Tag Archives: Palo Alto Networks

Route- vs. Policy-Based VPN Tunnels

There are two methods of site-to-site VPN tunnels: route-based and policy-based. While some of you may already be familiar with this, some may have never heard of it. Some firewalls only implement one of these types, so you probably don’t have a chance to configure the other one anyway. Too bad since route-based VPNs have many advantages over policy-based ones which I will highlight here.

I had many situations in which network admins did not know the differences between those two methods and simply configured “some kind of” VPN tunnel regardless of any methodology. In this blogpost I am explaining the structural differences between them along with screenshots of common firewalls. I am explaining all advantages of route-based VPNs and listing a table comparing some firewalls regarding their VPN features.

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File Blocking Shootout – Palo Alto vs. Fortinet

We needed to configure the Internet-facing firewall for a customer to block encrypted files such as protected PDF, ZIP, or Microsoft Office documents. We tested it with two next-generation firewalls, namely Fortinet FortiGate and Palo Alto Networks. The experiences were quite different…

TL;DR: While Fortinet is able to block encrypted files, Palo Alto fails since it does not identify encrypted office documents!

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Palo Alto policy-deny though Action allow

I came across some strange behaviors on a Palo Alto Networks firewall: Certain TLS connections with TLS inspection enabled did not work. Looking at the traffic log the connections revealed an Action of “allow” but of Type “deny” with Session End Reason of “policy-deny”. What?

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Notes regarding Palo Alto HA2 Session Sync

Just a quick note concerning the session sync on a Palo Alto Networks firewall cluster: Don’t trust the green HA2 bubble on the HA widget since it is always “Up” as long as the HA interface is up. It does NOT indicate whether the session sync is working or not. You MUST verify the session count on the passive unit to be sure. Here are some details:

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Palo Alto Application: First Packets Will Pass!

I am using an almost hidden FTP server in my DMZ behind a Palo Alto Networks firewall. FTP is only allowed from a few static IP addresses, hence no brute-force attacks on my server. Furthermore, I have an “allow ping and traceroute from any to DMZ” policy since ping is no security flaw but really helpful while troubleshooting.

Now, here comes the point: My FTP server logfile showed dozens of connections from many different IP addresses from the Internet. WHAT? For the first moment I was really shocked. Have I accidentally exposed my FTP server to the Internet? Here is what happened:

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Generating SSHFP Records Remotely

Until now I generated all SSHFP resource records on the SSH destination server itself via ssh-keygen -r <name>. This is quite easy when you already have an SSH connection to a standard Linux system. But when connecting to third party products such as routers, firewalls, whatever appliances, you don’t have this option. Hence I searched and found a way to generate SSHFP resource records remotely. Here we go:

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IKEv2 IPsec VPN Tunnel Palo Alto <-> FortiGate

And one more IPsec VPN post, again between the Palo Alto Networks firewall and a Fortinet FortiGate, again over IPv6 but this time with IKEv2. It was no problem at all to change from IKEv1 to IKEv2 for this already configured VPN connection between the two different firewall vendors. Hence I am only showing the differences within the configuration and some listings from common CLI outputs for both firewalls.

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IPv6 IPsec VPN Tunnel Palo Alto <-> FortiGate

Towards the global IPv6-only strategy ;) VPN tunnels will be used over IPv6, too. I configured a static IPsec site-to-site VPN between a Palo Alto Networks and a Fortinet FortiGate firewall via IPv6 only. I am using it for tunneling both Internet Protocols: IPv6 and legacy IP.

While it was quite easy to bring the tunnel “up”, I had some problems tunneling both Internet Protocols over the single phase 2 session. The reason was some kind of differences within the IPsec tunnel handling between those two firewall vendors. Here are the details along with more than 20 screenshots and some CLI listings.

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Palo Alto NDP Monitoring

With PAN-OS version 8.0 Palo Alto Networks introduced another IPv6 feature, namely “NDP Monitoring for Fast Device Location“. It basically adds a few information to the existing neighbor cache such as the User-ID (if present) and a “last reported” timestamp. That is: the admin has a new reporting window within the Palo Alto GUI that shows the reported IPv6 addresses along with its MAC addresses. This is really helpful for two reasons: 1) a single IPv6 node can have multiple IPv6 addresses which makes it much more difficult to track them back to the MAC address and 2) if SLAAC is used you now have a central point where you can look up the MAC-IPv6 bindings (comparable to the DHCP server lease for legacy IPv4).

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PAN NGFW IPv6 NDP RA RDNSS & DNSSL

Haha, do you like acronyms as much as I do? This article is about the feature from Palo Alto Networks’ Next-Generation Firewall for Internet Protocol version 6 Neighbor Discovery Protocol Router Advertisements with Recursive Domain Name System Server and Domain Name System Search List options. ;) I am showing how to use it and how Windows and Linux react on it.

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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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