Building network automation solutions

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Category: firewall

Using Flow Tracking to Build Firewall Rulesets... and Halting Problem

Peter Welcher identified the biggest network security hurdle faced by most enterprise IT environments in his comment to Considerations for Host-based Firewalls (Part 1) blog post:

I have NEVER found a customer application team that can tell me all the servers they are using, their IP addresses, let alone the ports they use.

His proposed solution: use software like Tetration (or any other flow collecting tool) to figure out what’s really going on:

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Why Don't We Have Dynamic Firewall Policies

One of the readers of the Considerations for Host-Based Firewalls blog post wrote this interesting comment:

Perhaps a paradigm shift is due for firewalls in general? I’m thinking quickly here but wondering if we perhaps just had a protocol by which a host could request upstream firewall(s) to open access inbound on their behalf dynamically, the hosts themselves would then automatically inform the security device what ports they need/want opened upstream.

Well, we have at least two protocols that could fit the bill: Universal Plug and Play and Port Control Protocol (RFC 6887).

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Considerations for Host-based Firewalls (Part 1)

This is a guest blog post by Matthias Luft, Principal Platform Security Engineer @ Salesforce, and a regular ipSpace.net guest speaker.

Having spent my career in various roles in IT security, Ivan and I always bounced thoughts on the overlap between networking and security (and, more recently, Cloud/Container) around. One of the hot challenges on that boundary that regularly comes up in network/security discussions is the topic of this blog post: microsegmentation and host-based firewalls (HBFs).

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Stretched VLANs and Failing Firewall Clusters

After publishing the Disaster Recovery Faking, Take Two blog post (you might want to read that one before proceeding) I was severely reprimanded by several people with ties to virtualization vendors for blaming virtualization consultants when it was obvious the firewall clusters stretched across two data centers caused the total data center meltdown.

Let’s chase that elephant out of the room first. When you drive too fast on an icy road and crash into a tree who do you blame?

  • The person who told you it’s perfectly OK to do so;
  • The tire manufacturer who advertised how safe their tires were?
  • The tires for failing to ignore the laws of physics;
  • Yourself for listening to bad advice

For whatever reason some people love to blame the tires ;)

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Brief History of VMware NSX

I spent a lot of time during this summer figuring out the details of NSX-T, resulting in significantly updated and expanded VMware NSX Technical Deep Dive material… but before going into those details let’s do a brief walk down the memory lane ;)

We’re running an NSX Deep Dive workshop in Zurich in early September, followed by NSX-T update webinar in mid-November.

You might remember a startup called Nicira that was acquired by VMware in mid-2012… supposedly resulting in the ever-continuing spat between Cisco and VMware (and maybe even triggering the creation of Cisco ACI).

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Automatic Clean-and-Updated Firewall Ruleset

This is a guest blog post by Andrea Dainese, senior network and security architect, and author of UNetLab (now EVE-NG) and  Route Reflector Labs. These days you’ll find him busy automating Cisco ACI deployments.


Following the Ivan’s post about Firewall Ruleset Automation, I decided to take a step forward: can we always have up-to-date and clean firewall policies without stale rules?

The problem

We usually configure and manage firewalls using a process like this:

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Stateful Firewalls: When You Get to a Fork in the Road, Take It

If you’ve been in networking long enough you’d probably noticed an interesting pattern:

  • Some topic is hotly debated;
  • No agreement is ever reached even though the issue is an important one;
  • The debate dies after participants diverge enough to stop caring about the other group.

I was reminded of this pattern when I was explaining the traffic filtering measures available in private and public clouds during the Designing Infrastructure for Private Clouds workshop.

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Firewall Ruleset Automation with CI Pipeline

One of my readers sent me a description of their automation system that manages firewall rulesets on Fortigate firewalls using NAPALM to manage device configurations.

In his own words:

We are now managing thousands of address objects, services and firewall policies using David Barroso’s FortiOS Napalm module. This works very well and with a few caveats (such as finding a way to enforce the ordering of firewall policies) we are able to manage all the configuration of our firewalls from a single Ansible playbook.

The did the right thing and implemented an abstracted data model using GitOps to manage it:

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Integrating 3rd Party Firewalls with Amazon Web Services (AWS) VPC Networking

After figuring out how packet forwarding really works within AWS VPC (here’s an overview, the slide deck is already available to ipSpace.net subscribers) the next obvious question should be: “and how do I integrate a network services device like a next-generation firewall I have to use because $securityPolicy into that environment?

Please don’t get me started on whether that makes sense, that’s a different discussion.

Christer Swartz, an old-time CCIE and occasional guest on Software Gone Wild podcast will show you how to do it with a Palo Alto firewall during my Amazon Web Services Networking Deep Dive workshop on June 13th in Zurich, Switzerland (register here).

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Reinventing SSL VPN (RFC 1925 Strikes Again)

Some of my readers got annoyed when I mentioned Google’s BeyondCorp and RFC 1925 in the same sentence (to be perfectly clear, I had Rule#11 in mind). I totally understand that sentiment – reading the reactions from industry press it seems to be the best thing that happened to Enterprise IT in decades.

Let me explain in simple terms why I think it’s not such a big deal and definitely not something new, let alone revolutionary.

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Anti-Automation from the Antimatter Universe

One of my readers sent me a vivid description of his interactions with one of the so-called next-generation firewall vendors. Enjoy!


We’re using their highly promoted Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) management solution. New cutting edge software, centralized manager… but no CLI for configuration (besides some initial bootstrap commands). "You don't need that because everything is managed from our centralized manager GUI", says $vendor sales managers.

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