Comparing DirectAccess and NetMotion Mobility

Comparing DirectAccess and NetMotion Mobility With DirectAccess approaching the end of its useful lifetime, many organizations are considering alternative solutions to provide seamless, transparent, always on remote connectivity for their field-based workers. Microsoft is positioning Windows 10 Always On VPN as the replacement for DirectAccess. While it provides many new features that were missing from DirectAccess, it has its own unique limitations and shortcomings.

NetMotion Mobility

Comparing DirectAccess and NetMotion Mobility NetMotion Mobility is an excellent alternative to DirectAccess and Always On VPN, and it has many advantages over both native Microsoft offerings. NetMotion Mobility offers better security and performance. It provides deep visibility with broad client support, and the solution is easier to support than DirectAccess.

Comparing DirectAccess and NetMotion Mobility

If you’d like to learn more about how NetMotion Mobility compares with DirectAccess, you will find detailed comparison information in my Comparing NetMotion Mobility and DirectAccess article series on the NetMotion blog.

Comparing NetMotion Mobility and DirectAccess – Security
Comparing NetMotion Mobility and DirectAccess – Performance
Comparing NetMotion Mobility and DirectAccess – Visibility
Comparing NetMotion Mobility and DirectAccess – Supported Clients
Comparing NetMotion Mobility and DirectAccess – Support

NetMotion Mobility in Action

Watch the following videos to see NetMotion Mobility in action.

NetMotion Mobility Demonstration Video
NetMotion Mobility and Skype for Business Demonstration Video

DirectAccess Alternative

NetMotion Mobility is a premium remote access solution with many of the same characteristics as DirectAccess; seamless, transparent, and always on. It is feature rich with numerous compelling benefits over native Microsoft remote access technologies. Organizations seeking a solution to replace Microsoft DirectAccess would benefit greatly from NetMotion Mobility.

Learn More

If you’d like to learn more about NetMotion Mobility, or if you’d like to evaluate their solution, fill out the form below and I’ll respond with more information.

Always On VPN Certificate Requirements for IKEv2

Always On VPN Certificate Requirements for IKEv2Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) is one of the VPN protocols supported for Windows 10 Always On VPN deployments. When the VPN server is Windows Server 2016 with the Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) role configured, a computer certificate must first be installed on the server to support IKEv2. There are some unique requirements for this certificate, specifically regarding the subject name and Enhanced Key Usage (EKU) configuration. In addition, some deployment scenarios may require a certificate to be provisioned to the client to support IKEv2 VPN connections.

Server Certificate

The IKEv2 certificate on the VPN server must be issued by the organization’s internal private certification authority (CA). It must be installed in the Local Computer/Personal certificate store on the VPN server. The subject name on the certificate must match the public hostname used by VPN clients to connect to the server, not the server’s hostname. For example, if the VPN server’s hostname is VPN1 and the public FQDN is vpn.example.net, the subject field of the certificate must include vpn.example.net, as shown here.

Always On VPN Certificate Requirements for IKEv2

In addition, the certificate must include the Server Authentication EKU (1.3.6.1.5.5.7.3.1). Optionally, but recommended, the certificate should also include the IP security IKE intermediate EKU (1.3.6.1.5.5.8.2.2).

Always On VPN Certificate Requirements for IKEv2

Client Certificate

Client certificate requirements vary depending on the type of VPN tunnel and authentication method being used.

User Tunnel

No certificates are required on the client to support IKEv2 when using MSCHAPv2, EAP-MSCHAPv2, or Protected EAP (PEAP) with MSCHAPv2. However, if the option to verify the server’s identity by validating the certificate is selected when using PEAP, the client must have the certificates for the root CA and any subordinate CAs installed in its Trusted Root Certification and Intermediate Certificate Authorities certificate stores, respectively.

User Tunnel with Certificate Authentication

Using certificate authentication for the user tunnel is the recommended best practice for Always On VPN deployments. A client certificate must be installed in the Current User/Personal store to support PEAP authentication with smart card or certificate authentication. The certificate must include the Client Authentication EKU (1.3.6.1.5.5.7.3.2).

Always On VPN Certificate Requirements for IKEv2

Device Tunnel

A computer certificate must be installed in the Local Computer/Personal certificate store to support IKEv2 machine certificate authentication and the Always On VPN device tunnel. The certificate must include the Client Authentication EKU (1.3.6.1.5.5.7.3.2).

Always On VPN Certificate Requirements for IKEv2

More information about configuring the Always On VPN device tunnel can be found here.

Additional Information

Always On VPN with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Certificates

Always On VPN Protocol Recommendations for Windows Server 2016 RRAS

Always On VPN and Windows Server RRAS

Always On VPN Training

Cloudflare Public DNS Resolver Now Available

Cloudflare Public DNS Resolver Now AvailableCloudflare has become a nearly ubiquitous cloud service provider in recent years, fronting many of the busiest web sites on the Internet. They provide tremendous value both in terms of security and performance for their customers. They have a wide array of solutions designed to provide better security, including optimized SSL/TLS configuration and Web Application Firewall (WAF) capabilities. Their DDoS mitigation service is second to none, and their robust Content Delivery Network (CDN) ensures optimal loading of content for web sites anywhere in the world.

Public DNS Resolver

Recently Cloudflare announced their first consumer service, a public DNS resolver that is free for general use. It offers exceptional performance and supports many of the latest DNS security and privacy enhancements such as DNS-over-TLS. Cloudflare has also pledged not to write DNS queries to disk at all and not to store them for more than 24 hours to further ensure privacy for their customers.

Cloudflare Public DNS Resolver Now Available

DNS Security Controls

What Cloudflare DNS is lacking today is granular security enforcement to provide additional protection for client computers outside the firewall. For example, public DNS resolvers from OpenDNS and Quad9 have built-in security features that use threat intelligence to identify and block DNS name resolution requests for domains that are known to be malicious or unsafe. OpenDNS has the added benefit of providing more granularity for setting policy, allowing administrators to select different filtering levels and optionally to create custom policies to allow or block individually selected categories. With OpenDNS, security administrators can also manage domains individually by manually assigning allow or block to specific, individual domains as necessary.

Recommended Use Cases

Cloudflare DNS clearly offers the best performance of all public DNS resolvers today, which makes it a good candidate for servers that rely heavily on DNS for operation. Mail servers come to mind immediately, but any system that performs many forward and/or reverse DNS lookups would benefit from using Cloudflare DNS. Cloudflare DNS can also be used by client machines where better performance and enhanced privacy are desired.

Quad9 DNS is a good choice for client computers where additional security is required. OpenDNS is the best choice where the highest level of security is required, and where granular control of security and web filtering policies is necessary.

Additional Information

Cloudflare DNS
Quad9 DNS
OpenDNS
Dnsperf.com

NetMotion Mobility for DirectAccess Administrators – Split vs. Force Tunneling

NetMotion Mobility for DirectAccess Administrators – Split vs. Force TunnelingDirectAccess employs a split tunneling network model by default. In this configuration, only network traffic destined for the internal network (as defined by the administrator) is tunneled over the DirectAccess connection. All other network traffic is routed directly over the Internet.

Force Tunneling Use Cases

For a variety of reasons, administrators may want to configure DirectAccess to use force tunneling, requiring all client traffic be routed over the DirectAccess connection, including public Internet traffic. Commonly this is done to ensure that all traffic is logged and, importantly, screened and filtered to enforce acceptable use policy and to prevent malware infection and potential loss of data.

DirectAccess and Force Tunneling

Enabling force tunneling for DirectAccess is not trivial, as it requires an on-premises proxy server to ensure proper functionality when accessing resources on the public Internet. You can find detailed guidance for configuring DirectAccess to use force tunneling here.

NetMotion Mobility and Force Tunneling

With NetMotion Mobility, force tunneling is enabled by default. So, if split tunneling is desired, it must be explicitly configured. Follow the steps below to create a split tunneling policy.

Create a Rule Set

  1. Open the NetMotion Mobility management console and click Policy > Policy Management.
  2. Click New.
  3. Enter a descriptive name for the new rule set.
  4. Click Ok.

NetMotion Mobility for DirectAccess Administrators – Split vs. Force Tunneling

Create a Rule

  1. Click New.
  2. Enter a descriptive name for the new rule.
  3. Click Ok.

NetMotion Mobility for DirectAccess Administrators – Split vs. Force Tunneling

Define an Action

  1. Click on the Actions tab.
  2. In the Addresses section check the box next to Allow network traffic for address(es)/port(s).NetMotion Mobility for DirectAccess Administrators – Split vs. Force Tunneling
  3. In the Base section select Pass through all network traffic.NetMotion Mobility for DirectAccess Administrators – Split vs. Force Tunneling

Define the Internal Network

  1. In the Policy rule definition section click the address(es)/port(s) link.NetMotion Mobility for DirectAccess Administrators – Split vs. Force Tunneling
  2. Click Add.
  3. In the Remote Address column select Network Address.
  4. Enter the network prefix and prefix length that corresponds to the internal network.
  5. Click Ok.
  6. Repeat the steps above to add any additional internal subnets, as required.
  7. Click Ok.
  8. Click Save.
  9. Click Save.NetMotion Mobility for DirectAccess Administrators – Split vs. Force Tunneling

Assign the Policy

  1. Click on the Subscribers tab.
  2. Choose a group to assign the policy to. This can be users, groups, devices, etc.NetMotion Mobility for DirectAccess Administrators – Split vs. Force Tunneling
  3. Click Subscribe.
  4. Select the Split Tunneling policy.
  5. Click Ok.NetMotion Mobility for DirectAccess Administrators – Split vs. Force Tunneling

Validation Testing

With split tunneling enabled the NetMotion Mobility client will be able to securely access internal network resources over the Mobility connection, but all other traffic will be routed over the public Internet. To confirm this, first very that internal resources are reachable. Next, open your favor Internet search engine and enter “IP”. The IP address you see should be the IP address of the client, not the on-premises gateway.

Summary

I’ve never been a big fan of force tunneling with DirectAccess. Not only is it difficult to implement (and requires additional infrastructure!) the user experience is generally poor. There are usability issues especially with captive portals for Wi-Fi, and performance often suffers. In addition, enabling force tunneling precludes the use of strong user authentication with one-time passwords.

With NetMotion Mobility, force tunneling is on by default, so no configuration changes are required. The user experience is improved as NetMotion Mobility intelligently recognizes captive portals. Performance is much better too. In addition, NetMotion Mobility is more flexible, allowing for the use of OTP authentication with force tunneling. Also, with NetMotion Mobility force tunneling is not a global setting. You can selectively apply force tunneling to users and/or groups as necessary.

Additional Information

NetMotion Mobility as an Alternative for Microsoft DirectAccess

NetMotion Mobility for DirectAccess Administrators – Trusted Network Detection

Enabling Secure Remote Administration for the NetMotion Mobility Console

NetMotion Mobility Device Tunnel Configuration

 

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Errors 691 and 812

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Errors 691 and 812When configuring Windows 10 Always On VPN using the Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) authentication using client certificates, clients attempting to establish a VPN connection using Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) may receive the following error.

“The connection was prevented because of a policy configured on your RAS/VPN server. Specifically, the authentication method used by the server to verify your username and password may not match the authentication method configured in your connection profile.”

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Errors 691 and 812

The event log on the client also records RasClient event ID 20227 stating “the error code returned on failure is 812”.

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Errors 691 and 812

Always On VPN clients using the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) may receive the following error.

“The remote connection was denied because the user name and password combination you provided is not recognized, or the selected authentication protocol is not permitted on the remote access server.”

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Errors 691 and 812

The event log on the client also records RasClient event ID 20227 stating “the error code returned on failure is 691”.

Troubleshooting Always On VPN Errors 691 and 812

Resolution

These errors can occur when Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.0 has been disabled on the RRAS server. To restore functionality, enable TLS 1.0 protocol support on the RRAS server. If disabling TLS 1.0 is required for compliance reasons, consider deploying RRAS on Windows Server 2016. TLS 1.0 can be safely disabled on Windows Server 2016 without breaking EAP client certificate authentication for Windows 10 Always On VPN clients.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training

What’s the Difference Between DirectAccess and Windows 10 Always On VPN?

5 Important Things DirectAccess Administrators Should Know About Windows 10 Always On VPN

3 Important Advantages of Windows 10 Always On VPN over DirectAccess 

Windows 10 Always On VPN and the Future of DirectAccess

Always On VPN Hands-On Training Classes Coming to Denver and New York

Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training Classes for 2018I’m pleased to announce that I will be bringing my popular three-day Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training classes to Denver and New York in May and June! Join me May 15-17, 2018 in Denver or June 5-7, 2018 in New York. These training classes will cover all aspects of designing, implement, and supporting an Always On VPN solution in the enterprise. These three-day courses will cover topics including…

  • Windows 10 Always On VPN overview
  • Introduction to CSP
  • Infrastructure requirements
  • Planning and design considerations
  • Installation, configuration, and client provisioning

Advanced topics will include…

  • Redundancy and high availability+
  • Cloud-based deployments
  • Third-party VPN infrastructure and client support
  • Multifactor authentication
  • Always On VPN migration strategies

Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training Classes for 2018

Register Today

Reservations are being accepted now! The cost for this 3-day hands-on training class is $4995.00 USD. Space is limited, so don’t wait to register! Fill out the form below to save your seat now.

DirectAccess and Always On VPN with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Certificates

DirectAccess and Always On VPN with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) CertificatesTo enhance security when provisioning certificates for DirectAccess (computer) or Windows 10 Always On VPN (user) it is recommended that private keys be stored on a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) on the client device. A TPM is a dedicated security processor included in nearly all modern computers. It provides essential hardware protection to ensure the highest levels of integrity for digital certificates and is used to generate, store, and restrict the use of cryptographic keys. It also includes advanced security and protection features such as key isolation, non-exportability, and anti-hammering to prevent brute-force attacks.

To ensure that private keys are created and stored on a TPM, the certificate template must be configured to use the Microsoft Platform Crypto Provider. Follow the steps below to configure a certificate template required to use a TPM.

  1. Open the Certificate Templates management console (certtmpl.msc) and duplicate an existing certificate template. For example, if creating a certificate for DirectAccess, duplicate the Workstation Authentication certificate template. For Always On VPN, duplicate the User certificate template.
  2. On the Compatibility tab, ensure the Certification Authority and Certificate recipient compatibility settings are set to a minimum of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista/Server 2008, respectively.DirectAccess and Always On VPN with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Certificates
  3. Select the Cryptography tab.
  4. Choose Key Storage Provider from the Provider Category drop down list.
  5. Choose the option Requests must use one of the following providers and select Microsoft Platform Crypto Provider.DirectAccess and Always On VPN with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Certificates

Note: If Microsoft Platform Crypto Provider does not appear in the list above, got to the Request Handling tab and uncheck the option Allow private key to be exported.

Complete the remaining certificate configuration tasks (template display name, subject name, security settings, etc.) and publish the certificate template. Client machines configured to use this template will now have a certificate with private key fully protected by the TPM.

Additional Resources

Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Fundamentals

DirectAccess and Always On VPN Certificate Auto Enrollment

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

NetMotion MobilityOne of the many advantages NetMotion Mobility offers is that it requires no proprietary hardware to deliver its advanced capabilities and performance. It is a software solution that can be installed on any physical or virtual Windows server. This provides great deployment flexibility by allowing administrators to deploy this remote access solution on their existing virtual infrastructure, which is much less costly than investing in dedicated hardware or virtual appliances.

Cloud Deployment

As customers begin moving their traditional on-premises infrastructure to the cloud, it’s good to know that NetMotion Mobility is fully supported in popular public cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure. Installing and configuring Mobility on a server in Azure requires a few important changes to a standard Azure VM deployment however. Below is detailed guidance for installing and configuring NetMotion Mobility on a Windows Server 2016 virtual machine hosted in the Microsoft Azure public cloud.

Azure Networking Configuration

Before installing the NetMotion Mobility software, follow the steps below to configure the Azure VM with a static public IP address and enable IP forwarding on the internal network interface.

  1. In the Azure management portal, select the NetMotion Mobility virtual machine and click Networking.
  2. Click on the public-facing network interface.
  3. In the Settings section click IP configurations.
  4. In the IP configurations section click on the IP configuration for the network interface.
  5. In the Public IP address setting section click Enabled for the Public IP address.
  6. Click Configure required settings for the IP address.
  7. Click Create New.
  8. Enter a descriptive name and select Static as the assignment method.
    Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure
  9. Click OK
  10. Click Save.Deploying NetMotion Mobility in AzureNote: The process of saving the network interface configuration takes a few minutes. Be patient!
  11. Note the public IP address, as this will be used later during the Mobility configuration.
  12. Close the IP address configuration blade.
  13. In the IP forwarding settings section click Enabled for IP forwarding.Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure
  14. Click Save.

NetMotion Mobility Installation

Proceed with the installation of NetMotion Mobility. When prompted for the external address, enter the public IP address created previously.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Next choose the option to Use pool of virtual IP addresses. Click Add and enter the starting and ending IP addresses, subnet prefix length, and default gateway and click OK.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Complete the remaining NetMotion Mobility configuration as required.

Azure Routing Table

A user defined routing table must be configured to ensure that NetMotion Mobility client traffic is routed correctly in Azure. Follow the steps below to complete the configuration.

  1. In the Azure management portal click New.
  2. In the Search the Marketplace field enter route table.
  3. In the results section click Route table.
  4. Click Create.
  5. Enter a descriptive name and select a subscription, resource group, and location.
  6. Click Create.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Once the deployment has completed successfully, click Go to resource in the notifications list.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Follow the steps below to add a route to the route table.

  1. In the Settings sections click Routes.
  2. Click Add.
  3. Enter a descriptive name.
  4. In the Address prefix field enter the subnet used by mobility clients defined earlier.
  5. Select Virtual appliance as the Next hop type.
  6. Enter the IP address of the NetMotion Mobility server’s internal network interface.
  7. Click OK.Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure
  8. Click Subnets.
  9. Click Associate.
  10. Click Choose a virtual network and select the network where the NetMotion Mobility gateway resides.
  11. Click Choose a subnet and select the subnet where the NetMotion Mobility gateway’s internal network interface resides.
  12. Click OK.

Note: If clients connecting to the NetMotion Mobility server need to access resources on-premises via a site-to-site gateway, be sure to associate the route table with the Azure gateway subnet.

Azure Network Security Group

A network security group must be configured to allow inbound UDP port 5008 to allow external clients to reach the NetMotion Mobility gateway server. Follow the steps below to create and assign a network security group.

  1. In the Azure management portal click New.
  2. In the Search the Marketplace field enter network security group.
  3. In the results section click Network security group.
  4. Click Create.
  5. Enter a descriptive name and select a subscription, resource group, and location.
  6. Click Create.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Once the deployment has completed successfully, click Go to resource in the notifications list.

Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure

Follow the steps below to configure the network security group.

  1. In the Settings section click Inbound security rules.
  2. Click Add.
  3. Enter 5008 in the Destination port ranges field.
  4. Select UDP for the protocol.
  5. Select Allow for the action.
  6. Enter a descriptive name.
  7. Click OK.
    Deploying NetMotion Mobility in Azure
  8. Click Network Interfaces.
  9. Click Associate.
  10. Select the external network interface of the NetMotion Mobility gateway server.

Summary

After completing the steps above, install the client software and configure it to use the static public IP address created previously. Alternatively, configure a DNS record to point to the public IP address and specify the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) instead of the IP address itself.

Additional Resources

Enabling Secure Remote Administration for the NetMotion Mobility Console

NetMotion Mobility Device Tunnel Configuration

NetMotion Mobility as an Alternative to Microsoft DirectAccess

NetMotion Mobility and Microsoft DirectAccess Comparison Whitepaper

NetMotion and Microsoft DirectAccess On-Demand Webinar

What is the Difference Between DirectAccess and Always On VPN?

Always On VPN Device Tunnel Configuration Guidance Now AvailableDirectAccess has been around for many years, and with Microsoft now moving in the direction of Always On VPN, I’m often asked “What’s the difference between DirectAccess and Always On VPN?” Fundamentally they both provide seamless and transparent, always on remote access. However, Always On VPN has a number of advantages over DirectAccess in terms of security, authentication and management, performance, and supportability.

Security

DirectAccess provides full network connectivity when a client is connected remotely. It lacks any native features to control access on a granular basis. It is possible to restrict access to internal resources by placing a firewall between the DirectAccess server and the LAN, but the policy would apply to all connected clients.

Windows 10 Always On VPN includes support for granular traffic filtering. Where DirectAccess provides access to all internal resources when connected, Always On VPN allows administrators to restrict client access to internal resources in a variety of ways. In addition, traffic filter policies can be applied on a per-user or group basis. For example, users in accounting can be granted access only to their department servers. The same could be done for HR, finance, IT, and others.

Authentication and Management

DirectAccess includes support for strong user authentication with smart cards and one-time password (OTP) solutions. However, there is no provision to grant access based on device configuration or health, as that feature was removed in Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10. In addition, DirectAccess requires that clients and servers be joined to a domain, as all configuration settings are managed using Active Directory group policy.

Windows 10 Always On VPN includes support for modern authentication and management, which results in better overall security. Always On VPN clients can be joined to an Azure Active Directory and conditional access can also be enabled. Modern authentication support using Azure MFA and Windows Hello for Business is also supported. Always On VPN is managed using Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions such as Microsoft Intune.

Performance

DirectAccess uses IPsec with IPv6, which must be encapsulated in TLS to be routed over the public IPv4 Internet. IPv6 traffic is then translated to IPv4 on the DirectAccess server. DirectAccess performance is often acceptable when clients have reliable, high quality Internet connections. However, if connection quality is fair to poor, the high protocol overhead of DirectAccess with its multiple layers of encapsulation and translation often yields poor performance.

The protocol of choice for Windows 10 Always On VPN deployments is IKEv2. It offers the best security and performance when compared to TLS-based protocols. In addition, Always On VPN does not rely exclusively on IPv6 as DirectAccess does. This reduces the many layers of encapsulation and eliminates the need for complex IPv6 transition and translation technologies, further improving performance over DirectAccess.

Supportability

DirectAccess is a Microsoft-proprietary solution that must be deployed using Windows Server and Active Directory. It also requires a Network Location Server (NLS) for clients to determine if they are inside or outside the network. NLS availability is crucial and ensuring that it is always reachable by internal clients can pose challenges, especially in very large organizations.

Windows 10 Always On VPN supporting infrastructure is much less complex than DirectAccess. There’s no requirement for a NLS, which means fewer servers to provision, manage, and monitor. In addition, Always On VPN is completely infrastructure independent and can be deployed using third-party VPN servers such as Cisco, Checkpoint, SonicWALL, Palo Alto, and more.

Summary

Windows 10 Always On VPN is the way of the future. It provides better overall security than DirectAccess, it performs better, and it is easier to manage and support.

Here’s a quick summary of some important aspects of VPN, DirectAccess, and Windows 10 Always On VPN.

Traditional VPN DirectAccess Always On VPN
Seamless and Transparent No Yes Yes
Automatic Connection Options None Always on Always on, app triggered
Protocol Support IPv4 and IPv6 IPv6 Only IPv4 and IPv6
Traffic Filtering No No Yes
Azure AD Integration No No Yes
Modern Management Yes No (group policy only) Yes (MDM)
Clients must be domain-joined? No Yes No
Requires Microsoft Infrastructure No Yes No
Supports Windows 7 Yes Yes Windows 10 only

Always On VPN Hands-On Training

If you are interested in learning more about Windows 10 Always On VPN, consider registering for one of my hands-on training classes. More details here.

Additional Resources

Always On VPN and the Future of Microsoft DirectAccess

5 Important Things DirectAccess Administrators Should Know about Windows 10 Always On VPN

3 Important Advantages of Windows 10 Always On VPN over DirectAccess

Always On VPN Protocol Recommendations for Windows Server Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS)

Always On VPN Protocol Recommendations for Windows Server Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS)Windows 10 Always On VPN is infrastructure independent and can be implemented using third-party VPN devices. It is not necessary to deploy any Windows servers at all to support an Always On VPN solution. However, in a recent blog post I outlined some compelling reasons to consider using Windows Server 2016’s Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) feature to terminate VPN connections. RRAS supports both modern and legacy VPN protocols, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The choice of which protocols to support will be determined by many factors, but it is important to understand the capabilities of each to make an informed decision.

RRAS VPN Protocols

Windows RRAS supports the following VPN protocols.

  • Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) – RFC7296
  • Secure Sockets Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) – Microsoft
  • Layer Two Tunneling Protocol over IPsec (L2TP/IPsec) – RFC2661
  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) – RFC2637

There are pros and cons associated with each of these VPN protocols. Here’s a breakdown of each.

IKEv2

This IPsec-based VPN protocol is the preferred choice for most deployments. IKEv2 provides the best security and performance, with native features that enhance mobility. This latest version of IKE (v2) features streamlined messaging during connection establishment and enhanced session management that reduce protocol overhead and improve performance.

Advantages: Best security and performance.
Disadvantages: Firewalls may block required UDP ports.

SSTP

SSTP is an excellent alternative to IKEv2. It uses industry standard Transport Layer Security (TLS), making it widely accessible from most locations. It provides good security out of the box, but can be improved upon with additional configuration. SSTP lends itself well to load balancing, making it much easier to scale out than IKEv2. Optionally, TLS can be offloaded to an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) to reduce resource utilization on the RRAS server and further improve performance.

Advantages: Easy to configure with firewall friendly access.
Disadvantages: Not as secure IKEv2.

L2TP

While technically supported for Always On VPN, L2TP is a legacy VPN protocol that offers no real advantages over IKEv2. Its use is unnecessary and should be avoided.

Advantages: None.
Disadvantages: Firewalls may block required UDP ports.

PPTP

PPTP is considered an obsolete VPN protocol with many known security vulnerabilities. Its use should be avoided at all costs.

Advantages: None.
Disadvantages: Insecure.

Summary

Implementation best practices dictate that IKEv2 and SSTP be enabled to support Windows 10 Always On VPN connections when using Windows Server 2016 RRAS. The use of L2TP/IPsec and PPTP should be avoided. The combination of IKEv2 and SSTP will provide the best security and availability for remote workers. Clients that can establish IKEv2 VPN connections can take advantages of the security and performance benefits it provides. SSTP can be enabled as a fallback for clients that are unable to establish an IKEv2 connection due to restricted firewall access.

Always On VPN Hands-On Training

Interested in learning more about Windows 10 Always On VPN? Hands-on training classes are now forming. More details here.

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions about Microsoft’s PPTP Implementation

Always On VPN and Windows Server Routing and Remote Access Services (RRAS)

Windows 10 Always On VPN and the Future of DirectAccess 

5 Things DirectAccess Administrators Should Know about Always On VPN 

3 Important Advantages of Windows 10 Always On VPN over DirectAccess 

Windows 10 Always On VPN Hands-On Training Classes

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