Renew DirectAccess Self-Signed Certificates

Renew DirectAccess Self-Signed CertificatesWhen DirectAccess is deployed using the Getting Started Wizard (GSW), sometimes referred to as the “simplified deployment” method, self-signed certificates are created during the installation and used for the IP-HTTPS IPv6 transition technology, the Network Location Server (NLS), and for RADIUS secret encryption.

Renew DirectAccess Self-Signed Certificates

Certificate Expiration

These self-signed certificates expire 5 years after they are created, which means many DirectAccess administrators who have used this deployment option will need to renew these certificates at some point in the future. Unfortunately, there’s no published guidance from Microsoft on how to accomplish this. However, the process is simple enough using PowerShell and the New-SelfSignedCertificate cmdlet.

PowerShell Script

Open an elevated PowerShell command window and run the following commands to renew the DirectAccess self-signed certificates.

# // Clone and install IP-HTTPS certificate

$iphttpscert = (Get-ChildItem -Path Cert:\LocalMachine\My\ | Where-Object Thumbprint -eq ((Get-RemoteAccess).SslCertificate | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Thumbprint))
$newcert = New-SelfSignedCertificate -CloneCert $iphttpscert -FriendlyName “DirectAccess-IPHTTPS” | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Thumbprint
$cert = (Get-ChildItem -Path Cert:\LocalMachine\My\ | Where-Object Thumbprint -eq $newcert)
Set-RemoteAccess -SslCertificate $cert -PassThru

# // Clone and install NLS certificate

$nlscert = (Get-ChildItem -Path Cert:\LocalMachine\My\ | Where-Object Thumbprint -eq ((Get-RemoteAccess).NlsCertificate | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Thumbprint))
$newcert = New-SelfSignedCertificate -CloneCert $nlscert -FriendlyName “DirectAccess-NLS” | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Thumbprint
$cert = (Get-ChildItem -Path Cert:\LocalMachine\My\ | Where-Object Thumbprint -eq $newcert)
Set-DANetworkLocationServer -NLSOnDAServer -Certificate $cert

# // Clone RADIUS encryption certificate

$cert = (Get-ChildItem -Path Cert:\LocalMachine\My\ | Where-Object Subject -like “*radius-encrypt*”)
New-SelfSignedCertificate -CloneCert $cert -FriendlyName “Certificate issued by Remote Access for RADIUS shared secrets”

Script on GitHub

I’ve also published this script on GitHub. You can download Renew-DaSelfSignedCertificates.ps1 here.

Important Considerations

When the IP-HTTPS and NLS scripts above are executed, DirectAccess clients outside will be immediately disconnected and will be unable to reconnect until they update group policy (the RADIUS encryption certificate can be updated without impacting users). This will require connecting to the internal network locally or remotely using another VPN solution. In addition, internal clients that are not online when this change is made will be unable to access internal resources by name until they update group policy. If this happens, delete the Name Resolution Policy Table (NRPT) on the client using the following PowerShell command and reboot to restore connectivity.

Get-Item -Path “HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT\DNSClient\DnsPolicyConfig” | Remove-Item -Confirm:$false

Additional Information

PowerShell Recommended Reading for DirectAccess Administrators

Top 5 DirectAccess Troubleshooting PowerShell Commands

 

Always On VPN and Azure MFA ESTS Token Error

Always On VPN and Azure MFA ESTS Token ErrorConfiguring Multifactor Authentication (MFA) is an excellent way to ensure the highest level of assurance for Always On VPN users. Azure MFA is widely deployed and commonly integrated with Windows Server Network Policy Server (NPS) using the NPS Extension for Azure MFA. Azure MFA has a unique advantage over many other MFA providers in that it supports MFA when using Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol (PEAP). This makes Azure MFA the solution of choice for integrating with Windows 10 Always On VPN deployments using client certificate authentication, a recommended security configuration best practice.

NPS Configuration

Installing and configuring the NPS extension for Azure MFA is straightforward. Configuration guidance from Microsoft can be found here.

Connection Issues

After installing the NPS extension for Azure MFA, administrators may find that Always On VPN connections fail and the user is never challenged for authentication. The connection eventually times out and returns the following error message.

“A connection to the remote computer could not be established, so the port used for this connection was closed.”

Always On VPN and Azure MFA ESTS Token Error

In addition, the Application event log on the Windows 10 client contains an Event ID 20221 from the RasClient source that includes the following error message.

“The user [username] dialed a connection named [connection] which has failed. The error code returned on failure is 0.”

Always On VPN and Azure MFA ESTS Token Error

NPS Event Log

Reviewing the event logs on the NPS server reveals more information. The Security event log contains an Event ID 6274 from the Microsoft Windows security auditing source that includes the following error message.

“Network Policy Server discarded the request for a user. Contact the Network Policy Administrator for more information.”

Always On VPN and Azure MFA ESTS Token Error

ESTS Token Error

Digging deeper in the operational event log on the NPS server, the AuthZAdminCh log (Applications and Services Logs > Microsoft > AzureMfa > AuthZ) contains an Event ID 3 from the AuthZ source indicating an ESTS_TOKEN_ERROR message.

Always On VPN and Azure MFA ESTS Token Error

Troubleshooting ESTS Token Error

Follow the steps below to troubleshoot the ESTS_TOKEN_ERROR.

Prerequisites

Ensure that all prerequisites are met. Validate the user is being synced to Azure Active Directory and that it is properly licensed for Azure MFA.

Certificates

As part of the NPS extension configuration, a certificate is created on the NPS server that is uploaded to Azure Active Directory. To validate the certificate was created and uploaded correctly, follow the troubleshooting guidance found here.

Enterprise Applications

The Azure Multi-Factor Auth Client and the Azure Multi-Factor Auth Connector enterprise applications must be enabled to support the NPS extension for Azure MFA. To confirm they are enabled, open an elevated PowerShell command window on the server where the Azure AD Connector is installed and run the following PowerShell commands.

Import-Module MSOnline
Connect-MsolService

Get-MsolServicePrincipal -AppPrincipalId “981f26a1-7f43-403b-a875-f8b09b8cd720” | Select-Object DisplayName, AccountEnabled

Get-MsolServicePrincipal -AppPrincipalId “1f5530b3-261a-47a9-b357-ded261e17918” | Select-Object DisplayName, AccountEnabled

Always On VPN and Azure MFA ESTS Token Error

If either or both enterprise applications are not enabled, enable them using the following PowerShell commands.

Set-MsolServicePrincipal -AppPrincipalId “981f26a1-7f43-403b-a875-f8b09b8cd720” -AccountEnabled $True

Set-MsolServicePrincipal -AppPrincipalId “1f5530b3-261a-47a9-b357-ded261e17918” -AccountEnabled $True

Once complete, restart the IAS service on the NPS server using the following PowerShell command.

Restart-Service IAS -PassThru

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN Network Policy Server (NPS) Load Balancing Strategies

Deploy Windows 10 Always On VPN with Microsoft Intune

Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training Classes Now Available

Denying Access to Always On VPN Users or Computers

Denying Access to Always On VPN Users or ComputersOnce Windows 10 Always On VPN has been deployed in production, it may be necessary at some point for administrators to deny access to individual users or computers. Commonly this occurs when an employee is terminated or leaves the company, or if a device is lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised. Typically, this means that user accounts and computer accounts in Active Directory are disabled, and any issued certificates are revoked. However, additional steps may be required to disconnect current VPN sessions or prevent future remote connections.

Certificate Revocation

When certificates are used for authentication, for example when a device tunnel is deployed, or a user tunnel is configured to use Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) with user certificate authentication, immediately revoking issued user and device certificates and publishing a new Certificate Revocation List (CRL) is recommended. However, this will not instantly prevent VPN access because revocation information is cached on the VPN and NPS servers, as well as any online responders. The process of flushing certificate revocation caches is challenging and time consuming as well.

Blocking Users

To immediately prevent users from accessing the VPN, a security group must be created in Active Directory that contains users that will be denied access. In addition, a Network Policy must be created on the Network Policy Server (NPS) that denies access to users belong to this security group.

NPS Configuration

Once the security group has been created, open the NPS management console (nps.msc) and perform the following steps.

  1. Expand Policies.
  2. Right-click Network Policies and choose New.
  3. Enter a descriptive name for the policy in the Policy name field.
  4. Select Remote Access Server (VPN-Dial up) from the Type of network access server drop-down list.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Click Add.
    1. Select User Groups.
    2. Click Add.
    3. Click Add Groups.
    4. Select the security group create for denied users.
    5. Click Ok twice.
  7. Click Next.
  8. Select Access denied.
  9. Click Next four times and click Finish.

Denying Access to Always On VPN Users or Computers

Denying Access to Always On VPN Users or Computers

Once complete, move the deny access policy so that it is before the policy that allows VPN access.

Denying Access to Always On VPN Users or Computers

Device Tunnel Considerations

Since device tunnel connections don’t use the NPS for authentication, blocking devices from establishing Always On VPN connections requires a different technique. Once again, revoking the computer certificate and publishing a new CRL is recommended, but isn’t immediately effective. To address this challenge, it is recommended that the computer certificate issued to the client be retrieved from the issuing CA and placed in the local computer’s Untrusted Certificates store on each VPN server, as shown here.

Note: The certificate must be imported on each VPN server in the organization.

Terminating Connections

Once the guidance above is put in to place, any user or device that is denied access will be unable to connect to the VPN. However, if a user or device is currently connected when these changes are implemented, additional steps must be taken to proactively terminate their existing session. When using Windows Server Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) as the VPN server, uUser sessions can be proactively terminated using RRAS management console or PowerShell.

GUI

To terminate an established Always On VPN connection, open the RRAS management console (rrasmgmt.msc), highlight Remote Access Clients, then right-click the client connection and choose Disconnect. Repeat the process for any additional connections established by the user or device.

Denying Access to Always On VPN Users or Computers

PowerShell

Alternatively, Always On VPN connections can also be terminated programmatically using PowerShell. To identify currently connected users on a VPN server, open an elevated PowerShell command window and run the following command.

Get-RemoteAccessConnectionStatistics | Format-Table -AutoSize

Next, to disconnect a user tunnel, identify the User Principal Name (UPN) of the user to disconnect and include it in the following PowerShell command.

Disconnect-VpnUser -UserName “user@corp.example.net”

To disconnect a device tunnel, identify the Fully-Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) of the device to disconnect and include it in the following PowerShell command.

Disconnect-VpnUser -UserName “client1.corp.example.net”

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training

Always On VPN Updates to Improve Connection Reliability

Always On VPN Updates to Improve Connection ReliabilityA longstanding issue with Windows 10 Always On VPN is that of VPN tunnel connectivity reliability and device tunnel/user tunnel interoperability. Many administrators have reported that Always On VPN connections fail to establish automatically at times, that only one tunnel comes up at a time (user tunnel or device tunnel, but not both), or that VPN tunnels fail to establish when coming out of sleep or hibernate modes. Have a look at the comments on this post and you’ll get a good understanding of the issues with Always On VPN.

Recent Updates

The good news is that most of these issues have been resolved with recent updates to Windows 10 1803 and 1809. Specifically, the February 19, 2019 update for Windows 10 1803 (KB4487029) and the March 1, 2019 update for Windows 10 1809 (KB4482887) include fixes to address these known issues. Administrators are encouraged to deploy Windows 10 1803 with the latest updates applied when implementing Always On VPN. Windows 10 1809 with the latest updates applied is preferred though.

Persistent Issues

Although initial reports are favorable for these updates and based on my experience the effectiveness and reliability of Windows 10 Always On VPN is greatly improved, there have still been some reports of intermittent VPN tunnel establishment failures.

Possible Causes

During my testing, after applying the updates referenced earlier both device tunnel and user tunnel connections are established much more consistently than before the updates were applied. I did encounter some issues, however. Specifically, when coming out of sleep or hibernate, VPN connections would fail to establish. Occasionally VPN connections would fail after a complete restart.

NCSI

After further investigation it was determined that the connectivity failure was caused by the Network Connectivity Status Indicator (NCSI) probe failing, causing Windows to report “No Internet access”.

Always On VPN Updates to Improve Connection Reliability

Cisco Umbrella Roaming Client

In this instance the NCSI probe failure was caused by the Cisco Umbrella Roaming Client installed and running on the device. The Umbrella Roaming Client is security software that provides client protection by monitoring and filtering DNS queries. It operates by configuring a DNS listener on the loopback address. NCSI probes are known to fail when the DNS server is running on a different interface than is being tested.

Resolution

Microsoft released a fix for this issue in Windows 10 1709. The fix involves changing a group policy setting to disable interface binding when perform DNS lookups by the NCSI. You can enable this setting via Active Directory group policy by navigating to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Network > Network Connectivity Status Indicator > Specify global DNS. Select Enabled and check the option to Use global DNS, as shown here.

Always On VPN Updates to Improve Connection Reliability

For testing purposes this setting can be enabled individual using the following PowerShell command.

New-ItemProperty -Path “HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\NetworkConnectivityStatusIndicator\” -Name UseGlobalDNS -PropertyType DWORD -Value 1 -Force

Third-Party Software

As Always On VPN connectivity can be affected by NCSI, any third-party firewall or antivirus/antimalware solution could potentially introduce VPN connection instability. Observe NCSI operation closely when troubleshooting unreliable connections with Always On VPN.

Additional Information

Windows 10 1803 Update KB4487029

Windows 10 1809 Update KB4482887

Cisco Umbrella Roaming Client Limited Network Connectivity Warning

Network Connectivity Status Indicator (NCSI) Operation Explained

Always On VPN LockDown Mode

Always On VPN LockDown ModeWhen an Always On VPN connection is provisioned to a Windows 10 client, there’s nothing to prevent a user from disconnecting or even deleting the connection. Some administrators have expressed concern about this, fearful that users may disable the VPN to improve performance or circumvent access controls when force tunneling is enabled. Also, administrators may wish to prevent users from accidentally or purposefully making changes to the configuration, or even deleting the connection entirely.

LockDown Mode

To address these concerns, Microsoft included a feature called LockDown mode for Always On VPN. Once enabled, the following conditions apply.

  • The LockDown VPN connection is always on.
  • The LockDown VPN connection cannot be disabled.
  • The user can’t make changes to or delete the LockDown connection.
  • No other VPN connections can exist on the client.
  • Force tunneling is enabled by default (split tunneling in LockDown mode is not supported).

Challenges with LockDown Mode

Always On VPN LockDown mode brings with it some unique challenges, however. Consider the following.

Limited Protocol Support

LockDown mode only supports IKEv2 and the native (built-in) VPN client. Third-party plug-in provider clients are not supported. IKEv2 is an excellent VPN protocol in terms of security, but operationally speaking it has some serious drawbacks.

Force Tunneling Only

LockDown mode uses force tunneling exclusively. All network traffic must go over the VPN connection. However, if the VPN connection is not available, the client will be unable to access any network resources at all, local or remote.

Captive Portal Issues

LockDown mode prevents clients from connecting to network resources from a network with a captive portal.

On-premises Connectivity

In LockDown mode all network traffic must flow over the VPN tunnel even if the client is on the internal network. This also means that if the VPN server is not reachable internally (unable to resolve public hostname, protocols/ports blocked by internal firewall, unable to route to VPN server, etc.) the client will not be able to access any internal or external network resources at all.

Deleting a LockDown VPN Connection

Deleting a LockDown VPN connection is also challenging. Administrators will find that trying to delete it using the UI or PowerShell often fails. To delete a LockDown Always On VPN connection, use psexec.exe to open an elevated PowerShell command window running in the system context using the following command.

.\psexec.exe -i -s C:\windows\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe

In the new elevated PowerShell window run the following commands to delete the LockDown VPN connection.

$Namespace = “root\cimv2\mdm\dmmap”
$ClassName = “MDM_VPNv2_01”

$obj = Get-CimInstance -Namespace $Namespace -ClassName $ClassName
Remove-CimInstance -CimInstance $obj

Optionally, download and run Remove-LockDownVPN.ps1 here.

Summary

While Always On VPN LockDown mode might seem like a good idea initially, its implementation is heavy-handed and practically speaking ends up causing more problems than it solves. For administrators that plan to enable this feature, carefully consider the drawbacks and limitations outlined above and their impact on supportability and the user experience.

Additional Information

Windows Always On VPN Device Tunnel Config using Microsoft Intune

Windows 10 Always On VPN Security Configuration 

Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training

 

Always On VPN SSTP Load Balancing and SSL Offload

SSL Certificate Considerations for DirectAccess IP-HTTPSThe Windows Server Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) is a popular choice for a VPN server to support Windows 10 Always On VPN deployments. One significant advantage RRAS provides is support for the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP). SSTP is a Microsoft proprietary VPN protocol that uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) to ensure privacy between the VPN client and server. The advantage to using a TLS-based transport is that it leverages the standard HTTPS TCP port 443, making it firewall friendly and ensuring ubiquitous remote access even behind highly restrictive firewalls.

Load Balancing SSTP

Load balancing SSTP can be accomplished in much the same way as a load balancing a common web server using HTTPS. The external load balancer is configured with a virtual IP address (VIP) and each VPN server is configured behind it. Session persistence should be configured to use SSL with source IP address persistence as a fallback.

SSL Offload for SSTP

In most cases, simply forwarding encrypted SSTP connections to the VPN server will be sufficient. However, offloading SSL/TLS processing to an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) or load balancer can be beneficial for the following reasons.

Resource Utilization

Enabling TLS offload for SSTP VPN connections can reduce CPU and memory utilization on the VPN server. However, this will likely only be necessary for very busy servers supporting many concurrent connections.

Security

In some cases, the administrator may not be able to install the public SSL certificate on the VPN server. For example, a security policy may exist that restricts SSL certificate installation to dedicated security devices using a Hardware Security Module (HSM). In some cases, it may be desirable to restrict access to high value certificates such as wildcard certificates.

Certificate Management

Often SSL certificates are implemented on load balancers to reduce certificate sprawl and to ease the management and administration burden in the enterprise. By having all enterprise certificates installed only on dedicated security devices, administrators can more effectively monitor and manage SSL certificate lifecycles.

SSTP Configuration for TLS Offload

Configuration changes must be made on the load balancer and the RRAS server to support TLS offload for SSTP.

Load Balancer

Install the public SSL certificate on the load balancer and configure it for TLS termination. Configure the load balancer to then use HTTP for backend server connections. Consult the load balancer vendor’s documentation for configuration guidance.

RRAS Server

If the public SSL certificate is installed on the VPN server, enabling TLS offload for SSTP is simple and straightforward. Follow the steps below to enable TLS offload for SSTP VPN connections.

  1. Open the RRAS management console (rrasmgmt.msc).
  2. Right-click the VPN server and choose Properties.
  3. Select the Security tab.
  4. Check Use HTTP in the SSL Certificate Binding section.
  5. Click Ok and then Yes to restart the Remote Access service.

Always On VPN SSTP Load Balancing and SSL Offload

If the public SSL certificate is not or cannot be installed on the RRAS server, additional configuration will be required. Specifically, SSL offload for SSTP must be configured using the Enable-SSTPOffload PowerShell script, which can be downloaded here.

Once the script has been downloaded and imported, open an elevated PowerShell command window and enter the following command.

Enable-SSTPOffload -CertificateHash [SHA256 Certificate Hash of Public SSL Certificate] -Restart

For example…

Enable-SSTPOffload -CertificateHash “C3AB8FF13720E8AD9047DD39466B3C8974E592C2FA383D4A3960714CAEF0C4F2” -Restart

Re-Encryption

When offloading TLS for SSTP VPN connections, all traffic between the load balancer and the VPN server will be sent in the clear using HTTP. In some scenarios, TLS offload is required only for traffic inspection, not performance gain. When terminating TLS on the load balancer and re-encrypting connections to the VPN server is required, it is only supported if the same certificate is used on both the load balancer and the VPN server.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN SSL Certificate Requirements for SSTP

Windows 10 Always On VPN IKEv2 and SSTP Fallback

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

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Error Code 809

When testing an Always On VPN connection, the administrator may encounter a scenario where the VPN client fails to connect to the VPN server. On the Windows 10 client the error message states the following.

“Can’t connect to [connection name]. The network connection between your computer and the VPN server could not be established because the remote server is not responding. This could be because one of the network devices (e.g. firewalls, NAT, routers, etc.) between your computer and the remote server is not configured to allow VPN connections. Please contact your Administrator or your service provider to determine which device may be causing the problem.”

Always On VPN and IKEv2 Fragmentation

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

“The User [username] dialed a connection named [connection name] with has failed. The error code returned on failure is 809.”

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Error Code 809

Connection Timeout

The error code 809 indicates a VPN timeout, meaning the VPN server failed to respond. Often this is related directly to network connectivity, but sometimes other factors can come in to play.

Troubleshooting VPN Error Code 809

When troubleshooting VPN error code 809 the following items should be carefully checked.

  • Name Resolution – Ensure the VPN server’s public hostname resolves to the correct IP address.
  • Firewall Configuration – Confirm the edge firewall is configured properly. Inbound TCP port 443 is required for the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) and inbound UDP ports 500 and 4500 are required for the Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) protocol. Make sure that any NAT rules are forwarding traffic to the correct server.
  • Load Balancer Configuration – If VPN servers are located behind a load balancer, make certain that virtual IP address and ports are configured correctly and that health checks are passing. For IKEv2 specifically, it is crucial that UDP ports 500 and 4500 be delivered to the same backend server. This commonly requires custom configuration. For example, on the KEMP LoadMaster the administrator will configure “port following”. On the F5 BIG-IP a  custom “persistence profile” must be configured. On the Citrix NetScaler a “persistency group” must be defined.

IKEv2 Fragmentation

VPN error code 809 can also be caused by IKE fragmentation when using the IKEv2 VPN protocol. During IKEv2 connection establishment, payload sizes may exceed the IP Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) for the network path between the client and server. This causes the IP packets to be fragmented. However, it is not uncommon for intermediary devices (routers, NAT devices, or firewalls) to block IP fragments. When this occurs, a VPN connection cannot be established. However, looking at a network trace of the connection attempt, the administrator will see that the connection begins but subsequently fails.

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Error Code 809

Enable IKEv2 Fragmentation Support

The IKEv2 protocol includes support for fragmenting packets at the IKE layer. This eliminates the need for fragmenting packets at the IP layer. IKEv2 fragmentation must be configured on both the client and server.

Client

IKEv2 fragmentation was introduced in Windows 10 1803 and is enabled by default. No client-side configuration is required.

Server

IKEv2 is commonly supported on many firewall and VPN devices. Consult the vendor’s documentation for configuration guidance. For Windows Server Routing and Remote Access (RRAS) servers, IKEv2 fragmentation was introduced in Windows Server 1803 and is also supported in Windows Server 2019. It is enabled via a registry key. The following PowerShell command can be used to enable IKEv2 fragmentation on supported servers.

New-ItemProperty -Path “HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\RemoteAccess\Parameters\Ikev2\” -Name EnableServerFragmentation -PropertyType DWORD -Value 1 -Force

Validation

Once IKEv2 fragmentation is configured on the VPN server, a network capture will reveal the IKE_SA_INIT packet now includes the IKEV2_FRAGMENTATION_SUPPORTED notification message.

Always On VPN and IKEv2 Fragmentation

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN and IKEv2 Fragmentation

Windows 10 Always On VPN IKEv2 Security Configuration

Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training Classes

Always On VPN and Third Party VPN Devices

Always On VPN and Third Party VPN DevicesOne of the most important advantages Windows 10 Always On VPN has over DirectAccess is infrastructure independence. That is, Always On VPN does not rely exclusively on a Windows Server infrastructure to support Always On VPN connections. Always On VPN will work with many third-party firewalls and VPN devices, as long as they meet some basic requirements.

Advantages

Third-party firewalls or VPN devices offer some important advantages over Windows Servers running the Routing and Remote Access Services (RRAS), both in terms of security and performance.

Security

Dedicated security devices (physical or virtual) provide better security than a common Windows server. They commonly run specialized, security-hardened operating systems that are highly secure and resistant to attack. In addition, these solutions typically allow the administrator to define policy to restrict access to internal resources and do so in a centralized way. This is often easier to implement and manage than using traffic filters on the client side. They often include advanced security features such as URL filtering and malware inspection to better protect remote clients. Some solutions include Hardware Security Module (HSM) integration to further enhance security.

Performance

Purpose-built solutions often provide better throughput and performance than do Windows Servers by virtue of their proprietary operating systems. This allows for better network throughput and the ability to support many more connections per device.

Disadvantages

The main drawbacks for using a third-party device are cost and administrative overhead. Third-party solutions must be acquired, for which there is typically a non-trivial cost associated. They often need additional per-user licensing. In addition, many of these solutions require specialized skill sets to implement, manage, and support which could further increase the overall cost of the solution.

Interoperability Requirements

Any firewall or VPN device can be used for Always On VPN as long as they support the Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) VPN protocol for remote access connections. Most modern firewalls today support IKEv2, but some (such as the Sophos XG firewall) do not. Check with your vendor to validate support.

Native Client

If the firewall or VPN device supports IKEv2 for remote access connections, the native Windows VPN provider can be used to establish an Always On VPN connection. The native provider is used when the Always On VPN ProfileXML is configured using the NativeProfile element.

Plug-In VPN Client

One crucial drawback to using IKEv2 is that it is commonly blocked by firewalls. Many third-party VPN vendors offer a plug-in client that enables support for TLS-based transport, which is more firewall friendly than IKEv2. Plug-in VPN providers are available in the Microsoft store.

Below is a current list of available third-party VPN plug-in providers for Windows 10. (Updated April 5 to now include Cisco AnyConnect!)

  • Check Point Capsule
  • Cisco AnyConnect
  • F5 Access
  • Fortinet Forticlient
  • Palo Alto GlobalProtect
  • Pulse Secure
  • SonicWall Mobile Connect

Always On VPN and Third-Party VPN Devices

Note: Win32 VPN client applications from third-party vendors are not supported with Windows 10 Always On VPN.

Additional Information

What is the Difference Between DirectAccess and Always On VPN?

5 Things DirectAccess Administrators Should Know about Always On VPN

3 Important Advantages of Always On VPN over DirectAccess

Always On VPN IKEv2 and SSTP Fallback

Always On VPN IKEv2 and SSTP FallbackA while back I wrote about the various VPN protocols supported for Windows 10 Always On VPN. The two most common are Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) and Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP). The article covers in detail each protocol’s advantages and disadvantages. To summarize, IKEv2 provides the best security (when configured correctly!) and SSTP is firewall-friendly ensuring ubiquitous access. Ideally an Always On VPN connection will attempt to use the more secure IKEv2 first, then fallback to SSTP only when IKEv2 is unavailable. Unfortunately, Always On VPN connections do not work this way today.

IKEv2 and SSTP

IKEv2 and SSTP are not mutually exclusive. When using Windows Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) as the VPN server, both protocols can be configured and enabled for VPN clients. To allow VPN clients to automatically select a protocol, the NativeProtocolType element in ProfileXML can be set to Automatic.

Always On VPN IKEv2 and SSTP Fallback

IKEv2 with SSTP Fallback?

In theory, with the NativeProtocolType set to Automatic, the Windows 10 client would first attempt to establish an IKEv2 connection, then fall back to SSTP if IKEv2 is not available. In practice, this is not the case.

SSTP Preferred over IKEv2

In operation, setting the NativeProtocolType to Automatic results in the Windows 10 client attempting to establish a VPN connection using SSTP first! If the SSTP connection fails, only then will IKEv2 be used. The only scenario in which I can imagine SSTP failing and IKEv2 being successful would be if SSTP is not supported by the VPN server. Sadly, this scenario may result in failed connections due to a bug in the way ProfileXML settings are processed. Details here.

VPN Strategy

The initial VPN protocol selection behavior is dictated by the VpnStrategy setting of the Always On VPN connection in the rasphone.pbk file. This file can be found under C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Network\Connections\Pbk. The documentation on the Microsoft website is terribly outdated and does not include the following important VpnStrategy settings pertinent to Windows 10 Always On VPN connections.

  • 5 = Only SSTP is attempted
  • 6 = SSTP is attempted first
  • 7 = Only IKEv2 is attempted
  • 8 = IKEv2 is attempted first
  • 14 = IKEv2 is attempted followed by SSTP

Always On VPN Default Behavior

For Always On VPN, when the NativeProtocolType is set to Automatic in ProfileXML, VpnStrategy is set to 6 by default, which means the connection will attempt to use SSTP first. If it fails, IKEv2 will be attempted.

Always On VPN IKEv2 and SSTP Fallback

If the NativeProtocolType in ProfileXML is set to IKEv2, VpnStrategy is set to 7 and only IKEv2 is used. A connection using SSTP is never attempted.

Workaround

Setting the VpnStrategy to 8 or 14 will force the client to attempt an IKEv2 connection first. However, this setting is dynamically updated by Windows and is subject to change. For example, if an IKEv2 connection fails and SSTP is successful, Windows will then set the VpnStrategy to 6 and all subsequent VPN connection attempts will use SSTP first. Because of this it will be necessary to update the VpnStrategy setting each time prior to establishing a VPN connection. This will require some clever scripting and perhaps automation using a scheduled task based on an event trigger. I will leave that custom configuration as an exercise for the reader. If you’ve developed something to address this challenge, please feel free to share in the comments below. 🙂

Additional Information

Always On VPN Protocol Recommendations for Windows Server RRAS

Always On VPN IKEv2 Security Configuration

Always On VPN Certificate Requirements for IKEv2

Always On VPN IKEv2 Load Balancing with KEMP LoadMaster Load Balancer

DirectAccess IP-HTTPS Not Working Properly in Windows Server 2019

After installing and configuring DirectAccess in Windows Server 2019 you may encounter an error message indicating that IP-HTTPS is not working properly. Looking at the Operations Status overview in the Dashboard of the Remote Access Management console shows that the IP-HTTPS interface is in error.

DirectAccess IP-HTTPS Not Working Properly in Windows Server 2019

IP-HTTPS Route Error

Viewing the detailed Operations Status shows the following error message.

Error: The IP-HTTPS route does not have published property enabled.

DirectAccess IP-HTTPS Not Working Properly in Windows Server 2019

Missing Route

Looking at the routing table on the DirectAccess server reveals that a route to the client IPv6 prefix is indeed missing.

DirectAccess IP-HTTPS Not Working Properly in Windows Server 2019

Resolution

To resolve this error message, add the client IPv6 route to the DirectAccess server’s routing table and publish it. This is accomplished by running the following PowerShell commands on the DirectAccess server.

$IPv6prefix = (Get-RemoteAccess).ClientIPv6Prefix
New-NetRoute -AddressFamily IPv6 -DestinationPrefix $IPv6prefix -InterfaceAlias “Microsoft IP-HTTPS Platform Interface” -Publish Yes

Next, restart the Remote Access Management service (RaMgmtSvc) using the following PowerShell command.

Restart-Service RaMgmtSvc -PassThru

DirectAccess IP-HTTPS Not Working Properly in Windows Server 2019

Once complete, refresh the management console and the IP-HTTPS error message should be resolved and the operations status should state that it is now working properly.

DirectAccess IP-HTTPS Not Working Properly in Windows Server 2019

 

Additional Information

SSL Certificate Conisderations for DirectAccess IP-HTTPS

DirectAccess Expire IP-HTTPS Certificate and Error 0x800b0101

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