If you are a user of both Windows 10 and a VPN, you might have been in something of a panic this weekend having read this article on Forbes which suggests that there are major problems afoot after the latest Windows software update.
Classic scaremongering from Forbes
In it, Forbes’s senior contributor on Consumer Affairs, Gordon Kelly warns that as many as 50 million Windows 10 users could be affected by a new bug in Microsoft’s latest update.
The bug could cause Windows 10’s Remote Access Connection Manager (RASMAN) to stop working and that, according to Forbes could have serious repercussions for VPN users.
Kelly states that RASMAN is a core background task for VPNs to function normally. The bug only affects users Windows 10 version 1903 but according to Kelly, that means at least 50 million people could be affected.
It sounds serious, so it is worth taking a closer look at why it isn’t.
Firstly, Forbes is a part Chinese-owned website and this has in recent times impacted on their editorial approach. The Communist regime is opposed to VPNs so it should come as little surprise to see Forbes writing articles which undermine confidence in them
Their journalistic approach also leaves a bit to be desired. The way Forbes works is to take content from contributors on a freelance basis and reward them depending on how many clicks they get. This approach inevitably encourages clickbait articles, which is exactly what this is.
The title of senior contributor simply means that Gordon Kelly has submitted more articles than other contributors. It does not mean he brings any level of experience or expertise to the table.
At the time of writing, this article has had more than 490,000 clicks which is good news for both the author and Forbes. The accuracy of the content of the article is a secondary consideration to both and, in the case of this article, that is abundantly clear.
A litany of half-truths and inaccuracies
The truth is that this article is deeply misleading. Kelly doesn’t link to the actual Microsoft support article explaining the problem and with good reason. He is implying the problem is far more serious than it is.
Firstly, the problem only applies to Windows 10 PCs running version 1903 where the diagnostic data level setting is manually configured to the non-default setting of 0. This setting can only be applied on Window 10 Enterprise and users would have to either manually edit the registry or use group policy on corporate networks.
It is also worth noting that Windows 10 version 1903 has not yet been fully approved for business use because it is young and might include bugs… like this one.
That already means that it cannot affect 99.9% of the Windows 10 users Kelly says could be impacted. Indeed, the chances are it doesn’t affect anyone.
For the handful that could possibly be affected, they would also have to have an Always On VPN (AOVPN) connection. This is something Microsoft Windows Server 2016 introduced and which, again, requires a significant amount of manual setup.
AOVPN setup has been widely criticized by experts. As a result, the chances of anyone fulfilling both of these criteria is pretty much zero. We are ready to stand corrected if anyone reading this thinks they might be affected.
Fix on the way
In the concluding section of his article, Gordon Kelly states that “Microsoft has listed a complex workaround, but no timeframe has been announced for an actual fix.”
If you have managed to manually configure your data diagnostic level to zero and set up an AOVPN connection, the chances are it isn’t all that complex to you.
But it is a simple falsehood to state that Microsoft has not announced a timeframe for a fix. At the bottom of their statement, it clearly states, “We are working on a resolution and estimate a solution will be available in late July.”
That means the problem will be resolved, at the latest, in just a few weeks’ time.
The whole Forbes article is deeply misleading and an example of the worst kind of fake news and online scaremongering that is becoming more and more common these days. Sadly, Forbes, which was once a fine portal, is guilty of more than its fair share.
Regular VPN users have nothing to worry about from this Microsoft update issue. Indeed, the chances are that nobody has.
But as Kelly’s article approaches half a million clicks, that is no concern of either him or Forbes.