iOS and macOS
With the release of iOS 9 and macOS 10.11 ("El Capitan"), IKEv2 is now supported by three different methods:
Manually through the Settings app on iOS or System Preferences on macOS
With a custom configuration profile
Through an app that has the NetworkExtension entitlement
The Windows IKEv2 configurations can be used with some small changes.
When configuring clients manually without profile, strongSwan’s default proposals should work fine with recent iOS/macOS versions. If you like to manually specify proposals (e.g. to use PFS, see below), note that
sha2are supported at least since iOS 14. So the following proposals may be configured (if necessary, combined with further algorithms/proposals for other clients):
If you want to use PFS for CHILD_SAs, be aware that only iOS sends a proposal with DH group (and a second one without), by default, macOS only sends one without. So to support PFS with iOS clients without failing to rekey with macOS clients, configure something like this to make the DH group optional:
Also note that only iOS sends a proposal with
ecp256, by default. And while it also sends one with
modp1536, that might not work due to an unfixed bug, so using
ecp256should be preferred. Refer to the following proposal lists for details.
Default IKE/ESP proposals sent by iOS/macOS
iOS (as of 16.5)
IKE:AES_CBC_256/HMAC_SHA2_256_128/PRF_HMAC_SHA2_256/MODP_2048 IKE:AES_CBC_256/HMAC_SHA2_256_128/PRF_HMAC_SHA2_256/ECP_256 IKE:AES_CBC_256/HMAC_SHA2_256_128/PRF_HMAC_SHA2_256/MODP_1536 IKE:AES_CBC_128/HMAC_SHA1_96/PRF_HMAC_SHA1/MODP_1024 IKE:3DES_CBC/HMAC_SHA1_96/PRF_HMAC_SHA1/MODP_1024 ESP:AES_CBC_256/HMAC_SHA2_256_128/NO_EXT_SEQ ESP:AES_CBC_256/HMAC_SHA2_256_128/NO_EXT_SEQ ESP:AES_CBC_256/HMAC_SHA2_256_128/NO_EXT_SEQ ESP:AES_CBC_128/HMAC_SHA1_96/NO_EXT_SEQ ESP:3DES_CBC/HMAC_SHA1_96/NO_EXT_SEQ
When rekeying IPsec SAs (the DH group in the first proposal is presumably the one selected for IKE):
macOS (as of 13.4)
When rekeying IPsec SAs:
The client does not send a certificate request (
ServerCertificateIssuerCommonNameis configured in a configuration profile whereas strongSwan does not send certificates without it with the default value of
connections.<conn>.send_cert = ifasked. Therefore explictly set
connections.<conn>.send_cert = always.
At least macOS clients require that the IKEv2 ID of the server is contained in the CN field of the server certificate’s DN, as well as a
subjectAltName(SAN) value. Since iOS 13 and macOS 10.15 a SAN is required. The CN field is not relevant anymore. Additionally, the
TLS Server Authenticationflag has to be set in the server certificate (use
If an IPv6 pool is specified in connections.<conn>.pools,
local_tsmust include a default IPv6 route (
::/0) or no routes will be correctly added.
Under certain hibernation-related conditions, macOS clients may forget a CHILD_SA without closing it. Setting a short
dpd_delaycan clear these SAs before the waking client builds another CHILD_SA and thus aid in retaining the same virtual IP address.
Split-DNS can be implemented for iOS 10.3.1 and newer with the
INTERNAL_DNS_DOMAINattribute and the
INTERNAL_IP6_DNSattributes. Support for macOS isn’t known at the moment. For older versions, all traffic has to be tunneled (full-tunnel). However, the latter doesn’t work for any application because none honor scoped DNS servers. A magic number for the
INTERNAL_DNS_DOMAINhas been assigned by IANA and is supported by iOS 10.3.1 and newer. Alternatively the DNS domains can be supplied in the client configuration.
Assigning DNS servers without full-tunnel can only be achieved by sending an
INTERNAL_DNS_DOMAINto the responder (for iOS 10.3.1 and newer) or by supplying it in the client configuration.
iOS and MacOS support EAP-MSCHAPv2, EAP-TLS, but not EAP-GTC
Since iOS 8 (but not macOS 10.10) IKEv2 is natively supported on Apple clients. For such devices the IKEv2 configuration examples for roadwarrior responders or the Windows IKEv2 configurations can be used.
Unfortunately Apple has not yet updated the GUI, so IKEv2 connections have to be installed with a custom configuration profile.
The domain name or IP address of the server (strongSwan VPN gateway) MUST be
contained either in the
subjectDistinguishedName (DN) of the server certificate
C=CH, O=strongSwan, CN=vpn.strongswan.org
or in a
subjectAltName extension that can be added with the OpenSSL option
subjectAltName = DNS:vpn.strongswan.org
where in the above cases
vpn.strongswan.org must exactly match the value
entered in the Server field of the iOS client configuration.
If the certificate contains any
subjectAltNames at all, one of them must
match that value (a matching DN is not enough in this case).
macOS appears to require the hostname/address as a
subjectAltName. To support
versions before 10.7.4, the certificate must contain the
Extended Key Usage (EKU) flag.
When using IKEv2 with EAP authentication (username/password) the CA certificate is required on the clients to verify the server certificate. If a certificate issued by CA that the clients already trust is used, e.g. one by Let’s Encrypt, nothing has to be installed on the clients.
When using certificates to authenticate the clients, with either IKE version, the clientsneed a certificate and a private key packaged in a PKCS#12 container in addition to the CA certificate.
These files can either be placed on a web server for download to a client device
using Safari or sent to it via email. Although the PKCS#12 file may also include
the CA certificate, not all Apple clients will use it so it must usually be
installed separately. On iOS devices the installed certificates will reside under
Settings > General > Profiles.
For macOS open
Keychain.app and import the PKCS#12 (or CA certificate) file
into the System keychain (not login), then mark as Always Trusted. If you’re
running into trouble with the negotiation, make sure that in the Access Control
tab of the private key, all applications are allowed to access it.
|At least on macOS 10.10 this seems not to be a problem anymore.
Both iOS and macOS trigger an ISAKMP reauthentication after a tunnel is up for about 45 minutes. When using XAuth, strongSwan requests username/password during ISAKMP reauthentication. The native client in some versions of macOS and iOS does not expect that and deletes the ISAKMP SA upon that request. In some versions it was caused by the client’s inability to access the password originally used for XAuth authentication when reauthenticating the SA.
strongSwan insists on redoing XAuth during ISAKMP reauth. There is no cryptographic binding between the old and the new ISAKMP SA, so an attacker can take over a tunnel easily without knowledge of the XAuth password. One could argue that the client RSA private key is sufficient to validate the client, but it then makes no sense to use an additional username/password to authenticate the client in the first place. Additionally, some scenarios consider the client private key as public knowledge, and rely solely on the XAuth exchange, which is encrypted under a session securely authenticated by the server certificate.
One feasible solution is to use the
plugin. It uses a fake XAuth exchange by sending just a success message which the
client also accepts during ISAKMP reauthentication. This implies that no password
is required during the initial setup but only the client RSA private key is used
for authentication. The preferred solution is to use IKEv2.
macOS seems to be unable to deal with responder initiated IKEv2 reauthentications if certificate authentication is used. If the responder tries to reauthenticate the IKE_SA, the initiator (macOS) will fail to reauthenticate itself, finally leading to the IKE_SA being deleted when it expires according to its lifetime. In order to work around the issue, reauthentication has to be turned off on the responder (it is disabled by default):
connections.<conn>.reauth_time = 0
To collect IKEv2 logs on macOS, use the
process:NEIKEv2Provider search filter
Logs can also be viewed or followed in Terminal with the following commands:
log show --predicate 'process == "NEIKEv2Provider"' log stream --predicate 'process == "NEIKEv2Provider"'