OS X Server has long had a VPN service that can be run. The server is capable of running the two most commonly used VPN protocols: PPTP and L2TP. The L2TP protocol is always in use, but the server can run both concurrently. You should use L2TP when at all possible.
Sure, “All the great themes have been used up and turned into theme parks.” But security is a theme that it never hurts to keep in the forefront of your mind. If you were thinking of exposing the other services in Yosemite Server to the Internet without having users connect to a VPN service then you should think again, because the VPN service is simple to setup and even simpler to manage.
Setting Up The VPN Service In Yosemite Server
To setup the VPN service, open the Server app and click on VPN in the Server app sidebar. The VPN Settings screen has two options available in the “Configure VPN for” field, which has two options:
The VPN Host Name field is used by administrators leveraging profiles. The setting used becomes the address for the VPN service in the Everyone profile. L2TP requires a shared secret or an SSL certificate. In this example, we’ll configure a shared secret by providing a password in the Shared Secret field. Additionally, there are three fields, each with an Edit button that allows for configuration:
Once configured, open incoming ports on the router/firewall. PPTP runs over port 1723. L2TP is a bit more complicated (with keys bigger than a baby’s arm), running over 1701, but also the IP-ESP protocol (IP Protocol 50). Both are configured automatically when using Apple AirPorts as gateway devices. Officially, the ports to forward are listed at http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1629.
Using The Command Line
I know, I’ve described ways to manage these services from the command line before. But, “tonight we have number twelve of one hundred things to do with your body when you’re all alone.” The serveradmin command can be used to manage the service as well as the Server app. The serveradmin command can start the service, using the default settings, with no further configuration being required:
sudo serveradmin start vpn
And to stop the service:
sudo serveradmin stop vpn
And to list the available options:
sudo serveradmin settings vpn
The output of which shows all of the VPN settings available via serveradmin (which is many more than what you see in the Server app:
vpn:vpnHost = "mavserver.krypted.lan"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Server:Logfile = "/var/log/ppp/vpnd.log"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Server:VerboseLogging = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Server:MaximumSessions = 128
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:DNS:OfferedSearchDomains = _empty_array
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:DNS:OfferedServerAddresses = _empty_array
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Radius:Servers:_array_index:0:SharedSecret = "1"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Radius:Servers:_array_index:0:Address = "126.96.36.199"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Radius:Servers:_array_index:1:SharedSecret = "2"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Radius:Servers:_array_index:1:Address = "188.8.131.52"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:enabled = yes
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Interface:SubType = "PPTP"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Interface:Type = "PPP"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:LCPEchoFailure = 5
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:DisconnectOnIdle = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:AuthenticatorEAPPlugins:_array_index:0 = "EAP-RSA"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:AuthenticatorACLPlugins:_array_index:0 = "DSACL"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:CCPEnabled = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:IPCPCompressionVJ = 0
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:ACSPEnabled = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:LCPEchoEnabled = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:LCPEchoInterval = 60
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:MPPEKeySize128 = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:AuthenticatorProtocol:_array_index:0 = "MSCHAP2"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:MPPEKeySize40 = 0
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:AuthenticatorPlugins:_array_index:0 = "DSAuth"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:Logfile = "/var/log/ppp/vpnd.log"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:VerboseLogging = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:DisconnectOnIdleTimer = 7200
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:PPP:CCPProtocols:_array_index:0 = "MPPE"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:IPv4:ConfigMethod = "Manual"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:IPv4:DestAddressRanges:_array_index:0 = "192.168.210.240"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:IPv4:DestAddressRanges:_array_index:1 = "192.168.210.254"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:IPv4:OfferedRouteAddresses = _empty_array
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:IPv4:OfferedRouteTypes = _empty_array
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:IPv4:OfferedRouteMasks = _empty_array
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Server:LoadBalancingAddress = "184.108.40.206"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Server:MaximumSessions = 128
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Server:LoadBalancingEnabled = 0
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Server:Logfile = "/var/log/ppp/vpnd.log"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Server:VerboseLogging = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:DNS:OfferedSearchDomains = _empty_array
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:DNS:OfferedServerAddresses = _empty_array
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Radius:Servers:_array_index:0:SharedSecret = "1"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Radius:Servers:_array_index:0:Address = "220.127.116.11"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Radius:Servers:_array_index:1:SharedSecret = "2"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Radius:Servers:_array_index:1:Address = "18.104.22.168"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:enabled = yes
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Interface:SubType = "L2TP"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Interface:Type = "PPP"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:LCPEchoFailure = 5
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:DisconnectOnIdle = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:AuthenticatorEAPPlugins:_array_index:0 = "EAP-KRB"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:AuthenticatorACLPlugins:_array_index:0 = "DSACL"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:VerboseLogging = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:IPCPCompressionVJ = 0
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:ACSPEnabled = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:LCPEchoInterval = 60
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:LCPEchoEnabled = 1
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:AuthenticatorProtocol:_array_index:0 = "MSCHAP2"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:AuthenticatorPlugins:_array_index:0 = "DSAuth"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:Logfile = "/var/log/ppp/vpnd.log"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:DisconnectOnIdleTimer = 7200
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPSec:SharedSecretEncryption = "Keychain"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPSec:LocalIdentifier = ""
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPSec:SharedSecret = "com.apple.ppp.l2tp"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPSec:AuthenticationMethod = "SharedSecret"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPSec:RemoteIdentifier = ""
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPSec:IdentifierVerification = "None"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPSec:LocalCertificate = <>
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPv4:ConfigMethod = "Manual"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPv4:DestAddressRanges:_array_index:0 = "192.168.210.224"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPv4:DestAddressRanges:_array_index:1 = "192.168.210.239"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPv4:OfferedRouteAddresses = _empty_array
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPv4:OfferedRouteTypes = _empty_array
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:IPv4:OfferedRouteMasks = _empty_array
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:L2TP:Transport = "IPSec"
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:L2TP:IPSecSharedSecretValue = "yaright"
To disable L2TP, set vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:enabled to no:
sudo serveradmin settings vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:enabled = no
To configure how long a client can be idle prior to being disconnected:
sudo serveradmin settings vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:PPP:DisconnectOnIdle = 10
By default, each protocol has a maximum of 128 sessions, configureable using vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Server:MaximumSessions:
sudo serveradmin settings vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Server:MaximumSessions = 200
To see the state of the service, the pid, the time the service was configured, the path to the log files, the number of clients and other information, use the fullstatus option:
sudo serveradmin fullstatus vpn
Which returns output similar to the following:
vpn:servicePortsAreRestricted = "NO"
vpn:readWriteSettingsVersion = 1
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:AuthenticationProtocol = "MSCHAP2"
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:CurrentConnections = 0
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:enabled = yes
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:MPPEKeySize = "MPPEKeySize128"
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:Type = "PPP"
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:SubType = "PPTP"
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.pptp:AuthenticatorPlugins = "DSAuth"
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:AuthenticationProtocol = "MSCHAP2"
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:Type = "PPP"
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:enabled = yes
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:CurrentConnections = 0
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:SubType = "L2TP"
vpn:servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:AuthenticatorPlugins = "DSAuth"
vpn:servicePortsRestrictionInfo = _empty_array
vpn:health = _empty_dictionary
vpn:logPaths:vpnLog = "/var/log/ppp/vpnd.log"
vpn:configured = yes
vpn:state = "STOPPED"
vpn:setStateVersion = 1
Security folk will be stoked to see that the shared secret is shown in the clear using:
vpn:Servers:com.apple.ppp.l2tp:L2TP:IPSecSharedSecretValue = "a dirty thought in a nice clean mind"
Configuring Users For VPN Access
Each account that accesses the VPN server needs a valid account to do so. To configure existing users to use the service, click on Users in the Server app sidebar.
At the list of users, click on a user and then click on the cog wheel icon, selecting Edit Access to Services.
At the Service Access screen will be a list of services that could be hosted on the server; verify the checkbox for VPN is highlighted for the user. If not, click Manage Service Access, click Manage and then check the VPN box.
Setting Up Client Computers
As you can see, configuring the VPN service in Yosemite Server (OS X Server 2.2) is a simple and straight-forward process – much easier than eating your cereal with a fork and doing your homework in the dark.. Configuring clients is as simple as importing the profile generated by the service. However, you can also configure clients manually. To do so in OS X, open the Network System Preference pane. From here, click on the plus sign (“+”) to add a new network service.
At the prompt, select VPN in the Interface field and then either PPTP or L2TP over IPSec in the VPN Type. Then provide a name for the connection in the Service Name field and click on Create.
At the list of network interfaces in the Network System Preference pane, provide the hostname or address of the server in the Server Address field and the username that will be connecting to the VPN service in the Account Name field. If using L2TP, click on Authentication Settings.
At the prompt, provide the password entered into the Shared Secret field earlier in this article in the Machine Authentication Shared Secret field and the user’s password in the User Authentication Password field. When you’re done, click OK and then provided you’re outside the network and routeable to the server, click on Connect to test the connection.
Setting Up the VPN service in OS X Yosemite Server is as simple as clicking the ON button. But much more information about using a VPN can be required. The natd binary is still built into Yosemite at /usr/sbin/natd and can be managed in a number of ways. But it’s likely that the days of using an OS X Server as a gateway device are over, if they ever started. Sure “feeling screwed up at a screwed up time in a screwed up place does not necessarily make you screwed up” but using an OS X Server for NAT when it isn’t even supported any more probably does. So rather than try to use the server as both, use a 3rd party firewall like most everyone else and then use the server as a VPN appliance. Hopefully it can do much more than just that to help justify the cost. And if you’re using an Apple AirPort as a router (hopefully in a very small environment) then the whole process of setting this thing up should be super-simple.
krypted October 17th, 2014
I have covered Apple Configurator in a couple of different articles already. But one question I’ve gotten a number of times is how to do automated enrollment of iOS devices into an MDM solution, such as Profile Manager. Each device that gets enrolled into Profile Manager will require a Trust Profile (installed under the Profiles tab of the MyDevices portal) and an Enrollment Profile (installed under the Devices tab of the MyDevices portal). The Trust Profile requires about 3 or 4 taps to install and the Enrollment Profile requires about the same.
The best way I’ve seen for doing automated enrollment is actually to do semi-automated enrollment. Basically, each device gets the Trust Profile deployed in a profile, likely alongside an SSID that the wireless network users will use for actual enrollment. I usually advocate a temporary network according to how complicated the standard wireless network is (e.g. if you use certificates with 802.1x then during enrollment your device won’t necessarily be a supplicant). Apple Configurator can very easily provide a Trust Profile and the SSID. Should take about 3 minutes worth of work if you have an existing Profile Manager deployment (if you don’t, see this article).
Chances are, many will want their devices tied to a user account. For example, if you use Payload Variables at all, then you’ll need a user associated with a device at enrollment time in order to expand the Payload Variables into short names, email addresses, etc. Therefore, I would recommend deploying a web clip for the enrollment site, along with a Trust Profile and the SSID access to the enrollment network. This makes enrollment 4 taps, a username and a password. This will give users a customized ActiveSync environment, password policies, restrictions, VPN, web clips, as many SSIDs as you care to deploy, etc.
To setup an enrollment environment for users, we’ll first need to download the Trust Profile. To do so, I usually just log into the MyDevices portal of Profile Manager from the computer running Apple Configurator, by first visiting the https://<nameofserver>/MyDevices URL. Here, click on the Profiles tab.
Click on the Install button for the Trust Profile entry, which pulls the mobileconfig file from https://mdm.pretendco.com/devicemanagement/api/profile/get_ssl_cert_profile if the URL were mdm.pretendco.com. This URL redirects to an administrative page. When the download is complete, Apple Configurator will open automatically as installing Apple Configurator changes the default application for .mobileconfig files from System Preferences to Apple Configurator. Once downloaded, close and then reopen Apple Configurator.
Once re-opened, double-click on the Trust Profile that was just installed.
This profile can easily act as a Trust profile. But we also need the device enrolled in a wireless network that can be used to access the Profile Manager server. Click on WiFi, click Configure and add the settings for your network.
We’re also going to add a link to enroll the devices using the MyDevices portal. Click on Web Clips and then enter the name that you want the user to see in the Label field and the link to the MyDevices portal in the URL field.
Finally, we don’t want users prompted with petty SSL errors. This server doesn’t have a publicly signed certificate. Click on Credentials and note that the Trust is already added. We will also grab the certificate for the server from Keychain and click the plus sign to add another certificate. Import the one exported from the Keychain. Then click on Save and you’ll have a good Trust Profile.
Next, we’ll need to export the Enrollment Profile as well. To do so, go to the Profile Manager portal again and click on the Enrollment Profile entry in the sidebar. Uncheck the box to restrict devices (unless you’ve imported all the devices for your environment into Profile Manager) and then click on Download and the Enrollment profile is downloaded to the client.
Quit and re-open Apple Configurator. The Enrollment Profile is now listed in the Profiles field.
One would think that the device would then be able to be enrolled automatically. You can Enroll manually by logging into the My Devices portal (using the Web Clip) and clicking on the Enroll button and following the default buttons presented to users. You can also email Enrollment Profiles, text them or install them via iPhone Configuration Utility.
To also install the enrollment profile and complete the entire enrollment process, just click that other checkbox in Apple Configurator. Now, the concern in doing so would again be that you don’t know which user is associated with which device, taking Payload Variables out of the equation. Leaving the fields that you might otherwise place those into blank simply allows for user input when that part of the MDM profile is run.
krypted April 2nd, 2012
My traditional interpretation of Apple’s vision on how iOS devices are used is that everyone has an AppleID. That AppleID enables them to access their apps from any iOS device they own or Mac that they own. That AppleID enables them to access mail, contacts, calendars and even files through iCloud. That AppleID also allows users to remotely wipe their device through Find iPhone and track their friends iOS devices (as in social networking via breadcrumb tracking) through Find Friends. All of this “Just Works” in a consumer sense. And it even allows for a little sharing of content across devices you own. However, larger organizations need more. They need centralized management, content distribution and most other things you find that you rely on traditional desktop computers for.
Over the years, Apple has added tools for centralized control of devices. This started with ActiveSync compatibility and early forms of Mobile Device Management and has grown into a pretty robust, albeit disconnected, set of tools. Of these, Apple Configurator is the latest. Apple Configurator was released about a week ago and since, I’ve been trying to figure where it fits into the solutions architecture that surrounds iOS integrations. There are a number of other tools already available that can aid in the deployment and management of iOS devices, and Configurator is a great addition.
To me, there are 3 classes of management tools for iOS. These were roughly broken up into Over the Air (OTA), cradled (USB) and content management. Apple Configurator ends up fitting into all of these scenarios in some way. Let’s start by looking at the traditional uses of these three and then look at how they are impacted by Apple Configurator.
Mobile Device Management
Over the Air tools, such as Profile Manager, allow for Mobile Device Management (MDM) without cradling, or syncing a devices. These tools allow you to configure policies via profiles. There is also a bit of App pushing built into most MDM solutions. Apple’s Profile Manager can push applications written in-house, but no content from the App Store. 3rd party solutions, such as JAMF’s Casper Suite, Absolute Manage MDM, AirWatch and about 15 others are able to push apps from the App Store as well, leveraging the Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) to issue apps to devices. However, when an app is pushed through one of these tools, the app becomes associated with the AppleID for the user who owns the device.
Note: While we use the term push, the user has to accept all App installations on the device.
For large environments, MDM is a must as it allows for centralized command and control. Pushing apps is one aspect of such control. Policies enforceable through MDM include disabling cameras, configuring passcode policies on devices (not pushing passcodes), disabling YouTube, silencing Siri, unstreaming photos, disabling iCloud Backup, forcing encrypted backups, disabling location services, controlling certificates, blocking pop-ups, controlling cookies, disabling access to the iTunes and App Stores, and controlling what kind of media can be accessed on devices.
Additionally, MDM can be used to push SSIDs for wireless networks (and their passwords/802.1x configuration information), setup mail, setup Exchange ActiveSync, configure VPN connections, configure access shared calendars (iCal shared files, CalDAV and Exchange), configure access to shared contacts (LDAP, CardDAV, Exchange and Exchange Global Address Lists), deploy Web Clips and manage certificates (either with cert files or via SCEP). In short, whether you’re using the practically free Profile Manager from Apple, Mobile Iron, Casper, AirWatch, FileWave or one of the many other tools, there are a lot of things that MDM can configure on devices.
Reporting can also play a major role in how MDM tools are used. iOS Apps are owned by AppleIDs, not devices. MDM does not manage AppleIDs, but you can trigger fields in MDM databases to report back unauthorized AppleIDs being used. Reporting can also identify when devices join non-approved wireless networks (which cannot be blocked through MDM), identify devices that have been jailbroken (a major security concern for many organizations) and report on device use.
Because devices can fall outside of our control, MDM also plays an important role in being able to wipe and lock devices. While some of these types of features are available via Exchange, not all people use ActiveSync. Users and administrators alike can wipe, lock and de-enroll devices at will, potentially crippling what any device with an Enrollment Profile can do.
There are really 3 kinds of MDM tools: those that can push apps, those that can’t and Apple’s Profile Manager. The reason I put Profile Manager into its own class, is that it can push some kinds of apps, it’s cheap ($49.99 one time as opposed to per device per month or per device per year billing) and it’s great for some things. But Profile Manager should be used in very specific environments unless the price is the only decision making factor behind a tool. In larger environments, choosing a MDM solution is one of the most important aspects of managing mobile devices and the iOS platform is no different in that manner than other mobile platforms.
MDM has some limitations, though. A good MDM solution can manage the infrastructure side of device configuration. However, content requires a completely separate tool. Additonally, MDM is a completely opt-in experience. If a user wants, they can remove their device from the MDM solution at any time. Rather than a limitation, think about the opt-in experience this way: if a user removes themselves from MDM then all content that was given to them via MDM is then taken away, except that which they have moved to the local device. Therefore, if an administrator pushes an Exchange configuration then all content from that Exchange profile is forbidden fruit, removed alongside the de-enrollment.
MDM also works with Lion. Policies, centralized management, etc can be integrated with Lion. You can’t do app distribution per se, but you can push out a policy to change where the dock is on the screen, add a printer to a Mac and configure a login hook through a Profile Manager-based policy. Many of the MDM providers have begun adding functionality to their tools to allow for Mac management as well as iOS and I would expect that to become the standard in years to come. iOS is a single-user device and OS X is a multi-user device, which completes that paradigm, but Apple has made it no secret that policy-based management for Mac OS X is moving to the realm MDM (even if that is enforced through a traditional lens of directory services based policy-based management).
One of the unique aspects of the iOS platform is that it doesn’t have a file system that is exposed to users. There’s no /Volumes, no C: drive and no home folders. The devices don’t log into a server, because there’s no way to interpret a server connection. The file system that is exposed to iOS devices is through the lens of each application. Sandbox is a technology that limits each application’s access in terms of memory, hard drive, etc. Each application can only communicate with resources outside of itself if there is an API to do so, APIs mostly reserved for Apple (e.g. photos, contacts, etc). Therefore, when you discuss content management from the perspective of building a large iOS solution, you’re talking about apps.
The apps used for content management come in a few flavors. There are those that allow you to edit content and then there are those that allow you to read content. One way to look at this is through Safari. Sharepoint, WebDAV and various document management portals allow users to access data through the Safari browser on an iOS device. Safari will let you view various file types. But to edit the data, you would need to send it to an app, or copy it to the clipboard and access it in an app. Pages is an example of an app that can browse a file tree via WebDAV and edit content. However, planning how each type of file is accessed and what type of editing can be done on each file type or what type of resources need to be accessible can be difficult (e.g. there are a number of transitions in Keynote presentations that do not work in iOS).
Then there’s iTunes. iTunes allows you to backup and restore devices, update devices, etc. iTunes allows you to drop content into each application. If you look into the ~/Library/Mobile Documents, you can drop content, edit default documents and other tasks that can be done through a command line, then perform a cradled sync to an app. If networking is built into an app then you don’t have to plug a device into a computer. If an app can leverage iCloud, SMB or AFP then you can access data over the air. If you are trying to replace computers with iOS devices (a la post-PC) then you would need to plan each business task that needs to be performed and make sure not only that there is an app for that (or an app you build for that) but also make sure that you can round trip data from a shared repository and back to the network storage that the data resides on.
You can also access many of the benefits of MDM without having an OTA element. This can be done with iPhone Configuration Utility. iPhone Configuration Utility can configure the same policies available through Profile Manager but relies on either a cradled or email/web server/manual way of getting policies onto devices and updating. MDM automates this, but iPhone Configuration Utility is free and can be used as well. Additionally, profiles can be exported from Profile Manager and installed in the email/web server/manual way that iPhone Configuration Utility profiles are installed.
This is all probably starting to seem terribly complicated. Let’s simplify it:
Basically, there’s a few holes here. First, AppleIDs cannot be centrally managed. Second, you need to use gift cards or the Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) to distribute apps, and Third, even when you push an app to an AppleID, the app follows the AppleID to their next organization (which causes many organizations to treat apps like consumables). Fourth, synchronizing content is done primarily through iTunes, which only syncs a device at a time, making preparation of large numbers of systems terribly complicated.
Enter Apple Configurator, a free tool on the Mac App Store. This tool basically fixes all of the problems that we reference, but does so over USB. This means that Apple Configurator is not necessarily a replacement for MDM. In fact, you can deploy Trust and Entrollment profiles for MDM and automate the MDM enrollment for a device through Configurator. Instead, Apple Configurator is a tool that can either Prepare or Supervise an iOS deployment and do so in a manner that is easy enough that you don’t need a firm background in IT to manage devices on a day-to-day basis.
Here is what Apple Configurator can do:
Apple Configurator has some caveats:
I see a number of uses for Apple Configurator. Some of these use cases include:
These can enhance practically every environment I’ve worked with. But unless it’s a small environment (e.g. the labs), Apple Configurator isn’t a replacement for the tools already in use in most cases. Instead, it just makes things better. Overall, Apple Configurator is a welcome addition to the bat belt that we all have for iOS management and deployment. Now that we’ve looked at the when/where of using it, let’s look at the how.
There are two ways to use Apple Configurator. The first is to Prepare Devices. You would use this mode when you’re going to perform the initial setup and configuration of devices but not when the devices won’t be checking back into the computer running Apple Configurator routinely. Preparation settings do not persist. And while applications can be pushed through Preparation, updates for those applications will be tied to the AppleID that purchased the app.
The second is Supervise. Supervising devices is an option when preparing and allows you to have persistent changes to devices, to layer new settings the next time devices are plugged in, to add applications and the most intriguing aspect of iOS management here is reallocating VPP codes to new devices when a user or device is retired. Supervising devices also allows for assigning a given user to a device and thus pushing data into an application.
Setting Up Apple Configurator
Apple Configurator is installed through the Mac App Store. When installed, you are presented with three options. The first (going from left to right) is to Prepare Devices.
Before we get started, we’re going to add our AppleID. The computer running Apple Configurator needs to be able to connect to the App Store and it needs to have an AppleID associated with it if you’re going to use VPP codes. So let’s set that up before moving on. To do so, from Apple Configurator, click on the Apple Configurator menu and click on Preferences… From the Preferences menu, click on Set for the Apple ID and provide an AppleID (not the VPP Program Facilitator).
Then, when prompted, provide the credentials for your AppleID. If you have any problems with this, try Authorizing the computer in iTunes, if you can’t do one it stands to reason you can’t do the other and it’s either an invalid AppleID or that the computer cannot communicate with Apple’s servers (ports, DNS, Internet connectivity, etc might be the issue).
Also, let’s configure the Lock Screen settings, which is what’s displayed to users when you’re supervising devices. If you have user pictures in Open Directory, this will show each user’s photo at the lock screen (we will discuss device supervision later).
Using Apple Configurator to Prepare Devices
In this example, we’re going to prepare some devices for deployment. Before we do anything, we’re going to do a backup of the iOS device to use for testing. To do so, simply click Prepare Devices to bring up the main Apple Configurator screen and then click in the Restore field.
At the Restore menu, click Back Up…
Then choose the device to backup and click on Create Backup… to bring up the screen to select where to save your backup to (by default it should be your Documents but you can save them anywhere, like /iOSBackups). Click Save to make the first backup.
Notice how fast that went (assuming you didn’t load it up with 10 Gigs of crap)? The reason is that we’re not backing up iOS, just the data. This will become a little more obvious the first time we go to restore a device. In the meantime, if you look at your target directory, you’ll see a file with the name you provided followed by .iosdevicebackup. If you aren’t supervising you would need to delete these from the filesystem to remove them from the menu of available backups. If you are supervising then you’ll have a menu to manage the backups. You can also use the Other option in the selection menu to browse to another location and select another backup (e.g. you’re pulling them from other machines, etc.
Now that we have a backup, let’s do some stuff to the device. Let’s join the wireless network, change the wallpaper, create some contacts, make some notes and in general do some of those things that you might do on a base image of a computer, aside from of course configuring local admin (it’s not a multi-user device), installing anti-virus (to date, AV companies for iOS are snake oil salesmen) and other things you might not do. But as with imaging, if you can do something in Profile Manager or Apple Configurator, let’s reserve doing it there. In fact, I would probably try to set everything in Profile Manager or your MDM provider that you can (if you have one) and use Apple Configurator for as little as possible. That goes with imaging as well, do as much in directory services/managed preferences/profiles as you can and keep the image as simple as possible…
Anyway, once you have the device as you want it, make another backup. This is akin to baking an image with DeployStudio or System Image Utility. We can’t asr them out yet, but we’re in a much better place than we were.
Once you have a good backup, let’s leverage Apple Configurator to tell the device erase, update to the latest version of iOS, restore our image, join the SSID of our enrollment network (let’s consider this similar to a supplicant network in 802.1x). Then, let’s add a profile that will throw a Web Clip to our MDM solution and even add a Trust Profile to cut down on the number of taps to enroll (and the confusion of tap here, tap there, etc). From the Prepare screen in Apple Configurator, click on Settings and type the naming convention for your devices (in this case we’re going to call them krypted 1 and up) in the Name field. Then check the box for Number sequentially starting at 1 so it’s going to name them from 1 to 1,000,000 (which is how many iPads my krypted company is going to end up writing off at the testing rate I’m on now). Leave Supervision set to OFF (we’ll look at that later) and set the iOS field to Latest. Then, check the box for Erase all contents and settings and choose your image from the Restore menu.
Now for something that users of iPhone Configuration Utility, Profile Manager and Casper MDM will find familiar, click on the plus sign in the Profiles field and select Create New Profile. Here, we see what is the standard policy sheet (apologies to HIG if that’s not what those are officially called but I’ve not been able to find the right term) and give it a name in the Name field. This is how it will appear in the Profiles section of Apple Configurator. Because you can deploy multiple profiles, I’m just going to configure the SSID and Web Clip and call it MDM Enrollment. Optionally, give it some notes, organization name, etc.
Click on Wi-Fi and then click on the Configure button. Here, enter the SSID of the deployment network (MDMEnroll in this example). We’ll use the Hidden Network field to indicate the SSID is suppressed and we’ll use the network type of WEP and throw the password into the Password field as well. Now, before we move on, notice that there’s a plus and minus sign in the top right of the screen? You can deploy multiple of each, so if you have 10 wireless networks, 4 Email accounts, 9 VPN connections, 29 SSL Certs etc, you could deploy them all easily with multiple entries of each.
Scroll down in the sidebar a little and then click on Web Clips. Click on the Configure button. The Label is how the web clip’s name will appear on the device. We’re going to enter Enroll Here. In the URL field, provide the URL for your MDM server (e.g. When using a Profile Manager server called mdm.krypted.com the URL would be https://mdm.krypted.com/MyDevices). Not to get off topic, but did anyone else notice that Profile Manager in 10.7.3 now requires SSL certs? Anyway, you’ll also choose whether the web clip should be Removable (I think it should if it’s to enroll) and optionally choose an Icon. We’ll skip that (if we were using a 3rd party tool, I’d throw their logo in here; otherwise I usually like to use the company logo. I also like enrollment links to be Full Screen.
Go ahead and click Save and you’ll see MDM Enrollment listed in the Settings. If you notice, you can also click on the profile and then click on the export menu to export the profile or under the plus sign (“+”) you can Import Profile…, which is how we’ll bring in our Trust Profile from Profile Manager. From Profile Manager we already downloaded the Trust Profile. Now we’re going to click on Import Profile… and browse to it on the desktop, clicking on Trust profile.mobileconfig (or whatever name yours may have). Click Open.
We could go a step further and actually enroll the device by exporting the enrollment profile as well, but again, I want each user to provide their username and password so I as an administrator don’t have to go through and attach each device to a user in this scenario. I’ve been looking at importing devices and associating them with users via postgres, but that’s going to be another 3am article, on another night…
Next, check the box for each profile and click on Apps. This is where things start getting kinda’ cool. For this you’re going to need some app ipas. Each app in iTunes is stored as an .ipa file. We’re going to look at two different kinds of apps. The first is a free one and the second is a paid for app, both we’ll pull from iTunes. To do so, open iTunes and click on an app (iBooks in our example) and click on Show in Finder.
Note: Not all app .ipas are called the same thing as the filename. If you Show in Finder from the contextual menu of an app in iTunes it will automatically highlight the correct app in the Finder when it opens a Finder screen.
From the Finder you can either copy the app to the machine running Apple Configurator or if you’re using iTunes on that machine, you can go ahead and drag it to the Apple Configurator apps list. We’re also going to add an App that we used a purchase code from the VPP store to buy. You’ll get an error when you drag the paid app in (or browse to it if you so choose) that indicates the app is paid and in order to deploy it you’ll need to use VPP codes. Once added, you’ll notice it has an error indicator and the number 0 beside it.
Click on the numerical indicator beside the app name and you’ll be able to import redemption codes. These are emailed to you when you buy apps through the Volume Purchasing Program. BTW, no drag and drop in this screen, use the Important Redemption Codes button to browse to the XLS files.
Using Apple Configurator to Supervise Devices
Now, supervising devices may seem more complicated, but it isn’t. Back at the Prepare screen, we set Supervision to OFF. Change the iOS field to No Change. Now, let’s turn it ON. When you do so, the iOS field automatically switches to Latest. This means that supervision is going to require updates (which is fine in my book as updates have yet to break a single app for me). Get all the same settings the same as they were previously.
Once you enable Supervision, click on Prepare in Apple Configurator and connect a device again. The device will then be imaged as with the same settings that you’ve given it from before. However, once it’s done, you’ll be able to click on the Supervise tab and see devices (Note: You supervise devices rather than users).
The subsequent Starts and Stops will now allow you to enable and disable profiles and apps on the fly, as well as restore backups, update devices and as you can see in this screen, reclaim those valuable VPP codes!
Do a Get Info on a device and you’ll also see a bevy of information about that device.
You can also click on Assign, once you’ve enabled Supervision. Assigning devices requires directory services. When you click on Assign, click on the plus sign (“+”) to add the first user. Type the first few letters of the users name and they should appear in the list. Click on them and they’ll be added. You can then use the right panel to assign content to the apps that you assign to that user’s devices.
Once added, the user will by default have no device. To assign a device to a user, use the Check Out box at the bottom of the screen and then match the users with the devices you want them to have.
The final piece of this application is to assign content to users. As I mentioned earlier in this article, the file system of an iOS device is through the lens of the applications that the device has installed. Therefore, we’ll be associating files to applications. DRMd content is not distributed through Apple Configurator. So iBooks, etc, aren’t applicable. The various third party applications can open and therefore host file types that they support, as with iTunes. From the Assign pane of Apple Configurator, click on a user and then click on the plus sign (“+”) to add documents. At the Choose A Target Application screen, choose the application you’ll be loading content into.
When you click Choose, you’ll then be able to select files to use with that application.
Then just dock the iOS device, sync and viola you’ve got content distribution over USB all handled. You can also add groups of devices and groups of users and distribute content to groups of users rather than to one at a time.
Apple Configurator is really a great tool when used in the right scenarios. In learning how it works and interacts I actually learned a lot about both iOS and Mac OS X that I didn’t know before. I hope I did the tool justice with how easy it is to use. This is a fairly long article and it’s probably more complicated than it needs to be in parts, but that’s more my method of trying to figure out what it’s doing than the tool being complicated. It’s not hard to figure out at all. I am sure I could teach any non-technical iOS admin to use it in less than an hour.
My wish list includes logs and OTA. You can’t use iPhone Configuration Utility while you’re using Apple Configurator and therefore, you can’s see up-to-the second logs about things like key bags to figure out why this isn’t working or that. This makes it kinda’ difficult to figure out why a profile doesn’t get installed with an image if you’re not using an AppleID with the tool or other weird little things like that. I’d love to see a little more logging. Obviously, if you could run this thing Over the Air then it would be nerd nirvana. I guess the OTA isn’t as much as wish list for this tool, but features that could be imported into Profile Manager and other tools.
One of the more important aspects is the impact on AppleID use and app ownership. I started this off by saying “My traditional interpretation of Apple’s vision on how iOS devices are used is that everyone has an AppleID.” Well, when using this tool an AppleID is no longer necessary for app deployment.
Overall, we have a new, powerful tool in our arsenal that makes up the iOS administration ecosystem. I hope that I’ve managed to dispel a few rumors with this article and look at some great uses for where this tool should and should not be used. I also hope that no matter what, if you manage iOS devices, that you’ll take a look at it. I expect you’ll find it useful in some part of your management toolkit!
krypted March 15th, 2012
Tags: 802.1x, ActiveSync, AFP, API, Apple, Apple Configurator, AppleID, applications, apps, carddav, company, content management, cradle, deployment, devices, distribution, DRM, DUNS, education, encrypted backups, Exchange, iCloud, ios, iPad, iPhone, iphone configuration utility, ipod touch, itunes, LDAP, lock, management, mdm, mobile device management, mobility, ota, over the air, Prepare, reporting, restore, revoke apps, Safari, SCEP, schools, serial number, sharepoint, SMB, Supervise Devices, Trust Profile, UDID, volume purchasing program, vpn, vpp, Web Clip, webdav, wipe, Wireless
VPN-Cubed was a solution that Amazon listed for some time, allowing users of EC2 or S3 cloud services to VPN their resources in Amazon’s cloud to their own offices. But Amazon recently went a step further with their own offering and now provide the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud. Pricing is based on a per-VPN connection, running at a nickel per hour that the VPN Connection is alive. Data transfer over the VPN is charged at a dime per gig into the cloud and between 10 and 17 cents per gig out of the cloud.
There have been a number of concerns about security with regards to cloud services. The ability to build a dynamic tunnel between your AWS assets and your organization is now here. It’s interesting to see the price of security so simply laid out like that. Now how to factor risk versus just using otherwise encrypted protocols to communicate back to the office? Calculating risk with regards to data security is a pretty complicated task to those of us without CISSP+RMPhD (CISSPs and PhDs in Risk Management)…
krypted September 3rd, 2009
Tor is a tool that can be used to proxy your online communications between multiple, randomly selected, global providers effectively anonymizing your Internet traffic. Tor is a free anonymizing service, but doesn’t also encrypt your traffic.
Privoxy is a non-caching proxy that also has a certain amount of filtering built into it. Many may use privoxy to do adware removal. But it can also be used to filter information for Tor. Installers are available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/ijbswa/files. Once you have installed privoxy you can access the configuration page at http://www.privoxy.org/config/. Because privoxy is a command line tool, you can also access the help page for that using the following command (using privoxy as your working directory):
By default privoxy will install the following files on your system:
But you don’t have to install any of that. Or use it manually – you can, but you don’t have to. You can download the Vidalia Tor installer bundle, which will install privoxy, Vidalia, Tor and the Torbutton extension for Firefox. The installer package can be run choosing all of the defaults and then will need a reboot. Once complete, open Firefox (the first time it will install the extension, quit Firefox and then reopen it to activate it) and you’ll see Tor Disabled in the lower right hand corner of Firefox. You’ll then be able to click on it to switch over to using Tor from within Firefox. Click on it again and it will disable Tor again.
Overall, this is a nice and sleek design for obtaining anonymous web communications. Obviously, if you use it to log into your Twitter account, that’s not anonymous. But browsing and posting to sites does not link back to your IP address, which is one key aspect of Tor. You’re also still connecting over standard protocols. Again, Tor does nothing to encrypt data – it is a service dedicated to anonymity.
krypted July 31st, 2009
I originally posted this at http://www.318.com/TechJournal
Trying to imagine how to run an office in Los Angeles, New York City and London (with thoughts of Paris)? Well, there are a whole host of products looking to make your life easier. The hard part is figuring out which ones work best for each and every specific environment. Usually it boils down to matching your companyâ€™s business logic to products that are offered with an emphasis of working within your budget while attaining goals set forth by senior management.
Typically, the most paramount need businesses have with Remote Access Services (RAS) is file sharing. From Word and Excel documents to Final Cut projects, sharing files means sharing budgets, pictures, correspondence and other digital assets. It becomes increasingly important for individuals to be able to share files the larger an organization grows Ãƒ and increasingly important to ensure that itâ€™s done so securely.
There are technologies today that allow for the efficient sharing of large files.
Companies with file servers know that a central repository (or a server) has many benefits, but when opening branch offices, special considerations must be given to the access that individuals have to the place where everyoneâ€™s data resides. Companies that havenâ€™t yet encountered a need for a server may find that it is essentially required in order to share data between remote locations. Sometimes, files that are easily shared locally on one server, become difficult to share between remote locations due to size or motion video issues.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are the most common method in securely connecting multiple offices or locations. This is often handled within a companyâ€™s gateway (router). VPNs send data over the public Internet through encrypted â€œtunnels.â€ Using a VPN to connect two or more networks is also a way to help ensure ease of use, which becomes paramount in organizations that are increasingly complex from a technical point of view.
VPN Encryption ensures safe delivery of your data.
The second most common type of data for sharing between multiple locations is contacts, calendars and schedules. This type of sharing is often called â€œgroupware.â€ Cross-Platform groupware products include Microsoft Exchange and Now Up-To-Date/Now Contact.
Groupware means workflow automation.
Exchange, a centrally managed groupware solution, allows staff members highly configurable access to items that other staff members or workgroup members are working on. With the release of Office 2004, most of the Exchange features available for the PC are now available through the Mac. Sharing calendars, emails and contacts is what Exchange is all about. However, the product is still a little limited in what it can do on the Mac.
Many cross-platform companies still have the need for this detailed level of sharing, and have turned to products like Now Up-To-Date and Now Contact. With Now Up-To-Date it is possible to view schedules across networks easily. One use of this has been to use a key to specifically switch between the calendars of Editors in London and editors in Los Angeles. This allows one person to handle schedules in multiple offices, and everyone to see live scheduling data.
The same goes for contacts. Using Keywords or categories (two different options), users can find contacts quickly based in whichever city they choose. Using the notes feature of Now Contact, it is possible to track correspondence, meetings and phone calls on a per contact basis. This way, each person that talks to a client is able to see who spoke to him or her last, when they spoke to them and what it was about. This enables companies to rely on the data as opposed to the people, allowing business processes to occur out of any office they choose.
krypted January 2nd, 2006
Posted In: Business