Category Archives: Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto High Availability Heartbeat

Beside the HA1 and HA2 interfaces on a Palo Alto Networks firewall, there are the HA1/HA2 Backup and Heartbeat Backup options. I was a bit confused while reading the documentation of the high availability instructions since it did not clearly specify when and where to use the dedicated management port for what kind of “backup”.

Basically, it should read that there are two different ways on how to use the dedicated management for a HA Backup: the heartbeat backup OR the HA1 backup.

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Firewall IPv6 Capabilities: Cisco, Forti, Juniper, Palo

Since IPv6 gets more and more important, I am using it by default on all my test firewalls, which of course support IPv6. However, when comparing the different functions and administration capabilities, they vary significantly.

Here comes my short evaluation of the IPv6 functions on the following four firewalls: Cisco ASA, Fortinet FortiGate, Juniper SSG, and Palo Alto.

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Palo Alto: DNS Proxy for Management Services

The Palo Alto firewall has a feature called DNS Proxy. Normally it is used for data plane interfaces so that clients can use the interfaces of the Palo for its recursive DNS server. Furthermore, this DNS Proxy Object can be used for the DNS services of the management plane, specified under Device -> Setup -> Services. However, there was a bug in PAN-OS that did not process the proxy rules and static entries when a DNS proxy object was used in the management plane. This bug was fixed in PAN-OS 6.0.0. I tested it in my lab with PAN-OS 6.1.0 running. Here are the successful results.

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Palo Alto: Save & Load Config through CLI

When working with Cisco devices anyone knows that the output of a “show running-config” on one device can be used to completely configure a new device. On a Palo Alto Networks firewall, this is not that obvious. There are several commands that must be used to achieve the same.

However, I tested this procedure a few times and it did NOT work. :( So, the short version is: If you want to replace a Palo Alto firewall, move your configuration files (xml) through the GUI or tftp/scp. But do not use the mere CLI.

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Palo Alto PANOS 6.1.2: No more SSLv3/POODLE

Another fixed issue in the just released PANOS version 6.1.2 from Palo Alto Networks is bug ID 71321: “Removed support for SSL 3.0 from the GlobalProtect gateway, GlobalProtect portal, and Captive Portal due to CVE-2014-3566 (POODLE).” I scanned my lab unit before (6.1.1) and after the OS upgrade (6.1.2) and here are the results.

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Minor Palo Alto Bug concerning IPv6 MGT

A few months ago I found a small bug in PAN-OS, the operating system from Palo Alto Networks. It is related to an IPv6 enabled management interface. The MGT address was not reachable when the firewall operates in layer 2 mode, that is, had layer 2 interfaces along with VLANs. Luckily, this bug is fixed with the new software version 6.1.2 which was released this week (bug ID 67719).

Following are a few listings that show the incomplete handling of the IPv6 neighbor cache of the MGT interface in the old version (pre 6.1.2).

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If only one DNS query is malicious …

… the whole Internet breaks down. So happened on a Palo Alto with a DNS proxy and a (slightly misconfigured) anti-spyware profile.

All network clients had a single DNS server configured, namely the DNS proxy of the Palo Alto. And as a single network client requested an URL that was classified as “spyware”, the Palo correctly (!) blocked the DNS session from its DNS proxy to the Internet. Unluckily, this session stayed active for a long time (with drop-all-packets) since many DNS requests were traversing through it. But since it stayed blocked, the Internet was “unavailable” for all end users

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Cisco ASA vs. Palo Alto: Management Goodies

You often have comparisons of both firewalls concerning security components. Of course, a firewall must block attacks, scan for viruses, build VPNs, etc. However, in this post I am discussing the advantages and disadvantages from both vendors concerning the management options: How to add and rename objects. How to update a device. How to find log entries. Etc.

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Common Palo Alto Application Groups

There are a few application groups that I am almost always using at the customer’s site. These are groups for Microsoft Active Directory, file transfer, and print. Furthermore, I am using a group for all of the Palo Alto Networks management applications itself, a general management group, and two different groups for VPNs (GlobalProtect and site-to-site). Finally, I tested a group for the AVAYA VoIP systems.

Following are the set commands for these groups so that anyone can easily configure them through the CLI.

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Palo Alto blocks SMTP Virus with 541 Response

While preparing for some Palo Alto Networks certifications I read something about the antivirus capabilities of blocking viruses via email by sending an SMTP response code of 541 to the sender (link). This was new for me since I thought the Palo Alto would only block IP connections (TCP RST) but not send layer 7 messages (SMTP codes). But actually, it does so by spoofing the IP address of the destination SMTP host. Cool stuff. Of course, I needed to test this. Here we go. ;)

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OSPF for IPv4 Test Lab: Cisco Router & ASA, Juniper SSG & Palo Alto

I tested OSPF for IPv4 in my lab: I configured OSPF inside a single broadcast domain with five devices: 2x Cisco Router, Cisco ASA, Juniper SSG, and Palo Alto PA. It works perfectly though these are a few different vendors.

I will show my lab and will list all the configuration commands/screenshots I used on the devices. I won’t go into detail but maybe these listings help for a basic understanding of the OSPF processes on these devices.

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Palo Alto: Vsys & Shared Gateway – Zones, Policies, and Logs

It was not easy for me to understand the type of zones and “from – to” policy definitions when working with a Palo Alto firewall that has multiple vsys’s and a shared gateway. I was missing an at-a-glance picture that shows which zones to use. (Though this document describes the whole process quite good.) So, here it comes…

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IPsec Site-to-Site VPN Palo Alto <-> Cisco Router w/ VTI

One more VPN article. Even one more between a Palo Alto firewall and a Cisco router. But this time I am using a virtual tunnel interface (VTI) on the Cisco router which makes the whole VPN set a “route-based VPN”. That is: Both devices decide their traffic flow merely based on the routing table and not on access-list entries. In my opinion, this is the best way to build VPNs, because there is a single instance (the routing table) on which a network admin must rely on in order to investigate the traffic flow.

Note that I also wrote a blog post about the “policy-based VPN” between a Cisco router and the Palo Alto firewall. This here is mostly the same on the Palo Alto side while some other commands are issued on the Cisco router.

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