Always On VPN October 2023 Security Updates

Once again, it’s time to patch! After several quiet months, there are a few crucial updates Always On VPN administrators will want to get deployed soon. Thankfully, the impact of the security updates related to Always On VPN is low this time, as there is only one Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerability, and it’s for a legacy protocol that should be in limited use today.

IKEv2

CVE-2023-36726 addresses a security vulnerability in Windows Internet Key Exchange (IKE) that can lead to privilege escalation. An attacker who successfully exploits this vulnerability can elevate privileges to that of the local SYSTEM.

L2TP

This month’s update discloses several Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) vulnerabilities. The following CVEs all address a vulnerability where an attacker can send a specially crafted protocol message to a Windows Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) server, which could lead to remote code execution on the server.

Mitigation

The impact of the L2TP security vulnerabilities should be minimal in most organizations. L2TP is a legacy VPN protocol not commonly used for Always On VPN. However, misconfiguration can leave vulnerable RRAS servers exposed. Administrators must ensure that inbound UDP port 1723 is not open from the Internet. In addition, L2TP should be disabled on the RRAS server if not in use. See the article on the May 2023 security updates for details.

Additional Information

October 2023 Security Updates

Always On VPN and RRAS on Windows Server Core

Windows Server Core is a refactored version of the full Windows Server operating system. Server Core does not include a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and must be managed via the command line or with PowerShell. The Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) is a supported workload on all supported versions of Windows Server including Windows Server 2022. Always On VPN administrators should consider installing and configuring RRAS on Windows Server Core to ensure their VPN infrastructure’s best security and performance.

Server Core Benefits

Windows Server Core is a minimal installation option of the Windows Server operating system that provides numerous benefits, particularly for environments where security, resource efficiency, and reduced maintenance overhead are essential. Here are some of the key benefits of using Windows Server Core.

Minimized Attack Surface – Windows Server Core has a smaller footprint compared to the full GUI version, which means fewer components and services are installed by default. This reduces the potential attack surface and minimizes security vulnerabilities.

Enhanced Security – With fewer components and a reduced attack surface, there are fewer potential vectors for malware or unauthorized access. This makes Windows Server Core a more secure choice for critical server roles like RRAS.

Reduced Maintenance – Since there are fewer components to update, patching and maintaining a Windows Server Core system is quicker and requires less effort. This is especially beneficial in large-scale server deployments.

Improved Stability – By removing the graphical user interface (GUI), Windows Server Core has fewer processes running in the background, leading to a more stable and predictable server environment.

Simplified Management – Windows Server Core is designed for remote administration. It allows the administrator to manage it using command-line tools, PowerShell, or remote management tools like the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) and Windows Admin Center. This makes it easier to manage multiple servers from a single location.

Faster Reboots – Windows Servers require periodic reboots. With Windows Server Core, reboot times are considerably faster, resulting in less downtime during maintenance periods.

RSAT

The Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) can be installed on Windows clients and servers to enable remote administration using the familiar Routing and Remote Access Management console (rrasmgmt.msc) and Remote Access Management console (ramgmtui.exe) GUI tools.

Windows Client

To install the Remote Access Management tools on Windows client operating systems, navigate to Settings > Apps > Optional Features. Click Add a feature, select RSAT: Remote Access Management Tools, then click Install.

Optionally the Remote Access Management tools can be installed by running the following PowerShell command.

Add-WindowsCapability -Online -Name Rsat.RemoteAccess.Management.Tools~~~~0.0.1.0

Windows Server

To install the Remote Access Management tools on Windows Server run the following PowerShell command.

Install-WindowsFeature -Name RSAT-RemoteAccess

Windows Admin Center

The Windows Admin Center is a free remote management tool from Microsoft for managing Windows Server (core and GUI) remotely. It is especially helpful for Server Core management as it provides a GUI for many common administrative tasks.

You can download Windows Admin Center here.

Additional Information

Windows Server Core Installation Option

Windows Server Core vs. Desktop

PowerShell Remote Server Administration

Windows Admin Center

Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 End of Life

DirectAccess on Microsoft Windows

I want to remind you of a critical upcoming milestone that may affect your business. In just 60 days, we will reach the end of support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. As of October 10, 2023, these operating systems will no longer receive security updates or technical support from Microsoft.

End of Support

End of support means your servers will be more vulnerable to security risks and potential threats. It is essential to take action now to ensure your IT infrastructure’s continued security and stability. Upgrading to newer, supported operating systems will protect your data and systems from potential cyber threats and provide access to enhanced features and performance improvements.

Don’t Wait

Now is the time to migrate those remaining workloads for those still running Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2! Consider the following commonly deployed services that may still be running on Windows Server 2012 or 2012 R2 in your organization.

Remote Access – Windows Server Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) is commonly deployed to provide secure remote access for field-based workers. In addition, Absolute Secure Access (formerly NetMotion Mobility) is a widely implemented premium alternative to RRAS. Organizations may be hesitant to migrate these workloads because disrupting remote workers is painful.

DirectAccess – This remote access technology is widely deployed and extremely difficult to migrate. In addition, the complex nature of DirectAccess, with its many intricate interdependencies, poses a significant challenge to organizations migrating this role.

PKI – This is likely the most common enterprise service to be found running on Windows Server 2012 and 2012R2. Most organizations relying on Windows Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) to issue and manage enterprise certificates are reluctant to move this workload once it is deployed. This service is much easier to migrate than you might think! It can be done without disruption as well.

Consulting Services

We understand that upgrading might require careful planning and coordination, and our team is here to support you throughout the transition process. Don’t delay – take this opportunity to safeguard your organization’s data and systems by upgrading to the latest Windows Server version or exploring cloud-based solutions.

Get In Touch

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for further assistance or any questions regarding the upgrade process. Together, let’s ensure your business remains secure and productive. You can get started today by booking a free one-hour consultation to discuss your migration strategy. Just fill out the form below and I’ll provide more information.