Monday, February 12, 2018

Cisco Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) in GNS3 part 2

Video Only Post

In this quick part two video, I cover some basic recommendations for organizing your access control policy and add a couple base rules in. I'll also cover how we can create IPS policies, and apply them to access control entries, within our access control policy (ACP).

As promised, updated custom GNS3 icons, linked here.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Windows Server in GNS3

*UPDATE* After tinkering around with Spice and QXL VGA driver, I've found that increases performance exponentially as well. Update highlighted below.

How I get a Windows guest running smoothly in GNS3 using virtIO drivers, sysprep, and creating a linked base.

This can be especially useful for testing FirePOWER services, integrating Active Directory, or just having a jump host living inside your GNS3 labs. Leveraging a local GNS3 Windows guest provides ease of use for these tasks, and can provide adequate separation between your local network and your lab typologies. Here are some useful download links (provided in video description as well).

Windows Trials:

VirtIO Drivers:

Spice Guest Drivers

GNS3 Additional Settings:

These additional options, referenced and demonstrated in the video above, help smooth out issues with Window's clock (assuming your GNS3 is using the correct timezone, and it's local clock is correct), and issues with touch pad users (e.g. running GNS3 gui on your laptop).

-nographic -usbdevice tablet -vga qxl -rtc base=localtime

GNS3 Custom Icons

I've had some requests for my custom GNS3 icons. As of this posting, I don't see any (legal) reason preventing me from sharing these, link below.

Enjoy, and lab on.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Cisco Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) in GNS3 part 1

If you're like me, then the best way to learn something new is to get your hands dirty. Get some lab gear, boot devices up, and try different scenarios.

This is as true (if not more) with Cisco's Next-Generation Firewall, Firepower (FirePOWER?) Threat Defense. Lucky for us, at least those of us with valid CCO accounts, there are virtual appliances for both FTD as well as the Management Center available for download. Even better, you can enable 90-day trial licensing to test most of the features and there are KVM appliances available making it even easier to run them on a GNS3 Server. While there are appliances available for download from the GNS3 marketplace, I found it easier to just build my own custom images. Again, the qcow2 images are available for download from Cisco. That said, below I'll list what I'm using for this lab and some screenshots of my settings in GNS3. *RECOMMENDATION* Try to use virtIO devices/drivers where and whenever possible (especially if you plan on using a Windows Server GNS3 guest). If you've never built a windows guest in GNS3, the downloads for virtIO drivers are here. Just like if you were installing Windows Server and didn't have the drivers for your paritcular RAID controller, you'll need to make those drivers available during install (i.e. with a GNS3 floppy device or a second DVD drive in your guest).

Devices in this Lab

(1) Firepower Management Center Virtual for KVM (FMCv)
(1) Windows 2012 R2 Server (used as domain controller later, and jumphost now)
(1) Virtual switch (CumulusOS for me, but IOSvL2 or the Etherswitch module works fine)
(1) Ubuntu 16.04
(2) Firepower Threat Defense Virtual for KVM (FTDv)

Windows Server Settings
Firepower Mgmt Center Settings
Firepower Threat Defense Settings

Lab Topology


Das Lab

The goal of this post is to get (2) FTDs registered to a management center, configure basic IP addressing, fail over, NAT, and routing. Follow along, start to finish, with the video at the end of this post.

For this lab, I have (2) VLANs on my switch, VLAN19 and VLAN10. The first, VL19 is used as routed segment for the inside interfaces of my firewalls. The second, VL10 is used as the LAN subnet for my hosts. On VL10, I have my management center, a windows 2012 server, Ubuntu 16.04, and both management interfaces of the FTDs. The management interface in Firepower sits in a separate control plane area. It has its own routing table, and access control. It cannot be used for forwarding traffic, and is used for communicating with the management center. To get started, lets power everything on and walkaway for a while. The initial boot of the FMC will take sometime (~30min), watching the console you'll notice it seems to progress along rather quickly until it gets to 'usbcore: registered new interface driver usb-storage'. This is normal, and again it will hang here for around 30min. After it finally boots you're welcomed to a basic console login prompt. Default credentials are admin/Admin123.

After logging in, unless you've worked with Linux before, you're probably breaking into a cold sweat. 'JON?! WHERE IS MY CONTEXT-SENSITIVE HELP?!' Easy there tiger, we wont have to spend too long here. The default IP is, so we have two options. We can (1) configure our interface to be in the subnet to reach the startup page, or (2) we can assign a new IP here then use the new IP to reach the startup page. Let's assign a new IP like so:

sudo vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0
Password: Admin123

sudo ifdown eth0
sudo ifup eth0 

If you've never used VI text editor in Linux before, you might Google some basic VI commands. For me, I'm taking my cursor down to "IP=", pressing Ctrl+A, backspacing over that IP then entering my desired IP I then used the arrow keys to take my cursor to the 'BROADCAST=' and modified accordingly also. Once I'm done, I press 'Esc' on my keyboard and type ":wq!" which means to write file and quit VI. If you make a mistake and want to start over, do ":q!" instead, which just means quit. After that, I used ifdown to bring the interface down, and ifup to bring it backup now with it's new IP. After that, off to the WebUI. 

Here you'll really REALLY want that Windows Server, or some jump host available. Mine has two NICs, one connected into the same virtual switch as the rest of my GNS3 gear, and another (with no default gateway) bridged to my local LAN so I can RDP to it. Alternatively, feel free to use VNC and any other client OS with a browser to navigate to From here, after bypassing the security warning about the certificate used, you'll see a friendly one sheet setup. Populate according to your lab, however in mine the IP is with a gateway of and DNS server of my Windows jump host I'd skip both rule updates and geolocation updates for now and complete the setup. From here we only have a few more steps, that I'll cover in more detail in the video below:

  • On the FTDs, login with admin/Admin123
  • Accept EULA
  • Run through basic/guided setup
    • This is assigning a management IP to your FTD(s). I'm using and
  • When prompted, chose routed mode (over transparent mode)
  • Once setup is complete use the "configure manager add" syntax to setup the connection to your FMC.
    • In my example I used > configure manager add casd234
    • casd234 is the registration key and this has to match when we complete the setup on the FMC
  • Go to Devices>Device Management>Add>Add Device
    • Enter IP address of your first FTD (mine is as the Host
    • Enter a Display Name (I used FTDv1)
    • Enter Registration Key (casd234 for me)
    • Select an Access Control Policy (I used create new, and set the default action to Network Discovery).
To avoid this post (and future FTD posts) from becoming a short novel, I'll link a video below that shows these setup steps in action and explains them in a little more detail. Unfortunately, as with anything GUI related, it's a little harder for me to give precise directions in a post. Since my options are either 100s of screenshots, vague explanations of what buttons to click, or to just make a video. 


Friday, November 24, 2017

Adjusting to Firepower Threat Defense

I wanted to do a quick post today about Cisco's Firepower Threat Defense. As I'm sure most of you know, this platform is moving to (eventually) replace the ASA code we all know and love. It's not quite there yet with some features missing that are keeping some from converting. Most notably is AnyConnect for remote access VPN. While true that in FTD 6.2.2 we do finally have support for AnyConnect, it's missing a lot of features (Client-less SSL, Posturing, and custom profiles for AMP and Umbrella deployments to name a few). However; if all you need is a head-end for AnyConnect clients FTD works just fine. In future posts I'll talk about deploying FTD, specific configuration task, and some of the really nice integration we get with Cisco ISE. However this post is going to be geared a little more towards those who currently work with ASA and how day-to-day work with FTD is similar and more importantly where it differs. So let's dive in (obligatory gif coming)!

Configuration Changes

This is by far the biggest difference coming from ASA. In ASA-land, most of us are either making changes line-by-line in the CLI or, if you hate having a clean and legible config, using ASDM. With FTD you have two options for deployment that will directly influence how you interact with your firewall(s). 
  • Option 1 is to use the Firepower Management Center. This comes in both virtual and hardware appliance flavors. The FMC is designed to manage policies across multiple Firepower devices, but can be used to manage a single device. This option provides the most features, and most complete Firepower experience. You'll deploy your management center, and via the management interface on the FTD, register the FTD with the FMC. 
  • Option 2 is to use the onboard Firepower Device Manager (FDM). After giving your FTD a management IP address, you'll connect directly to the management IP via web browser to make all configuration changes. As of 6.2.2, some of the limitations you'll find with FTD are as follows:
    • No dynamic routing
    • Limited Identity policy options (AD integration for identity based access control). Limited in that you can only do active authentication, meaning the user is redirected to a Web Portal and has to sign-on.
    • IPS and AMP policies are static/prebuilt policies that can't be tweaked.
    • No Etherchannel 
I will say this about FDM though, what it lacks in features is makes up for in appearance. See for yourself. 

Firepower Management Console

Firepower Device Manager

So it's from here that you'll configure your access-lists, NAT, Interface addressing, etc, etc. Which brings us to another difference. In Firepower changes are not made in real time (contrary to those of us who use CLI heavily with ASA). Instead, you'll make whatever changes you intend on, then click "Deploy" to actually push/apply those changes to your Firepower device. This CAN be a little slow. If you're practicing with a virtual FTD (which I highly recommend) deployments can take less than a minute. However if you're working with a physical firewall, they may take several minutes to complete. My 5506-X for example, on average, takes ~2 1/2 minutes. 

Packet Processing & ACLs

In ASA we have a concept of security levels. Out of the box behavior is that traffic from higher security levels is allowed to lower security levels, but not vice versa. This concept goes away in FTD. In FTD we have "Security Zones" which are essentially tags we use in policy configuration, and they don't have any other inherent properties that I'm aware of (no more nameif inside = security-level 100). So we need to be explicit about what traffic is allowed from what zone to what destination zone. Which brings me to the next big difference, ACLs. In ASA we have the option of per-interface ACL. You create an access-list specifically for, say, traffic coming from the outside interface inbound. This is another concept that's largely gone in FTD. Instead, we have an ACL applied globally (which you could do in ASA, but would normally be in conjunction with per-Interface ACLs).  This isn't as cumbersome as it sounds though, so long as you're smart about creating your ACEs, we can create rule categories within our access control policies that help us keep things organized. Important to note as well, within the Access Control Policy (ACP), it's processed top to bottom, just like traditional ACLs. So keep that in mind when building out separate rule categories.

ACP Rule Category Example

NAT and ACL; here's where we find some common ground. Just like on ASA 8.3+, ACLs are processed POST NAT. That means, like in the example above, if you have a Web Server being translated through your FTD, access control rules for allowing access to the Web Server need to specify the private/real IP of the server. Not the NAT IP. 

The Command Line

Is. Not. Dead. Rejoice my CLI junkies. Rejoice. While it can't be used for configuration, if you're like me and have honed your troubleshooting skills on the ASA CLI... those skills aren't lost on FTD. Regardless of if you go the FMC or FDT route for deployment, can you can still SSH to the management IP (or console in you like) the Firewall itself and have full access ASA style commands. The shell does look different, but commands do indeed work. For example, lets look at output from a couple troubleshooting commands.

> show version 
-------------------[ LAB-HQ-FW1 ]--------------------
Model                     : Cisco Firepower Threat Defense for KVM (75) Version 6.1.0 (Build 330)
UUID                      : 260e3aee-ce59-11e7-a99a-a6e8d2e44557
Rules update version      : 2017-11-20-002-vrt
VDB version               : 270
> show conn
5 in use, 44 most used

UDP inside outside, idle 0:00:01, bytes 96, flags - N
UDP inside outside, idle 0:01:53, bytes 96, flags - N
> show running-config 
: Saved

: Serial Number: {omitted}
: Hardware:   ASAv, 8192 MB RAM, CPU Pentium II 2660 MHz, 1 CPU (4 cores)
NGFW Version 6.1.0 
hostname firepower
enable password {omitted} encrypted

interface GigabitEthernet0/0
 nameif outside
 cts manual
  propagate sgt preserve-untag
  policy static sgt disabled trusted
 security-level 0
 ip address dhcp setroute 
interface GigabitEthernet0/1
 nameif inside
 cts manual
  propagate sgt preserve-untag
  policy static sgt disabled trusted
 security-level 0
 ip address 
interface GigabitEthernet0/2
 no nameif
 no security-level
 no ip address
interface Management0/0
 nameif diagnostic
 cts manual
  propagate sgt preserve-untag
  policy static sgt disabled trusted
 security-level 0
 no ip address
ftp mode passive
ngips conn-match vlan-id
dns domain-lookup diagnostic
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ remark rule-id 9998: PREFILTER POLICY: Default Tunnel and Priority Policy
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ remark rule-id 9998: RULE: DEFAULT TUNNEL ACTION RULE
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ advanced permit ipinip any any rule-id 9998 
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ advanced permit 41 any any rule-id 9998 
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ advanced permit gre any any rule-id 9998 
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ advanced permit udp any eq 3544 any range 1025 65535 rule-id 9998 
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ advanced permit udp any range 1025 65535 any eq 3544 rule-id 9998 
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ remark rule-id 268434432: ACCESS POLICY: LAB_DEFAULT - Default/1
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ remark rule-id 268434432: L4 RULE: DEFAULT ACTION RULE
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ advanced permit ip any any rule-id 268434432 
[omitted for brevity]
nat (inside,outside) after-auto source dynamic any interface description NERD Default NAT
access-group CSM_FW_ACL_ global
router ospf 1
 network area
 no nsf cisco helper
 no nsf ietf helper
 no capability opaque
 no capability lls
 default-information originate
> show ospf neighbor 

Neighbor ID     Pri   State           Dead Time   Address         Interface        1   FULL/BDR        0:00:32     inside
> packet-tracer input inside tcp 80 80

Phase: 1
Result: ALLOW
Implicit Rule
Additional Information:
MAC Access list

Phase: 2
Subtype: Resolve Egress Interface
Result: ALLOW
Additional Information:
found next-hop using egress ifc  outside

Phase: 3
Subtype: log
Result: ALLOW
access-group CSM_FW_ACL_ global
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ advanced permit ip any any rule-id 268434432 
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ remark rule-id 268434432: ACCESS POLICY: LAB_DEFAULT - Default/1
access-list CSM_FW_ACL_ remark rule-id 268434432: L4 RULE: DEFAULT ACTION RULE
Additional Information:
 This packet will be sent to snort for additional processing where a verdict will be reached

Phase: 4
Result: ALLOW
class-map class-default
 match any
policy-map global_policy
 class class-default
  set connection advanced-options UM_STATIC_TCP_MAP
service-policy global_policy global
Additional Information:

Phase: 5
Type: NAT
Result: ALLOW
nat (inside,outside) after-auto source dynamic any interface description LAB Default NAT
Additional Information:
Dynamic translate to

Phase: 6
Type: NAT
Subtype: per-session
Result: ALLOW
Additional Information:

Phase: 7
Result: ALLOW
Additional Information:

Phase: 8
Type: NAT
Subtype: rpf-check
Result: ALLOW
nat (inside,outside) after-auto source dynamic any interface description LAB Default NAT
Additional Information:

Phase: 9
Type: NAT
Subtype: per-session
Result: ALLOW
Additional Information:

Phase: 10
Result: ALLOW
Additional Information:

Phase: 11
Result: ALLOW
Additional Information:
New flow created with id 73360, packet dispatched to next module

input-interface: inside
input-status: up
input-line-status: up
output-interface: outside
output-status: up
output-line-status: up
Action: allow

You get the idea. It's all there. You can look access-list hits, check on IKEv1 or IKEv2 security associations or look at IPsec SAs. Which was welcome news for me, however if you're a GUI user... fear not lol. These tools are indeed available in the Management Center. In 6.1 they're a bit limited and can be accessed from System > Health > Monitor. Then clicking on the firewall you want to execute these commands on, and selecting advanced troubleshooting. In 6.2 they've built these tools up a pretty good deal, and can now be accessed from Devices > Device Management and selecting the icon for Advanced Troubleshooting.

Firepower 6.1 Advanced Troubleshooting

Firepower 6.2 Advanced Troubleshooting

Different, but "good" different?

First off, I want to acknowledge that I didn't cover a lot of things in this post. That was intentional though. Firepower brings to the table some absolutely amazing (and much needed) features. Features like SNORT IPS, Advanced Malware Protection (AMP), URL and Application Filtering. In future posts I'll share my thoughts on these features, but spoiler alert - I love them lol. That said, as an ASA fanboy and CLI junkie I'm surprised how much I like working with FTD. I do leverage my ASA style troubleshooting, which makes the transition significantly easier. All that changes from a troubleshooting perspective with FTD is how your react when you discover configuration issues. Instead of adding/removing some lines from the config, now we're going into our management console (be it FDM or FMC) to make those changes. I thought this would be disruptive to my work flow, or maybe it would fundamentally slow me down... but it doesn't. At least until I click "Deploy" on my changes lol. Well, that's all for this post. Again, in future posts I hope to cover deploying an FTD from scratch and working with some of the NGFW features that set this platform apart. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Protect The LAN: IPv6 RA Guard

So while nerding on YouTube, one of my favorite YouTubers Quidsup did a demonstration of using Kali Linux to perform a pretty nifty denial of service attack against Windows 10. The attack has some minor caveats, but none the less is dangerous and relatively easy to pull off. It works by flooding the connected network segment with IPv6 router advertisements (RA). IPv6 RAs assist in stateless autoconfiguration, so that IPv6 hosts on the network can assign themselves an IP, and can also carry default router information. However, since hosts can have multiple IPv6 addresses, Windows ends up trying to autoconfigure an IPv6 address for every RA is receives. This results in pretty hefty CPU spikes, as well as the NIC being completely unresponsive. However; Cisco has a pretty neat little trick we can implement on our access layer switches to mitigate these types of attacks. Based on the title of this blog, I'm sure you guessed what that feature is; RA Guard.

I like to think of RA Guard as being somewhat akin to DHCP snooping. We build a policy, assign said policy to switch ports, and RA Guard will drop unauthorized RAs. The configuration is fairly straight forward, but seeing the difference it can make when implemented is impressive. See video below :-).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

CCIE status suspended (but then got it back)

So that happened. Now, I know what some of you are thinking based on the title of this post alone.

That's fair. The truth of the matter is, 2yrs sneaks up on you (or at least snuck up on me) really fast. After I passed the lab in 2015, all I wanted in the world was a break. At that point, not many days had gone by that I hadn't thought of, talked about, or studied for my route switch lab. While I love R/S, and find the technologies incredibly interesting, it just isn't my only interest. Not even within the technology field. There were so many other things I wanted to learn, and to be honest... a lot of video games, TV shows, and general lounging about I felt I had missed out on.

Immediately after passing the lab, I sought to do (2) things. First and foremost, catch up on some seriously overdue slacking off time. I bought video games. So many games. I wanted to watch every TV show I had casually overheard co-workers or friends talking about. Secondly, I wanted to start learning something new. Not necessarily to the degree of a CCIE, but just something different. After a few months went by, I started feeling the itch to start working on something new. At that time I was really struggling to find something to scratch that itch. I felt like I didn't want to recertify in R/S, but if not R/S then what?

Data Center

Data Center... DataCenter... Data Centre? I didn't care, I had deployed a handful of Nexus switches. I thought (and still think) VPC and FabricPath were pretty cool. However after a few months, I started realizing that I was interested quite enough to justify going much further with it. That's not to say I'm ruling out CCNP DC, just I didn't see going after the DC written a path forward.

Service Provider

Oh SP, how much I still wish I could have made this make sense for me. It gets all my nerd juices going. For me studying SP was like all my favorite parts of R/S, but on steroids. MPLS is hands down one of my favorite topics, so from an interest level, this made perfect sense. However, after 6 months or so (yeah... 6 months lol), I started realizing that it didn't make much practical sense. I love the technology, but when would I ever get to use this knowledge? I don't work with ISPs often, and I have zero interest in working full time for one. I do work with large enterprise networks that run MPLS internally on occasion, but the R/S material is more than sufficient to support that. So that left me wondering if I could find something I both found interesting and had practical career applications.


The upsides, I was already pretty versed on the ASA and IOS security measures. The downsides. at this time Security v5 had been announced and I knew that I couldn't wait for v5 to be released (January 31st 2017) because there's no way material for that exam would be out in enough time for me to prepare for the written before my number expired April 1st 2017. That left me with a narrow window to learn v4 of the lab (which had a fair bit of older technology). But I decided to go for it, I'd spend 3-4 months prepping for v4  security written, and make my first attempt in December of 2016. My thinking there, that would give me enough time to reasonably be ready for the test, but also enough time that if I failed I could retake before Cisco retired the exam.

Bad News Bears.

I wasn't ready for the v4 written in December, and I only had enough time for (1) retake before the exam retired. Which I also failed lol. Meaning there was no choice to keep my number in active status aside from taking the written for R/S. However, in February I decided I wouldn't do that. I figured "Who cares, I'll let my number go into suspended status until I can pass the v5 security written." Well, turns out I care. The day I got the email from saying CCIE status was now suspended I instantly freaked out. Really really hard.

Routing & Switching

So after a couple weeks of getting back up to speed on R/S written material (c'mon, like you expect me to work with IS-IS and Multicast routing everyday), I sat for my R/S written last Friday and passed. It was a bitter sweet moment, on the one hand I got my number back in active status, and all the perks that come with that. On the other hand, I felt like I spent my first two years as an IE spinning my tires. So what now? Security, I'm coming for you. As for this blog, I'm back here as well. Focused on R/S, SP, and Security technologies just like before. 

In keeping with my ususal standard of blogging, I'm not proof reading this post until much much later. Have fun grammar Nazis. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I'm Alive!!

Just thought that'd be worth sharing... I guess. CCIE Security studies have been consuming most of my time. However, I'm just about at the point where I can publish some stuff. I've had drafts for my FlexVPN with dynamic spoke-to-spoke tunnels sitting in draft for months now. So that'll likely come first, after that I may get into some FirePOWER posts.