Always On VPN DPC Advanced Features

Recently I wrote about PowerON Platforms’ Always On VPN Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC), a software solution that allows administrators to provision and manage Always On VPN client configuration settings using Active Directory and group policy. The article described the basic functionality Always On VPN DPC provides. In this post, I will describe some of its advanced capabilities that administrators will find helpful for solving common Always On VPN challenges.

Protocol Preference

The two most common VPN protocols used with Always On VPN are Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) and Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP). Each protocol has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, IKEv2 has better security options, but SSTP is more firewall-friendly and reliable.

IKEv2 with SSTP Fallback

Instead of selecting one protocol over the other, some administrators may choose to configure Always On VPN to prefer IKEv2, then fall back to SSTP if IKEv2 is unavailable. Unfortunately, there is no way to configure this using Intune, XML, or PowerShell. To change this setting, the administrator must update the VPN configuration file (rasphone.pbk) and change the value of VpnStrategy to 14. While editing a text file is easy, doing it at scale is more complicated. The setting can be changed using Intune proactive remediation or a PowerShell script. However, it’s even easier using Always On VPN DPC. Simply enable the VPN Protocol advanced setting in group policy and choose IKEv2 First, SSTP Fallback.

Interface Metric

Another common problem Always On VPN administrators encounter is name resolution, specifically when the endpoint uses a wired local connection. Here, name resolution queries may fail or return incorrect IP addresses. This happens because the wired connection has a lower network interface metric than the VPN tunnel adapter. Once again, there is no option for changing this setting using Intune or XML. Administrators can update the interface metrics using PowerShell, but it is not persistent. To fully resolve this, the administrator must edit the rasphone.pbk file. With Always On VPN DPC, enable the VPN Tunnel Metric group policy setting and enter a value lower than the wired connection to solve this problem.

IKE Mobility

The Windows VPN client includes support for IKE Mobility, which allows an IKEv2 VPN connection to reconnect automatically after a loss of network connectivity. IKE Mobility is enabled by default, and the network outage time is set to 30 minutes. However, this setting can have negative side effects, especially when VPN servers are behind a load balancer. Reducing the network outage time or disabling it completely can improve failover if a VPN server goes offline. Here again, this setting cannot be changed using Intune, XML, or PowerShell; it is only configurable in rasphone.pbk. With Always On VPN DPC, enable the Network Outage Time advanced setting in group policy and choose a value that meets your requirements.

Exclusion Routes for Office 365

Force tunneling ensures that all network traffic on the client is routed over the VPN tunnel, including Internet traffic. However, Always On VPN supports exclusion routes which allow administrators to exempt selected traffic from the VPN tunnel when force tunneling is enabled. Commonly this is configured for trusted cloud applications like Microsoft Office 365. Defining exclusion routes for cloud services is more complicated than it sounds. Many cloud services, including Microsoft Office 365, have multiple IP addresses that are constantly changing. This makes keeping Always On VPN clients updated with the correct list of IP address exclusions quite challenging. With Always On VPN DPC, administrators can enable the Exclude Office 365 from VPN group policy setting, allowing the endpoint to automatically configure the necessary exclusion routes for Office 365 IP addresses. Importantly, Always On VPN DPC periodically monitors this list of IP addresses and ensures that endpoints are continually updated with Office 365 exclusion routes as they change to ensure reliable connectivity.

IP Routing

Always On VPN administrators must define which IP addresses and networks are routed over the VPN tunnel when split tunneling is enabled. However, Intune has a known issue that may pose a challenge in some environments.

IPv6

Although IPv4 routes can be configured using the Intune UI, IPv6 routes cannot. This is because the Intune UI does not correctly validate the default IPv6 prefix length, insisting that the administrator use a value between 1 and 32. 🤦‍♂️

However, the Always On VPN DPC Allowed Routes group policy setting happily accepts the proper IPv6 prefix.

Route Metrics

In addition, there is no option to define the metric values for routes configured using Intune. Assigning non-default route metrics is required to resolve routing conflicts in some scenarios. Defining route metrics requires custom XML. The Always On VPN DPC Route Metric group policy settings allow administrators to define route metrics as required.

Video

I have published a demonstration video on my YouTube channel showing some of the advanced features PowerON Platforms Always On VPN Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC) provides. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date as I’ll be releasing more videos in the future.

Learn More

Are you interested in learning more about PowerON Platforms Always On VPN DPC? Fill out the form below, and I’ll contact you with more information. In addition, you can visit aovpndpc.com to register for an evaluation license.

Additional Information

Always On VPN with Active Directory and Group Policy

Always On VPN Video Demonstration

PowerON Platforms Always On VPN Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC)

Always On VPN DPC Demonstration

Recently I wrote about PowerON Platforms’ Always On VPN Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC). This software solution enables administrators to natively provision and manage Always On VPN client configuration settings using Active Directory and group policy. In that post, I provided some high-level details about the product, along with a brief overview of its advanced features.

Demonstration Video

I have recorded a video demonstrating how to install and configure Always On VPN DPC and use its basic features. You will find that demonstration video here.

Advanced Features

Soon I will share more details about Always On VPN DPC and using its advanced capabilities to solve some common challenges faced by Always On VPN administrators. Stay tuned!

Learn More

Are you interested in learning more about PowerON Platforms Always On VPN DPC? Fill out the form below, and I’ll contact you with more information. In addition, you can visit aovpndpc.com to register for an evaluation license.

Additional Information

Always On VPN with Active Directory Group Policy

Always On VPN Dynamic Profile Configurator (DPC)

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

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