Cisco WebVPN Solution

WebVPN is an evolving method to establish remote-access VPN tunnels without having to install the Cisco VPN Client. A VPN user establishes the secure connection to the Cisco ASA by using a web browser such as Internet Explorer, Netscape, or FireFox. A WebVPN tunnel can easily be created from a computer that has Secure HTTP (HTTPS) access to the public interface of a Cisco ASA. Thus, using WebVPN, the client machine establishes a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection to Cisco ASA, providing easy access to a broad range of applications, including intranet web browsing, e-mail, and Windows file sharing. The list continues on by implementing the robust port-forwarding feature, which provides secure access to most of the TCP-based applications.

Figure 16-15 illustrates a WebVPN connection initiated by UserA going to the SecureMe Chicago ASA. When the SSL tunnel is authenticated, the user can access the servers on the inside network of the Cisco ASA.

Figure 16-15. WebVPN Topology for SecureMe


The WebVPN functionality on Cisco ASA does not affect in any way the other VPN implementations such as site-to-site or remote-access tunnels. However, WebVPN tunnels are memory-intensive, which can indirectly affect the overall performance of the security appliance.

Table 16-4 lists the major differences between the Cisco VPN client solution and the WebVPN solution. WebVPN is an obvious choice for someone who wants to check their e-mail from a hotel or an Internet café without the need to install and configure a Cisco VPN client.

Table 16-4. Contrasting Cisco VPN Client and WebVPN


Cisco VPN Client


VPN Client

Uses Cisco VPN Client software for complete network access.

Uses a standard web browser to access limited corporate network resources. Eliminates need for separate client software.


You have to go through the installation and configuration on the VPN client.

You do not need to install a VPN client. No configuration is required on the client machine.


Uses a variety of encryption and hashing algorithms.

Uses SSL encryption native to web browsers.


Establishes seamless connection to network.

Supports application connectivity through browser portal.


Encapsulates all IP protocols, including TCP, UDP, and ICMP.

Supports limited TCP-based client/server applications.

In WebVPN, a web client starts an HTTPS session to the public IP address of the security appliance. After processing the request, the security appliance presents a certificate to the web client to authenticate it. Once the secure connection is established, the web client is presented with a login screen to specify the user login credentials. If authentication is successful, a cookie is presented to the user. This cookie is valid until the session is over. When the user clicks the logout icon, or the idle timeout or the maximum connect time is reached, the session cookie is deleted, thus terminating the connection.


Stateful failover for WebVPN is currently not supported.


Configuration Steps

The configuration of WebVPN can be broken down into five steps. Figure 16-15 is used throughout this section to demonstrate how to set up Cisco ASA.

Step 1.

Enable the HTTP server.

Step 2.

Enable WebVPN on the interface.

Step 3.

Configure WebVPN look and feel.

Step 4.

Configure WebVPN group attributes.

Step 5.

Configure user authentication.

Step 1: Enable the HTTP Service

The first step in configuring WebVPN is to enable the HTTP service on the security appliance. Once the HTTP service is enabled, Cisco ASA listens on TCP port 80 for HTTP traffic and on TCP port 443 for HTTPS traffic. You can access the WebVPN interface by one of the following methods:

  • Make a request on TCP port 443
  • Make a request on TCP port 80, which Cisco ASA will redirect to port 443 if port-redirection is enabled

Example 16-61 shows the configuration for the Chicago ASA to make it act as an HTTP server that is also configured to redirect the requests made for TCP port 80.

Example 16-61. Enabling the HTTP Service on the Chicago ASA

Chicago(config)# http server enable

Chicago(config)# http redirect outside 80


In the current implementation, both WebVPN and ASDM cannot be enabled on the same interface. Chapter 21, "VPN Management Using ASDM," covers ASDM for VPNs in more detail.


Step 2: Enable WebVPN on the Interface

After setting up the web services on Cisco ASA, the second step is to enable WebVPN on the interface where the WebVPN connections will be terminated. If WebVPN is not enabled on the interface, Cisco ASA will not accept any connections even if WebVPN is globally set up.

To enable WebVPN on an interface, you must use the enable command followed by the name of the interface in the WebVPN subconfiguration menu. The configuration in Example 16-62 shows the Chicago ASA is using the outside interface for the termination of WebVPN sessions.

Example 16-62. Enabling the WebVPN on the Chicago ASA Outside Interface

Chicago# config terminal

Chicago(config)# webvpn

Chicago(config-webvpn)# enable outside

Once WebVPN is enabled on an interface, the security appliance is ready to accept the connections. However, recommended practice is to follow all the steps for a complete WebVPN implementation.

Step 3: Configure WebVPN Look and Feel

Figure 16-16 shows the default WebVPN page when a connection is made from a web browser. The title of the page is "WebVPN Service" and the Cisco Systems logo is displayed in the upper-left corner of the web page. The initial page prompts the user for user authentication credentials.

Figure 16-16. Default WebVPN Page

You can customize the WebVPN login page to accommodate an organization's security policy. Figure 16-17 shows the customized login page for SecureMe. The title of the login page has been changed to "Chicago ASA", and the login message has been changed to "Welcome to SecureMe's VPN". The user prompt message has been set to "Enter Username". The primary and secondary title colors are changed to 108,108,108 (dark gray) and 161,161,161 (light gray), respectively. Additionally, the primary and secondary title text colors are set to white and black, respectively. SecureMe does not want to display the Cisco Systems logo in its login page. Therefore, the logo is removed from the upper-left corner of the page. When users log out, the security appliance will display the message You are not logged into SecureMe's Network.

Figure 16-17. Customized WebVPN Page

Example 16-63 shows the corresponding Cisco ASA configuration for customization. The WebVPN configuration parameters are specified in the WebVPN submenu.

Example 16-63. Customizing the WebVPN Login Page on Cisco ASA

Chicago(config)# webvpn

Chicago(config-webvpn)# enable outside

Chicago(config-webvpn)# title Chicago ASA

Chicago(config-webvpn)# username-prompt Enter a Username

Chicago(config-webvpn)# login-message Welcome to SecureMe's VPN

Chicago(config-webvpn)# logout-message You are not logged into SecureMe's Network

Chicago(config-webvpn)# logo none

Chicago(config-webvpn)# title-color 108,108,108

Chicago(config-webvpn)# secondary-color 161,161,161

Chicago(config-webvpn)# text-color white

Chicago(config-webvpn)# secondary-text-color black

You can upload a customized logo file in Flash. The accepted formats are JPEG, GIF, and PNG.

Step 4: Configure WebVPN Group Attributes

Cisco ASA allows you to configure most of the WebVPN parameters in three different places:

  • Under default group-policy
  • Under user group-policy
  • Under user policy

As mentioned earlier, Cisco ASA implements the inheritance model and applies attributes from the user policy first, then from the user group-policy, and finally from the default group-policy. The same concept is true for WebVPN implementations.


The default and user group policies are set up to allow both Cisco IPSec VPN and WebVPN tunnels. If you want to restrict a policy to solely use WebVPN, use the vpn-tunnel-protocol webvpn command, as demonstrated later in Example 16-66.

The user group and default group policies are configured by using the group-policy command followed by the name of the group-policy. Cisco ASA uses DfltGrpPolicy as the group-policy name for the default group-policy. A group-policy name other than DfltGrpPolicy is treated as a user group-policy. In Example 16-64, SecureMeWebGrp is set up as an internal group-policy.

Example 16-64. User Group-Policy Configuration

Chicago(config)# group-policy SecureMeWebGrp internal

Chicago(config)# group-policy SecureMeWebGrp attributes

The WebVPN attributes are configured under the WebVPN subconfiguration mode of the group-policy menu, as shown in Example 16-65.

Example 16-65. WebVPN User Group-Policy Configuration

Chicago(config)# group-policy SecureMeWebGrp internal

Chicago(config)# group-policy SecureMeWebGrp attributes

Chicago(config-group-policy)# webvpn


Table 16-5 lists all the WebVPN attributes that can be mapped to user, user group, and default group policies.

Table 16-5. Configurable WebVPN Attributes




Apply a WebVPN ACL for traffic filtering.


Enable features such as file access, file browsing, and file entry.


Set an initial web page when users log in.


Filter HTML content, such as Java and images, from the WebVPN sessions.


Map the port-forwarding list to the group.


Configure the name to be shown on the WebVPN page for the port-forwarding applet.


Map the URL-mangling list to the group.

All of these attributes are discussed in detail in the next section, "Advanced WebVPN Features." Example 16-66 shows the Cisco ASA configuration for a user group-policy named SecureMeWebGrp that permits only WebVPN connections. The WebVPN users are allowed to browse, access, and enter file information using the functions command.

Example 16-66. Configuration of User Group Attributes

Chicago(config)# group-policy SecureMeWebGrp internal

Chicago(config)# group-policy SecureMeWebGrp attributes

Chicago(config-group-policy)# vpn-tunnel-protocol webvpn

Chicago(config-group-policy)# webvpn

Chicago(config-group-webvpn)# functions file-access file-entry file-browsing


Step 5: Configure User Authentication

Cisco ASA supports many authentication servers, such as RADIUS, NT domain, Kerberos, SDI, TACACS+, and local database. For small organizations, a local database can be set up for user authentication. In Example 16-67, the Chicago ASA has a user account, cisco, set up for authentication.

Example 16-67. Local User Accounts

Chicago# configure terminal

Chicago(config)# username cisco password cisco123

The WebVPN submenu must be configured with the corresponding authentication server. The authentication-server-group command is used to specify the authentication server. Example 16-68 illustrates the necessary commands required to use a local database.

Example 16-68. Local Authentication Database Configuration

Chicago(config)# webvpn

Chicago(config-webvpn)# authentication-server-group LOCAL

For configuration of external servers, consult Chapter 7.

Cisco Asa(c) All-in-one Firewall, IPS, And VPN Adaptive Security Appliance
Cisco ASA: All-in-One Firewall, IPS, and VPN Adaptive Security Appliance
ISBN: 1587052091
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 231
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