This is the first article in the mini-series of two articles about Firewall Builder.

Systems administrators have a choice of modern Open Source and commercial firewall platforms at their disposal. They could use netfilter/iptables on Linux, PF, ipfilter, ipfw on OpenBSD and FreeBSD, Cisco ASA (PIX) and other commercial solutions. All these are powerful implementations with rich feature set and good performance. Unfortunately, managing security policy manually with all of these remains non-trivial task for several reasons. Even though the configuration language can be complex and overwhelming with its multitude of features and options, this is not the most difficult problem in my opinion. Administrator who manages netfilter/iptables, PF or Cisco firewall all the time quickly becomes an expert in their platform of choice. To do the job right, they need to understand internal path of the packet inside Linux or BSD kernel and its interaction with different parts of packet filtering engine. Things get significantly more difficult in the installations using different OS and platforms where the administrator needs to switch from netfilter/iptables to PF to Cisco routers and ASA to implement coordinated changes across multiple devices. This is where making changes get complicated and probability of human error increases. Unfortunately typos and more significant errors in firewall or router access list configurations lead to either service downtime or security problems, both expensive in terms of damage and time required to fix.


MAC Filtering (layer 2 address filtering) refers to a security access control methodology whereby the 48-bit address assigned to each network card is used to determine access to the network. Iptables, pf, and IPFW can block a certain MAC address on a network, just like an IP. One can deny or allow from MAC address like 00:1e:2a:47:42:8d using open source firewalls. MAC address filtering is often used to secure LAN or wireless network / devices. Is this technique effective?


This example shows how you might set up a large internet facing FTP site for distributing file or software updates. The emphasis will be on security and performance. VSFTPD will make sure only world-readable files and directories are served to the world via anonymous / ftp account. You force to originates FTP port connections from a secure port – so users on the FTP server cannot try and fake file content. You will hide the FTP server user IDs and just display ftp in directory listings. This is also a performance boost. Set a 40000-60000 port range for passive connections. This will help firewall setup.


Web analytics is the study of online behaviour in order to improve it. There are two categories; off-site and on-site web analytics. Google’s Urchin 6 can be installed under Linux kernel 2.6 or 2.4 for Apache web log analysis. Urchin 6 is just like Google Analytics the most widely used hosted web analytics system. It is targeted at ecommerce web sites or enterprise users behind firewalls. In this mini series you will learn about installing and using web log analysis software called Google Urchin 6 under Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.x.


Iptables provides the option to log both IP and TCP headers in a log file. This is useful to: => Detect Attacks => Analyze IP / TCP Headers => Troubleshoot Problems => Intrusion Detection => Iptables Log Analysis => Use 3rd party application such as PSAD (a tool to detect port scans and other suspicious […]


DROP (Don’t Route Or Peer) is an advisory “drop all traffic” list, consisting of stolen ‘zombie’ netblocks and netblocks controlled entirely by professional spammers. DROP is a tiny sub-set of the SBL designed for use by firewalls and routing equipment. DROP is currently available as a simple text list, but will also be available shortly […]


Have you ever wondered how P2P software like Skype directly exchanges data when both client desktop sitting behind a firewall that only permits outgoing traffic. This article explains how Skype & Co. get round firewalls using the hole trick. From the article: Peer-to-peer software applications are a network administrator’s nightmare. In order to be able […]