Since Microsoft formally announced the end of life for the venerable Forefront TMG 2010 firewall, the most common question I hear is “What should I replace my Forefront TMG firewall with?” It’s an excellent question, and one that I can’t really answer for you definitively. Since Microsoft has elected to leave this space entirely, you’ll obviously be replacing it with a solution from another vendor. But which one? Well, the answer is “it depends”. There are many excellent firewalls, web proxies, and secure web gateways on the market today. So-called “Next Generation Firewalls” are gaining in popularity as well, and provide some interesting capabilities a security administrator can leverage to provide increased protection for their corporate networks. Which one to choose depends on many factors, and will vary greatly depending on your deployment scenario. My suggestion when evaluating potential replacements for your Forefront TMG 2010 firewall is to take a look at your current configuration, review your corporate security policy to determine network security requirements, then begin researching products that include the features you need. If you take a look at the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Secure Web Gateways or Next Generation Firewalls and choose a product in the leaders or challengers quadrants you will probably be satisfied. Regardless which solution you choose, demand a proof-of-concept or insist on an evaluation period with which you can return the product for a full refund if it doesn’t meet your needs or expectations. Be open-minded during the process, as you’re not likely to have the comfort level with the new solution as you do with your existing Forefront TMG 2010 firewall. If you are using your Forefront TMG 2010 firewall as a dedicated remote access solution, I would encourage you to look closely at Windows Server 2012 remote access VPN and especially DirectAccess.
Keep in mind that although Microsoft has announced the end of life for Forefront TMG 2010, it will still be supported for many years to come. You will have full feature functionality until the end of 2015, and the product will be supported in some fashion until early 2020 so there’s no need to rush. Perhaps the best replacement for Forefront TMG 2010 hasn’t even been created yet! If you have questions about Forefront TMG 2010 replacements, or you are in the process of evaluating another solution to replace your existing Forefront TMG firewall today, feel free to ask questions or share your experiences by commenting below. Thanks!
Today, Microsoft announced the Forefront TMG 2010 product will be discontinued. Microsoft will continue to provide mainstream support for TMG until April 14, 2015, and extended support until April 14, 2020. The Forefront TMG 2010 Web Protection Services (WPS) will be discontinued on December 31, 2015. Beginning on January 1, 2016, Web Protection Services (URL filtering, virus/malicious software scanning, and Network Inspection System) will continue to function but will no longer receive updates.
The end of life for Forefront TMG 2010 comes as part of sweeping changes made to the entire Forefront protection suite of products. In addition to ending development of Forefront TMG 2010, Microsoft also announced that Forefront Protection for Exchange (FPE), Forefront Protection for SharePoint (FPSP), Forefront Security for OCS (FSOCS), and Forefront Protection Server Management Console (FPSMC) are all being discontinued. Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE), which has been a part of Office 365, is being renamed Exchange Online Protection.
Looking ahead, Forefront Unified Access Gateway (UAG) 2010 and Forefront Identify Manager (FIM) 2010 R2 both have current roadmaps and will continue to be developed, although it is likely that they will not continue under the Forefront brand name.
At the recent DEFCON hacking conference, security researchers demonstrated a method to crack the MS-CHAPv2 authentication protocol with a 100% success rate. MS-CHAPv2 is used as the default authentication method for remote access VPN in Forefront TMG 2010.
With the public availability of tools to automate the cracking process, PPTP communication using MS-CHAPv2 should be considered unencrypted. There are two options available to mitigate this concern: disable MS-CHAPv2 and enable EAP with PPTP, or disable PPTP and switch to a more secure remote access VPN protocol such as L2TP/IPsec or SSTP. Enabling EAP requires the use of smart cards or certificates for authentication which makes implementation more challenging. SSTP is an excellent option as it leverages SSL/TLS to protect the MS-CHAPv2 authentication process. However, SSTP is only supported on Windows Vista SP1 and later clients. L2TP/IPsec is another good choice, and although it does support certificates it can also be configured using a pre-shared key. If long, complex passwords are used and care is taken to ensure that the password is well protected, it can provide a secure remote access solution.
For anyone interested in news and information about Microsoft DirectAccess, I have started another blog at directaccess.richardhicks.com. With this blog I’ll be writing about DirectAccess in Windows Server 2008 R2, Forefront Unified Access Gateway (UAG) 2010 DirectAccess, and DirectAccess in Windows Server 2012. In addition, I’ll be touching on topics related to VPN and remote access in general, IPv6, and core networking. DirectAccess is the way of the future for managed client remote access, so I would encourage you to follow my blog and stay up to date with this wonderful technology. Of course I’ll still continue to write about edge security and Forefront TMG 2010 here, don’t worry!
Recently my good friends Ben (Erez) Ben-Ari and Rainier Amara announced their new book Mastering Microsoft Forefront UAG 2010 Customization, which is scheduled for release early next year. As many of you know, Ben is the author of the Microsoft Forefront UAG 2010 Administrator’s Handbook, an essential reference for anyone working with Forefront UAG 2010. The new book focuses on customization, which is one of the features that make Forefront UAG 2010 a powerful and compelling remote access solution. I have the tremendous privilege of serving as the book’s technical reviewer, and as I am getting an advanced look at Ben and Rainier’s work I can tell you this book will be a must-have for anyone working with Forefront UAG 2010. The book will be available in print and e-book formats and can be pre-ordered here.