Windows update introduces VPN issue, forcing admins to pick between security and functionality

Windows 11 Update Windowsupdate Estimate New Dark
Windows 11 Update Windowsupdate Estimate New Dark (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • January 2022's Windows OS Patch Tuesday brought with it a plethora of security updates for both Windows 11 and Windows 10.
  • The cumulative updates seemingly have the unintended side effect of breaking some users' L2TP VPNs.
  • The only fix right now is to uninstall the recent cumulative updates, though that'll expose you to the security risks said updates were designed to patch.

In case you missed it, January 2022's Patch Tuesday came and went, bringing with it fresh updates for Windows 11 and Windows 10. But while the updates helped alleviate Windows of numerous vulnerabilities, they've also had the unforeseen consequence of borking some PC users' VPN connections.

Windows admins over on Reddit are reporting the issue affects SonicWall and WatchGuard connections, among others (via BleepingComputer). The message users get hit with when attempting connections reads "the L2TP connection attempt failed because the security layer encountered a processing error during initial negotiations with the remote computer."

It's worth noting this unintended side effect of Patch Tuesday isn't affecting all VPN users. Rather, it's seeming to hit those using Windows' built-in VPN client.

The fix, for the time being, is straightforward, though it doesn't come from Microsoft. It's the simple strategy of uninstalling KB5009543 and KB5008876 and living without their security updates until patches come along that don't mess with VPN connections. You can uninstall the updates with an elevated command prompt. There's also a PowerShell method.

Some users are reporting issues with uninstalling the updates, saying Windows won't let them or that the updates are automatically reapplied after they're initially uninstalled.

For those who've yet to download the cumulative updates but fear for their VPN connections' stability, the question boils down to whether you want to live without the cumulative updates' numerous vulnerability fixes until Microsoft takes official action.

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1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).

2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.

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Robert Carnevale

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to