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Enterprise Firewall with Application Awareness

Cisco’s Enterprise Firewall with Application Awareness uses a flexible and easily understood zone-based model for traffic inspection, compared to the older interface-based model.

A firewall policy is a type of localized security policy that allows stateful inspection of TCP, UDP, and ICMP data traffic flows. Traffic flows that originate in a given zone are allowed to proceed to another zone based on the policy between the two zones. A zone is a grouping of one or more VPNs. Grouping VPNs into zones allows you to establish security boundaries in your overlay network so that you can control all data traffic that passes between zones.

Zone configuration consists of the following components:

  • Source zone—A grouping of VPNs where the data traffic flows originate. A VPN can be part of only one zone.
  • Destination zone—A grouping of VPNs where the data traffic flows terminate. A VPN can be part of only one zone.
  • Firewall policy—A security policy, similar to a localized security policy, that defines the conditions that the data traffic flow from the source zone must match to allow the flow to continue to the destination zone. Firewall policies can match IP prefixes, IP ports, the protocols TCP, UDP, and ICMP, and applications. Matching flows for prefixes, ports, and protocols can be accepted or dropped, and the packet headers can be logged. Nonmatching flows are dropped by default. Matching applications are denied.
  • Zone pair—A container that associates a source zone with a destination zone and that applies a firewall policy to the traffic that flows between the two zones.

Matching flows that are accepted can be processed in two different ways:

  • Inspect—The packet's header can be inspected to determine its source address and port. 
  • Pass—Allow the packet to pass to the destination zone without inspecting the packet's header at all. 

The following figure shows a simple scenario in which three VPNs are configured on a XE SD-WAN Router. One of the VPNs, VPN 3, has shared resources that you want to restrict access to. These resources could be printers or confidential customer data. For the remaining two VPNs in this scenario, only users in one of them, VPN 1, are allowed to access the resources in VPN 3, while users in VPN 2 are denied access to these resources. In this scenario, we want data traffic to flow from VPN 1 to VPN 3, but we do not want traffic to flow in the other direction, from VPN 3 to VPN 1.

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Firewall policies perform stateful inspection of TCP, UDP, and ICMP flows between zones. They examine the source and destination IP addresses and ports in the packet headers, as well as the packet's protocol. Then, based on the configured zone-based policy, they allow traffic to pass between the zones or they drop the traffic.

The implementation of firewall policies varies slightly to that of localized security policy. Where you configure and apply localized security policy based only on VPNs, you configure and apply firewall policies to one or more VPNs that have been grouped into a zone. You activate localized security policy by applying it to individual interfaces on the XE SD-WAN Routers. When you activate firewall policies, they apply to the specific VPNs in the zones, without regard to any specific interfaces.

Application Firewall

The Application Firewall inspects and blocks traffic based on applications or application-family. This application-aware firewall feature provides the following benefits:

  • Application visibility and granular control
  • Classification of 1400+ layer 7 applications
  • Blocks traffic by application or application-family

You can create lists of individual applications or application families. A sequence that contains a specified application or application family list can be inspected. This inspect action is a Layer 4 action. Matching applications are blocked/denied.

vEdge Router provides Application Layer Gateway (ALG) FTP support with Network Address Translation – Direct Internet Access (NAT-DIA), Service NAT, and Enterprise Firewall.