the trusted network detection configuration includes all DNS suffixes in use in the environment to ensure reliable operation.

Intune

Follow the steps below to configured trusted network detection in Microsoft Intune.

  1. Open the Intune management portal (https://devicemanagement.microsoft.com/).
  2. Navigate to Devices > Configuration Profiles > [Profile Name] > Properties > Settings.
  3. Click on Trusted Network Detection.
  4. Enter the DNS suffix(es) used on the internal network.

Always On VPN Trusted Network Detection

ProfileXML

To define Trusted Network Detection in ProfileXML, add the TrustedNetworkDetection element as follows.

Always On VPN Trusted Network Detection

Caveats

In some instances, an Always On VPN client connection may persist, even if the client is connected to the internal network. A common scenario is when a client device connects to a Wi-Fi network that is not connected to the corporate network (for example guest Wi-Fi), then connects to the internal network with Ethernet via a docking station. If the Wi-Fi connection is still available, the Always On VPN connection will persist, even though the machine is connected to the internal network. This is expected and by design.

Workaround

To address this specific scenario, administrators can implement changes via group policy to the way Windows handles multiple connections to the same network. For example, beginning with Windows 10 1709, group policy can be configured to ensure that Windows 10 clients prefer wired Ethernet network connections over Wi-Fi, and to ensure that Wi-Fi connections disconnect when an Ethernet connection is detected.

GPO Configuration

Open the Group Policy management console (gpmc.msc) and perform the following steps to create the required group policy objects.

  1. Create a new Group Policy Object (GPO).
  2. Right-click the new GPO and choose Edit.
  3. Expand Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Network > Windows Connection Manager.
  4. Double-click the policy Minimize the number of simultaneous connections to the Internet or a Windows Domain.
  5. Select Enabled.
  6. From the Minimize Policy Options drop-down list choose 1 = Minimize simultaneous connections. Optionally you can choose to disable Wi-Fi whenever connected to Ethernet by choosing 3 = Prevent Wi-Fi when on Ethernet.
  7. Click Ok.Always On VPN Trusted Network Detection
  8. Double-click the policy Enable Windows to soft-disconnect a computer from a network.
  9. Select Disabled.
  10. Click Ok.Always On VPN Trusted Network Detection

Additional Information

Understanding and Configuring Windows Connection Manager

Always On VPN Load Balancing for RRAS in Azure

Always On VPN Load Balancing for RRAS in AzurePreviously I wrote about Always On VPN options for Microsoft Azure deployments. In that post I indicated that running Windows Server with the Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) role for VPN was an option to be considered, even though it is not a formally supported workload. Despite the lack of support by Microsoft, deploying RRAS in Azure works well and is quite popular. In fact, I recently published some configuration guidance for RRAS in Azure.

Load Balancing Options for RRAS

Multiple RRAS servers can be deployed in Azure to provide failover/redundancy or to increase capacity. While Windows Network Load Balancing (NLB) can be used on-premises for RRAS load balancing, NLB is not supported and doesn’t work in Azure. With that, there are several options for load balancing RRAS in Azure. They include DNS round robin, Azure Traffic Manager, the native Azure load balancer, Azure Application Gateway, or a dedicated load balancing virtual appliance.

DNS Round Robin

The easiest way to provide load balancing for RRAS in Azure is to use round robin DNS. However, using this method has some serious limitations. Simple DNS round robin can lead to connection attempts to a server that is offline. In addition, this method doesn’t accurately balance the load and often results in uneven distribution of client connections.

Azure Traffic Manager

Using Azure Traffic Manager is another alternative for load balancing RRAS in Azure. In this scenario each VPN server will have its own public IP address and FQDN for which Azure Traffic Manager will intelligently distribute traffic. Details on configuring Azure Traffic Manager for Always On VPN can be found here.

Azure Load Balancer

The native Azure load balancer can be configured to provide load balancing for RRAS in Azure. However, it has some serious limitations. Consider the following.

  • Supports Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) only.
  • Basic health check functionality (port probe only).
  • Limited visibility.
  • Does not work with IKEv2.
  • Does not support TLS offload for SSTP.

More information about the Azure Load Balancer can be found here.

Azure Application Gateway

The Azure Application Gateway can be used for load balancing RRAS SSTP VPN connections where advanced capabilities such as enhanced health checks and TLS offload are required. More information about the Azure Application Gateway can be found here.

Load Balancing Appliance

Using a dedicated Application Delivery Controller (ADC), or load balancer is a very effective way to eliminate single points of failure for Always On VPN deployments hosted in Azure. ADCs provide many advanced features and capabilities to ensure full support for all RRAS VPN protocols. In addition, ADCs offer much better visibility and granular control over VPN connections. There are many solutions available as virtual appliances in the Azure marketplace that can be deployed to provide RRAS load balancing in Azure.

Summary

Deploying Windows Server RRAS in Azure for Always On VPN can be a cost-effective solution for many organizations. Although not a formally supported workload, I’ve deployed it numerous times and it works quite well. Consider using a dedicated ADC to increase scalability or provide failover and redundancy for RRAS in Azure whenever possible.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN Options for Azure Deployments

Windows 10 Always On VPN and RRAS in Microsoft Azure

Windows 10 Always On VPN with Microsoft Azure Gateway

%d bloggers like this: