SSL and its brethren TLS is becoming more prevalent to secure IP communications on the internet. It’s not just financial, health care or other sensitive sites, even search engines routinely use the encryption protocol. This can be good or bad. Good, in that all communications are scrambled from prying eyes but potentially hazardous if attackers are hiding malware inside encrypted traffic. If the traffic is encrypted and simply passed through, inspection engines are unable to intercept that traffic for a closer look like they can with clear text communications. The entire ‘defense-in-depth’ strategy with IPS systems and NGFWs lose effectiveness.
F5 BIG-IP can solve these SSL/TSL challenges with an advanced threat protection system that enables organizations to decrypt encrypted traffic within the enterprise boundaries, send to an inspection engine, and gain visibility into outbound encrypted communications to identify and block zero-day exploits. In this case, only the interesting traffic is decrypted for inspection, not all of the wire traffic, thereby conserving processing resources of the inspecting device. You can dynamically chain services based on a context-based policy to efficiently deploy security.
This solution is supported across the existing F5 BIG-IP v12 family of products with F5 SSL Orchestrator and is integrated with such solutions like FireEye NX, Cisco ASA FirePOWER and Symantec DLP.
Here I’ll show you how to complete the initial setup.
A few things to know prior – from a licensing perspective, The F5 SSL visibility solution can be deployed using either the BIG-IP system or the purpose built SSL Orchestrator platform. Both have same SSL intercept capabilities with different licensing requirements.
To deploy using BIG-IP, you’ll need BIG-IP LTM for SSL offload, traffic steering, and load balancing and the SSL forward proxy for outbound SSL visibility. Optionally, you can also consider the URL filtering subscription to enforce corporate web use policies and/or the IP Intelligence subscription for reputation based web blocking. For the purpose built solution, all you’ll need is the F5 Security SSL Orchestrator hardware appliance.
The initial setup addresses URL filtering, SSL bypass, and the F5 iApps template.
URL filtering allows you to select specific URL categories that should bypass SSL decryption. Normally this is done for concerns over user privacy or for categories that contain items (such as software update tools) that may rely on specific SSL certificates to be presented as part of a verification process.
Before configuring URL filtering, we recommend updating the URL database. This must be performed from the BIG-IP system command line. Make sure you can reach download.websense.com on port 80 via the BIG-IP system and from the BIG-IP LTM command line, type the following commands:
To list all the supported URL categories by the BIG-IP system, run the following command:
tmsh list sys url-db url-category | grep url-category
Next, you’ll want to configure data groups for SSL bypass. You can choose to exempt SSL offloading based on various parameters like source IP address, destination IP address, subnet, hostname, protocol, URL category, IP intelligence category, and IP geolocation. This is achieved by configuring the SSL bypass in the iApps template calling the data groups in the TCP service chain classifier rules. A data group is a simple group of related elements, represented as key value pairs. The following example provides configuration steps for creating a URL category data group to bypass HTTPS traffic of financial websites.
For the BIG-IP system deployment, download the latest release of the iApps template and import to the BIG-IP system.
From there, you’ll configure your unique inspection engine along with simply following the BIG-IP admin UI with the iApp questionnaire. You’ll need to select and/or fill in different values in the wizard to enable the SSL orchestration functionality. We have deployment guides for the detailed specifics and from there, you’ll be able to send your now unencrypted traffic to your inspection engine for a more secure network.