I am very excited to announce that my new DirectAccess book, “Implementing DirectAccess with Windows Server 2016“ from Apress media, is now shipping! The book is available on popular online sites like Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Springer.com, Apress.com, and others. The book is also available in electronic formats such as Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, as well as a variety of subscription formats including Safari, Books24x7, and SpringerLink.
This book contains detailed and prescriptive guidance for the planning, design, implementation, and support of a DirectAccess remote access solution on Windows Server 2016. It also includes valuable insight, tips, tricks, and best practice recommendations gained from my many years of deploying DirectAccess for some of the largest organizations in the world.
Current DirectAccess administrators will also find this book helpful, as the majority of content is still applicable to DirectAccess in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. In addition, the book also includes essential information on the design and deployment of highly available and geographically redundant DirectAccess deployments.
Troubleshooting DirectAccess can be a daunting task, so I’ve dedicated an entire chapter in the book to this topic. For those responsible for the maintenance and support of DirectAccess in their organization, this chapter alone will be worth the investment.
Be sure to order your copy today!
As I recently mentioned, Microsoft has discontinued and will be terminating their Microsoft Reputation Services (MRS) cloud URL categorization service on or shortly after December 31, 2015. Today, Microsoft released additional information vital to TMG administrators everywhere who are still relying on this service for URL filtering. Specifically, what happens with TMG once Microsoft officially turns off MRS and it is no longer available?
First, any firewall rules that rely on URL categorization to allow traffic will fail closed. That is, they will block all traffic. Second, any rules using URL categorization to deny traffic will fail open and allow that traffic instead. Finally, there is potential performance degradation that may occur with TMG after the service is disabled by Microsoft.
What to do?
First, update any TMG firewall rules that use URL Categories or URL Category Sets. You can replace them with Domain Name Sets or URL Sets, if desired. Next, disable the use of URL filtering in TMG by opening the TMG management console, right-clicking Web Access Policy and choosing Configure and then URL Filtering. Uncheck the box next to Enable URL Filtering and then click Ok.
Finally, consider a replacement solution for TMG’s URL filtering. There are a number of solutions available, both on-premises and cloud-based, that are capable replacements. The Zscaler solution is highly effective, and if you’re looking for a low-buck alternative, consider something like OpenDNS. There are many more, I’m sure.
Hotfix Rollup 2 for Microsoft Forefront UAG 2010 Service Pack 4 is now available for download. This hotfix rollup includes fixes for the following issues:
KB3066351 – Client HTTP connections to a UAG redirect trunk receives errors after you install hotfix rollup 1 for Forefront UAG 2010 SP4
KB3070067 – You may receive an HTTP 503 “Service is Unavailable” error when a connection to a UAG trunk fails in Forefront UAG 2010 SP4
KB3068283 – You may receive HTTP 503 errors on a server that is running Forefront UAG 2010 SP4
KB3068289 – Moving mailboxes as part of a hybrid Office 365 migration fails in Forefront UAG 2010 SP4
You can download Hotfix Rollup 2 for Forefront UAG 2010 SP4 here.
When Microsoft announced the formal end-of-life for Forefront TMG 2010, they laid out in clear detail the support boundaries for the product going forward. Microsoft stated specifically that they would continue mainstream support for TMG until April of 2015, and extended support would terminate in April 2020. However, the Web Protection Service (WPS) updates for the URL filtering database, antimalware signatures, and the Network Inspection System (NIS) would only continue until December 31, 2015.
Unfortunately, it appears that Microsoft has abandoned the updating for NIS signatures. You may have noticed that a fully updated Forefront TMG firewall with the latest signature updates shows that the last NIS signature was released for security bulletin MS12-050 on July 20, 2012!
I find it difficult to believe that there hasn’t been a single vulnerability discovered or hotfix released since July of 2012 that wouldn’t benefit from NIS protection, so I have to assume that Microsoft is no longer supporting NIS in spite of their pledge to provide support for WPS through the end of 2015. If you are relying on NIS for essential network protection, it’s time to consider deploying a dedicated IDS/IPS solution or another solution that provides this functionality.
Last year I wrote an article for ISAserver.org that outlined in detail how to improve SSL and TLS security for web sites published using Forefront TMG 2010. In its default configuration, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Forefront TMG leave quite a bit to be desired in terms of SSL and TLS security. In the article I demonstrated how to dramatically improve the security posture of TMG when publishing web sites that use SSL and TLS. At the time I wrote the article it was not recommended to enable forward secrecy, so the changes I originally proposed resulted in an “A” score from the Qualys SSL Labs test site. However, times have changed since then, and with the recent revelations of wide spread government spying, it is now recommended to enable forward secrecy by default. Sites that don’t support forward secrecy will now receive a reduced grade.
To accomplish this on the Forefront TMG 2010 firewall, open the Local Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) and navigate to Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Network, SSL Configuration Settings. Double-click SSL Cipher Suite Order and choose Enabled. Copy the list of SSL cipher suites to a blank notepad document and then move all of the cipher suites that begin with TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_ to the front of the list. Use caution here because the list cannot have any extra commas, line breaks, or spaces at all. Paste the updated list back in to the SSL Cipher Suites box and click Ok.
The server will have to be restarted for the changes to take effect. Once complete, forward secrecy will now be used by modern browsers and you should once again receive an “A” grade from SSL Labs.
Hotfix rollup 5 for Microsoft Forefront TMG 2010 with Service pack 2 (SP2) is now available for download. This latest hotfix rollup includes fixes for the following issues:
KB2963805 – Account lockout alerts are not logged after you install Rollup 4 for Forefront TMG 2010 SP2
KB2963811 – The Forefront TMG 2010 Firewall service (wspsrv.exe) may crash when the DiffServ filter is enabled
KB2963823 – “1413 Invalid Index” after you enable cookie sharing across array members in Forefront TMG 2010
KB2963834 – HTTPS traffic may not be inspected when a user accesses a site through Forefront TMG 2010
KB2967726 – New connections are not accepted on a specific web proxy or web listener in Forefront TMG 2010
KB2965004 – EnableSharedCookie option doesn’t work if the Forefront TMG 2010 service runs under a specific account
KB2932469 – An incorrect value is used for IPsec Main Mode key lifetime in Threat Management Gateway 2010
KB2966284 – A zero value is always returned when an average counter of the “Forefront TMG Web Proxy” object is queried from the .NET Framework
KB2967763 – The “Const SE_VPS_VALUE = 2” setting does not work for users if the UPN is not associated with a real domain
KB2973749 – HTTP Connectivity Verifiers return unexpected failures in TMG 2010
You can download hotfix rollup 5 for Forefront TMG 2010 SP2 here. After applying this update, the new Forefront TMG 2010 build number will be 7.0.9193.644.
Today, Microsoft announced the end of life for the Forefront UAG 2010 product. Microsoft will continue to provide mainstream support for UAG until April 14, 2015, and extended support until April 14, 2020. Existing customers with active Software Assurance on their existing UAG licenses as of December 1, 2013, may add new UAG server instances, users, and devices without having to purchase additional UAG licenses. In addition, existing customers who have purchased Forefront UAG server licenses will be given upgrade rights to Windows Server 2012 R2, which provides some of the remote access features found in Forefront UAG. For example, Windows Server 2012 R2 supports DirectAccess, client-based VPN, and reverse web proxy with new Web Application Proxy role.
With regard to license upgrade rights, users are entitled to a Windows Server 2012 R2 license for each Forefront UAG server license (or External Connector license) they currently own. Software Assurance for UAG can still be purchased until January 1, 2014. Forefront UAG 2010 will be removed from the pricelist on July 1, 2014. Forefront UAG 2010 will continue to be available from Microsoft OEM hardware partners like Celestix Networks for the foreseeable future, however.