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25 May 2020

F5 WAF – Good Protection

The first time I read about Web Application Firewall (WAF) I thought it would be difficult to install and configure because it’s really different from network firewall. Network firewall policies has mainly IP addresses and services. It’s easy to understand and configure. However, WAF has mainly file types, URL, HTTP methods and headers. It seems more complex than network firewall. Nevertheless, I think the most important thing is to start configuring a basic policy. We have to start small, but most of all, start. We are going to realise that a basic security policy will be a good protection. A basic security policy requires little administration effort. A basic security policy is going to protect a high percentage of applications.

Progressing with application security using the BIG-IP ASM system

We should enable Attack Signatures in a basic security policy for a good protection. An attack signature is a rule or pattern which is able to identify a particular attack. These signatures are updated by the F5 threat research team daily with the new vulnerabilities discovered. The F5 ASM uses these signatures to each HTTP request and response to detect and block known attacks. In addition, the Transparent Enforcement Mode is also really useful because we can apply a security policy in transparent mode to detect attacks but they are not going to be blocked. It’s really useful because we can know how many attacks and what kind of attacks web services are receiving.

Attack Signature List

IP Intelligence is another interesting useful feature for a good protection. IP Intelligence is a subscription-based database where there are lots of malicious IP addresses. Updating manually a blacklist is really difficult because malicious IP addresses are constantly changing. Therefore, configuring IP Intelligence to block malicious IP addresses is easy and a best practice. On the other hand, it’s also a best practice to configure the IP Geolocation feature, which is another database of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. This database can be used to identify the origin of traffic and, at the same time, we can deny access to a particular country of origin.

IP Intelligence
A common attack vector is confusing web servers, web applications, and security products using malicious content hidden in HTTP requests that web servers and simple HTTP proxies often fail to detect. As a result, Protocol Compliance must be mandatory in WAF security policies. For instance, HTTP Protocol Compliance will check Content-Length in POST requests as well as whether there is no Host header in HTTP/1.1 requests. You can see all the validation checks in this K10280. Moreover, Protection from Evasion Techniques, such as using ../ to navigate to a parent directory of interest, is also recommended.

HTTP Protocol Compliance
Finally, there are two more security features really useful for a good protection. One of them is Protection from Parameter Exploits - Blacklisting. This feature parses parameters and it validates the values against signature and metacharacter policies to identify known exploit patterns. The other security feature is Threat Campaigns which is a subscription service for Advanced WAF that provides a set of data to evaluate whether incoming requests are malicious.

Threat Campaign
Regards! Stay at home! Start protecting your web applications, but most of all, start!

18 May 2020

Destrucción Masiva

I’ve been reading a thrilling book these weeks. I've had to stay at home due to the COVID-19 for almost two months. Therefore, reading is one of the best thing I have done at home. Reading, studying and working are the main tasks I’ve been doing for the last two months. Actually, I listened to Fernando Rueda on the radio at the beginning of the pandemic. He was talking about the last book he had written, “Destrucción Masiva”, and I wrote it down. Last week, I’ve finished reading this book and I think it’s really interesting.

Destrucción Masiva is a book which tells us the true story of Spanish spies who were in Iraq from 2000 to 2003. They were there firstly to get intelligence information for the government and, secondly, for protecting the Spanish army after the U.S. invasion. Spanish spies were persecuted by the terrifying Mujabarat. They had very dangerous meetings with terrorist groups such as Shiites and Sadam Husein government staff. They were working even when they received threat of deaths. What’s more, the government of Spain, with Aznar as a president, didn’t like the high quality information these spies got from the dangerous meetings.

Spanish spies in Baghdad

If you like true stories and you like stories about spies, you have to read this amazing book. You will learn that an spy is not a James Bond but a human being with children, wife or husband, friends and a family. They have feelings such as fears and happiness. They do like his job but they also have to do tasks they don’t like. They miss their families when they are abroad. The most important thing, they are in dangerous missions to get intelligence information and to serve the Spanish government.

Regards! Reading is the best thing to know about the world!

11 May 2020

What’s new in BIG-IP version 15.0

I like reading the features and enhancements of new versions to know what I can configure in new installations. I’m used to installing the last technologies. Therefore, I have to know what it’s the last features that fit with the customers requirements. I wrote about What’s new in BIG-IP version 14.0 and What’s new in BIG-IP version 13.1. I’ll write about what’s new in BIG-IP version 15.0. However, from my point of view, version and are the recommended versions for production right now. Version 15 is cool but only for testing right now.

BIG-IP v15 includes lots of features and enhancements but I’m going to highlight only the security features because I think this new version has lots of security improvements. In fact, I think, there are more security enhancements than anything else. F5 Access Guard is one of them. This is a security feature for F5 APM which is a new client software designed to help administrators validate the security posture of incoming web connections from remote desktop clients. F5 Access Guard allows real-time posture information to be inspected with per-request policy subroutines on APM.

F5 Access Guard

Another interesting security feature is included in F5 Advanced WAF. It is a new dashboard spherically dedicated to OWASP Top 10 compliance that provides a security score relative OWASP top 10 related policies (e.g. injections). It also enable admins to see coverage status of each OWASP top 10 requirement for a selected policy. In addition, admins will be able to improve coverage and perform configuration changes directly from the dashboard. The dashboard also shows overview statistics for policy/application compliance/enforcement status.

OWASP Top 10 Compliance Dashboard
F5 SSL Orchestrator (SSLO) is not one of the most F5 device sold but I think we are going to use it more and more from version 15 because it is already supported in VIPRION chassis and vCMP. Therefore, it will be easy to deploy SSLO to optimize the SSL infrastructure, provide security devices with visibility of SSL/TLS encrypted traffic, and maximize efficient use of that existing security investment. F5 SSLO along with a network packet broker appliance such as Gigamon will improve and empower cyber security deployments.

F5 BIG-IP SSL Orchestrator
There are many more security enhancements in this new version. Enhancements such as Zone-based Firewall Configuration in F5 AFM where we can configure groups of VLANs into zone object to apply efficiently into firewall policies. Enhancements such as new IP Intelligence capabilities that enable the use of FQDNs which simplify policy management. Or enhancements such as Intelligence Asset Discovery which allows auto discovery of active systems and services to simplify DDoS mitigation deployment.

IP Intelligence Policy
To sum up, there are lots of new features and enhancements in this new version. It’s up to you testing these new features and be ready to apply them in the near future.

Regards! Stay at home!

4 May 2020

Comparing F5 Advanced WAF and BIG-IP ASM

I’ve worked with F5 LTM, APM, ASM and DNS. I think the first one, LTM, is the most used because it’s really powerful and really easy to use. ASM and APM modules are also interesting for protecting web applications and connecting to virtual private networks. They are increasingly used. The DNS or even AFM modules are also used but less than main modules such as LTM, APM and ASM. What’s really interesting is all of them are easy to use. The GUI is friendly. However, there is a new module we have to know. I think, F5 Advanced WAF is the module which will come to replace F5 ASM.

On one hand, we can protect web applications with F5 ASM from the beginning of the installation. We can start creating a basic security policy with attack signatures and protocol compliance. This simple policy is enough for protecting web applications against 90% of attacks. However, we can also improve the security policy with bot protection, XXE protection, CSRF protection, etc. The more you use your WAF, the better your security policies will be!

Another interesting protection technique for most web applications is L7 DDoS protection. DDoS attacks are very difficult to block. For instance, UDP flooding attacks can use all your bandwidth and your services will be inaccessible. It’s nearly impossible to stop this attack. However, there are many others DDoS attacks which can be blocked with L7 DDoS protections. For instance, lots of small requests from malicious users, which want to consume all resource of web servers, can be detected and blocked.

On the other hand, F5 LTM is one of the main module everyone knows. This module allows us to balance the load of lots of servers. It has many health monitors ready to use such as HTTP, LDAP, MQTT, etc. It has lots of load balancing methods such as round robin, least connections, ratio, etc. It has many profiles persistence such as source address, cookie, hash, etc. It has all you need to balance applications.

F5 Advanced WAF (AWAF) is a combination of BIG-IP ASM, L7 DDoS protection, and a selection of core BIG-IP LTM features. Therefore, F5 AWAF is much more than F5 ASM because we’ll have more L7 DDoS protection and lots of features of the LTM module. It has also more load balancing methods than ASM, and profiles persistence are included, which are not included in ASM. In addition, pool members are not limited, which is limited to 3 in ASM. If you want to get more information, you should read the next KB14231234: Comparing F5 Advanced WAF and BIG-IP ASM profiles and features.

To sum up, if you are looking for a Web Application Firewall with advanced features such as L7 DDoS protection and load balancing methods, AWAF is the best solution. However, if you also need to balance applications other than web applications such as mail application, LDAP or BBDD applications, you will also need the LTM module. What’s more, if you need VPN features or DNS feature, you will also need to deploy the DNS and APM modules.

Have a nice day! Do you already know which F5 module fits your needs?
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