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ISA 2006 Web Chaining

ISA Web Chaining rules define how traffic will be handled by the proxy server. Web request to specific destination can be handled in different ways by ISA:

  1. Retrieve directly from the destination / internet;
  2. Forward to an upstream proxy server;
  3. Redirect the request to a specific server / web page;

The most popular use for Web Chaining is to chain branch office ISA firewalls with main office ISA firewalls. But also combining two ISP connections is a commonly used scenario for Web Chaining. I often use Web Chaining from ISA server with some kind of upstream proxy server. A lot of organizations use ISA as proxy server and some kind of dedicated appliance (maybe in DMZ environment) as content scanner.

With Web Chaining you can forward all request to the upstream proxy server, which will retrieve the specified destination from the internet. Specific website could have problems with being forwarded to the upstream server. I normally use Web Chaining to directly retrieve these website from the internet without being forwarded to the upstream proxy.

To create a Web Chaing Rule, open the ISA Management Console and navigate to Networks. In the center of the Management Console you will find a tab called Web Chaining. The default Web Chaining rule is configured to forward all request to an upstream proxy server.

The following screenshots tell you how to configure an additional Web Chaining rule to directly retrieve the destination (www.4ip.nl) from the internet.

create_wct Start the creation of a Web Chaining rule by clicking on Task – Create new Web Chaining rule.

This will start the New Web Chaining Rule Wizard.

Enter a valid name for the newly created Web Chaining Rule.

destination_wct Select the destination to which this Web Chaining Rule will apply.

I configured an URL set containing the URL: http://www.4ip.nl/*

action_wct On the Request Action page, you configure how you want the Web requests to that particular destination routed by the ISA firewall.

The default setting is to route the request directly to the destination Web site. This is exactly what I would like to accomplish.

The last step is Finishing the New Web Chaining Rule Wizard.

The newly created Web Chaining Rule is placed above the Default Web Chaining rule in the Web Chaining tab. The rules are matched sequentially, so now all traffic matching the configured URL set will be retrieved directly from the internet. All other traffic will be forwarded to the upstream proxy server.

Microsoft IAG

It has been a while since my last post, but time is short these days.

Today I had to troubleshoot a Microsoft IAG appliance. Microsoft IAG stands for Microsoft Intelligent Application Gateway. And indeed, intelligent it is. NOT. I have seen and configured multiple SSL VPN solutions like Juniper SA, Citrix Access Gateway, Citrix Secure Gateway and Cisco WebVPN. But to be honest, Microsoft IAG is the worst of all.

Microsoft IAG is installed on an appliance and is closely related to Microsoft ISA 2006, which is also installed on the server. Whenever you make some configuration changes to IAG, you have to active the new configuration inside IAG. After activating the configuration, I looked at the new ISA firewall policies and I really couldn’t believe my eyes. IAG configured ISA automatically, when activating the configuration.

A simple portal, where 2 websites and OWA are published and a network connect (SSL IP VPN), results in approximately 10 firewall policy rules in ISA. Okay, I could live with that, but I shivered while taking a closer look at the rules. It is not easy to discover what purpose a specific rule has, without looking to the different tabs while editing the rule.

Besides the crazy management of the appliance, me and a colleague had a lot of problems when testing the appliance. Currently the network connector is not supported on Windows Vista and you receive a lot of (useless) errors when using Internet Explorer 8. The logging functionality is also very basic and hard to find. I had problems with configuring and testing the network connector with the non-split tunneling and disable local area network access option, I couldn’t find any useful logging about the problem. For some reason only specific traffic is routed into the VPN tunnel. I ended up configuring split-tunneling and only route specific network segments into the SSL VPN tunnel.

My opinion till now, Microsoft IAG cannot be compared with other SSL VPN appliances I have seen. I guess Microsoft IAG could test positive when using the appliance in a solely Windows environment, where only Windows services, like OWA and SharePoint, are published to the internet.

Maybe the solution is a lot cheaper compared with the Juniper and Citrix solution, but for know I would rather buy a Cisco ASA 5505 or Cisco ASA 5510. I would definitely not configure the Microsoft IAG as a cooperate firewall terminating the Internet connection.

Where is the Internet Authentication Service?

Microsoft IAS server is often used as RADIUS server to authenticate VPN users or in conjunction with ISA reverse proxy to authenticate OWA users or PDA synchronization.

Today I had to install an ISA reverse proxy server with ISA 2006 Standard and Exchange 2007. I wanted to install Microsoft IAS as RADIUS server to authenticate the OWA users. Normally I install IAS on one, but preferably, on two domain controllers. I logged in on a domain controller through RDP. I noticed that the OS of the domain controller was Windows Server 2008.

Cool, finally working with a Windows Server 2008. After getting familiarized with the new view and layout, I started to search for a way to add the needed Windows component IAS. After searching for a while I found how to add Windows component. Looking at the complete list, I couldn’t find the Internet Authentication Service.

Oops, did Microsoft remove the IAS functionality from its server platform??? After googling for a second, I found that IAS has been replaced by Network Policy and Access Server service in Windows 2008.

Microsoft TechNet told me the following:

Network Policy Server (NPS) is the Microsoft implementation of a Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service (RADIUS) server and proxy in Windows Server 2008. NPS is the replacement for Internet Authentication Service (IAS) in Windows Server 2003.

 

As a RADIUS server, NPS performs centralized connection authentication, authorization, and accounting for many types of network access, including wireless and virtual private network (VPN) connections. As a RADIUS proxy, NPS forwards authentication and accounting messages to other RADIUS servers. NPS also acts as a health evaluation server for Network Access Protection (NAP). Source

After installing NPS, I started the configuration. You really have to get familiar with the way Windows Server 2008 works. There are a lot of different wizard and multiple configuration options to choose from. Everything looks a bit more fancy. NPS is not only a replacement for IAS, but has also many enhancements.

More information about installing and configuration Network Policy Server can be found in the article Understanding the new Windows Server 2008 Network Policy Server on WindowsNetworking.com. Here you can read that NPS has a lot of functions related to Network Access Protocol (NAP). A very detailed example of using NPS to perform NAP can be found in Brian Posey’s series An Introduction to Network Access Protoction.

Change password through LDAPS on ISA server

Today I received the question about allowing users to changes his/her password through webmail, whereby webmail is published via an ISA server 2006 reverse proxy. This is possible, but it requires the configuration of LDAPS to authenticate users.

I started by configuring a Certificate Authority (CA) on a member server in the domain. During the installation of CA a root certificate is generated. You need to export this root certificate with private key. Next I imported the certificate on the reverse proxy server, but didn’t mark the private key as exportable. So the root certificate cannot be exported from the reverse proxy server with its private key in the future. I checked if binding to the Active Directory is possible by using the tool ldp.exe.

The last part is configuring LDAP Validation in ISA. Go to Configuration –> General –> Specify RADIUS and LDAP Servers. First you need to add a LDAP server set, like shown in the following picture.

Important when configuring the LDAP server set is the usage of the FQDN as LDAP server hostname. This FQDN should be exactly the same compared to the FQDN mentioned in the imported root certificate.

The last step is configuring the LDAP server mapping, which is also shown below.

Because I don’t want to add a domain name during the login procedure on the OWA login page, like DOMAIN\USER, I use the Login Expression wildcard character * and link that to the configured LDAP server set. Now you can login with just username and password, instead of domain\username and password.

Next I configure a OWA Publishing policy like always, but on the Listener I use LDAP as authentication mechanism. On the Listener Forms tab you can enable or disable the options:

  • Allow users to change their passwords;
  • Remind users that their passwords will expire in this number of days;

These options add some extra option to the OWA login page. Another step to configure is the allowed users. In most environments I use the group Domain Users as allowed OWA group, because mostly all users are allowed to use OWA, else you need to configure a separate user group in Active Directory. On the Users tab you remove the All Authenticated Users and click Add. You need to define a new user group, like shown below.

User Group

This means that if you are member of the group Domain Users, you are allowed to use OWA.

The last step is configuring the public path. When logged in to OWA, you have the option to change your password through the options page. To use this feature, you need to added another path to the Path configuration in the reverse proxy server. The path, which should be added, is /iisadmpwd/*, where the External Path is the same as the Internal Path.

Over at isaserver.org, Thomas Shinder wrote a great post about using LDAPS with OWA and multiple domains. The article is called LDAP Pre-Authentication with ISA 2006 Firewalls: Using LDAP to Pre-Authenticate OWA Access.