Tag Archives: Palo Alto Networks

Palo vs. Forti: Blog Stats

I want to talk about a fun fact concerning my blog statistics: Since a few years I have some “CLI troubleshooting commands” posts on my blog – one for the Palo Alto Networks firewall and another for the FortiGate firewall from Fortinet. If you are searching on Google for something like “palo alto cli commands” or “fortigate troubleshooting cli” my blog is always listed amongst the first 2-4 results.

But for some reasons the article for Fortinet has much more hits. I don’t know why but I have two different ideas. What do you think?

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Palo Alto Aggregate Interface w/ LACP

Since PAN-OS version 6.1 the Palo Alto Networks firewall supports LACP, the Link Aggregation Control Protocol which bundles physical links to a logical channel. Palo Alto calls it “Aggregate Interface Group” while Cisco calls it EtherChannel or Channel Group. I configured LACP for two ports connected from a Palo Alto firewall to a Cisco switch. Following are the configuration steps for both devices as well as some show commands.

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Palo Alto LLDP Neighbors

I just configured LLDP, the Link Layer Discovery Protocol, on a Palo Alto Networks firewall. What I really like about those firewalls is the completeness of configuration capabilities while the possibility to use it easily. Everything can be done via the GUI, even the view of neighbors/peers. Per default, only a few TLVs are sent by the Palo, but this can be extended by using LLDP profiles.

Following are a few configuration screenshots from the Palo as well as the config and show commands from a Cisco switch.

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Palo Alto PBF Problem

I migrated an old Juniper SSG ScreenOS firewall to a Palo Alto Networks firewall. While almost everything worked great with the Palo (of course with much more functionalities) I came across one case in which a connection did NOT work due to a bug on the Palo side. I investigated this bug with the support team from Palo Alto Networks and it turned out that it “works as designed”. Hm, I was not happy with this since I still don’t understand the design principle behind it.

However, it was a specific and not business critical case: One Palo Alto firewall with two ISP connections using a destination network address translation (DNAT, an old IPv4 problem) and policy based forwarding (PBF) with the same destination ports. Following are some more details:

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Palo Alto External Dynamic IP Lists

This is a cool and easy to use (security) feature from Palo Alto Networks firewalls: The External Dynamic Lists which can be used with some (free) 3rd party IP lists to block malicious incoming IP connections. In my case I am using two free IP lists to deny any connection from these sources coming into my network/DMZ. I am showing the configuration of such lists on the Palo Alto as well as some stats about it.

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Palo Alto Reporting

I wanted to configure a weekly email report on a Palo Alto Networks firewall. “Yes, no problem”, I thought. Well, it was absolutely not that easy. ;(

While the PAN firewalls have a great GUI and a good design at all they lack an easy-to-use email reporting function, especially when compared to the FortiGate firewalls which have a great local report feature. –> If you want some stats on a weekly basis you must configure it completely from scratch. Unluckily this is not that easy since you must pass several steps for that. Therefore, I drew an outline of the Palo Alto reporting stages to have an overview of them.

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Detect DNS Spoofing: dnstraceroute

Another great tool from Babak Farrokhi is dnstraceroute. It is part of the DNSDiag toolkit from which I already showed the dnsping feature. With dnstraceroute you can verify whether a DNS request is indeed answered by the correct DNS server destination or whether a man-in-the-middle has spoofed/hijacked the DNS reply. It works by using the traceroute trick by incrementing the TTL value within the IP header from 1 to 30.

Beside detecting malicious DNS spoofing attacks, it can also be used to verify security features such as DNS sinkholing. I am showing the usage as well as a test case for verifying a sinkhole feature.

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Palo Alto DNS Proxy Rule for Reverse DNS

I am using the DNS Proxy on a Palo Alto Networks firewall for some user subnets. Beside the default/primary DNS server it can be configured with proxy rules (sometimes called conditional forwarding) which I am using for reverse DNS lookups, i.e., PTR records, that are answered by a BIND DNS server. While it is easy and well-known to configure the legacy IP (IPv4) reverse records, the IPv6 ones are slightly more difficult. Fortunately there are some good tools on the Internet to help reversing IPv6 addresses.

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Palo Alto FQDN Objects

While I tested the FQDN objects with a Palo Alto Networks firewall, I ran into some strange behaviours which I could not reproduce, but have documented them. I furthermore tested the usage of FQDN objects with more than 32 IP addresses, which are the maximum that are supported due to the official Palo Alto documentation. Here we go:

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Using NetFlow with nProbe for ntopng

This blog post is about using NetFlow for sending network traffic statistics to an nProbe collector which forwards the flows to the network analyzer ntopng. It refers to my blog post about installing ntopng on a Linux machine. I am sending the NetFlow packets from a Palo Alto Networks firewall.

My current ntopng installation uses a dedicated monitoring ethernet port (mirror port) in order to “see” everything that happens in that net. This has the major disadvantage that it only gets packets from directly connected layer 2 networks and vlans. NetFlow on the other hand can be used to send traffic statistics from different locations to a NetFlow flow collector, in this case to the tool nProbe. This single flow collector can receive flows from different subnets and routers/firewalls and even VPN tunnel interfaces, etc. However, it turned out that the “real-time” functionalities of NetFlow are limited since it only refreshes flows every few seconds/bytes, but does not give a real-time look at the network. It should be used only for statistics but not for real-time troubleshooting.

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Palo Alto VPN Speedtests

Once more some throughput tests, this time the Palo Alto Networks firewalls site-to-site IPsec VPN. Similar to my VPN speedtests for the FortiGate firewall, I set up a small lab with two PA-200 firewalls and tested the bandwidth of different IPsec phase 2 algorithms. Compared to the official data sheet information from Palo Alto that state an IPsec VPN throughput of 50 Mbps, the results are really astonishing.

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Palo Alto IPv4 vs. IPv6 Performance Speedtests

After I have done some speedtests on the FortiGate firewall I was interested in doing the same tests on a Palo Alto. That is: What are the throughput differences of IPv4 vs. IPv6, measured with and without security profiles, i.e., with and without threat prevention.

It turned out that the throughput is much higher than the official information from Palo Alto. Furthermore, I was not able to test the threat prevention at all, because non of my traffic (Iperf and mere HTTP) went through the antivirus engines. I have to test this again. However, here are the measured values so far:

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