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Upgrade Juniper SA cluster

Add On: This procedure also works for the new Juniper MAG appliances. But keep in mind during the upgrade of the second host (and also the first): BE PATIENT!!

A Juniper SA cluster can be configured as active/active or active/standby cluster. An active/active cluster uses an external load balancer or DNS round-robin to enable load-sharing across multiple appliances. Today I had to upgrade an active/standby cluster and found an KB article on the Juniper website (restricted access) about the preferred upgrade method.

Juniper uses the following steps to upgrade a cluster:

  1. 1. Login directly to a member in the cluster as administrator;
  2. 2. Disable the member from the cluster;
  3. 3. Upgrade the service package on the disabled member;
  4. 4. After the upgrade is completed login back to the IVE and enable the disabled member in the cluster configuration;

The following notes are mentioned by Juniper:

  • In active/standby cluster mode, it is recommended to start the upgrade process with the passive members and after completing the upgrade on the passive IVE and moving to the upgrade of the active IVE please note all connections are dropped when the active IVE is disabled. However after disabling the active node the passive IVE becomes active;
  • Once the upgraded member is enabled back in the cluster, it shows the other nodes as Unreachable. This is expected behavior as the cluster members are running different versions and hence cannot sync with each other;
  • Once the second IVE is being upgraded all user connections are dropped and not migrated due to the mismatch of software versions. This limitation is addressed in 4.0 with the Minimal downtime cluster upgrade available in the licensable Central Manager feature set;

I followed the steps mentioned above and the upgrade of the IVE cluster went smoothly. I disabled the passive node and upgraded the firmware with the new package. After the upgrade (and a reboot) the passive node was reachable in standalone mode. Next I logged in to the active IVE and enabled the passive node back into the cluster. When you hit Enable you receive the warning message that the configuration of the new cluster node will be erased and overwritten with the configuration of the active node. Just choose Yes.

After enabling the passive node, you will loose your web session with the active node. The VIP address is taken over by the new node in the cluster and the “old active” node starts updating automatically. This is a little tricky, because you don’t notice anything from the update process taken place. Just have patience and ping the node to check when it is online again. When the node is back online, login to the IVE and check the Cluster Status. Both IVE are now updated and members of the cluster. You could decide to do a manual Fail-Over IP to the “old active” node so everything is back to the original state before the upgrade.

HSRP and ACL’s

I added a Guest VLAN to a network environment with two multi layer switches running HSRP. To secure the internal network from the Guest VLAN, I added a ACL to the Guest VLAN SVI. The ACL is stated below:

ip access-list extended GUEST-DENY-RFC1918
remark Allow DHCP
permit udp any eq bootpc any
remark Deny RFC 1918
deny   ip
deny   ip
deny   ip
remark Allow HTTP / HTTPS
permit tcp any eq http

permit tcp any eq https

The ACL allows querying the DHCP server to obtain the necessary IP address. Next the ACL denies access to all RFC 1918 IP addresses, which are used on the internal LAN segment of the customer. The last two statements allow HTTP and HTTPS access to the Internet.

At first, I just applied the ACL to both the multi layer switches and thought I was ready. After configuring some other tasks and finishing my work, I always check the configuration. Looking at the show standby brief output, I noticed that the primary HSRP switch didn’t have any standby switch anymore, as show in the output below:

Interface   Grp  Pri P State   Active          Standby         Virtual IP
Vl1            1    200 P Active    local
Vl2            2    200 P Active    local         unknown

Because the only change was applying the ACL to the SVI, I already know where to search to correct the problem. Adding a deny ip any any log statement at the bottom of the ACL gave me the information I needed to know.

05:48:09.366: %SEC-6-IPACCESSLOGP: list GUEST-DENY-RFC1918 denied udp ->, 360 packetsde

The ACL is blocking the multicast HSRP packets. Looking at the log output, you can see that the HSRP multicast IP address is and port UDP/1985 is used. The multi layer switch is using his SVI IP address as source in the HSRP packet.

I changed the ACL on both multi layer switches by adding a statement to allow the HSRP packets. The new ACL is stated below:

ip access-list extended GUEST-DENY-RFC1918
remark Allow DHCP
permit udp any eq bootpc any

remark Allow HSRP PACKETS

permit udp host 10.1.2.[2|3] eq 1985 host eq 1985

remark Deny RFC 1918
deny   ip
deny   ip
deny   ip
remark Allow HTTP / HTTPS
permit tcp any eq http

permit tcp any eq https

The HSRP packets weren’t blocked anymore after applying the new ACL to the SVI’s. The primary multi layer switch got his secondary switch back.

Applying an ACL to a SVI happens more often, so it is important to remember if you are running some sort of special protocol on the SVI or somewhere else in the configuration when applying an ACL.

Looking at the Internet I found a nice article on Aaron’s Worthless Words blog about multicast addresses, port numbers and associated protocols.

Secure HSRP configuration

A friend of mine works for a well known auditing and penetration testing company in the Netherlands. Recently we were talking about how he starts looking for flaws in network infrastructures. My friend told me that the first thing he does is simply starting WireShark and start looking at all the packets he receives.

By default packets like DTP (Dynamic Trunking Protocol), CDP (Cisco Discovery Protocol) and HSRP (Hot Standby Routing Protocol) are broadcasted through all the different edge ports of a switch. Tools like Yersinia can be used by hackers to exploit these packets.

Normally when I configure a switch I always stop the broadcasting of DTP and CDP on normal edge ports, at least if possible. CDP is often used in conjunction with IP phones. I prevent broadcasting DTP and CDP with the following commands:

no cdp enable

switchport nonegotiate

To be honest, I never thought about the broadcasting of HSRP packets. I created a simple test environment with one Cisco Catalyst 3750G switch and configured VLAN 1 with HSRP, like shown below.

interface Vlan1
ip address
standby 1 ip
standby 1 priority 150
standby 1 preempt

This is the most default way of configuring HSRP. By using a tool like Yersinia, somebody could take over the role of active HSRP router by spoofing HSRP packets with a higher priority then the current active HSRP router. So I added a simple authentication text string to the configuration with the following command:

standby 1 authentication HSRP@ICT

This is no success, because when I start WireShark the authentication string is sent in clear text. The picture below shows an example:


In most recent software version you can protect HSRP by using MD5 Authentication. MD5 authentication provides greater security than plain text authentication. This feature allows each HSRP group member to use a secret key to generate a keyed MD5 hash of the packet that is part of the outgoing packet. A keyed hash of an incoming packet is generated and if the generated hash does not match the hash within the incoming packet, the packet is ignored.

To configure MD5 authentication in the previous example, I added the following configuration to interface VLAN 1:

standby 1 authentication md5 key-string hsrp@ictivity=secure,Ihope timeout 60

Now, when looking at the WireShark output, the key-string is composed of a hash and cannot be easily read by an hacker.


The timeout option is important when configuring a new key-string amongst all the members in an HSRP group. The timeout value is the period of time that the old key string will be accepted to allow configuration of all routers in a group with a new key.

So HSRP MD5 Authentication is another way of making our network components and network infrastructure more secure against “evil” attacks and hackers.

Cisco Firewall Design and Deployment

The session about firewall design and deployment didn’t reveal a lot of new things about the Cisco ASA appliance or FWSM module. The only new thing for me was the possibility to configure a redundant interface for a Cisco ASA appliance. The screen shot below shows the cabling scheme for an implementation with and without interface redundancy.

HA redundancy

This interface redundancy makes it possible to connect a ASA to two different physical switches. When the active switch would crash, the second switch would become the active switch.

Important here is to notice that this configuration doesn’t provide load-balancing across two links. The configuration is only for link redundancy.

To configure interface redundancy you can use the configuration snippet shown below.

interface Redundant1
  member-interface GigabitEthernet0/2
  member-interface GigabitEthernet0/1
  no nameif
  no security-level

  no ip address
interface Redundant1.4
  vlan 4
  nameif inside
  security-level 100
  ip address
interface Redundant1.10

  vlan 10
  nameif outside
  security-level 0
  ip address

The configuration of interface redundancy has some caveats as listed below:

  • Firewalls have to be configured in Active/Standby mode. No load-balancing or link aggregation is supported;
  • Interface redundancy is available on Cisco ASA 5510 and above. The ASA 5505 already has a build in switch and FWSM doesn’t have any physical interfaces;
  • Subinterfaces (IEEE 802.1Q) need to be configured on top of the logic redundant interface;

During the session the different modes for the firewalls have been discussed. Normally we only use the Routed Mode, but there are more modes like described below:

  • Routed mode: traditional mode of the firewall. Two or more interfaces that separate two or more layer 3 domains;
  • Transparent mode: the firewall acts as a bridge and functions mostly at layer 2 of the OSI model (this functions is often used for filtering traffic between two routers who, for example, exchange routing information through a dynamic routing protocol);
  • Multi-context: one physical firewall is divided in more virtual firewalls;
  • Mixed mode: using routed and transparent firewalls in a virtual environment (NOTE: mixed mode is only supported in FWSM today);

Firewall virtualization using multiple context has some caveats. We, Ictivity consultants, already noticed these caveats during firewall implementations. Firewall virtualization has the following caveats:

  • No support for VPN services;
  • No support for dynamic routing protocols;
  • No way to configure the sharing of CPU usage between contexts;
  • No support for multicast routing (multicast bridging is supported);

Especially not supporting VPN services (site-to-site VPN, remote access VPN and SSL VPN) is mostly the most used reason for not using multiple context implementation for the firewall.