Troubleshooting Always On VPN Error 853

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Error 691 and 812 – Part 2

Using Windows Server Network Policy Server (NPS) servers is a common choice for authenticating Microsoft Windows 10 Always On VPN user tunnel connections. The NPS server is joined to the domain and configured with a Network Policy that defines the authentication scheme used by clients for authentication when establishing an Always On VPN connection. Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol (PEAP) using client authentication certificates recommended for most Always On VPN deployment scenarios.

Experiencing error 853 on Windows 11? Click here for more information.

Can’t Connect

Users establishing an Always On VPN user tunnel connection using PEAP and client authentication certificates may encounter a scenario in which a VPN connection attempt fails with the following error message.

“The remote access connection completed, but authentication failed because the certificate that authenticates the client to the server is not valid. Ensure that the certificate used for authentication is valid.”

Error 853

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

“The user <username> dialed a connection named <connection name> which has failed. The error code is 853.”

Missing NTAuth Certificate

Error code 853 is commonly caused by a missing issuing Certification Authority (CA) certificate in the NTAuth store on the NPS server. The NPS server must have the issuing CA certificate included in this store to perform authentication using client certificates. You can see the contents of the NTAuth certificate store by opening an elevated command window on the NPS server and running the following command.

certutil.exe -enterprise -viewstore NTAuth

Install Certificate

To install the issuing CA server’s certificate into the NTAuth store, copy the CA certificate to the NPS server, open an elevated command window, then run the following command.

certutil.exe -enterprise -addstore NTAuth <issuing CA certificate>

Once complete, view the store again, and you’ll see the issuing CA certificate listed in the NTAuth certificate store.

Additional Information

Always On VPN Error 853 on Windows 11

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Error Code 858

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Error Code 864

Always On VPN and Windows Server 2019 NPS Bug

Always On VPN Network Policy Server (NPS) Load Balancing

Microsoft Network Policy Server (NPS) Reason Codes

Always On VPN Continue Connecting Prompt

Using the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) with client certificates is the recommended best practice for authentication for Windows 10 Always On VPN deployments. EAP, and especially Protected EAP (PEAP), has a lot of settings to configure and it is not uncommon to encounter issues related to some parameters being defined incorrectly. This post covers one of the more common issues related to EAP/PEAP misconfiguration.

Action Needed?

When establishing an Always On VPN user tunnel connection, users may find the connection does not complete automatically, and they are informed that additional action is needed.

Clicking on the VPN connection and then clicking Connect prompts the user with the following message.

“Action needed. Continue connecting? We don’t have enough info to validate the server. You can still connect if you trust this server.”

Common Causes

This message can occur when (EAP) is used and is configured to perform server validation with a restricted set of NPS servers, as shown here.

NPS Server Certificate

The NPS server performing authentication for the connection request must have a certificate that includes a subject name that matches one of the names of the NPS servers defined in the EAP configuration. The certificate must be issued by the organizations private certification authority (CA).

EAP Configuration

Alternatively, the client-side EAP configuration may be incorrect. Although the NPS server may have the correct hostname configured on its certificate, it may not be entered correctly on the client. Ensure the hostname listed in the “Connect to these servers” field matches the subject name or SAN of the NPS server certificate defined in the network policy used for the Always On VPN user tunnel. Look carefully at the syntax when defining multiple NPS servers. Multiple servers are separated by a semi-colon and there are no additional spaces. Missing either one of these critical details will result in connection prompts. Also, ensure that all NPS servers used for authentication (those defined on the VPN server) are included in this list.

Note: Administrators must ensure that all VPN clients have updated their EAP configuration before adding additional NPS servers to the environment. Failure to do so will result in connection prompts.

Security Best Practice

To be clear, the behavior above is not ideal from a security perspective. Validating the NPS server before authenticating is crucial to ensuring the highest level of security and assurance, preventing credential theft from a man-in-the-middle attack. For this reason, it is recommended that users not be given the choice to authorize an NPS server. Authorized NPS servers should be defined by administrators exclusively. This is accomplished by selecting the option “Don’t ask user to authorize new servers or trusted CAs” in the Notifications before connecting drop-down list, and by selecting the option “Don’t prompt user to authorize new servers or trusted certification authorities“.

Additional Information

Always On VPN Network Policy Server (NPS) Load Balancing

Always On VPN and Windows Server 2019 NPS Bug

Always On VPN Updates for Windows 10 2004

Always On VPN Updates for Windows 10 2004Microsoft recently made available an update for Windows 10 2004 that includes many important fixes for outstanding issues with Windows 10 Always On VPN. KB4571744 (build 19041.488) addresses many challenges faced by Always On VPN administrators today, including the following.

TPM

This update addresses an issue that prevents hash signing from working correctly using the Microsoft Platform Crypto Provider for Trusted Platform Module (TPM). This issue can occur when administrators configure Always On VPN to use Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol (PEAP) with client certificate authentication using a FortiGate security device.

Sleep/Hibernate

This update also addresses issues with Windows 10 Always On VPN failing to automatically reconnect when resuming from sleep or hibernate. I’ve written about issues with Always On VPN and sleep/hibernate in the past. This is an issue that has plagued Always On VPN since its introduction, so let’s hope this finally provides some meaningful relief from this persistent problem.

Certificate Authentication

When both the Always On VPN device tunnel and user tunnel are provisioned to a Windows 10 clients, user tunnel connections may be authenticated using the machine certificate and not EAP/PEAP. This can result in connections that are not validated as intended, and allowing a user to bypass configured NPS policies, MFA requirements, or conditional access rules. This update includes a fix for this issue, restoring proper authentication for the user tunnel when the device tunnel is also provisioned.

Device and User Tunnel Coexistence

A bug that first appeared when Windows 10 2004 was introduced prevented a device tunnel and user tunnel Always On VPN connection from being established to the same VPN server if the user tunnel used Internet Key Exchange Version 2 (IKEv2). This update restores full functionality under those conditions.

Update KB4571744

To resolve these issues with Windows 10 Always On VPN as well as others, download and install update KB4571744 today. If you are experiencing any of these issues with releases of Windows 10 prior to 2004, look for updates for those build to come later this year.

Additional Information

September 3, 2020 – KB4571744 (OS Build 19041.488) Preview

Windows 10 Always On VPN Connection Issues after Sleep or Hibernate

Windows 10 Always On VPN Bug in Windows 10 2004

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