Archive for silva

Lightboard Lessons: What is BIG-IP?

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, silva, video, application delivery, lightboard, devcentral by psilva on May 10th, 2017

In the early days of F5, BIG/IP was our original load balancer. Today, BIG-IP is a family of products covering software and hardware designed around application availability, access control, and security solutions.

In this Lightboard Lesson, Peter Silva lights up the various BIG-IP modules and what they do.

 

 

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Deploying F5’s Web Application Firewall in Microsoft Azure Security Center

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, cloud, cloud computing, silva, microsoft, application delivery, waf, azure by psilva on May 9th, 2017

Use F5’s Web Application Firewall (WAF) to protect web applications deployed in Microsoft Azure.

Applications living in the Cloud still need protection. Data breaches, compromised credentials, system vulnerabilities, DDoS attacks and shared resources can all pose a threat to your cloud infrastructure. The Verizon DBIR notes that web application attacks are the most likely vector for a data breach attack. While attacks on web applications account for only 8% of reported incidents, according to Verizon, they are responsible for over 40% of incidents that result in a data breach. A 2015 survey found that 15% of logins for business apps used by organizations had been breached by hackers.

One way to stay safe is using a Web Application Firewall (WAF) for your cloud deployments.

Let’s dig in on how to use F5’s WAF to protect web applications deployed in Microsoft Azure. This solution builds on BIG-IP Application Security Manager (ASM) and BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) technologies as a preconfigured virtual service within the Azure Security Center.

Some requirements for this deployment are:

  • You have an existing web application deployed in Azure that you want to protect with BIG-IP ASM
  • You have an F5 license token for each instance of BIG-IP ASM you want to use

To get started, log into your Azure dashboard and on the left pane, toward the bottom, you’ll see Security Center and click it.

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Next, you’ll want to click the Recommendations area within the Security Center Overview.

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And from the list of recommendations, click Add a web application firewall.

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A list of available web applications opens in a new pane. From the application list, select the application you want to secure.

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And from there click Create New. You’ll get a list of available vendors’ WAFs and choose F5 Networks.

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A new page with helpful links and information appears and at the bottom of the page, click Create.

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First, select the number of machines you want to deploy – in this case we’re deploying two machines for redundancy and high availability. Review the host entry and then type a unique password for that field. When you click Pricing Tier, you can get info about sizing and pricing. When you are satisfied, at the bottom of that pane click OK.

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Next, in the License token field, copy and paste your F5 license token. If you are only deploying one machine, you’ll only see one field. For the Security Blocking Level, you can choose Low, Medium or High. You can also click the icon for a brief description of each level. From the Application Type drop down, select the type of application you want to protect and click OK (at the bottom of that pane).

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Once you see two check marks, click the Create button.

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Azure then begins the process of the F5 WAF for your application. This process can take up to an hour. Click the little bell notification icon for the status of the deployment.

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You’ll receive another notification when the deployment is complete.

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After the WAF is successfully deployed, you’ll want to test the new F5 WAF and finalize the setup in Azure including changing the DNS records from the current server IP to the IP of the WAF.

When ready, click Security Center again and the Recommendations panel. This time we’ll click Finalize web application firewall setup.

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And click your Web application.

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Ensure your DNS settings are correct and check the I updated my DNS Settings box and when ready, click Restrict Traffic at the bottom of the pane.

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Azure will give you a notification that it is finalizing the WAF configuration and settings, and you will get another notification when complete.

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And when it is complete, your application will be secured with F5’s Web Application Firewall.

Check out the demo video and rest easy, my friend.

ps

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DevCentral’s Featured Member for May – NTT Security’s Leonardo Souza

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, interview, silva, devcentral, irules, programmability by psilva on May 2nd, 2017

leonardo.jpgLeonardo Souza lives in the United Kingdom, with his partner, 5-year-old daughter, and a (very) recently newborn son. He’s Brazilian and lived in Portugal for quite a while. He then moved to UK about 5 years ago ‘because of the amazing weather,’ he jokes.

Leonardo started to work with computers when he was 18 years old (he’s not 18 anymore), so he’s worked with many technologies. Fast forward a bit (he’s not that old) and while working as a network engineer, he was working on a project to migrate applications from Alteon load balancers to F5 BIG-IP LTMs. He completed his LTM Essentials and LTM Advanced training during that time (2011) and with the migration project, he was impressed with BIG-IP.

He even applied for a job at F5 in 2012 and joined as a Network Support Engineer. That moved him from Portugal to UK, and has been doing F5 products exclusively ever since.

With all that, Leonardo is DevCentral’s Featured Member for May and we got a chance to talk with Leonardo about his life, work and scripting prowess.

DevCentral: You were an F5er from 2012-15 and continue to be a very active contributor in the DevCentral community. What keeps you involved?

Leonardo: I often say that 1 year in F5 support is equal to 5 years as a F5 customer.

While in F5 support, I had multiple technical challenges every day, and I would typically go to DevCentral to check iRules documentation and get ideas for uncommon cases. After I left F5, I started using DevCentral to stay up to date about what is going on in the F5 world by reading the DevCentral articles. Then I started to go there daily and answer some questions myself.

Short answer: to keep me updated, both about F5 news and my F5 knowledge.

DC: Tell us a little about the areas of BIG-IP expertise you have.

LS: Is difficult to know all F5 products, because some are for very specific networks/scenarios, but I know the common ones:

BIG-IP BIG-IP LTM, GTM/DNS, AFM, APM, ASM, EM, BIG-IQ, and iRules.

I had been a little bit lazy about the F5 certifications but recently I have done all level 300 exams. I have started study for the 401, so that should be done in the next couple months.

DC: As a Security Consultant at NTT Security, what’s your typical workday?

LS: First to clarify, the company recently changed names from NTT Com Security to NTT Security.

nttlogo.jpgI work in professional services, doing projects that use F5 products. My daily work includes doing some pre-sales activities advising pre-sales team about the F5 products, doing projects, and finding solutions or writing scripts to automate some F5 tasks.

DC: Describe one of your biggest BIG-IP challenges and how DevCentral helped in that situation.

LS: I have been using DevCentral for many years, and iRules, to a point where it is part of my daily job. Flexibility is a major advantage for F5 and people ask all the time “Can you do this with an iRule?”

Recently, I was working in a project to upgrade many F5 devices. We had to perform an extensive inventory for each device which was taking about 3 days per device. I wrote a Python script using iControl SOAP to perform that task. (I still prefer bash script, but there is no iControl SOAP for bash)

It would take around 240 days to do that manually, and we did in around 3 days using the script.

DC: Finally, if you weren’t in technology – what would be your dream job? Or better, when you were a kid – what did you want to be when you grew up?

LS: I am doing the job I wanted since I was young and I can’t picture myself doing any other type of job.

Thanks Leonardo! Check out all Leonardo’s DevCentral contributions or connect with him on LinkedIn. And visit NTT Security on the web or follow on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 




Q/A with Betsson’s Patrik Jonsson - DevCentral’s Featured Member for April

Posted in f5, big-ip, silva, devcentral, infrastructure, games by psilva on April 4th, 2017

 

 

patrik.jpgPatrik Jonsson lives in Stockholm with his wife and son and works as a network engineer for a company providing online casino games across the world.

Outside work, he likes to spend time with his family, play around with his home VMware lab and enjoys watching movies. He also loves travelling and having a beer with friends.

Patrik is also a 2017 DevCentral MVP and DevCentral’s Featured Member for April! DevCentral got a chance to talk with Patrik about his work, life and his project the BIG-IP Report.

DevCentral: You’ve been a very active contributor to the DevCentral community and wondered what keeps you involved?

Patrik: One of the best, and fun ways to learn new things is to take on problems, or discussions presented by fellow technicians. It forces you to continuously challenge what you think you know and keeps your knowledge up to date. In addition, when I need input, or help myself, DevCentral has so many brilliant and helpful members ready to take on whatever you throw at them.

DC: Tell us a little about the areas of BIG-IP expertise you have.

PJ: The first time I ran into a BIG-IP was just after I graduated from university. It was a 1000 series running BIG-IP v4. When I quit that job 6 years later I considered asking to bring it home with me, but somehow my girlfriend at the time was not as keen to the idea. Still don’t know why. :-)

I’ve been working mostly with BIG-IP LTM and iControl, but recently I’ve started to dabble a bit with APM, GTM/DNS and ASM as well.

DC: You are a Network Security Specialist at Betsson. Can you describe your typical workday?

PJ: At Betsson you never know what’s going to happen when you step into the office. The gaming industry has very tough competition and getting comfortable as one of the bigger players around is not an option since rivals are always ready to take your place. This, combined with awesome colleagues, makes it a joy to step into the office every morning.

DC: Describe one of your biggest BIG-IP challenges and how DevCentral helped in that situation.


betsson_logo.jpgPJ:
Being a multinational company with offices supporting multiple brands, one of the biggest challenges we have is knowledge sharing. Giving the developers the correct information when they need it is vital for an efficient application delivery. In order to provide this, we have used iRules to present troubleshooting information in the form of custom headers so developers can see which pool and member that responded to their request and the current status of all members. We also have a smarter version of the traditional sorry page which shows information about the failed pool and what’s being monitored. And then of course, BIG-IP Report.

All of these are using iRules and iControl and would not have been possible without the DevCentral API documentation and of course, my hero Joe Pruitt.

DC: What can readers learn from your blog: https://loadbalancing.se/ and what is the BIG-IP Report?

PJ: My blog is where I post ideas and projects that I have. There’s a BIG-IP APM + Google Authenticator guide, F5 Web UI augmentation script for version 11 and a few other things.

BIG-IP Report was born out of a need to show people the load balancing configuration in a simple manner without giving them access to the BIG-IP interface. After implementing it we have gone from developers asking us where things are, to instead them telling us about bad configuration. We also discovered that it is awesome for us as well, as we can get an overview of the configuration across multiple devices. Finding a specific VIP, or pool is so much easier when the information is in one place.

I guess the best way to understand it is to try it at http://loadbalancing.se/bigipreportdemo/

The blog is not updated that often, so it’s safe to subscribe without getting too much spam.

DC: Lastly, if you weren’t an IT admin – what would be your dream job? Or better, when you were a kid – what did you want to be when you grew up?

PJ: I think my dream would be working with a non-profit organization helping people in need. I love travelling and combining that with something meaningful would be really nice.

Thanks Patrik! Check out all of Patrik’s DevCentral contributions, check out his blog, or connect on LinkedIn. And visit Betsson on the web or follow on Twitter.

 

 




Lightboard Lessons: Service Consolidation on BIG-IP

Posted in f5, adc, silva, application delivery, lightboard, devcentral, infrastructure, consolidate by psilva on March 29th, 2017

The Consolidation of point devices and services in your datacenter or cloud can help with cost, complexity, efficiency, management, provisioning and troubleshooting your infrastructure and systems.

In this Lightboard Lesson, I light up many of the services you can consolidate on BIG-IP.

ps

 

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What is a Proxy?

Posted in Uncategorized, security, big-ip, silva, application delivery, devcentral, proxy by psilva on March 28th, 2017

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The term ‘Proxy’ is a contraction that comes from the middle English word procuracy, a legal term meaning to act on behalf of another. You may have heard of a proxy vote. Where you submit your choice and someone else votes the ballot on your behalf.

In networking and web traffic, a proxy is a device or server that acts on behalf of other devices. It sits between two entities and performs a service. Proxies are hardware or software solutions that sit between the client and the server and does something to requests and sometimes responses.

The first kind of proxy we’ll discuss is a half proxy. With a Half-Proxy, a client will connect to the proxy and the proxy will establish the session with the servers. The proxy will then respond back to the client with the information. After that initial connection is set up, the rest of the traffic with go right through the proxy to the back-end resources. The proxy may do things like L4 port switching, routing or NAT’ing but at this point it is not doing anything intelligent other than passing traffic.

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Basically, the half-proxy sets up a call and then the client and server does their thing. Half-proxies are also good for Direct Server Return (DSR). For protocols like streaming protocols, you’ll have the initial set up but instead of going through the proxy for the rest of the connections, the server will bypass the proxy and go straight to the client. This is so you don’t waste resources on the proxy for something that can be done directly server to client.

A Full Proxy on the other hand, handles all the traffic. A full proxy creates a client connection along with a separate server connection with a little gap in the middle. The client connects to the proxy on one end and the proxy establishes a separate, independent connection to the server. This is bi-directionally on both sides. There is never any blending of connections from the client side to the server side – the connections are independent. This is what we mean when we say BIG-IP is a full proxy architecture.

The full proxy intelligence is in that OSI Gap. With a half-proxy, it is mostly client side traffic on the way in during a request and then does what it needs…with a full proxy you can manipulate, inspect, drop, do what you need to the traffic on both sides and in both directions. Whether a request or response, you can manipulate traffic on the client side request, the server side request, the server side response or client side response. You get a lot more power with a full proxy than you would with a half proxy.

reverseproxy_thumb.jpgWith BIG-IP (a full proxy) on the server side it can be used as a reverse proxy. When clients make a request from the internet, they terminate on the reverse proxy sitting in front of application servers. Reverse proxies are good for traditional load balancing, optimization, server side caching, and security functionality. If you know certain clients or IP spaces are acceptable, you can whitelist them. Same with known malicious sources or bad ranges/clients, you can blacklist them. You can do it at the IP layer (L4) or you can go up the stack to Layer 7 and control an http/s request. Or add a BIG-IP ASM policy on there. As it inspects the protocol traffic if it sees some anomaly that is not native to the application like a SQL injection, you can block it.

forwardproxy_2.jpgOn the client side, BIG-IP can also be a forward proxy. In this case, the client connects to the BIG-IP on an outbound request and the proxy acts on behalf of the client to the outside world. This is perfect for things like client side caching (grabbing a video and storing locally), filtering (blocking certain time-wasting sites or malicious content) along with privacy (masking internal resources) along with security.

You can also have a services layer, like an ICAP server, where you can pass traffic to an inspection engine prior to hitting the internet. You can manipulate client side traffic out to the internet, server side in from the internet, handle locally on the platform or or pass off to a third party services entity. A full proxy is your friend in an application delivery environment.

If you'd like to learn more about Proxies, check out the resources below including the Lightboard Lesson: What is a Proxy?

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Lightboard Lessons: What is a Proxy?

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, silva, application delivery, lightboard, devcentral, proxy by psilva on March 15th, 2017

The term ‘Proxy’ is a contraction that comes from the middle English word procuracy, a legal term meaning to act on behalf of another.

In networking and web traffic, a proxy is a device or server that acts on behalf of other devices. It sits between two entities and performs a service. Proxies are hardware or software solutions that sit between the client and the server and do something to requests and sometimes responses.

In this Lightboard Lesson, I light up the various types of proxies.

 

 

 

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Social Login to Enterprise Apps using BIG-IP & OAuth 2.0

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, cloud, silva, authentication, social media, devcentral by psilva on March 14th, 2017

 

social_login_gigya.jpgPassword fatigue is something we’ve all experienced at some point. Whether it’s due to breaches and the ever present, ‘update password’ warnings, the corporate policy of a 90-day rotation or simply registering for a website with yet another unique username and password. Social login or social sign-in allows people to use their existing Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social credentials to enter a web property, rather than creating a whole new account for the site. These can be used to authenticate, verify identity or to allow posting of content to social networks and the main advantage is convenience and speed.

With v13, BIG-IP APM offers a rich set of OAuth capabilities allowing organizations to implement OAuth Client, OAuth Resource Server and OAuth Authorization Server roles to implement social logins.

Let's look at BIG-IP’s capabilities (from the user's perspective) as an OAuth Client, OAuth Resource Server. We’ll navigate to our BIG-IP login screen and immediately you’ll notice it looks slightly different than your typical APM login.

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Here, you now have a choice and can authenticate using any one of the 4 external resources. Azure AD Enterprise and AD B2C along with Google and Facebook. Google and Facebook are very popular social login choices - as shown in the initial image above - where organizations are looking to authenticate the users and allow them to authorize the sharing of information that Google and Facebook already have, with the application.

In this case, we have an application behind BIG-IP that is relying on getting such information from an external third party. For this, we’ll select Facebook. When we click logon, BIG-IP will redirect to the Facebook log into screen.

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Now we’ll need to log into Facebook using our own personal information. And with that, Facebook has authenticated us and has sent BIG-IP critical info like name, email and other parameters.

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BIG-IP has accepted the OAuth token passed to it from Facebook, extracted the info from the OAuth scope and now the application knows my identity and what resources I’m authorized to access.

We can do the same with Google. Select the option, click logon and here we’re redirected to the Google authentication page. Here again, we enter our personal credentials and arrive at the same work top.

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Like Facebook, Google sent an authorization code to BIG-IP, BIG-IP validated it, extracted the username from the OAuth scope, passed it to the backend application so the application knows who I am and what I can access.

Let's look at Microsoft. For Microsoft, we can authenticate using a couple editions of Azure AD – Enterprise and B2C. Let’s see how Enterprise works. Like the others, we get redirected to Microsoftonline.com to enter our MS Enterprise credentials.

In this instance, we’re using an account that’s been Federated to Azure AD from another BIG-IP and we’ll authenticate to that BIG-IP. At this point that BIG-IP will issue a SAML assertion to Azure AD to authenticate me to Azure AD. After that, Azure AD will issue an OAuth token to that BIG-IP. BIG-IP will accept it, extract the user information and pass it to the application.

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Finally, let’s see how Azure AD B2C works. B2C is something that companies can use to store their non-corporate user base. Folks like partners, suppliers, contractors, etc. B2C allows users to maintain their own accounts and personal information. In addition, they can login using a typical Microsoft account or a Google account. In this case, we’ll simply use a Microsoft account and are directed to the Microsoft authentication page.

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We’ll enter our personal info, the servers communicate and we’re dropped into our WebTop of resources.

Social logins can not only help enterprises offer access to certain resources, it also improves the overall customer experience with speed and convenience and allows organizations to capture essential information about their online customers.

ps

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Blog Roll 2016

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, cloud computing, silva, application delivery, devcentral, infrastructure, access, iot by psilva on December 20th, 2016

dc-logo.jpgIt’s that time of year when we gift and re-gift, just like this text from last year. And the perfect opportunity to re-post, re-purpose and re-use all my 2016 entries.

After 12 years at F5, I had a bit of a transition in 2016, joining the amazing DevCentral team in February as a Sr. Solution Developer. You may have noticed a much more technical bent since then…hopefully. We completed our 101 Certification Exam this year and will be shooting for the 201 next quarter. We started highlighting our community with Featured Member spotlight articles and I finally started contributing to the awesome LightBoard Lessons series. I also had ACDF surgery this year, which is why November is so light. Thanks to the team for all their support this year. You guys are the best!

If you missed any of the 53 attempts including 7 videos, here they are wrapped in one simple entry. I read somewhere that lists in articles are good. I broke it out by month to see what was happening at the time and let's be honest, pure self-promotion. I truly appreciate the reading and watching throughout 2016.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!

 

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

And a couple special holiday themed entries from years past.

ps

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Lightboard Lessons: BIG-IP in Hybrid Environments

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, ssl vpn, cloud, silva, application delivery, lightboard, devcentral, remote access, saml, aws, azure, saas by psilva on October 12th, 2016

A hybrid infrastructure allows organizations to distribute their applications when it makes sense and provide global fault tolerance to the system overall. Depending on how an organization’s disaster recovery infrastructure is designed, this can be an active site, a hot-standby, some leased hosting space, a cloud provider or some other contained compute location. As soon as that server, application, or even location starts to have trouble, organizations can seamlessly maneuver around the issue and continue to deliver their applications.

Driven by applications and workloads, a hybrid environment is a technology strategy to integrate the mix of on premise and off-premise data compute resources. In this Lightboard Lesson, I explain how BIG-IP can help facilitate hybrid infrastructures.

ps

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