Microsoft Tunnel for Microsoft Intune
Microsoft Tunnel is a VPN gateway solution for Microsoft Intune that runs in a container on Linux and allows access to on-premises resources from iOS/iPadOS and Android Enterprise devices using modern authentication and Conditional Access.
This article introduces the core Microsoft Tunnel, how it works, and its architecture.
After you've deployed Microsoft Tunnel, you can choose to add Microsoft Tunnel for Mobile Application Management (Tunnel for MAM). Tunnel for MAM extends the Microsoft Tunnel VPN gateway to support devices that run Android or iOS, and that aren't enrolled with Microsoft Intune. Tunnel for MAM is available when you add Microsoft Intune Plan 2 or Microsoft Intune Suite as an add-on license to your Tenant.
Microsoft Tunnel does not use Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) compliant algorithms.
Download the Microsoft Tunnel Deployment Guide v2 from the Microsoft Download Center.
Overview of Microsoft Tunnel
Microsoft Tunnel Gateway installs onto a container that runs on a Linux server. The Linux server can be a physical box in your on-premises environment or a virtual machine that runs on-premises or in the cloud. To configure Tunnel, you deploy a Microsoft Defender for Endpoint as the Microsoft Tunnel client app, and Intune VPN profiles to your iOS and Android devices. The client app and VPN profile enable devices to use the tunnel to connect to corporate resources. When the tunnel is hosted in the cloud, you need to use a solution like Azure ExpressRoute to extend your on-premises network to the cloud.
Through the Microsoft Intune admin center, you’ll:
- Download the Microsoft Tunnel installation script that you run on the Linux servers.
- Configure aspects of Microsoft Tunnel Gateway like IP addresses, DNS servers, and ports.
- Deploy VPN profiles to devices to direct them to use the tunnel.
- Deploy the Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (the Tunnel client app) to your devices.
Through the Defender for Endpoint app, iOS/iPadOS and Android Enterprise devices:
- Use Microsoft Entra ID to authenticate to the tunnel.
- Use Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) to authenticate to the tunnel.
- Are evaluated against your Conditional Access policies. If the device isn’t compliant, then it can't access your VPN server or your on-premises network.
You can install multiple Linux servers to support Microsoft Tunnel, and combine servers into logical groups called Sites. Each server can join a single Site. When you configure a Site, you’re defining a connection point for devices to use when they access the tunnel. Sites require a Server configuration that you define and assign to the Site. The Server configuration is applied to each server you add to that Site, simplifying the configuration of more servers.
To direct devices to use the tunnel, you create and deploy a VPN policy for Microsoft Tunnel. This policy is a device configuration VPN profile that uses Microsoft Tunnel for its connection type.
Features of the VPN profiles for the tunnel include:
- A friendly name for the VPN connection that is visible to your end users.
- The site that the VPN client connects to.
- Per-app VPN configurations that define which apps the VPN profile is used for, and if it's always-on or not. When always-on, the VPN automatically connects and is used only for the apps you define. If no apps are defined, the always-on connection provides tunnel access for all network traffic from the device.
- For iOS devices that have the Microsoft Defender for Endpoint configured to support per-app VPNs and TunnelOnly mode set to True, users don’t need to open or sign-in to Microsoft Defender on their device for the Tunnel to be used. Instead, with the user signed-in to the Company Portal on the device or to any other app that uses multifactor authentication that has a valid token for access, the Tunnel per-app VPN is used automatically. TunnelOnly mode is supported for iOS/iPadOS, and disables the Defender functionality, leaving only the Tunnel capabilities.
- Manual connections to the tunnel when a user launches the VPN and selects Connect.
- On-demand VPN rules that allow use of the VPN when conditions are met for specific FQDNs or IP addresses. (iOS/iPadOS)
- Proxy support (iOS/iPadOS, Android 10+)
Server configurations include:
- IP address range – The IP addresses that are assigned to devices that connect to a Microsoft Tunnel.
- DNS servers – The DNS server devices should use when they connect to the server.
- DNS suffix search.
- Split tunneling rules – Up to 500 rules shared across include and exclude routes. For example, if you create 300 include rules, you can then have up to 200 exclude rules.
- Port – The port that Microsoft Tunnel Gateway listens on.
Site configuration includes:
- A public IP address or FQDN, which is the connection point for devices that use the tunnel. This address can be for an individual server or the IP or FQDN of a load-balancing server.
- The Server configuration that is applied to each server in the Site.
You assign a server to a Site at the time you install the tunnel software on the Linux server. The installation uses a script that you can download from within the admin center. After starting the script, you’ll be prompted to configure its operation for your environment, which includes specifying the Site the server will join.
To use the Microsoft Tunnel, devices must install the Microsoft Defender for Endpoint app. You get the applicable app from the iOS/iPadOS or Android app stores and deploy it to users.
The Microsoft Tunnel Gateway runs in containers that run on Linux servers.
- A – Microsoft Intune.
- B- Microsoft Entra ID.
- C – Linux server with Podman or Docker CE (See the Linux server requirements for details about which versions require Podman or Docker)
- C.1 - Microsoft Tunnel Gateway.
- C.2 – Management Agent.
- C.3 – Authentication plugin – Authorization plugin, which authenticates with Microsoft Entra.
- D – Public facing IP or FQDN of the Microsoft Tunnel, which can represent a load balancer.
- E – Mobile Device Management (MDM) enrolled device or an unenrolled mobile device using Tunnel for Mobile Application Management.
- F – Firewall
- G – Internal Proxy Server (optional).
- H – Corporate Network.
- I – Public internet.
- 1 - Intune administrator configures Server configurations and Sites, Server configurations are associated with Sites.
- 2 - Intune administrator installs Microsoft Tunnel Gateway and the authentication plugin authenticates Microsoft Tunnel Gateway with Microsoft Entra. Microsoft Tunnel Gateway server is assigned to a site.
- 3 - Management Agent communicates to Intune to retrieve your server configuration policies, and to send telemetry logs to Intune.
- 4 - Intune administrator creates and deploys VPN profiles and the Defender app to devices.
- 5 - Device authenticates to Microsoft Entra. Conditional Access policies are evaluated.
- 6 - With split tunnel:
- 6.a - Some traffic goes directly to the public internet.
- 6.b - Some traffic goes to your public facing IP address for the Tunnel. The VPN channel will use TCP, TLS, UDP, and DTLS over port 443. This traffic requires inbound and outbound Firewall ports to be open.
- 7 - The Tunnel routes traffic to your internal proxy (optional) and/or your corporate network. IT Admins must ensure that traffic from the Tunnel Gateway server internal interface can successfully route to internal corporate resource (IP address ranges and ports).
Tunnel gateway maintains two channels with the client. A control channel is established over TCP, and TLS. This also serves as a backup data channel. It then looks to establish a UDP channel using DTLS (Datagram TLS, an implementation of TLS over UDP) that serves as the main data channel. If the UDP channel fails to establish or is temporarily unavailable, the backup channel over TCP/TLS is used. By default port 443 is used for both TCP and UDP, but this can be customized via the Intune Server Configuration - Server port setting. If changing the default port (443) ensure your inbound firewall rules are adjusted to the custom port.
The assigned client IP addresses (the IP address range setting in a Server configuration for Tunnel) are not visible to other devices on the network. Microsoft Tunnel Gateway uses port address translation (PAT). PAT is a type of network address translation (NAT) where multiple private IP addresses from the Server configuration are mapped into a single IP (many-to-one) by using ports. Client traffic will have the source IP address of the Linux server host.
Break and inspect:
Many enterprise networks enforce network security for internet traffic using technologies like proxy servers, firewalls, SSL break and inspect, deep packet inspection, and data loss prevention systems. These technologies provide important risk mitigation for generic internet requests but can dramatically reduce performance, scalability, and the quality of end user experience when applied to Microsoft Tunnel Gateway and Intune service endpoints.
The following information outlines where break and inspect isn't supported. References are to the architecture diagram from the preceding section.
Break and inspect is not supported in the following areas:
- Tunnel Gateway doesn't support SSL break and inspect, TLS break and inspect, or deep packet inspection for client connections.
- The Use of firewalls, proxies, load balancers, or any technology that terminates and inspects the client sessions that go into the Tunnel Gateway isn't supported and causes client connections to fail. (Refer to F, D, and C in the Architecture diagram).
- If Tunnel Gateway uses an outbound proxy for internet access, the proxy server can't perform break and inspect. This is because Tunnel Gateway Management Agent uses TLS mutual authentication when connecting to Intune (Refer to 3 in the Architecture diagram). If break and inspect is enabled on the proxy server, network admins that manage the proxy server must add the Tunnel Gateway server IP address and Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) to an approve-list to these Intune endpoints.
Conditional Access is done in the VPN client and based on the cloud app Microsoft Tunnel Gateway. Noncompliant devices don't receive an access token from Microsoft Entra ID and can't access the VPN server. For more information about using Conditional Access with Microsoft Tunnel, see Use Conditional Access with the Microsoft Tunnel.
The Management Agent is authorized against Microsoft Entra ID using Azure app ID/secret keys.