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How to Secure Your Small Business with a PIX Firewall
One of the most popular firewall products for the small business market is the Cisco PIX 501. Out of the box it requires just a few configuration entries and you’re good to go.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to setup your brand new pix at the edge of the network.
This guide is written for the user who has no knowledge about the PIX firewall. As such, it is not a treatise on network security, but a quick, by-the-numbers guide to configuring a PIX firewall with as little jargon as possible.
We assume that you have an Internet connection and at least one static IP address. While the PIX can easily handle a dynamic IP address (which is the default configuration), you won’t be able to easily configure remote access, VPNs, Mail, or web servers without a static IP address.
Your PIX should come with an AC adapter, a yellow CAT 5 cable, an orange CAT5 cable and a flat, (typically) baby blue cable with a 9-pin serial connector on one end and an RJ-45 plug on the other there.
The yellow CAT5 cable is a standard Ethernet cable and is used to connect your computer or server to the 4-port Ethernet switch built into the PIX. The Orange CAT5 cable is a crossover cable and may be required to connect the external interface of the PIX to your ISP router (if your PC or workstation is plugged into a Cisco switch inside the network, you will also need a cross-over cable to connect one of the switch ports on the PIX).
What we will use for our setup is the baby blue rollover cable. Insert the serial jack into one of the serial ports on the back of the PC or laptop you will use to configure the PIX. Then insert the RJ-45 plug into the port on the back of the PIX labeled “console.”
Windows has a built-in application that is used to (among other things) configure serial devices. Using the start menu, go to Start > Programs > Accessories > Communications > Hyper Terminal.
Select the Hyper Terminal application. You may get a dialog box asking if you would like to make Hyper Terminal your default telnet application. Unless you have a preference, go ahead and select yes.
You will then be asked for the area code where you are dialing, although it is not applicable here, the program still wants to know, so fill it in and click ‘next’ or ‘ok’.
You can call the connection anything you like; in this example we will use PIX. Click ‘ok’ to continue.
You will then be asked to enter the details for the phone number you would like to dial. Since we are not dialing a phone number, use the drop-down selector below the box to select COM1 or COM2 (whichever is applicable). If you have no idea which, you may need to try it both ways.
Now you will be expected to tell the application some specifics about the port settings so that it can effectively communicate with the PIX.
Fortunately, it is not too complex, just remember 9600, 8, none, and 1. Enter these parameters in the drop-down selections in the box on your screen.
Now we are ready to set up the PIX. Plug in the power cable and you’ll be greeted with the startup monologue (it’s not a dialogue in this case; it just informs you of what’s going on).
You will then be greeted with a screen asking if you would like to program the PIX using interactive prompts. To do this exercise, type name and click ‘enter’.
You will now get a prompt that looks like this:
Type the word ‘allow’ (no quotes), when asked for the password, just click ‘enter’ as the default is no password.
The prompt is changed to a hash mark:
Type the phrase ‘configure the terminal’ (no quotes); you are telling the PIX that you want to enter global configuration mode and you are doing your configuration through the terminal window.
Your help will now look like this:
The first thing we want to do is give your pix a hostname. The syntax of the PIX command is:
So, to set the host name we will enter:
pixfirewall (config) # hostname mypix
Now domain name; it’s fine if you don’t have a domain set on your network, you can call it whatever you want. However, do some thinking about whether or not a domain might be a possibility at some point and plan your naming scheme accordingly.
pixfirewall (config) # domain-name mydomain.com
As you can see in the configuration above, the ethernet0 interface is the outside interface, with a security setting of 0, while ethernet1 is the inside interface with a security setting of 100. In addition, you can see that the interfaces closed All we need to do to bring them up is to enter the speed at which they should operate. As they are Ethernet interfaces, any software version after 6.3(3) will take 100full, before that, use 10full.
pixfirewall (config) # interface ethernet0 100full
pixfirewall(config)# interface ethernet1 100full
Now give an address to the internal and external interfaces; The ip address command sets the ip address of an interface. The syntax is as follows:
An example could be as follows:
External IP address
pixfirewall(config)# external IP address 188.8.131.52 255.255.255.252 (this IP address, netmask combination should not be used, it is shown here for example only. Use the IP address/mask provided by your ISP).
Then the IP address inside
the internal ip address
pixfirewall(config)# internal IP address 192.168.0.1 255.255.255.0
A word about IP addresses is in order here.
One way to preserve public IP addresses is through the use of blocks of non-routable IP addresses specified in RFC 1597. You may sometimes hear them referred to as “private” IP addresses, which is nice, but not technically accurate. There are three different blocks to choose from:
10.0.0.0 – 10.255.255.255 with a netmask of 255.0.0.0
172.16.0.0 – 172.31.255.255 with a netmask of 255.255.0.0
192.168.0.0 – 192.168.255.255 with a netmask of 255.255.255.0
as long as your internal network IP addresses are all in one of these address space blocks, you won’t need to introduce routing complexity into your LAN. An example example for those who don’t know is shown below:
PIX – 192.168.0.1 netmask 255.255.255.0
File/DHCP server – 192.168.0.2 netmask 255.255.255.0
Workstation – 192.168.0.10 – 192.168.0.254 netmask (each) 255.255.255.0
* I intentionally skipped the 192.168.0.3-9 addresses to plan for future expansion and the possible need for additional servers, you don’t have to.
* Configure your DHCP server to distribute addresses in the specified block using the DNS server provided by your ISP for name resolution. Be sure to change this if you ever decide to install a name server in your own network.
* If you don’t want to set up a DHCP server, just configure each PC with IP address, default gateway, netmask and DNS server.
It is very important now to add a default route to the PIX configuration. Another term for default route is “default gateway.” You need to tell the PIX that if it receives traffic destined for a non-directly connected network, it should forward it to the connected ISP router. Your ISP should have provided you with your default gateway IP address when you received your configuration information.
Here is the syntax:
The English translation is “if the packet destined for the interface on the network specified in the network address is limited by mask, then its route through a next hop in the order if you want to be used to give an indication of distance.
pixfirewall(config)# Route outside 0 0 1
(if packets are destined outside the network to any IP address with any netmask, send them through the ISP’s default gateway, which is one hop away, i.e. the device that the PIX is connected to on the outside interface).
To password protect your PIX to prevent unauthorized access, use something secure and hard to guess. Try to stay away from names of spouses, children, pets, birthdays or other easily guessable variables. Whenever possible, use a combination of letters and numbers. The syntax is as follows (but please do not use cisco as your current password)
pixfirewall(config)# Passwd cisco (note the abbreviated spelling of password) this will set a password for basic access (remember the pixfirewall> prompt?)
pixfirewall(config)# Enable password cisco This will set the password for administrative access
Now that your PIX has been given a basic configuration, you should be able to access the Internet, while preventing unauthorized access to your resources.
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