Skip to main content
Last updated: 22 Aug 2022

GOV.UK and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

VPN between AWS and UKCloud for Licensify Civica payment status requests

There’s a VPN between AWS Production (only) and UKCloud Production which exists only as a workaround for routing certain requests from Licensify to Civica, one of Licensify’s payment gateways. This is undesirable and recorded as GOV.UK Tech Debt.

If this VPN is down:

  • The check_uk_cloud_vpn_up alert will fire in Icinga.
  • HTTP(S) requests from Licensify to Civica will originate from our AWS NAT gateways instead of UKCloud. This means the source IP address will fail to match Civica’s IP-based access control lists.
  • Civica will start returning 403 Access Denied instead of 200 OK to Licensify and to the probe which triggers the vpn-down alert.
  • Users who are paying for licence applications to certain licencing authorities will still be able to complete their application but the last step of their journey will display a message saying “We have received your application, but were unable to confirm payment with the authority.” (source)
  • The page still gives the user a reference number for their transaction and asks the user to contact the licencing authority to confirm that they have received the payment.
  • Payments will still be processed as normal. The only difference is that Licensify is unable to tell the user whether the payment went through or not.
  • Only those licencing authorities which use Civica as their payment processor are affected. This is a small but significant minority.
  • Licencing authorities who do not use Civica are not affected.

Troubleshooting Steps

Troubleshooting steps (aim is to switch off and on the VPN):

  1. Go to Production Skyscape portal, the credentials are in GOV.UK 2ndline Pass under: ukcloud/portal. If you are out of the office or on GovWifi, you will need to connect to the GDS VPN first.
  2. Once you logged in, you have to log into the Production organization by selecting: VMWARE CLOUD and then GOV.UK Production. You will be asked for the password again.
  3. In the Production organization, go to the GOV.UK Management virtual datacenter.
  4. Click edges in the left column to bring the list of edges.
  5. Click on the GOV.UK Management edges in the right main frame and Services above it.
  6. In the pop-up window, click on VPN in the menu bar and then IPsec VPN Sites
  7. In the list of VPN sites, select UKC Licensify to AWS VPN and click on the edit icon above.
  8. In the new pop-up window, turn the VPN off by toggling the enable switch and clicking KEEP
  9. The pop-up window will disappear and you need to click save changes in put into effect the VPN being now disabled.
  10. Wait a few minutes and repeat step 7-9 to re-enable the VPN again.