Dell recommends Windows 8.

VPN Reality for Win 8 RT

Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor | 12/7/2012 | 14 comments

Curtis Franklin Jr.
When I talk with IT managers about Windows 8, one of the consistent complaints I hear is that you can't do a VPN with Windows 8. Several have even said that they are delaying Windows 8 rollouts because of security concerns. I certainly understand that position, but here's the thing: They're wrong.

Comments about the lack of VPN capability are everywhere. The more nuanced view is harder to find, but I'm fortunate enough to have friends like Brian Chee, director of the Advanced Network Computing Lab at the University of Hawai'i and an occasional Enterprise Efficiency blogger. He's been looking closely at Windows 8 (especially Windows 8 RT) and has come up with ways IT departments can securely connect Windows 8 RT devices back to their networks -- and the simple reason many folks think that can't happen.

First, the bad news: If you're absolutely, positively locked into one of the third-party VPN clients (like those from Juniper or Cisco) and you refuse to deal with anything else, then you're in a holding pattern. Those companies haven't released VPN clients for Windows 8 RT, because Microsoft hasn't released the Ring 0 APIs for them to hook their code into. Microsoft has delayed the release because it is trying to make the APIs PowerShell compliant (a good thing), but it has thrown a significant delay loop into the development of some crucial third-party software.

Even when Microsoft does release the beta code (something that should happen very soon), it's going to take a while for final software to make it to Windows 8 RT devices. Remember that all applications for Win 8 RT must come through Microsoft's App Store, and that particular venue doesn't allow beta code to be distributed. Bummer.

Here's the good news: Windows 8 RT comes with a VPN client just like pretty much every version of Windows. If your IT department can handle the customization for the individual cases, then you can be up and running secure Win 8 RT connections very quickly. This covers SSL, L2TP, and IPSec VPNs with encryption strength up to Blowfish or AES256. That's good enough for just about everyone, and even Triple DES (easier to configure) should keep most script kiddies at bay.

If that's not enough to convince you it's worth a shot, there's even more good news. The VPN client in Windows 8 RT is compatible with Microsoft DirectAccess. That means, among other things, that you can create role-based configuration files and have them automatically distributed to Win 8 RT devices through Active Directory login. Suddenly, things look up, but only as you get deeper and deeper into the Microsoft ecosystem.

And that's really the key: Though the industry has tended to treat the Microsoft Windows operating ecosystem as a variation on an open environment, it's still owned and controlled by a single company. This company lets a lot of other companies play in its sandbox, but the state of Windows 8 RT remote access is a reminder that it is, in fact, a Microsoft sandbox. It just lets us play in it.

If you have users banging on your door demanding that Windows 8 RT devices be given access to the enterprise network, you can make that happen. The client is there, and the tools are there. If all you want to do is move forward with your third-party VPN clients, though, you've still got a wait coming. Consider it a lesson in patience -- or a good reminder of the value of a fully integrated ecosystem from client to server.

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Toby   VPN Reality for Win 8 RT   12/31/2012 3:14:59 AM
Re: OTA Updates outdated
@anthony; No, it was all about the type of encryption to use for everyday use and included the exclusion of OTA and tethering....a little to rigid for regular use in my opinion but I guess they have the national security viewpoint.
anthony.nima   VPN Reality for Win 8 RT   12/30/2012 12:24:02 AM
Re: OTA Updates outdated
Lock down mobile devices if it gets lost is it Toby ?
Toby   VPN Reality for Win 8 RT   12/19/2012 7:43:54 AM
OTA Updates outdated
Btw I just read an interesting post about the work done by the NSA to develop security standards that will lock down mobile devices. One of the first things they confirm is NO OTA updates....
Toby   VPN Reality for Win 8 RT   12/19/2012 7:41:10 AM
Updated re VPN
I note this in the link that Tank posted: "That Windows Phone 8 OS update is supposedly codenamed "Apollo Plus" and may include VPN support, among other features. Apollo Plus sounds like a 2013 deliverable from what's leaked about it so far." so things may be changing but only maybe.
anthony.nima   VPN Reality for Win 8 RT   12/19/2012 4:46:52 AM
Re: Confused in London
It is incorporated isnt it ? Any news which I have been left out on it ?
Tuscany   VPN Reality for Win 8 RT   12/17/2012 6:30:42 AM
Re: Confused in London
@Toby  I guess I am just as confused, I thought it was incorporated but the community speaks otherwise......
Trek   VPN Reality for Win 8 RT   12/16/2012 11:02:26 PM
Re: Confused in London
I understand that Microsoft has released an update, Apollo Plus,  to ad support for VPN. Microsoft delivers first over-the-air update for Windows Phone 8 .
anthony.nima   VPN Reality for Win 8 RT   12/14/2012 4:27:04 AM
Re: Confused in London
Exactly Toby, I think its a bug which they need to fix soon or else the main purpose of Windows 8 being reased is no use.
Toby   VPN Reality for Win 8 RT   12/11/2012 10:18:01 AM
Confused in London
Perhaps I missed something here but, isn't this version of Windows supposed to be all about mobility and remote working..? How does no VPN serve that aim..?
Susan Fogarty   VPN Reality for Win 8 RT   12/10/2012 8:53:14 PM
Third-party VPN
So maybe it is possible to run RT on a VPN, but many, many enterprises use third-party VPNs. If those vendors are not creating VPN clients for Win 8, that's not a good sign. Are they just late to the party, or do they expect little usage of RT in the enterprise? Are they working on clients for Win 8 Pro? Any thoughts?
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