Foundation and Supplemental Topics


Cisco IPS Response Overview

Beginning with Cisco IPS version 5.0, your signature response options increased because of the inline response options. Now when you configure your signatures, you can choose one or more of the following responses for a triggered signature:

  • Deny Attacker Inline

  • Deny Connection Inline

  • Deny Packet Inline

  • Log Attacker Packets

  • Log Pair Packets

  • Log Victim Packets

  • Modify Packet Inline

  • Produce Alert

  • Produce Verbose Alert

  • Request Block Connection

  • Request Block Host

  • Request SNMP Trap

  • Reset TCP Connection

Note

The Modify Packet Inline action was added to support the Normalizer signature engine. For more information on using the Normalizer signature engine, refer to Chapter 6, "Cisco IPS Signature Engines."


The standard response to a triggered signature is the generation of an alert (alarm). This chapter focuses on other actions that your IPS signatures can invoke.

Inline Actions

By adding inline functionality, Cisco IPS was able to incorporate the following signature actions:

  • Deny Packet Inline

  • Deny Connection Inline

  • Deny Attacker Inline

These actions impact even the initial traffic from an attacking system. Therefore, they can be used to prevent attack traffic from reaching the target system or network. To use these actions, however, you must configure your sensor using inline mode.

Deny Packet Inline

Configuring a signature with the Deny Packet Inline action causes your sensor to drop any packets that match the signature's parameters. This action is useful for preventing specific attack traffic while allowing all other traffic to continue to travel through the network.

Deny Connection Inline

In some situations, you need to deny all of the traffic for an entire connection (not just the initial attack traffic). Configuring a signature with the Deny Connection Inline action causes the sensor to drop all traffic for the connection that triggered the signature. A connection is defined as all traffic in which the following fields match the traffic that triggered the signature:

  • Source IP Address

  • Source Port

  • Destination IP Address

  • Destination Port

The traffic for the connection is denied for the length of time specified by the Deny Attacker Duration parameter. After the configured amount of time has passed, the traffic matching the connection's parameters is no longer denied.

Deny Attacker Inline

Configuring a signature with the Deny Attacker Inline action causes the sensor to drop all packets from the attacker's IP address. This action prevents the entry of all traffic originating from the attacker's IP address, not just traffic that matches the initial connection that triggered the signature. Again, the Deny Attacker Duration parameter determines for how long the traffic from the attacker's IP address is denied.

Configuring Deny Attacker Duration Parameter

When using inline actions, you need to define the length of time that the sensor continues to deny the traffic. This length of time (measured in seconds) is defined by the Deny Attacker Duration parameter. You can also configure the maximum number of attackers that the sensor will deny at one time by using the Maximum Denied Attackers field.

To configure both of these parameters, perform the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IPS Device Manager (IDM) by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Configuration icon to display the list of configuration tasks.

Step 3.

If the items under the Event Action Rules category are not displayed, click on the plus sign to the left of Event Action Rules.

Step 4.

Click on General Settings to access the General Settings configuration screen. (See Figure 9-1.)

Figure 9-1. IDM General Settings Configuration Screen


Step 5.

Enter the length of time (in seconds) that the denied action will remain active by entering a value in the Deny Attacker Duration field. (The default is 3600 seconds, or 1 hour.)

Step 6.

Enter the maximum number of attackers that the sensor will attempt to deny by entering a value in the Maximum Denied Attackers field. (The default is 10,000.)

Step 7.

Click on Apply to apply the changes to the sensor's configuration.

Logging Actions

IP logging enables you to capture the actual packets that an attacking host is sending to your network. These packets are stored on the sensor, either on the hard drive or in memory (for sensors without hard drives). You can then analyze these packets by using a packet analysis tool, such as Ethereal, to determine exactly what an attacker is doing.

You can capture traffic by using IP logging in response to both a signature configured with the IP logging action as well as a manually initiated IP logging request. When logging an attacker's activity, you have the following three options:

  • Log Attacker Packets

  • Log Pair Packets

  • Log Victim Packets

Note

The length of time that the sensor logs traffic after a signature is triggered depends on the values of the IP Log parameters. For information on how to configure these parameters, refer to Chapter 8, "Sensor Tuning."


Log Attacker Packets

Configuring a signature to use the Log Attacker Packets action causes the sensor to log (or capture) traffic from the source IP address that caused the signature to trigger. This will show you all the systems and services that the attacking system is accessing.

Log Pair Packets

Instead of logging all the traffic from the source IP address of the traffic that triggers a signature, you can limit the number of packets logged by configuring a signature for the Log Pair Packets action. This action causes a signature to log only the traffic that matches both the source and destination IP addresses that initially triggered the signature.

Log Victim Packets

The third logging option is Log Victim Packets. This action causes the sensor to log all the packets going to the victim (destination) IP address. This option is useful for monitoring the target system in situations where the attack may be coming from multiple IP addresses. By logging traffic to the target system, you can identify all the traffic going to the victim machine.

Manual IP Logging

Sometimes you may want to capture the traffic from a specific source address. When initiating manual logging, you can specify the amount of traffic to capture by using one of the following characteristics:

  • Duration (in minutes)

  • Number of packets

  • Number of bytes

To manually initiate IP logging using IDM, perform the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IDM by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Monitoring icon to display the list of monitoring tasks.

Step 3.

Click on IP Logging to access the IP Logging monitoring screen. (See Figure 9-2.) This screen displays the current list of systems being logged.

Figure 9-2. IDM IP Logging Monitoring Screen


Step 4.

Click on Add to manually add an IP address to the list of systems being logged. This displays the Add IP Logging popup window. (See Figure 9-3.)

Figure 9-3. Add IP Logging Popup Window


Step 5.

Enter the IP address of the host to log in the IP Address field.

Step 6.

Enter the length of the duration in minutes by entering a value in the Duration field. (The default is 10 minutes, with the valid range being 1 through 60).

Step 7.

(Optional) Specify the maximum number of packets to log for the specified IP address by entering a value in the Packets field (valid range 0 to 4294967295).

Step 8.

(Optional) Specify the maximum number of bytes to log for the specified IP address by entering a value in the Bytes field (valid range 0 to 4294967295).

Note

If you do not specify values for the optional fields (Packets and Bytes), the manually initiated logging will continue until the amount of time specified by the Duration parameter is reached.

Step 9.

Click on Apply to start logging traffic for the specified IP address.

IP Blocking

IP blocking enables you to halt future traffic from an attacking host for a specified period of time, thereby limiting the attacker's access to your network. You have the following two options with respect to IP blocking:

  • Request Block Host

  • Request Block Connection

The Request Block Host action causes the sensor to block all traffic from the host that triggered the signature. This is very effective at protecting your network because all the traffic from the attacking system is prevented from entering your network. The drawback is that if the alarm is a false positive, you will cause a denial of service (DoS) attack until you have time to analyze the situation and remove the block (or until it expires automatically). The same situation applies if the attacker is able to spoof the source address in the attack traffic, such as with User Datagram Protocol (UDP) traffic since it is connectionless. In that case, the attack traffic can be used to arbitrarily block access to various systems by spoofing their IP addresses.

The Request Block Connection action, however, blocks only traffic (from the host that triggered the signature) to the destination port of the traffic that triggered the signature. If an attacker targets a specific service on systems across your network, Request Block Connection would prevent the attack from proceeding. The attacker would still be able to send traffic to other services or ports (any destination port except the destination port that originally triggered the alarm). In a false positive situation, you deny only a single service (port number) on the normal user's system. This is still a DoS situation but is not as severe as denying all traffic from the user.

You configure IP blocking on an individual-signature basis. This section focuses on explaining the following topics:

  • IP blocking devices

  • Blocking guidelines

  • Blocking process

  • Access Control List (ACL) considerations

Before broaching these topics, you may benefit from reviewing some of the terminology used in conjunction with IP blocking.

IP Blocking Definitions

Table 9-2 lists the terms commonly used in conjunction with IP blocking.

Table 9-2. IP Blocking Common Terms

Term

Definition

Active ACL

The dynamically created Access Control Lists (ACL) that the sensor applies to the managed device.

Blocking sensor

A sensor that you have configured to control one or more managed devices.

Device management

The capability of a sensor to interact with certain Cisco devices and dynamically reconfigure them to block the source of an attack by using an ACL, a VACL, or the shun command on the PIX Firewall.

IP blocking

A feature of Cisco IPS that enables your sensor to block traffic from an attacking system that has triggered a signature that is configured for blocking.

Interface/direction

The combination of the interface and direction on the interface (in or out) determines where a blocking ACL is applied on your managed device. You can configure the Network Access Controller (NAC) to block a total of ten interface/direction combinations (across all devices on the sensor).

Managed device

The Cisco device that blocks the source of an attack after being reconfigured by the blocking sensor.

Managed interface

The interface on the managed device on which the sensor applies the dynamically created ACL. This is also known as the blocking interface.


IP Blocking Devices

You can configure your sensor to perform device management on a variety of Cisco devices. You can use the following types of devices as managed devices:

  • Cisco routers

  • Cisco Catalyst 6000 switches

  • Cisco PIX Firewalls or Adaptive Security Appliances (ASAs)

Cisco Routers

The following Cisco routers have been tested and approved to serve as blocking devices:

  • Cisco routers running IOS 11.2 or later

  • Catalyst 5000 switches with a Remote Switch Module (RSM)

  • Catalyst 6000 with an Multilayer Switch Feature Card (MSFC)

The Network Access Controller (NAC) on a single sensor can control up to ten interfaces on any of the supported devices.

When using IP blocking, your sensor must be able to communicate with the managed device in order to reconfigure the device to block the traffic from the attacking system. Your sensor logs in to the managed device and dynamically applies an ACL. The sensor also removes the block after a configured amount of time. To manipulate the ACLs on the managed device, configure the following on your managed routers:

  • VTY access Enabled

  • Line password Assigned to VTY

  • Telnet or Secure Shell (SSH) access Allowed from sensor

  • Router's enable password Assigned

Note

Although Telnet is available, SSH access to your IOS router is preferred because the communication with the router is encrypted (preventing someone on the network from sniffing your login credentials).


Cisco Catalyst 6000 Switches

Some Catalyst 6000 switches do not support ACLs (for example, those without an MSFC). You can still use these devices to perform device management by using VLAN Access Control Lists (VACLs) if you have a Policy Feature Card (PFC) and you are running CatOS.

Note

To support ACLs on your Catalyst 6000 switch, you must have an MSFC installed on the switch. If your supervisor module contains a PFC, your Catalyst 6000 switch supports VACLs. If you have neither a PFC nor an MSFC, your Catalyst 6000 switch supports neither VACLs nor ACLs, and it cannot be used for IP blocking.


To manipulate the VACLs on the Catalyst 6000 switch device, you must configure the following on your Catalyst switch:

  • Telnet Access (VTY) Enabled

  • Line password Assigned to VTY

  • Telnet Access or SSH access Allowed from sensor

  • Switch's enable password Assigned

Note

If your Catalyst 6000 switch has an MSFC and you are running CatOS on your switch, you have the option of using ACLs or VACLs when implementing IP blocking.


Note

Although Telnet is available, SSH access to your Catalyst 6000 switch is preferred because the communication with the switch is encrypted (preventing someone on the network from sniffing your login credentials).


Cisco PIX Firewalls

In addition to Cisco routers and Catalyst 6000 switches, you can also use Cisco PIX Firewalls (and ASAs) to serve as managed devices. Instead of updating an ACL on the router, however, the sensor uses the PIX Firewall's shun command to block the traffic from the attacking system. Since the shun command was introduced in version 6.0 of the PIX operating system, any of the following PIX models running version 6.0 or higher can serve as a managed device:

  • 501

  • 506E

  • 515E

  • 525

  • 535

Just as with the Cisco routers that serve as blocking devices, your sensor must be able to communicate with the PIX Firewalls being used as blocking devices. To communicate with the PIX Firewall, you must enable one of the following communication protocols:

  • Telnet

  • SSH

Note

Although Telnet is available, SSH access to your PIX Firewall is preferred because the communication with the firewall is encrypted (preventing someone on the network from sniffing your login credentials). This is especially important for access to your PIX Firewall because it is installed to protect your network.


No matter which of these communication protocols you decide to use, you must assign an enable password to your PIX Firewall.

Blocking Guidelines

The IP blocking functionality in Cisco IPS provides a powerful tool to protect your network. If IP blocking is used incorrectly, however, a knowledgeable attacker can use the error against your network in a DoS attack.

The IP blocking feature generates ACLs that are based solely on IP addresses. The sensor has no mechanism to determine whether the address being blocked is a critical server on your network or the address of a legitimate attacker. Therefore, implementing IP blocking requires careful planning and analysis. Some of the important considerations in designing and implementing IP blocking are as follows:

  • Antispoofing mechanisms

  • Critical hosts

  • Network topology

  • Entry points

  • Signature selection

  • Blocking duration

  • Device login information

  • Interface ACL requirements

Antispoofing Mechanisms

Attackers will usually forge packets with IP addresses that are either private addresses (refer to RFC 1918) or addresses of your internal network. The attacker's goal is to have Cisco Secure IPS block valid IP addresses, thus causing a DoS. When you properly implement an antispoofing mechanism, Cisco Secure IPS will not block these valid addresses.

An excellent reference on IP address filtering is RFC 2827, "Network Ingress Filtering: Defeating Denial of Service Attacks Which Employ IP Source Address Spoofing." This reference explains how you can apply basic filtering to your router interfaces. Although these recommendations are not foolproof, they significantly help reduce the IP spoofing attacks against your network.

Basically, you want to make sure that all of the traffic leaving your protected network comes from a source IP address that is a valid address on your protected network. Consequently, for traffic entering your protected network, you need to make sure that the source IP address is not one of your valid internal addresses. Addresses that violate these criteria are probably spoofed and need to be dropped by your router.

Critical Hosts

Many hosts on your network perform critical tasks. To prevent any possible disruption of the operation of your network, these systems should not be blocked. Critical components that should not be blocked include the following:

  • Cisco IDS sensors

  • AAA server

  • Perimeter firewall

  • DNS servers

By establishing never-block addresses (see "Defining Addresses Never to Block" later in the chapter) for these critical systems, you can prevent IP blocking from disrupting the operation of these important systems (either accidentally or during a deliberate attack).

Network Topology

Your network topology impacts the implementation of IP blocking. You will have sensors deployed throughout your network, but a single blocking device can be controlled by only one sensor. You need to decide which sensors will control which managed devices. Furthermore, a single sensor can perform IP blocking only on a maximum of ten interfaces across one or more managed devices.

Entry Points

Many networks have multiple entry points to provide redundancy and reliability. These entry points provide multiple avenues for an attacker to access your network. You need to decide if all of these entry points need to participate in IP blocking. Furthermore, you need to make sure that when IP blocking is initiated on one entry point, an attacker cannot bypass the block by using another entry point. If multiple sensors perform blocking on your network, you will need to configure Master Blocking Sensors to coordinate blocking between these various sensors.

Signature Selection

Cisco IPS supports hundreds of signatures. It is not feasible or manageable to perform IP blocking on all of these signatures. Some signatures are more susceptible to spoofing than others. If you implement IP blocking on a UDP signature, for instance, an attacker may be able to impersonate one of your business partners, causing you to generate a DoS attack against your own network.

Other signatures are prone to false positives. Implementing IP blocking on these signatures can disrupt normal user traffic since the sensor has no way of distinguishing a false positive from a real attack.

Deciding which signatures you want to perform IP blocking and whether the blocking will be for the destination port only (Request Block Connection) or all traffic (Request Block Host) is one of the major configuration tasks in implementing IP blocking on your network.

Blocking Duration

The default blocking duration is 30 minutes for signatures configured to perform IP blocking. You need to decide whether this value is appropriate for your network environment. IP blocking is designed to stop traffic from an attacking host to enable you to analyze what is happening and give you time to take more long-term blocking actions, if appropriate.

Note

For manually initiated IP blocking, the default duration is 60 minutes.


If your blocking duration is too short, the attacker will regain access to your network before you have had a chance to fully examine the extent of the attack and to take appropriate actions. If the initial attack compromises a system, the subsequent access (after the blocking duration expires) might appear to be normal user traffic and might not trigger any of your IPS signatures. So it is important to thoroughly analyze the attack before the attacker can regain access to your network.

Setting your blocking duration too high, however, also has its drawbacks. A very large duration value creates a DoS situation when the block occurs because of a false positive. Since the block duration is long, it will impact the normal user for a longer period of time (usually until you have analyzed the circumstances and determined that the alarm was a false positive). You must carefully consider the appropriate blocking duration for your network environment.

Device Login Information

When implementing IP blocking, your sensor must be able to log in to the managed device and dynamically apply an ACL (or other IP blocking feature). Therefore, your sensor needs to have privileged login credentials to this device. Some devices support SSH, whereas others may support only Telnet. When you connect via Telnet, the connection needs to traverse a secure network (to protect login credentials), whereas SSH access has somewhat more flexibility because the traffic is encrypted.

Interface ACL Requirements

An interface/direction on your managed device can have only one ACL applied to it. If you already have existing ACL entries on a given interface/direction (besides the block entries generated by the NAC), you need to configure these entries in either a Pre-Block ACL or Post-Block ACL (or both) on your managed device.

When the NAC generates a blocking ACL for a device, it first includes all of the entries from the Pre-Block ACL. Then it adds the block entries that it dynamically creates. Finally, it adds the entries from the Post-Block ACL. This is the complete ACL that is applied to the managed device.

Blocking Process

Blocking is initiated when a signature configured for IP blocking triggers an alarm or when a manual blocking event is generated. This causes the NAC to create the appropriate blocking ACLs (or sets of configurations) and to send this information to all of the managed devices that it controls. At the same time, an alarm is sent to the Event Store. When the block duration expires, the NAC updates the ACLs (or configurations) to remove the block from each controlled device.

The NAC is the sensor service that controls starting and stopping blocks on routers, switches, and PIX Firewalls (and ASAs). A block is initiated when one of the following two events occurs:

  • A signature configured with the block action triggers

  • You manually initiate a block (from a management interface such as the Command Line Interface [CLI] or IDM)

Note

Usually, blocks expire after a configured amount of time. You can also configure the NAC to initiate a permanent block that does not expire until you remove it. These permanent blocks will initiate a persistent connection with your managed device until you remove the block.


The blocking process involves the following sequence of operations:

  1. An event or action configured for blocking occurs.

  2. The NAC sends a new set of configurations or ACLs (one for each interface/direction) to each controlled device. It applies the block to each interface/direction on all the devices that the sensor is configured to control.

  3. For alarm events, the alarm is sent to the Event Store at the same time that the block is applied. These events happen independently of each other.

  4. When the configured block duration expires, the NAC updates the configurations or ACLs to remove the block.

ACL Placement Considerations

When applying ACLs on your network, consider your operational requirements and network topology. You have several options when applying ACLs to one of your network devices. The ACL might be applied on either the external or internal interface of the router. It can also be configured for inbound or outbound traffic on each of these two interfaces (when using ACLs). Although you can choose inbound or outbound traffic (with respect to the router interface, not your network) on each physical interface, the most ACL placements are illustrated in Figure 9-4.

Figure 9-4. ACL Placement


When deciding where to apply your ACLs, you need to understand the various options available to you. These options are as follows:

  • Traffic direction

  • External interface or internal interface

Note

VACLs do not have a concept of traffic direction. If you use VACLs, you must limit traffic without regard to the traffic's direction.


The traffic direction option specifies whether the ACL is applied to traffic entering the interface or to traffic leaving the interface. You can allow certain traffic into an interface while denying this same traffic from leaving the interface. You must apply a traffic direction when creating an ACL for a given interface on your network.

The external interface is located on the unprotected side of your network device (see Figure 9-4). Applying your ACL to your external interface for inbound traffic provides the best protection since the traffic is denied before it enters the router.

The internal interface resides on the protected side of your network device (see Figure 9-4). Applying your ACL to your internal interface for inbound traffic does not block traffic from reaching the router itself and prevents you from accidentally blocking traffic that your router needs.

External Versus Internal

Applying the ACL to the external interface in the inward direction denies a host access before the router processes the packets. If the attacker is generating a large amount of traffic (common for DoS attacks), this reduces the performance impact on your router.

Applying the ACL to the internal interface in the outbound direction denies traffic from a host to the devices on your protected network but allows the packets to be processed by the router. This scenario is less desirable, but it has the benefit of preventing you from accidentally denying traffic that the router needs, such as routing updates.

Each network configuration has its own requirements. You must decide, based on your unique network architecture, which configuration meets your needs for security and user functionality.

ACLs Versus VACLs

In most situations, you are limited to using either ACLs or VACLs. But if you have an MSFC and a Catalyst 6000 running CatOS, you can choose to use either VACLs or ACLs. Therefore, it is helpful to understand the benefits of each of these access-control mechanisms.

VACLs are directionless. You can't specify a direction as you can when defining ACLs. This means that if direction is important to you when blocking the traffic, using an ACL is the only choice.

ACLs are applied to the MSFC on the switch. The MSFC is essentially a headless router, and any ACLs that you define on the MSFC are used to restrict only the flow of traffic between different VLANs or broadcast domains. ACLs can't be used to restrict traffic between systems on the same network segment (since the traffic is transmitted at the link layer). A VACL, however, is applied at the link layer on the switch (which is one of the reasons why VACLs are directionless). This means that VACLs can restrict traffic between systems that are on the same network segment or VLAN.

Using Existing ACLs

In some situations, you may need to configure an IP block on an interface/direction on which you already have an ACL. If you simply configure your sensor to generate blocks for an interface/ direction on the managed device, your existing ACL entries will be lost because the blocking sensor will take control of the interface and apply its own ACL. Therefore, to use blocking on an interface/ direction that has an existing ACL, you need to define the following extra ACLs:

  • Pre-Block ACL

  • Post-Block ACL

When you configure a sensor as a blocking sensor, it takes control of the ACL for the specified interface and traffic direction on the managed device. If you configure either a Pre-Block or Post-Block ACL, the sensor applies these entries to the managed device by creating a single ACL composed of the Pre-Block and Post-Block entries. When a blocking event occurs, the NAC creates a new single ACL to perform the blocking. This ACL begins with the Pre-Block ACL entries following by the dynamically created block entries and ending with the Post-Block entries.

Note

Consider carefully which entries you place in your Pre-Block ACL. The addresses allowed by the Pre-Block ACL will come before the dynamically created block entries (in the ACL that is applied to the managed device). That means that these entries can't be blocked by the block entries because the router looks for only the first match in the ACL.


Master Blocking Sensor

Depending on your network configuration, you may have multiple entry points into your network. When one of your sensors initiates a blocking event, it prevents further intrusive traffic from entering your network from that source address. If more than one of your sensors is configured for IP blocking, you probably need these sensors to coordinate their blocking actions with each other so that all entry points into you network are blocked when an attack is noticed by any of your sensors. A Master Blocking Sensor can handle this coordination.

It is, perhaps, easiest to explain the Master Blocking Sensor through an example. Figure 9-5 illustrates a scenario in which a network is connected to the Internet through multiple Internet service providers (ISPs). A Cisco Secure IPS sensor monitors each of the entry points into this network. Furthermore, each of the sensors is configured to perform device management on its associated border or perimeter router.

Figure 9-5. Master Blocking Sensor Scenario


An attacker attempts to compromise a host on the protected network (Step 1 in Figure 9-5). This usually involves the attacker launching an exploit against the target machine.

When Sensor A detects the attack, it fires one of the signatures in its database (Step 2 in Figure 9-5). Because the signature is configured for blocking, Sensor A telnets (or uses SSH) into Router A and updates the ACL to block the traffic from the attacker's host. At the same time, the sensor performs other signature actions such as generating the alert event (Step 3 in Figure 9-5).

The ACL on Router A will prevent the attacker from sending any traffic into the network through Provider X's network (see Figure 9-5). Because there are two entry points into the network, however, the attacker can reroute his traffic through Provider Y's network because it is still allowing traffic from the attacker's host. Therefore, to completely protect the network from the attacker, Sensor B is configured as a Master Blocking Sensor.

After blocking the attacker's traffic at Router A, Sensor A then tells Sensor B to also block the attacker's traffic. Since Sensor B is configured as the Master Blocking Sensor (for Sensor A), Sensor B accepts Sensor A's request and telnets (or uses SSH) into Router B to update the ACL to also block the attacker's traffic. At this point, both entry points into the network are now protected from the attacker.

Note

A savvy network security administrator will configure Sensor A to command Sensor B to block traffic from Provider Y's router. This will protect the network from attacks initiated through Provider X's network. Then to complete the security configuration, the administrator also needs to configure Sensor A as the Master Blocking Sensor for Sensor B. Therefore, whether an attack comes from Provider X or Provider Y's network, both entry points are protected.


Configuring IP Blocking

When configuring IP blocking, you need to perform numerous configuration operations. These operations fall into the following categories:

  • Assigning a block action

  • Setting blocking properties

  • Defining addresses never to block

  • Setting up logical devices

  • Defining blocking devices

  • Defining Master Blocking Sensors

Assigning a Blocking Action

Before your sensor will initiate IP blocking, configure one or more of your Cisco IPS signatures with a blocking action. In IDM version 5.0, you can configure the actions for a signature by performing the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IDM by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Configuration icon to display the list of configuration tasks.

Step 3.

If the items under the Signature Definition category are not displayed, click on the plus sign to the left of Signature Definition.

Step 4.

Select Signature Configuration from the IDM configuration options to access the Signature Configuration screen.

Step 5.

Click on Actions to access the Assign Actions popup window (see Figure 9-6).

Figure 9-6. Assign Actions Popup


Step 6.

Assign the desired actions by clicking on the box next to the action until a check mark appears. (Clicking on a box with a check mark removes the check mark.)

Step 7.

Click on OK to accept the action changes for the highlighted signature.

Step 8.

Click on Apply to save the configuration information to the sensor.

Note

You can also configure the actions for a signature by editing the Event Action field for the signature. Configuring signatures is explained in detail in Chapter 5, "Basic Cisco IPS Signature Configuration," and Chapter 7, "Advanced Signature Configuration."


Setting Blocking Properties

Certain blocking properties apply to all of the signatures that are configured with the block action. The following blocking parameters apply to all automatic blocks that the NAC initiates:

  • Maximum block entries

  • Allow the sensor IP address to be blocked

  • Block duration

The maximum block entries parameter specifies the maximum number of dynamically created block entries that the blocking sensor can place into the ACL to block attacking hosts. This value prevents the sensor from generating an ACL that contains an abnormally large number of entries, which could impact the performance of the managed device. The default value is 250 entries.

The blocking properties screen contains a check box that is labeled with something similar to "Allow the sensor IP address to be blocked" (phrasing varies slightly between management systems). Checking this box causes the sensor to place a permit entry for the sensor's IP address at the beginning of the dynamically created block entries. Because this permit statement is processed before any deny entries, traffic to the sensor's IP address can't be blocked by the blocking ACL.

The block action duration parameter specifies the length of time that your blocking sensor will wait before removing the blocking ACL. The default block duration is 30 minutes. Unlike the other two general blocking properties, the block action duration parameter is located on the Event Action Rules>General Settings configuration screen.

Setting Blocking Properties via IDM

To set the blocking properties through IDM, perform the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IDM by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Configuration icon to display the list of configuration tasks.

Step 3.

If the items under the Blocking category are not displayed, click on the plus sign to the left of Blocking.

Step 4.

Click on Blocking Properties to access the Blocking Properties configuration screen. (See Figure 9-7.)

Figure 9-7. IDM Blocking Properties Configuration Screen


Step 5.

Enter the maximum number of entries allowed in the blocking ACL by entering a value in the Maximum Block Entries field. (The default is 250.)

Step 6.

Make sure the check box next to Enable blocking is checked. (This is the default.)

Step 7.

Make sure that the check box next to Allow the sensor IP address to be blocked is not selected. (This is the default, to prevent the sensor from blocking its own IP address.)

Step 8.

Click on Apply to apply the changes to the sensor's configuration.

Defining Addresses Never to Block

To prevent your blocking sensor from blocking traffic to critical systems on your network (either accidentally or because of a deliberate attack), you can configure which IP addresses your blocking device should never block.

Note

The never-block entries are added (as permit statements) before the dynamically created blocking entries that are generated by the sensor. Since these entries come before any blocking entries, these addresses can't be blocked by the blocking ACL.


To configure which addresses can't be blocked by the blocking ACL generated by your blocking sensor when using IDM, perform the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IDM by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Configuration icon to display the list of configuration tasks.

Step 3.

If the items under the Blocking category are not displayed, click on the plus sign to the left of Blocking.

Step 4.

Click on Blocking Properties to access the Blocking Properties configuration screen. (See Figure 9-8.)

Figure 9-8. Configuring Never Block Addresses in IDM


Step 5.

Click on Add to access the Add Never Block Address popup window. (See Figure 9-9.)

Figure 9-9. Never Block Address Popup Window


Step 6.

In the IP Address field, enter the IP address (or network address) that should not be blocked.

Step 7.

Use the pull-down menu for the Mask field to define the network mask associated with the IP address that you entered (the default is the single host network mask [255.255.255.255]).

Step 8.

Click on OK to save the never-block address that you specified.

Step 9.

Click on Apply to apply the changes to the sensor's configuration.

Note

From the Never Block Addresses screen, you can manipulate existing entries by highlighting the entry that you want to modify and then clicking on either Edit or Delete.


Setting Up Logical Devices

If you use IDM to manage your sensors, you can configure Device Login Profiles to identify the following authentication parameters for a blocking device:

  • Username

  • Password

  • Enable Password

When you create a blocking device, you associate the appropriate login profile with it. A single login profile can be associated with multiple blocking devices.

To configure a device login profile in IDM, perform the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IDM by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Configuration icon to display the list of configuration tasks.

Step 3.

If the items under the Blocking category are not displayed, click on the plus sign to the left of Blocking.

Step 4.

Click on Device Login Profiles to access the Device Login Profiles configuration screen. (See Figure 9-10.)

Figure 9-10. IDM Device Login Profiles Configuration Screen


Step 5.

Click on Add to access the Add Device Login Profile popup window. (See Figure 9-11.)

Figure 9-11. IDM Add Device Login Profile Popup Window


Step 6.

Enter the name of the new profile in the Profile Name field.

Step 7.

Enter the desired username in the Username field.

Step 8.

(Optional) Enter the login password in the Login Password New Password and Confirm New Password fields.

Step 9.

(Optional) Enter the enable password in the Enable Password New Password and Confirm New Password fields.

Step 10.

Click on OK to save the device login profile.

Step 11.

Click on Apply to apply the changes to the sensor's configuration.

Defining Blocking Devices

Cisco IPS supports the following three types of blocking devices:

  • IOS routers

  • Catalyst 6000 switches with a PFC (running CatOS)

  • PIX Firewalls (and ASAs)

Each of these blocking devices uses a slightly different mechanism to block traffic on the network. The routers use ACLs to restrict traffic flow. The Catalyst switch uses VACLs to restrict traffic, and the PIX Firewalls use the shun command to restrict traffic. Therefore, the processes for configuring each of these types of blocking devices differ slightly.

Note

It is important to choose the correct device type when defining a blocking device. The sensor creates the commands to initiate blocking based on this device type. Using the wrong device type (especially with respect to the operating system running on the Catalyst switch) will prevent blocking from operating correctly.


Defining Blocking Devices Using IDM

When you use IDM, defining a blocking device is a two-step process. You must first define the blocking device. Then you define one of the following interfaces that you associate with the blocking device:

  • Router Blocking Device interface

  • Cat6K Blocking Device interface

Note

You do not need to create an interface when you are using a PIX Firewall as your blocking device. The PIX Firewall performs the blocking via its shun command, so you do not need to specify an interface. So with PIX-managed devices, you need to define only the blocking device itself.


You define blocking devices through IDM by defining the fields shown in Table 9-3.

Table 9-3. IDM Blocking Device Fields

Field

Description

IP Address

The IP address that the sensor will use to communicate with the blocking device.

Sensor's NAT Address

(Optional) The NAT address of the blocking device.

Device Login Profile

Pull-down menu that allows you to select a device that logically defines the login credentials for the blocking device.

Device Type

Pull-down menu that allows you to select the blocking device type. Valid options are Cisco Router, Catalyst 6000 VACL, and PIX.

Communication

Pull-down menu that allows you to select the communication vehicle that you plan to use to communicate with the blocking device. Valid options are SSH DES, SSH 3DES, and Telnet.


Note

If you choose SSH DES or SSH 3DES, you need to use the CLI command ssh host-key to add the router to the list of valid SSH servers before the sensor will be able to successfully communicate with your blocking device. For more information on adding a host key, refer to the section titled "Adding a Known SSH Host" in Chapter 2.


To add a blocking device by using the IDM interface, you perform the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IDM by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Configuration icon to display the list of configuration tasks.

Step 3.

If the items under the Blocking category are not displayed, click on the plus sign to the left of Blocking.

Step 4.

Click on Blocking to access the Blocking Devices configuration screen. (See Figure 9-12.)

Figure 9-12. IDM Blocking Devices Configuration Screen


Step 5.

Click on Add to access the Add Blocking Device popup window. (See Figure 9-13.)

Figure 9-13. IDM Add Blocking Device Popup Window


Step 6.

Define the blocking device by entering the correct values for the blocking device fields specified in Table 9-3.

Step 7.

Click on OK to save the new blocking device entry.

Step 8.

Click on Apply to apply the changes to the sensor's configuration.

Defining Router Blocking Devices Interfaces Using IDM

Your blocking sensor needs to know which interface on your router you want to apply the blocking ACL to. You configure this information by defining a router-blocking device interface entry using the fields listed in Table 9-4.

Table 9-4. IDM Router Blocking Device Interface Fields

Field

Description

IP Address

The IP address that the sensor will use to communicate with the blocking device. You select this entry from a pull-down menu that lists the addresses of the router-blocking devices that you have defined.

Blocking Interface

The interface on the blocking device where the blocking sensor will apply the blocking ACL.

Blocking Direction

Determines whether the blocking ACL will be applied on inbound or outbound traffic on the blocking interface. You select either In or Out from the pull-down menu.

Pre-Block ACL Name

(Optional) Name of the ACL (on the blocking device) whose entries will be inserted at the beginning of the blocking ACL.

Post-Block ACL Name

(Optional) Name of the ACL (on the blocking device) whose entries will be placed at the end of the blocking ACL.


To add a router interface in the IDM interface, perform the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IDM by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Configuration icon to display the list of configuration tasks.

Step 3.

If the items under the Blocking category are not displayed, click on the plus sign to the left of Blocking.

Step 4.

Click on Router Blocking Device Interfaces to access the Router Blocking Device Interfaces configuration screen. (See Figure 9-14.)

Figure 9-14. IDM Router Blocking Device Interfaces Configuration Screen


Step 5.

Click on Add to access the Add Router Blocking Device Interface screen. (See Figure 9-15.)

Figure 9-15. IDM Add Router Blocking Device Interfaces Screen


Step 6.

Define the router blocking device interface by entering the correct values for the router blocking device interface fields specified in Table 9-4.

Step 7.

Click on OK to save the new router blocking device interface entry.

Step 8.

Click on Apply to apply the changes to the sensor's configuration.

Defining Cat6K Blocking Device Interfaces Using IDM

Your blocking sensor needs to know which VLAN on your Catalyst 6000 switch you want to apply the blocking VACL to, along with your Pre-Block and Post-Block information. You configure this information by defining the fields listed in Table 9-5.

Table 9-5. IDM Cat6K Blocking Device Interface Fields

Field

Description

IP Address

The IP address that the sensor will use to communicate with the blocking device. You select this entry from a pull-down menu that lists the addresses of the Cat6K blocking devices that you have defined.

VLAN Number

The VLAN on the blocking device where the blocking sensor will apply the blocking VACL.

Pre-Block VACL Name

The name of the VACL (on the blocking device) whose entries will be inserted at the beginning of the blocking ACL.

Post-Block VACL Name

The name of the VACL (on the blocking device) whose entries will be placed at the end of the blocking ACL.


To add a Cat6K blocking interface by using the IDM interface, perform the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IDM by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Configuration icon to display the list of configuration tasks.

Step 3.

If the items under the Blocking category are not displayed, click on the plus sign to the left of Blocking.

Step 4.

Click on Cat6K Blocking Device Interfaces to access the Cat6K Blocking Device Interfaces configuration screen. (See Figure 9-16.)

Figure 9-16. IDM Cat6K Blocking Device Interfaces Configuration Screen


Step 5.

Click on Add to access the Add Cat6K Blocking Device Interface screen. (See Figure 9-17.)

Figure 9-17. IDM Add Cat6K Blocking Device Interfaces Screen


Step 6.

Define the Cat6k blocking device interface by entering the correct values for the Cat6K blocking device interface fields specified in Table 9-5.

Step 7.

Click on OK to save the new Cat6K blocking device interface entry.

Step 8.

Click on Apply to apply the changes to the sensor's configuration.

Defining Master Blocking Sensors

One sensor can initiate blocking on multiple managed devices on your network. Only one sensor, however, can initiate blocking on a specific managed device. If you use multiple sensors to perform IP blocking on your network, you will need to define Master Blocking Sensors to coordinate your blocking so that all entrances into your network are protected.

Configuring a Master Blocking Sensor in IDM

When defining a Master Blocking Sensor in IDM, you need to specify the parameters listed in Table 9-6.

Table 9-6. IDM Master Blocking Sensor Fields

Field

Description

IP Address

Specifies the IP address of the sensor that will apply the blocking requests to the managed device

Port

Indicates the port that the sensor will connect to when communicating with the Master Blocking Sensor

Username

Username of the account that the sensor will use when connecting to the Master Blocking Sensor

Password

Password of the account that the sensor will use when connecting to the Master Blocking Sensor

Use TLS

Check box indicating whether the communication with the Master Blocking Sensor is over an encrypted channel


Note

As when you use SSH instead of Telnet, you should use Transport Layer Security (TLS) when communicating with the Master Blocking Sensor since it encrypts the communication session, preventing an attacker from viewing the information (such as login credentials) exchanged during the session.


To add a Master Blocking Sensor in IDM, you need to perform the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IDM by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Configuration icon to display the list of configuration tasks.

Step 3.

If the items under the Blocking category are not displayed, click on the plus sign to the left of Blocking.

Step 4.

Click on Master Blocking Sensor to access the Master Blocking Sensor configuration screen. (See Figure 9-18.)

Figure 9-18. IDM Master Blocking Sensor Configuration Screen


Step 5.

Click on Add to access the Add Master Blocking Sensor popup window. (See Figure 9-19.)

Figure 9-19. IDM Add Master Blocking Sensor Popup Window


Step 6.

Define the Master Blocking Sensor by entering the correct values for the Master Blocking Sensor fields specified in Table 9-6.

Step 7.

Click on OK to save the new Master Blocking Sensor entry.

Step 8.

Click on Apply to apply the changes to the sensor's configuration.

Manual Blocking

Using IDM, you can also manually initiate block requests. You have the option of initiating manual blocks for a single host or for a specific network.

Blocking Hosts

When defining a manual block against a single host, you need to define the fields shown in Table 9-7.

Table 9-7. IDM Host Manual Block Fields

Field

Description

Source IP

The source address that will be blocked by the block request.

Enable Connection Blocking

Check box that enables blocking of connections (source IP combined with destination IP and possibly destination port) instead of just all traffic from the source host.

Destination IP

The destination address of the traffic to be blocked (required when the Enable Connection Blocking check box is selected.

Destination Port

(Optional) The destination port of the traffic to be blocked (can be specified only when the Enable Connection Blocking check box is selected).

Protocol

(Optional) The protocol to be blocked. Valid options are any, tcp, and udp, with any being the default (these can be specified only when the Enable Connection Blocking check box is selected).

Enable Timeout

If selected, causes the block to last for the number of minutes specified by the Timeout parameter.

Timeout

The length of time (in minutes) that you want the block to remain in effect, with the default being 60 minutes.

No Timeout

If selected, causes the block to never time out.


To initiate a manual host block, perform the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IDM by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Monitoring icon to display the list of monitoring tasks.

Step 3.

Click on Active Host Blocks to access the Active Host Blocks monitoring screen. (See Figure 9-20.)

Figure 9-20. IDM Active Host Blocks Monitoring Screen


Step 4.

Click on Add to access the Add Active Host Block popup window. (See Figure 9-21.)

Figure 9-21. IDM Add Active Host Block Popup Window


Step 5.

Define the host to block by entering the correct values for the host block fields specified in Table 9-7.

Step 6.

Click on Apply to apply the host block to the sensor's configuration.

Note

You can remove current manual host blocks by clicking on the host block entry to highlight it and then by clicking on Delete.


Blocking Networks

When defining a manual block against a network, you need to define the fields shown in Table 9-8.

Table 9-8. IDM Network Manual Block Fields

Field

Description

Source IP

The source IP address that will be blocked by the block request.

Netmask

The netmask that defines which bits in the IP address are part of the network address that will be blocked. A 1 in the mask indicates a valid part of the network address, and a 0 indicates bits that are not part of the network.

Enable Timeout

If selected, causes the block to last for the number of minutes specified by the Timeout parameter.

Timeout

The length of time (in minutes) that you want the block to remain in effect, with the default being 60 minutes.

No Timeout

If selected, causes the block to never time out.


To initiate a manual network block, perform the following steps:

Step 1.

Access IDM by entering the following URL in your web browser: https://sensor_ip_address.

Step 2.

Click on the Monitoring icon to display the list of monitoring tasks.

Step 3.

Click on Network Blocks to access the Network Blocks monitoring screen. (See Figure 9-22.)

Figure 9-22. IDM Network Blocks Monitoring Screen


Step 4.

Click on Add to access the Add Network Block popup window. (See Figure 9-23.)

Figure 9-23. IDM Add Network Block Popup Window


Step 5.

Define the network to block by entering the correct values for the network block fields specified in Table 9-8.

Step 6.

Click on Apply to apply the host block to the sensor's configuration.

Note

You can remove the current manual network block entry by first selecting the network block entry and then clicking on Delete.


TCP Reset

The TCP reset response action essentially kills the current TCP connection from the attacker by sending a TCP reset packet to both systems involved in the TCP connection. This response is effective only for TCP-based connections. UDP traffic, for example, is unaffected by TCP resets.

Note

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) provides a connection-oriented communication mechanism. The connection is established through a three-way handshake. To terminate a connection, each side of the connection can send a FIN packet, signaling the end of the connection. It is also possible, however, for one side of the connection to abruptly terminate the connection by sending a reset packet (a packet with the RST flag set) to the other side. The sensor uses this approach to terminate an attacker TCP connection. For a detailed explanation of TCP/IP protocols, refer to W. Richard Stevens's book, TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1: The Protocols, published by Addison-Wesley.


To configure a (TCP-based) signature to perform the TCP reset response action, you only need to configure the Reset TCP Connection action for the signature. Then, when a specific TCP connection triggers the signature, the sensor will send TCP resets to both ends of the connection to terminate it. Although this ends the attacker's connection with your network, it does not prevent the attacker from initiating another connection with your network. This new connection will work until another triggered signature either resets the connection or initiates a blocking response.



CCSP IPS Exam Certification Guide
CCSP IPS Exam Certification Guide
ISBN: 1587201461
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 119
Authors: Earl Carter

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