Information About the ASA IPS Module
The ASA IPS module runs advanced IPS software that provides proactive, full-featured intrusion prevention services to stop malicious traffic, including worms and network viruses, before they can affect your network. This section includes the following topics:
How the ASA IPS Module Works with the ASA
The ASA IPS module runs a separate application from the ASA. The ASA IPS module might include an external management interface so you can connect to the ASA IPS module directly; if it does not have a management interface, you can connect to the ASA IPS module through the ASA interface. The ASA IPS SSP on the ASA 5585-X includes data interfaces; these interfaces provide additional port-density for the ASA. However, the overall through-put of the ASA is not increased.
Traffic goes through the firewall checks before being forwarded to the ASA IPS module. When you identify traffic for IPS inspection on the ASA, traffic flows through the ASA and the ASA IPS module as follows.
: This example is for “inline mode.” See the
“Operating Modes” section
for information about “promiscuous mode,” where the ASA only sends a copy of the traffic to the ASA IPS module.
1. Traffic enters the ASA.
2. Incoming VPN traffic is decrypted.
3. Firewall policies are applied.
4. Traffic is sent to the ASA IPS module.
5. The ASA IPS module applies its security policy to the traffic, and takes appropriate actions.
6. Valid traffic is sent back to the ASA; the ASA IPS module might block some traffic according to its security policy, and that traffic is not passed on.
7. Outgoing VPN traffic is encrypted.
8. Traffic exits the ASA.
Figure 31-1 shows the traffic flow when running the ASA IPS module in inline mode. In this example, the ASA IPS module automatically blocks traffic that it identified as an attack. All other traffic is forwarded through the ASA.
Figure 31-1 ASA IPS module Traffic Flow in the ASA: Inline Mode
You can send traffic to the ASA IPS module using one of the following modes:
Inline mode—This mode places the ASA IPS module directly in the traffic flow (see Figure 31-1). No traffic that you identified for IPS inspection can continue through the ASA without first passing through, and being inspected by, the ASA IPS module. This mode is the most secure because every packet that you identify for inspection is analyzed before being allowed through. Also, the ASA IPS module can implement a blocking policy on a packet-by-packet basis. This mode, however, can affect throughput.
Promiscuous mode—This mode sends a duplicate stream of traffic to the ASA IPS module. This mode is less secure, but has little impact on traffic throughput. Unlike inline mode, in promiscuous mode the ASA IPS module can only block traffic by instructing the ASA to shun the traffic or by resetting a connection on the ASA. Also, while the ASA IPS module is analyzing the traffic, a small amount of traffic might pass through the ASA before the ASA IPS module can shun it. Figure 31-2 shows the ASA IPS module in promiscuous mode. In this example, the ASA IPS module sends a shun message to the ASA for traffic it identified as a threat.
Figure 31-2 ASA IPS module Traffic Flow in the ASA: Promiscuous Mode
Using Virtual Sensors (ASA 5510 and Higher)
The ASA IPS module running IPS software Version 6.0 and later can run multiple virtual sensors, which means you can configure multiple security policies on the ASA IPS module. You can assign each ASA security context or single mode ASA to one or more virtual sensors, or you can assign multiple security contexts to the same virtual sensor. See the IPS documentation for more information about virtual sensors, including the maximum number of sensors supported.
Figure 31-3 shows one security context paired with one virtual sensor (in inline mode), while two security contexts share the same virtual sensor.
Figure 31-3 Security Contexts and Virtual Sensors
Figure 31-4 shows a single mode ASA paired with multiple virtual sensors (in inline mode); each defined traffic flow goes to a different sensor.
Figure 31-4 Single Mode ASA with Multiple Virtual Sensors
Information About Management Access
You can manage the IPS application using the following methods:
Sessioning to the module from the ASA—If you have CLI access to the ASA, then you can session to the module and access the module CLI. See the “Sessioning to the Module from the ASA (May Be Required)” section.
Connecting to the IPS management interface using ASDM or SSH—After you launch ASDM from the ASA, your management station connects to the module management interface to configure the IPS application. For SSH, you can access the module CLI directly on the module management interface. (Telnet access requires additional configuration in the module application). The module management interface can also be used for sending syslog messages or allowing updates for the module application, such as signature database updates.
See the following information about the management interface:
– ASA 5510, ASA 5520, ASA 5540, ASA 5580, ASA 5585-X—The IPS management interface is a separate external Gigabit Ethernet interface.
– ASA 5512-X, ASA 5515-X, ASA 5525-X, ASA 5545-X, ASA 5555-X—These models run the ASA IPS module as a software module. The IPS management interface shares the Management 0/0 interface with the ASA. Separate MAC addresses and IP addresses are supported for the ASA and ASA IPS module. You must perform configuration of the IPS IP address within the IPS operating system (using the CLI or ASDM). However, physical characteristics (such as enabling the interface) are configured on the ASA. You can remove the ASA interface configuration (specifically the interface name) to dedicate this interface as an IPS-only interface. This interface is management-only.
– ASA 5505—You can use an ASA VLAN to allow access to an internal management IP address over the backplane.
Configuring the ASA IPS module
This section describes how to configure the ASA IPS module and includes the following topics:
Connecting the ASA IPS Management Interface
In addition to providing management access to the IPS module, the IPS management interface needs access to an HTTP proxy server or a DNS server and the Internet so it can download global correlation, signature updates, and license requests. This section describes recommended network configurations. Your network may differ.
ASA 5510, ASA 5520, ASA 5540, ASA 5580, ASA 5585-X (Hardware Module)
The IPS module includes a separate management interface from the ASA.
If you have an inside router
If you have an inside router, you can route between the management network, which can include both the ASA Management 0/0 and IPS Management 1/0 interfaces, and the ASA inside network. Be sure to also add a route on the ASA to reach the Management network through the inside router.
If you do not have an inside router
If you have only one inside network, then you cannot also have a separate management network, which would require an inside router to route between the networks. In this case, you can manage the ASA from the inside interface instead of the Management 0/0 interface. Because the IPS module is a separate device from the ASA, you can configure the IPS Management 1/0 address to be on the same network as the inside interface.
ASA 5512-X through ASA 5555-X (Software Module)
These models run the IPS module as a software module, and the IPS management interface shares the Management 0/0 interface with the ASA.
If you have an inside router
If you have an inside router, you can route between the Management 0/0 network, which includes both the ASA and IPS management IP addresses, and the inside network. Be sure to also add a route on the ASA to reach the Management network through the inside router.
If you do not have an inside router
If you have only one inside network, then you cannot also have a separate management network. In this case, you can manage the ASA from the inside interface instead of the Management 0/0 interface. If you remove the ASA-configured name from the Management 0/0 interface, you can still configure the IPS IP address for that interface. Because the IPS module is essentially a separate device from the ASA, you
configure the IPS management address to be on the same network as the inside interface.
Note You must remove the ASA-configured name for Management 0/0; if it is configured on the ASA, then the IPS address must be on the same network as the ASA, and that excludes any networks already configured on other ASA interfaces. If the name is not configured, then the IPS address can be on any network, for example, the ASA inside network.
The ASA 5505 does not have a dedicated management interface. You must use an ASA VLAN to access an internal management IP address over the backplane. Connect the management PC to one of the following ports: Ethernet 0/1 through 0/7, which are assigned to VLAN 1.
Sessioning to the Module from the ASA (May Be Required)
To access the IPS module CLI from the ASA, you can session from the ASA. For software modules, you can either session to the module (using Telnet) or create a virtual console session. A console session might be useful if the control plane is down and you cannot establish a Telnet session.
You may need to access the CLI if you are using multiple context mode and you need to set basic network settings using the CLI, or for troubleshooting.
For a hardware module (for example, the ASA 5585-X):
For a software module (for example, the ASA 5545-X):
ciscoasa# session 1
Opening command session with slot 1.
Connected to slot 1. Escape character sequence is 'CTRL-^X'.
sensor login: cisco
Accesses the module using Telnet. You are prompted for the username and password. The default username is
, and the default password is
Note The first time you log in to the module, you are prompted to change the default password. Passwords must be at least eight characters long and cannot be a word in the dictionary.
Console session (software module only).
ciscoasa# session ips console
Establishing console session with slot 1
Opening console session with module ips.
Connected to module ips. Escape character sequence is 'CTRL-SHIFT-6 then x'.
sensor login: cisco
Accesses the module console. You are prompted for the username and password. The default username is
, and the default password is
Note Do not use this command in conjunction with a terminal server where Ctrl-Shift-6, x is the escape sequence to return to the terminal server prompt. Ctrl-Shift-6, x is also the sequence to escape the IPS console and return to the ASA prompt. Therefore, if you try to exit the IPS console in this situation, you instead exit all the way to the terminal server prompt. If you reconnect the terminal server to the ASA, the IPS console session is still active; you can never exit to the ASA prompt. You must use a direct serial connection to return the console to the ASA prompt.
Use the session ips command instead.
(ASA 5512-X through ASA 5555-X) Booting the Software Module
Your ASA typically ships with IPS module software present on Disk0. If the module is not running, or if you are adding the IPS module to an existing ASA, you must boot the module software. If you are unsure if the module is running, you will not see the IPS Basic Configuration screen when you run the Startup Wizard (see the “Configuring Basic IPS Module Network Settings” section).
Step 1 Do one of the following:
New ASA with IPS pre-installed—To view the IPS module software filename in flash memory, choose
Tools > File Management
For example, look for a filename like IPS-SSP_5512-K9-sys-1.1-a-7.1-4-E4.aip. Note the filename; you will need this filename later in the procedure.
Existing ASA with new IPS installation—Download the IPS software from Cisco.com to your computer.
If you have a Cisco.com login, you can obtain the software from the following website:
Tools > File Management
, then choose
File Transfer > Between Local PC and Flash
to upload the new image to disk0. Note the filename; you will need this filename later in the procedure.
Step 2 Choose
Tools > Command Line Interface
Step 3 To set the IPS module software location in disk0, enter the following command and then click
sw-module module ips recover configure image disk0:file_path
For example, using the filename in the example in Step 1, enter:
sw-module module ips recover configure image disk0:IPS-SSP_5512-K9-sys-1.1-a-7.1-4-E4.aip
Step 4 To install and load the IPS module software, enter the following command and then click
sw-module module ips recover boot
Step 5 To check the progress of the image transfer and module restart process, enter the following command and then click
The Status field in the output indicates the operational status of the module. A module operating normally shows a status of “Up.” While the ASA transfers an application image to the module, the Status field in the output reads “Recover.” When the ASA completes the image transfer and restarts the module, the newly transferred image is running.
Configuring Basic IPS Module Network Settings
(ASA 5510 and Higher) Configuring Basic Network Settings
In single context mode, you can use the Startup Wizard in ASDM to configure basic IPS network configuration. These settings are saved to the IPS configuration, not the ASA configuration.
In multiple context mode, session to the module from the ASA and configure basic settings using the
Note (ASA 5512-X through ASA 5555-X) If you do not see the IPS Basic Configuration screen in your wizard, then the IPS module is not running. See the “(ASA 5512-X through ASA 5555-X) Booting the Software Module” section, and then repeat this procedure after you install the module.
Detailed Steps—Single Mode
Step 1 Choose
Wizards > Startup Wizard
Step 2 Click
to advance through the initial screens until you reach the IPS Basic Configuration screen.
Step 3 In the Network Settings area, configure the following:
IP Address—The management IP address. By default, the address is 192.168.1.2.
Subnet Mask—The subnet mask for the management IP address.
Gateway—The IP address of the upstream router. The IP address of the next hop router. See the “Connecting the ASA IPS Management Interface” section to understand the requirements for your network. The default setting of the ASA management IP address will not work.
HTTP Proxy Server—(Optional) The HTTP proxy server address. You can use a proxy server to download global correlation updates and other information instead of downloading over the Internet.
HTTP Proxy Port—(Optional) The HTTP proxy server port.
DNS Primary—(Optional) The primary DNS server address. If you are using a DNS server, you must configure at least one DNS server and it must be reachable for global correlation updates to be successful.
For global correlation to function, you must have either a DNS server or an HTTP proxy server configured at all times. DNS resolution is supported only for accessing the global correlation update server.
Step 4 In the Management Access List area, enter an IP address and subnet mask for any hosts that are allowed to access the IPS management interface, and click
. You can add multiple IP addresses.
Step 5 In the Cisco Account Password area, set the password for the username
and confirm it. The username
and this password are used for Telnet sessions from hosts specified by the management ACL and when accessing the IPS module from ASDM (Configuration > IPS). By default, the password is
Step 6 In the Network Participation area, which you use to have the IPS module participate in SensorBase data sharing, click
Detailed Steps—Multiple Mode Using the CLI
(ASA 5505) Configuring Basic Network Settings
An ASA IPS module on the ASA 5505 does not have any external interfaces. You can configure a VLAN to allow access to an internal IPS management IP address over the backplane. By default, VLAN 1 is enabled for IPS management. You can only assign one VLAN as the management VLAN. This section describes how to change the management VLAN and IP address if you do not want to use the default, and how to set other required network parameters.
Note Perform this configuration on the ASA 5505, not on the ASA IPS module.
When you change the IPS VLAN and management address from the default, be sure to also configure the matching ASA VLAN and switch port(s) according to the procedures listed in “Starting Interface Configuration (ASA 5505),” in the general operations configuration guide. You must define and configure the VLAN for the ASA so the IPS management interface is accessible on the network.
Do not configure NAT for the management address if you intend to access it using ASDM. For initial setup with ASDM, you need to access the real address. After initial setup (where you set the password on the ASA IPS module), you can configure NAT and supply ASDM with the translated address for accessing the ASA IPS module.
Step 1 In ASDM, choose
Configuration > Device Setup > SSC Setup
Note The following settings are written to the ASA IPS module application configuration, not the ASA configuration.
Step 2 In the Management Interface area, set the following:
a. Choose the Interface VLAN from the drop-down list.
This setting allows you to manage the ASA IPS module using this VLAN.
b. Enter the IPS management IP address. Make sure this address is on the same subnet as the ASA VLAN IP address. For example, if you assigned 10.1.1.1 to the VLAN for the ASA, then assign another address on that network, such as 10.1.1.2, for the IPS management address. By default, the address is 192.168.1.2
c. Choose the subnet mask from the drop-down list.
d. Enter the default gateway IP address.
Set the gateway to be the ASA IP address for the management VLAN. By default, this IP address is 192.168.1.1.
Step 3 In the Management Access List area, enter the following:
a. Enter the IP address for the management host network.
b. Choose the subnet mask from the drop-down list.
to add these settings to the Allowed Hosts/Networks list.
Step 4 In the IPS Password area, do the following:
a. Enter the current password. The default password is
b. Enter the new password, and confirm the change.
Step 5 Click
to save the settings to the running configuration.
Step 6 To launch the IPS Startup Wizard, click the
Configure the IPS SSC module
Configuring the Security Policy on the ASA IPS Module
This section describes how to configure the ASA IPS module application.
Step 1 Connect to ASDM using the
management IP address. See the “Starting ASDM” section in the general operations configuration guide.
Step 2 To access the IPS Device Manager (IDM) from ASDM, click
Configuration > IPS
Step 3 Enter the IP address, username and password that you set in the “Configuring Basic IPS Module Network Settings” section, as well as the port. The default IP address and port is 192.168.1.2:443. The default username and password is
If the password to access IDM is lost, you can reset the password using ASDM. See the “Resetting the Password” section, for more information.
Step 4 To save the login information on your local PC, check the
Save IPS login information on local host
Step 5 Click
The Startup Wizard pane appears.
Step 6 Click
Launch Startup Wizard
. Complete the screens as prompted. For more information, see the IDM online help.
(ASA 5510 and higher) If you configure virtual sensors, you identify one of the sensors as the default. If the ASA series does not specify a virtual sensor name in its configuration, the default sensor is used.
Assigning Virtual Sensors to a Security Context (ASA 5510 and Higher)
If the ASA is in multiple context mode, then you can assign one or more IPS virtual sensors to each context. Then, when you configure the context to send traffic to the ASA IPS module, you can specify a sensor that is assigned to the context; you cannot specify a sensor that you did not assign to the context. If you do not assign any sensors to a context, then the default sensor configured on the ASA IPS module is used. You can assign the same sensor to multiple contexts.
Note You do not need to be in multiple context mode to use virtual sensors; you can be in single mode and use different sensors for different traffic flows.
Step 1 In the ASDM Device List pane, double-click
under the active device IP address.
Step 2 On the Context Management > Security Contexts pane, choose a context that you want to configure, and click
The Edit Context dialog box appears. For more information about configuring contexts, see the “Configuring Multiple Contexts” section in the general operations configuration guide.
Step 3 In the IPS Sensor Allocation area, click
The IPS Sensor Selection dialog box appears.
Step 4 From the Sensor Name drop-down list, choose a sensor name from those configured on the ASA IPS module.
Step 5 (Optional) To assign a mapped name to the sensor, enter a value in the Mapped Sensor Name field.
This sensor name can be used within the context instead of the actual sensor name. If you do not specify a mapped name, the sensor name is used within the context. For security purposes, you might not want the context administrator to know which sensors are being used by the context. Or you might want to genericize the context configuration. For example, if you want all contexts to use sensors called “sensor1” and “sensor2,” then you can map the “highsec” and “lowsec” sensors to sensor1 and sensor2 in context A, but map the “medsec” and “lowsec” sensors to sensor1 and sensor2 in context B.
Step 6 Click
to return to the Edit Context dialog box.
Step 7 (Optional) To set one sensor as the default sensor for this context, from the Default Sensor drop-down list, choose a sensor name.
If you do not specify a sensor name when you configure IPS within the context configuration, the context uses this default sensor. You can only configure one default sensor per context. If you do not specify a sensor as the default, and the context configuration does not include a sensor name, then traffic uses the default sensor on the ASA IPS module.
Step 8 Repeat this procedure for each security context.
Step 9 Change to each context to configure the IPS security policy as described in “Diverting Traffic to the ASA IPS module” section.
Diverting Traffic to the ASA IPS module
This section identifies traffic to divert from the ASA to the ASA IPS module.
In multiple context mode, perform these steps in each context execution space. To change to a context, in the Configuration > Device List pane, double-click the context name under the active device IP address.
Step 1 Choose
Configuration > Firewall > Service Policy Rules
Step 2 Choose
Add > Add Service Policy Rule
. The Add Service Policy Rule Wizard - Service Policy dialog box appears.
Step 3 Complete the Service Policy dialog box as desired. See the ASDM online help for more information about these screens.
Step 4 Click
. The Add Service Policy Rule Wizard - Traffic Classification Criteria dialog box appears.
Step 5 Complete the Traffic Classification Criteria dialog box as desired. See the ASDM online help for more information about these screens.
Step 6 Click
to show the Add Service Policy Rule Wizard - Rule Actions dialog box.
Step 7 Click the
Step 8 Check the
Enable IPS for this traffic flow
Step 9 In the Mode area, click
. See the “Operating Modes” section for more information.
Step 10 In the If IPS Card Fails area, click
. The Close traffic option sets the ASA to block all traffic if the ASA IPS module is unavailable. The Permit traffic option sets the ASA to allow all traffic through, uninspected, if the ASA IPS module is unavailable. For information about the IPS Sensor Selection area, see the ASDM online help.
Step 11 (ASA 5510 and higher) From the IPS Sensor to use drop-down list, choose a virtual sensor name.
If you use virtual sensors, you can specify a sensor name using this option. If you use multiple context mode on the ASA, you can only specify sensors that you assigned to the context (see the “Assigning Virtual Sensors to a Security Context (ASA 5510 and Higher)” section). If you do not specify a sensor name, then the traffic uses the default sensor. In multiple context mode, you can specify a default sensor for the context. In single mode or if you do not specify a default sensor in multiple mode, the traffic uses the default sensor that is set on the ASA IPS module.
Step 12 Click
Step 13 Repeat this procedure to configure additional traffic flows as desired.