What’s New in Absolute Secure Access v13

Recently I wrote about NetMotion Mobility’s acquisition by Absolute Software. Absolute Secure Access (formerly NetMotion Mobility) is an enterprise VPN and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solution that includes fine-grained policy enforcement to restrict network access based on a wide range of parameters, including IP address, protocol, port, application, time of day, location, and type of network (e.g., wired, Wi-Fi, wireless, etc.), available bandwidth, battery level, and more. It also includes integrated Network Access Control (NAC), which administrators can use to inform access policy decisions based on device security and configuration posture. Now, Absolute has created its first major release since the acquisition – Absolute Secure Access v13.

Secure Web Gateway

Absolute Secure Access is already the most comprehensive and compelling enterprise VPN and ZTNA solution available today. With the release of Absolute Secure Access v13, the solution now includes cloud-based Secure Web Gateway integration, providing administrators with increased visibility and control of web traffic outside the tunnel. Not all web traffic must flow through the secure web gateway. Administrators can use policy to selectively route web traffic through the secure web gateway to meet their requirements.

Enhanced Security

The secure web gateway feature of Absolute Secure Access v13 includes the following enhanced security features.

Web Filtering

The secure web gateway allows administrators to restrict access based on web category (e.g., gambling, malware sites, personal storage, etc.). Administrators can allow or deny access based on risk level or use the destination’s categorization to take policy action to restrict access further or require additional authentication.

TLS Inspection

The secure web gateway can terminate HTTPS (SSL/TLS) sessions to perform traffic inspection and granular content categorization based on the full URL. The TLS inspection certificate is added dynamically to the local computer certificate store.

Virus Scan

The secure web gateway performs malware and virus scans on web content and files, preventing users from downloading malicious software.

Remote Browser Isolation

Remote Browser Isolation (RBI) executes web browsing sessions on a remote, isolated system to prevent potential malware threats. It enhances security by ensuring malicious content is contained and executed away from the user’s device.

Content Disarm and Reconstruction

Content Disarm and Reconstruction (CDR) is a security feature that eliminates dynamic content from downloaded files and guards against zero-day vulnerabilities undetected by antivirus scans.

Data Loss Prevention

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is designed to prevent sensitive or confidential data from being leaked, accessed, or shared inappropriately, ensuring data security and compliance with regulations.

Policy Enhancements

Absolute Secure Access policies now include actions that can be taken based on information from the secure web gateway. For example, if a user visits a risky category like Malware Sites, additional security features such as antivirus scan, CDR and DLP enforcement, and RBI can be enforced. In addition, administrators can now force reauthentication when users roam between networks.


Absolute Secure Access v13 significantly upgrades previous versions of Absolute Secure Access and NetMotion Mobility. The security enhancements associated with the new secure web gateway service will tremendously increase an organization’s security posture and eliminate the need for additional web security solutions. Absolute Secure Access has powerful security enforcement technologies with policy and NAC to ensure the highest level of security for today’s mobile workforce.

Learn More

Are you interested in learning more about Absolute Secure Access? Would you like a demonstration of this enterprise VPN and Zero-Trust Network Access solution? Fill out the form below, and we’ll provide more information.

Microsoft Entra Global Secure Access

Last week Microsoft introduced new Security Service Edge (SSE) capabilities as part of the Microsoft Entra suite of technologies. Included in these announcements, Microsoft introduced the public preview of two new secure remote access technologies – Microsoft Entra Internet Access and Microsoft Entra Private Access. The latter of these will particularly interest Microsoft Always On VPN administrators in some deployment scenarios.

Microsoft Entra Internet Access

Microsoft Entra Internet Access is a new Secure Web Gateway (SWG) cloud service solution designed to protect users from threats on the public Internet. Features include web content filtering, malware inspection, TLS inspection, and more. In addition, Entra Internet Access can protect Microsoft 365 applications. Azure Conditional Access policies can be enforced for Internet traffic. Network conditions are now included with Azure Conditional Access, which can further protect against attacks by requiring access from specific trusted or compliant networks. Today, the public preview is available for Microsoft 365 scenarios only. Internet traffic and other SaaS applications will be available later this year.

Microsoft Entra Private Access

Microsoft Entra Private Access is a Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) cloud service solution that leverages the Azure Application Proxy access model. With Azure App Proxy, administrators can easily publish private, on-premises web applications by installing the connector on an on-premises server. Administrators can leverage Azure AD authentication and conditional access policies to ensure device compliance or enforce multifactor authentication (MFA), if required. Microsoft Entra Private Access extends the capabilities of the Azure Application Proxy to support TCP and UDP-based applications.

Private Access vs. Always On VPN

Microsoft Entra Private Access will be a compelling alternative to Always On VPN in the future. Specifically, organizations using native Azure AD join devices could benefit tremendously from this technology. Microsoft Entra Private Access is much simpler to implement than Always On VPN and requires no on-premises infrastructure other than the Azure Application Proxy connector. Using Microsoft Entra Private Access also means that no inbound access from the Internet is required, making the solution inherently more secure and reducing the public attack surface. For organizations using hybrid Azure AD join, Always On VPN continues to be the best Microsoft solution for these scenarios.


Microsoft Entra Expands into Security Service Edge (SSE)

Microsoft Entra – Secure Access for a Connected World

Microsoft Entra Internet Access Preview

Microsoft Entra Private Access Preview

What is Zero Trust?

What is Zero Trust Network Access?

What is Security Service Edge (SSE)?

What is Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)?

What’s the Difference Between SSE and SASE?

Contact Us

I’ve had the privilege of participating in the private preview for Microsoft Entra Internet Access and Private Access. If you’d like to learn more about these technologies and how they can help your organization, fill out the form below, and I’ll provide more information.

Always On VPN and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Always On VPN and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is a term that administrators are likely familiar with, as it is one of the hottest marketing buzzwords in circulation today. ZTNA can mean different things depending on the deployment scenario. ZTNA is fundamentally about enforcing the principle of least privilege for endpoints connecting remotely to the corporate network when it comes to enterprise mobility and remote access.

Trusted Access

Historically, VPNs and even DirectAccess granted full, unrestricted network access to authenticated devices and users. Once the endpoint has an IP address, and in the absence of other controls (routing limitations, firewall access controls, etc.), the user could access any resource on the internal network. The rationale was that authenticated devices and users should be considered “trusted”.


The Trusted Access model has some significant limitations. It assumes that all traffic from authorized users and devices is legitimate. However, if an endpoint is compromised, an attacker has broad access to the internal network, which is not ideal from a security perspective.

Zero Trust

Zero Trust Network Access is a concept where administrators define explicitly the minimum level of access required to support remote workers. Instead of granting full network access to the endpoint, controlling access using fine-grained policies is enforced on the VPN connection. Configuring limited network access for Always On VPN clients dramatically reduces exposure of the internal network to compromised endpoints.

ZTNA Management

There is a significant management burden associated with this approach, however. Administrators must identify each application requiring VPN access and determine all associated protocols and ports to be allowed, and internal resources to which they will communicate. Although this task isn’t difficult if clients require access to a small subset of internal resources, it can be a substantial undertaking if clients require access to many internal resources from numerous client applications.

Moving Targets

Making things more challenging is that application and network infrastructure often change constantly, requiring administrators to manage network access continually to ensure application availability. When adding new applications or changing the internal infrastructure, updating the configuration on all remote endpoints will be required.

Updating Always On VPN configuration for devices managed with Microsoft Endpoint Manager (formerly Intune) isn’t difficult. However, it can be more challenging when using PowerShell with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or another endpoint management platform.

Traffic Filters

ZTNA can be configured with Always On VPN using Traffic Filters. With Traffic Filters, administrators can apply fine-grained access control for VPN traffic based on a combination of the following.

  • Source IP address (IP address, address range, or subnet)
  • Destination IP address (IP address, address range, or subnet)
  • Protocol (TCP, UDP, IP, etc.)
  • Source Port
  • Destination Port

Endpoint Manager Configuration

Configuring Traffic Filters for Always On VPN connections can be performed using Microsoft Endpoint Manager. Open the Endpoint Manager management console (https://endpoint.microsoft.com), navigate to the Always On VPN device configuration profile, then perform the following steps.

  1. Expand App and Traffic Rules.
  2. Click Add next to Network traffic rules for this VPN connection.
  1. Enter a descriptive name in the Name field.
  2. Select Split tunnel from the Rule type drop-down list.
  3. Enter “6” in the Protocol field.
  4. Enter “3389” in the Lower port and Upper port fields in the Remote port ranges section.
  5. Enter an IPv4 address in the Lower IPv4 address field.
  6. Enter an IPv4 address in the Upper IPv4 address field. Enter the same IPv4 address as the lower address to specify a single host.
  7. Click Save.

The example above shows a traffic filter restricting access to TCP port 3389 (Remote Desktop Protocol) from all VPN clients to the network.

Note: Repeat these steps to create as many traffic filters as required for any processes or applications that must communicate over the Always On VPN connection.

XML Configuration

Traffic Filters can also be configured using custom XML. To implement the same Traffic Filter described previously, add the following code between the <VPNProfile> and </VPNProfile> tags in your XML configuration file.


Note: Address ranges used in Traffic Filters can be defined using CIDR notation in XML, but they are not supported using Microsoft Endpoint Manager today.

Default Deny

When configuring a Traffic Filter for an Always On VPN profile, an implicit “deny all” rule is automatically enabled. Any traffic not explicitly defined in a Traffic Filter will be denied, including unsolicited inbound traffic, which has crucial implications for the device tunnel because it is used commonly for system management of remote devices.


Traffic Filters are enabled for the Outbound direction only, by default. Beginning with Windows 10 2004, Microsoft introduced support for Inbound traffic filters. Before Windows 10 2004, configuring a Traffic Filter on the device tunnel would break manage-out scenarios by denying all unsolicited inbound network access.

As of this writing, configuring inbound Traffic Filters using Microsoft Endpoint Manager is not supported. They are only configurable using custom XML.

To implement a Traffic Filter to allow inbound RDP access from the internal network over the device tunnel, add the following code between the <VPNProfile> and </VPNProfile> tags in your XML configuration file.


Note: When configuring inbound Traffic Filters, specify the port of the listening process or application using the LocalPortRanges field.

Application Filters

Administrators can combine Application Filters with Traffic Filters to control network access over the Always On VPN connection even more granularly. Applications can be defined by the following.

  • Package Family Name (PFN) – This is the unique name of a Microsoft Store application. Use the Get-AppxPackage PowerShell command to find the PFN for an application.
  • File Path – This is the full path to any executable on the file system. For example, c:\Windows\System32\mstsc.exe.
  • SYSTEM – This allows Windows kernel-mode drivers (such as ping.exe and net.exe) to send traffic over the Always On VPN connection.

As of this writing, configuring Application Filters using Microsoft Endpoint Manager is not supported. They are only configurable using custom XML.

Application Filter Examples

Below are three examples showing different Application Filters based on file path, Package Family Name, and SYSTEM.

File Path

This example shows a Traffic Filter configured to allow RDP access to an internal subnet using the native Windows Remote Desktop client (mstsc.exe).


Package Family Name

This example shows a Traffic Filter configured to allow RDP access to an internal subnet using the Microsoft Windows Store Remote Desktop client.



This example shows a Traffic Filter configured to allow the netsh.exe process access to an internal subnet.


This example shows a Traffic Filter configured to allow the ping.exe process access to an internal subnet.


Note: Ping uses ICMP (IP protocol 1), which is a network layer protocol. As such, defining ports for the filter is not required.

IPv6 Compatibility

Sadly, the filtering techniques described in this article do not work when also configuring IPv6 on the Always On VPN connection. As of this writing, enabling Traffic Filters when an IPv6 address is assigned to the VPN interface is not supported. More details can be found here.

Always On VPN Traffic Filters and IPv6


Configuring Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) with Windows 10 Always On VPN is not trivial. Still, with attention to detail, it can be a highly effective tool to enforce fine-grained network access policies and reduce exposure of the internal network to compromised endpoints. Combining Traffic Filters with Application Filters allows administrators to tightly control Always On VPN access and ensure the principle of least privilege is applied.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN Traffic Filters and IPv6

Windows 10 Always On VPN User Tunnel XML Configuration Reference File

Windows 10 Always On VPN Device Tunnel XML Configuration Reference File

Windows 10 Always On VPN VPNv2 CSP Reference

IP Protocol Numbers

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