13 Oct

How to install multiple ASAv firmwares on Cisco VIRL

Cisco VIRL

Cisco VIRL is powerful network simulation tool. There are weeks when I run simulations 24/7 because of some projects or learning are ongoing. With VIRL you get almost the latest firmware for supported platforms. Almost – sometimes you have to wait for next release for a new firmware to be available. I experienced it a few months ago when with ASA 9.7(1) release Cisco introduced the route-based VPNs (VTIs). At this point VIRL users got the 9.6(2) release bundled into latest simulator release. In other simulation, you may want to use different ASAv firmware versions for various nodes, so your simulation is more similar to your production network.

Cisco VIRL uses real firmware in the simulations. I will show you how you can add different ASAv firmware and use it in parallel with the software available on VIRL repository.

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18 May

Upgrading SourceFire module from 5.x to 6.x and recovery procedure

SFR Firmware packages download

Hardware failures happens. If you have active service contract you’ll get new device from Cisco with same hardware parameters. One thing you don’t know is which version of software will be installed. In almost all cases it’s not the one you are using. Installing new firewall firmware on ASA is not a problem but what if you’re running SourceFire Management Center version 6.2 but your device came with 5.x or 6.0 firmware on SFR module? Well, prepare for process that will take few hours – you need to perform recovery procedure which is one of the ways of upgrading SourceFire.

Most common cases when we have to use recovery procedure for SFR are:

  • Problems with booting the SFP module after upgrade performed from Firesight Management Center
  • First software installation on SFR (in example when we just put SSD drives in our ASA to get benefits from Sourcefire NGIPS)
  • Need to upgrade firmware but our module cannot be registered in Firesight Management Center due to firmware mismatch

Last case is the one usually happening when we get new device during RMA process. Each Firesight Management Center have list of compatible firmwares that are supported on modules and unfortunatelly backward compatibility is not full. If you run one of the most common version 6.1 or 6.2 you need to have your modules in at least 6.1 version. Recovery process require that whole memory is erased and new firmware installed.

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15 Feb

Cisco ASA REST API – Part VI: Swift on iPhone

Another not planned chapter 🙂 If you remember from Cisco ASA REST API – Part II: How it’s really working? Cisco mentions in documentation about three programming languages – Perl, Python and JavaScript via node.js. They even provide examples of code for the URI and methods that are supported. But does it mean it’s closed list of languages where REST API can be used? Definitely not! Remember, it’s still using the URI same as in web browser and methods that are same as for web servers. So you can use any programming language you want.

Why Swift? Because I got bored one evening 🙂 Well, that’s partially true. I’ve heard good opinions about Swift language from professional developers. It’s now open language available for many platforms, not only Apple products. I also like to try new things and was curious if learning at least basics of new language by myself would be hard and how quick I can do that. Also Apple was very helpful because of nice tutorial from Apple Developers which show step by step how to use XCode, build application interface and connect code to objects. There are many examples on Internet, I think the hardest thing at the beginning was to understand some language semantic constructions and get familiar with API of system libraries. Also, if you ever start programming in Swift remember that current version is Swift 3.0, but many examples on the web are from older versions and won’t work without minor or major changes to the code.

So what was my concept of an application? Easy, I just wanted to get information about firmware version installed on ASA. But of course if you have idea of other apps then sky is the limit 😉

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26 Jan

Apple App Transport Security (ATS) and ASA self-signed SSL certificate

Apple care about users privacy and security quite well. Of course it’s a matter of opinion but Apple put strong focus on encryption and peer authentication. In 2015 Apple introduced App Transport Security (ATS) as part of their Network Framework With every release they are putting more and more responsibility on developers and content operators to provide proper traffic encryption proper certificate signing and chain etc. That means if application is trying to connect to HTTP server that does not support latest TLSv1.2 connection should fail.

There is no doubt that ATS is good for end users and that’s right direction every corporation should follow. But switching to TLSv1.2 is not something that can be done just like that, obtaining signed certificate expensive option, especially for development environments or if you are writing apps to just test something or for fun. Self-signed certificates are the solution for such cases but there are few problems that we can encounter.

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23 Jan

How to act as your own local CA and sign certificate request from ASA

There are several ways to operate on certificates. The widest spread method is by openssl library and associated command line tools. Library was not and probably is still not free of bugs. But it’s widely spread  among many operating systems which makes it a tool that easily can be used on most popular operating systems. If you are running Windows Server you can install Certificate Services component, Mac users can use Keychain Access which is core component of macOS.

While working with certificates and those tool remember about best practices. Points below are valid as of the end of 2016.

  • Use at least 2048-Bit Private Keys
  • Try to avoid wildcard certificates but remember to cover all FQDN’s in certificates
  • Use strong certificate signature algorithms – SHA256 is standard now,  SHA-1 has been deprecated
  • Use strong encryption for your connection – not really certificate related but worh notifying that TLSv1.2 is now a standard supporting strong cryptographic algorithms
  • Use complete certificate chains
  • Use strong key exchange and forward secrecy

If you want to know more about best practices you may refer to this short manual.

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17 Jan

Cisco ASA REST API – Part V: Node.js, JavaScript and small HTTP server displaying ACL

I was not planning this chapter and putting away Perl for even a moment, but I have some talk with my VeriFone colleague on scripting, REST API and how creating web server which uses REST API back end to control certain parameters of firewall is not that easy and straightforward. We both have some programming and scripting experience but neither of us is a programmer. We both know more or less several programming languages but we are not proficient. But we both have (at least we thing we have) good fundamental knowledge about programming.

The topic circulated around web page that will let display and manipulate ACL entries on firewall in non-SDN data center. Feature quite simple that most independent firewall management platforms can do. The problem is that most of those applications are using CLI via SSH to send commands and parse output, that’s exactly how Cisco ASDM is working in example, but we wanted something maybe a little more flexible, reliable… We both agreed that JSON is flexible structure that should be easy to use. So how to write a comprehensive script?

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09 Jan

Cisco ASA REST API – Part IV: Debugging REST API Agent

First published: 09/Jan/2017
Last update: 09/Jan/2017

In chapter Cisco ASA REST API – Part I: Getting started primary configuration for REST API has been done on firewalls then in chapter Cisco ASA REST API – Part III: Checking if prefix is directly connected first script in Perl has been created. Let’s now look at ways we can troubleshoot REST API calls and status on Cisco ASA. This may be crucial to detect cause of the problem. Troubleshooting requires command line access to firewall in enabled mode.

In this chapter I will use script I presented previously and also will execute some REST API methods using Firefox RESTClient extension mentioned if first chapter. Because output of debug can be extensive listings will contain only crucial parts.

Debugging REST API means checking particular component for errors or other logs that might be interested for us. Command execution require in first place declaration which component will be debugged.

asav-1# debug rest-api ?

agent Rest-API Agent
cli Rest-API cli handling
client Rest-API client request handling
daemon Rest-API debug/syslog handling
process Starting/Stopping of Rest-API Agent
token-auth Rest-API Token authentication

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03 Jan

Cisco ASA REST API – Part III: Checking if prefix is directly connected

First published: 03/Jan/2017
Last update: 03/Jan/2017

It’s time to do some programming and really use REST API for something good. The first script will be used to check if specified prefix is directly connected to any of firewall interfaces. Script requires two arguiments: checked IP address and IP address of firewall. The execution of script will be as below

$ ./IfDirectlyConnected.pl
Usage: IfDirectlyConnected.pl [Checked IP Address] [Firewall Management IP]

At this demo script require IP addresses to be used and is not checking if arguments are IP addresses, just simply validating if two it’s executed with two arguments.

Please take a moment to look back to my post Cisco ASA REST API – Lab topology and programming language where I explained the topology of simulated network and presented IP addresses assigned to each device. Routing is configured and all subnets are reachable.

We will test te script on asav-1 firewall. The expected results are as follow:

$ ./IfDirectlyConnected.pl 10.0.12.5 172.16.1.51
Checking address 10.0.12.5 on firewall 172.16.1.51
RESULT: Destination route is directly connected

$ ./IfDirectlyConnected.pl 10.0.24.5 172.16.1.51
Checking address 10.0.24.5 on firewall 172.16.1.51
RESULT: Route in routing table but not directly connected

$ ./IfDirectlyConnected.pl 10.0.99.5 172.16.1.51
Checking address 10.0.99.5 on firewall 172.16.1.51
RESULT: Subnet not in routing table

Script is available on my GitHub

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24 Oct

Cisco ASA REST API – Part I: Getting started

First published: 24/Oct/2016
Last update: 31/Oct/2016
ASA REST API version: 1.3.2

REST is an acronym of Representational State Transfer (REST) API. This API provide administrators an option to perform CRUD operations which is Create, Read, Update, Delete. It fully rely on HTTPS as transport protocol and requires programming skills from administrators. But if you gain some experience its a good way of learning and getting familiar with whole new world when you more program devices than configure it.

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20 Apr

ASA SSH internal error and misleading messages

We all know that error messages may be misleading. Also Internet boards or vendor documentation may not be accurate or helpful, sometimes can even move troubleshooting in wrong area. Simple example from Cisco ASA showing following error message:

%ASA-6-315011: SSH session from 192.168.1.2 on interface Management for user "root" disconnected by SSH server, reason: "Internal error" (0x00)

One would think that there is problem with SSH subsystem. Quick search at Google can confirm suspicious as this error happening when no RSA key is present on system. But if regenerating RSA key over and over using different modulus or changing SSH setting is not helping you doubt that’s correct reason. Truth is that on out-of-the-box ASA this is also a symptom of lack of local AAA authentication. To solve the problem you have to add:

aaa authentication enable console LOCAL 
aaa authentication http console LOCAL 
aaa authentication ssh console LOCAL

So error message was not really related nor giving correct clue what real reason of problem was. Vendors should really work on better and more detailed error messages.