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Cisco ASA 5500-X Series Firewall with IPS, ASA CX & FirePower Services. Application Visibility and Control (AVC), Web Security, Botnet Filtering & IPS / IDS, Firepower Threat Defense

Posted in Cisco Firewalls - ASA & PIX Firewall Configuration

Cisco ASA 5500-X Series Firewall with IPS, ASA CX & FirePower Services. Application Visibility and Control (AVC), Web Security, Botnet Filtering & IPS / IDS, Firepower Threat Defense - 5.0 out of 5 based on 7 votes

cisco-asa-firewall-5500-x-series-ips-context-aware-firepower-firesight-services-1The Cisco ASA Firewall 5500-X series has evolved from the previous ASA 5500 Firewall series, designed to protect mission critical corporate networks and data centers from today’s advanced security threats.

Through sophisticated software and hardware options (modules), the ASA’s 5500-X series Firewalls support a number of greatly advanced next-generation security features that sets them apart.These include:

  • Cisco Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) services. A signature based IPS solution offered as a software or hardware module depending on the ASA 5500-X appliance model.
  • Cisco ASA CX Context-aware services. A software module for ASA 5500-X appliances except the ASA 5585-X where it’s offered as a hardware module. Provides IPS services, Application Visibility and Control (AVC), web security and botnet filtering.
  • Cisco FirePOWER Services. Cisco’s latest software & hardware threat protection, superseding previous technologies by combining IPS and CX services plus full contextual awareness of users, infrastructure, applications and content, URL filtering with advanced malware protection (AMP). Offered as a software module for 5500-X series appliances except the 5585-X, which requires a dedicated hardware module. Note that FirePOWER services run in parallel with the classical ASA software.
  • Cisco Firepower Threat Defense (FTD). This is the next step after the FirePOWER services which was released by Cisco in 2015.  While FirePOWER services run alongside with the classical Cisco ASA software, the newer Firepower Threat Defence combines the Cisco ASA Software + FirePOWER services in one software package. This is also the concept of the newer Firepower appliances (e.g 4100 & 9000 series) which run Firepower Threat Defense software. At this point, Firepower Threat Defence is under continious development but does not still support many features offered by the classical ASA software. For example at the time of writing site-to-site IP Sec VPN is still not available.

Our previous article examined Cisco’s ASA 5500 series Firewall hardware modules, which include the Content Security CSC-SSM & Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) / Intrusion Detection System (IDS) AIP-SCC / AIP-SSM modules. While these solutions are no longer sold by Cisco, they have been widely deployed in data centers and corporate networks around the world and will be supported by Cisco until 2018.

Note: To download datasheets containing technical specifications and features offered by the Cisco 5500-X Series Firewalls with FirePOWER, IPS and CX Context-aware services, visit our Cisco ASA 5500 & 5500-X Series Adaptive Security Appliances Download Section.

Since Cisco’s announcement back in 2013 regarding the discontinuation of its ASA 5500 series firewall appliances in favour of the newer 5500-X Next Generation Firewalls, customers have been contemplating when to upgrade to the newer 5500-X series. Given the fact that Cisco is no longer providing major firmware upgrades to the older ASA 5500 series and the appearance of new advanced security threats and malware (e.g ransomware), it is now considered imperative to upgrade to the newer platform so that security is maintained at the highest possible level.

Customers seeking advanced protection are likely to consider expanding their ASA Firewall capabilities with the purchase of an IPS module, CX Context-aware or FirePOWER services.

cisco-asa-firewall-5500-x-series-ips-context-aware-firepower-firesight-services-2

Figure 1. The Cisco FirePOWER hardware module for the ASA-5585-X Firewall

Cisco’s FirePOWER advanced security threat protection solution was introduced late 2014 and its purpose is to replace the current ASA 5500-X IPS and ASA CX 5500-X Context-aware offerings.

The diagram below shows key security features provided by most Cisco ASA Firewall appliances. Features such as Clustering, High Availability, Network profiling, Identity-Policy Control, VPN and advanced access lists have until today been fairly standard offerings across the ASA Firewall series, however, the newer 5500-X can now offer the additional FirePOWER services marked in red below:

Cisco ASA 5500 Series Firewall Modules & Cards – Content Security (CSC-SSM), IPS - IDS (AIP SCC & AIP SSM) Hardware Modules

Posted in Cisco Firewalls - ASA & PIX Firewall Configuration

Cisco ASA 5500 Series Firewall Modules & Cards – Content Security (CSC-SSM), IPS - IDS (AIP SCC & AIP SSM) Hardware Modules - 5.0 out of 5 based on 5 votes

cisco-asa-firewall-5500-series-ips-ids-content-filtering-antimalware-hardware-modules-1Cisco’s Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) Firewalls are one of the most popular and proven security solutions in the industry. Since the introduction of the PIX and ASA Firewall into the market, Cisco has been continuously expanding its firewall security features and intrusion detection/prevention capabilities to adapt to the evolving security threats while integrating with other mission-critical technologies to protect corporate networks and data centers.

In recent years, we’ve seen Cisco tightly integrate separate security technologies such as Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) within the ASA Firewall appliances in the form of hardware module add-ons (older 5500 series & newer 5500-X series) and, recently, software modules supported only by the newer ASA 5500-X series security appliances.

With the addition of the software or hardware module, customers are able to increase the firewall’s security and protection capabilities while at the same time simplifing security management and administration by dealing with a single firewall device instead of multiple firewall, IPS or IDS devices.

While this article covers the hardware modules available for the Cisco ASA 5500 Firewall series, upcoming articles will cover both software and hardware modules along with Cisco FirePOWER & FireSIGHT management services for the newer ASA 5500-X series.

Note: The Cisco ASA 5500 series hardware modules for ASA-5505, ASA 5510, ASA 5520 & ASA 5540 have been announced as End-of-Sale & End-of-Life. Modules below are no longer sold by Cisco, however, they will be fully supported until 30th of September 2018.

Users interested in the newer ASA 5500-X IPS, Context-Aware and FirePOWER services can read our article Cisco ASA 5500-X Series Firewall with IPS, ASA CX & FirePower Services. Application Visibility and Control (AVC), Web Security, Botnet Filtering & IPS / IDS.

Hardware Modules for ASA 5500 Series Firewalls

The ASA 5500 series Firewalls (ASA-5505, ASA 5510, ASA 5520, ASA 5540 etc) were the first security appliances with the capability to integrate hardware modules for enhanced security and threat protection.

To help target different markets and security requirements, Cisco split its hardware module offerings into two distinct categories:

  • Content Security and Control Security Services (CSC-SSM)
  • Advanced Inspection and Prevention Security Services (AIP-SCC & AIP-SSM)

Each hardware module card is equipped with its own CPU, RAM and Flash storage space, running a separate operating system that integrates with the ASA Firewall via its internal network ports.

Let’s take a brief look at each category.

The Content Security and Control Security Services Modules

The Content Security and Control Security Services module aims to cover corporate environments where comprehensive malware, advanced content filtering (including Web Caching, URL filtering, anti-phishing), and anti-spam filtering is required. This all-in-one hardware module solution is capable of providing a wealth of security and control capabilities essential for all size networks.

Following are the hardware modules supporting Content Security and Control Security Services:

Windows Server 2016 – Hyper-V Virtualization Update

Posted in Windows 2012 Server

Windows Server 2016 – Hyper-V Virtualization Update - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote

windows-server-2016-new-hyper-v-virtualization-features-1The new Hyper-V virtualization features offered by Windows Server 2016 are planning to make major changes in the virtualization market. From Nested Hyper-V, revolutionary security, new management options to service availability, storage and more.

Learn all about the new hot virtualization features offered by Windows Server 2016 by attending the free webinar hosted by Altaro and presented by two Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Managerment MVP’s Andy Syrewicze and Aidan Finn.

To learn more about the free webinar and register click here.

Join Australia’s First Official Cisco Data Center User Group (DCUG) & Become Part of a Friendly Fast-Growing Professional Community That Meets Once a Month in Melbourne!

Posted in Cisco Data Center User Group

Join Australia’s First Official Cisco Data Center User Group (DCUG) & Become Part of a Friendly Fast-Growing Professional Community That Meets Once a Month in Melbourne! - 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 votes

official-cisco-data-center-user-group-melbourne-australia-1It’s a reality – Australia now has its own Official Cisco Data Center User Group (DCUG) and it’s growing fast! Originally inspired by Cisco Champions Chris Partsenidis and Derek Hennessy, the idea was fully backed by Cisco Systems as they happened to be looking to start up something similar on a global scale.

The idea was born in the morning hours of the 18th of March 2016 over a hot cup of coffee when Chris Partsenidis and Derek Hennessy met for the first time, after Cisco’s Live! in Melbourne Australia. Both Chris and Derek agreed that it was time to create a friendly professional Cisco community group that would gather Cisco professionals and encourage users to share knowledge and experience.

The proposal was sent to Lauren Friedman at Cisco Systems, who just happened to be working on a similar concept on a global scale. Lauren loved the idea and, with her help, Australia got its first official Cisco Data Center User Group!

Becoming part of the Melbourne Cisco Data Center User Group is absolutely free and, by joining, you’ll be part of Australia’s first official Cisco user group, which is currently the largest in the world!

Where are the Meetings Held and What’s Included?

The user group will catch up on the first Tuesday of every month at the The Crafty Squire at 127 Russell Street in Melbourne CBD. We’ll be located upstairs in Porter Place. Our first meeting will be on Tuesday June 7th 2016 and all meetings will take place between 17:30 and 19:30.

For the duration of the meeting, we’ll have free beer for all registered members, food and if we are lucky – free Cisco beer mugs! The mugs are actually on their way from the USA and we are hoping to have them in time before the meeting otherwise we’ll be handing them out during the following meeting.

official-cisco-data-center-user-group-melbourne-australia-2

Figure 1. The Porter Place - Crafty Squire

For more details about our regular meet ups and join our community, head over to the Cisco Data Center User Group page on Meetup.com. 

We're really excited to start building a Data Center community in Melbourne so come along and join us!

Agenda – 7th of June 2016

Vendor Session: Infrastructure as Code and DevOps

Speaker: Chris Gascoigne - Technical Solutions Architect, Cisco Systems Melbourne, Australia

Chris Gascoigne is a Technical Solutions Architect with Cisco Systems working in the Australia/New Zealand Data Centre team. Chris has been with Cisco for nine years and specialises in Application Centric Infrastructure.

Community Session: GNS3 Connectivity

Speaker: Will Robinson - Senior Systems Engineer, Cube Networks

Will Robinson is a Senior Systems Engineer with Cube Networks and has extensive networking and data center experience. Will is an active community member and is the only Australian member of the NetAppATeam group.

Palo Alto Firewall Application-based Policy Enforcement (App-ID), User Identification (User-ID) and Application Control Centre (ACC) Features for Enterprise Networks

Posted in Palo Alto Firewalls

Palo Alto Firewall Application-based Policy Enforcement (App-ID), User Identification (User-ID) and Application Control Centre (ACC) Features for Enterprise Networks - 5.0 out of 5 based on 3 votes

Our previous article examined the benefits of Palo Alto Networks Firewall Single Pass Parallel Processing (SP3) architecture and how its combine with the separate Data and Control planes to boost firewall performance and handle large amounts of traffic without and performance impact. This article focuses on the traffic flow logic inside the Palo Alto Firewall and two unique features that separate it from the competition: Application-based policy enforcement (App-ID) & User Identification (User-ID).

For more Technical articles on Palo Alto Networks Firewalls, visit our Palo Alto Networks Firewall Section

Flow Logic of the Next-Generation Firewall

The diagram below is a simplified version of the flow logic of a packet travelling through a Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall and this can be always used a reference to study the packet processing sequence:

palo-alto-firewall-app-id-user-id-application-control-centre-1

Figure 1. Flow Logic of a packet inside the Palo Alto Networks Next Generation Firewall

Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewalls works with the concepts of zones not interfaces, once a packet enters the firewall, the Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewalls identifies from which zone the packet came and where it is destined to go. This is similar to Cisco IOS Routers Zone-based Firewalls and Cisco ASA Firewalls.

Users interested can also download for free the Palo Alto Networks document “Day in the Life of a Packet” found in our Palo Alto Networks Download section which explains in great detail the packet flow sequence inside the Palo Alto Networks Firewall.

App-ID & User-ID – Features That Set Palo Alto Apart from the Competition

App-ID and User-ID are two really interesting features not found on most competitors’ firewalls and really help set Palo Alto Networks apart from the competition. Let’s take a look at what App-ID and User-ID are and how they help protect the enterprise network.

App-ID: Application-based Policy Enforcement

App-ID is the biggest asset of Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewalls. Traditional firewalls block traffic based on protocol and/or ports, which years ago seemed to be the best way of securing the network perimeter, however this approach today is inadequate as applications (including SSL VPNs) can easily bypass a port-based firewall by hopping between ports or using well-known open ports such as tcp-http (80) or tcp/udp-dns (53) normally found open.

A traditional firewall that allows the usage of TCP/UDP port 53 for DNS lookups, will allow any application using that port to pass through without asking second questions. This means that any application can use port 53 to send/receive traffic, including evasive applications like BitTorrent for P2P file sharing, which is quite dangerous:

Palo Alto Network’s App-ID effectively blocks unwanted BitTorrent traffic

Figure 2. Palo Alto Network’s App-ID effectively blocks unwanted BitTorrent traffic

With App-ID, Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewalls uses multiple identification mechanisms to determine the exact identity of applications traversing the network. Following is the order in which traffic is examined and classified:

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