EDU-110 Study Palo Alto

Palo Alto EDU 110: Security and NAT Policies


  • Display and manage security policy rules
  • Describe the difference between implicit and explicit rules
  • Create a security policy
  • Describe the difference between source and destination NAT
  • Configure source NAT
  • Configure destination NAT port forwarding
Flow logic of a next generation firewall

Controlling Network Traffic

All traffic flowing through the data plane of the Palo Alto firewall is checked against a security policy.

The traffic matching does not include any traffic originating from the management interface of the firewall as it does not pass through the data plane of the firewall.

Security rules can be defined on the firewall using various criteria such as zones, applications, IP addresses, ports, users, and host information profiles.

Sessions and Flows

The Palo Alto firewal is a stateful firewall. A stateful firewall matches all traffic passing through the firewall against a session with a I.D. number. Each session is then checked against a security policy rule.

Each session is idenitfied by a six tuple consisting of:

  • Source and destination IP address
  • Source and destination port numnber, For non-UDP/TCP traffic, different protocol fields are used
  • Protocol
  • Source security zone

The end point where the traffic was initiated will always be identified as the client. The endpoint where the traffic from the client is destined too is known as the server.

When security policy rules are defined, only the direction of the client to the server should be considered. Return traffic is automatically permitted by the Palo Alto firewall.

Security Policy Rule Types

Three different tyypes of rules can be defined within a security policy.

The rule type specifies whether a rule applies to traffic within a zone, between zones, or both.

Intrazone applies all traffic within a specific zone. A destination zone can not be applied for an intrazone rule

If multiple source zones were applied, the rule apply to traffic with a source and destination of the same specific zone

An interzone rule applies to all matching traffic between the specified source and destination zones, but not traffic within the same zone.

A universal rule applies to all matching interzone and intrazone traffic in the specified source and destination zones.

Implict and Explict Rules

The firewall implictly allows intrazone traffic and denies interzone traffic.

Explict rules must be created to control all other traffic, above the order of the two implict rules.

The interzone default rule saves the need for the network administrator to create a rule that blocks all traffic not defined by a security policy.

The intrazone and interzone rules do not log traffic, however the Palo Alto recommendation is to log all traffic. So it is recommended to turn on logging for the implict security rules

Note, a placement of an explict deny all rule at the end of the explict rules may negatively effect firewall performance. The reasoning behind this is a explict deny all rule would be above in order to the implict permit between intrazone rule.

Security Policy Match

Security Policy rules are evaluted for a match from top to bottom.

The policy rules themselves are unidirectional, from source zones to destination zones. So if traffic is intended to be initiated in both directions it is recommended to have two policy rules

It is recommended to reduce the use of ‘any’ when defining security rules

Policy Rule Hit Count

An administrator should regularly review, identify, and determine rules that are being used freqently and what rules are unused and are to be removed.

Hit counts can be reset to validate the usage of an existing rule over a given period of time.

Hit count data also incluides the number of traffic matches, timestamps, number of applications seen, and the number of days with no new applications seen.

Rule Shadowing

Rule shadowing is when an above rule casts a shadow over further rules in the evaluation order, ethier by casting too wide a net for further rules to ever be evaluted for traffic matching

Universally Unique Identifers (UUID)

UUIDs are created when a security policy rule is made. The UUID helps to provide a complete audit trial that keens a history of the entire operational history of a rule from the time of its creation.

UUIDs were created since previous to PAN-OS 9.0, if a rule was renamed it’s history was lost forever.

The UUID allows history regarding the firewall rule to be kept no matter how many changes are made to it.

Finding Unused Security Policy Rules

Administrators from time to to time should inspect their security policy rulebase, cleaning up unused rules.

This can be performed easily by checking the ‘Highlight Unused Rules’ checkbox in the Security Policies section of the fireewall.

This option can also be used when it comes to troubleshooting a firewalls security policy.

Tag-Based Rule Groups

In PAN-OS 9.0 the tag browser is replaced with the ability to assign rules to tag groups.

Once rules are assigned to a tag-group, the rulebase can be viewed as a tag group to visually group rules based on the tagging structure created.

When the rule base is viewed as groups, operational procedures such as adding, deleting, or movement of the rules can be carried out within the tag group for easier management of the rule base

Rule tag groups are displayed in the same order as rules in the rule base. A single tag group may appear multiple times throughout the rule base to preserve rule hierarchy.

Using Global Find

The candidate configuration and content databases can be searched for a particular string when using global find

This can include IP addresses, Object names, Policy rule names, Threat IDs, and Application names.

The global find does not search dynamic content such as logs, addresses ranges, or allocated DHCP addresess.

It also does not search individual username or group names that are identified by User-ID.

Rule Changes Archive

Clicking the Audit Comment Archieve link in the properties of a security policy rule, allows the administrator to view audit comment history and configuration log history between commits.

Configuration versions can be compared to allow the administrator to see what has been changed in the security policy.

Test Policy Functionality

Policy rules and managed device configurations can be tested to ensure that candidate configurations are correctly securing the network, and connectivity can be checked to ensure network resources can be reached.

The test security policy match allows a set of test criteria to be entered, and it is evaluated against the current security policy for a match or not.

NAT Types

Source NAT

Source NAT is used for private users to access the public internet, outbound traffic

Destination NAT often is used to provide hosts on the public internet access to private servers.

For source and destination NAT, the firewall maintains the mapping of pre-NAT to post-NAT IP addresses

Source NAT

Source NAT changes the source address of the packets that match the NAT policy as the packets go through the firewall.

Source NAT is used to allow host devices configured with private IP addressing to send and receive traffic on the publicaly address internet

Source NAT Types

Static IP

Static IPs are a 1 to 1 fixed translation.

It changes the source IP address, leaving the source port unchanged.

The static IP NAT type supports the implicit bidirectional rule feature

Dynamic IP

1 to 1 translations of a source IP address only, no port number.

Private source addresses are translated to the next available address in the public IP range.

Dynamic IP and Port

Allows multiple clients to use the same public IP addresses with different source port numbers.

The assigned address can set to an interface address or a translated address.

Dynamic IP and Port Oversubscription

The TCP protocl recognises around a maximum of around 64,512 available ports, subtracing 65,536 from 1024 well known ports.

Some PAN-OS platforms support DIPP NAT oversubscription, allowing the use of port numbers by using the destination IP address as an additional identifier for the NAT session.

The NAT oversubscription rate can be configured up the maximum rate supported by the hardware platform

Destination NAT

Destination NAT translates an original destination IP address to an alternative destination IP address.

Destination NAT attribututes

Static IP mapping with optional port forwarding

1 to 1 fixed translation, enabled by static source NAT with the bi-directional option set. This changes the destination IP address whilst leaving the destination port unchanged.

Dynamic IP address support for destination NAT

The translated address can be a FQDN, address object or group.

The translated original IP address can be set to a destination host with a DHCP assigned address.

Each FQDN can support up to 32 IPv4, or IPv6 addresses

Configuring Destination NAT

Destination NAT uses the original packet tab to define the source and destination zones of hte packets that the firewall will translate, and specifies the destination interface and type of service

NAT rules must be configured ot the use the zone associated with the pre-NAT ip addresses configured in the policy.

Traffic subjected to NAT must be permitted explicity by the security policy when that traffic traverses multiple zones.

EDU-110 Study Palo Alto

EDU-110: Palo Alto Interface Configuration


Describe flow logic of the next generation firewall

Create a security zone

Describe the differences between Tap, Virtual Wire, Layer 2 and Layer 3

Create and configure a virtual router

Define a static default route

Configure a VLAN interface

Configure a loopback interface

The flow logic of a next generation firewall

The diagram above shows the flow logic of a packet travelling through a Palo Alto Firewall.

If traffic is decrypted by a policy, it is re-encrypted when traffic is forwarded on from the firewall.

The policy check also checks any IP addresses before network address translation occurs

Flexible Deployment Options


Tap allows traffic to be mirrored to the firewall, allowing for application, user, and content visibility without any inline deployment.

Tap is suitable for an evaluation and audit of the existing network

The Tap interface can be connected to a core switches switch port analyser, otherwise known as SPAN, to recieve a mirror of packets traveling through the network for the Palo Alto to analyse

Virtual Wire

App-ID, Content-Id and SSL Decryption is can be used with Virtual Wire. It also includes network address translation capabilities.

VWire mode allows the firewall to be inserted into an existing topology without requiring any reallocation of network addresses or redesign on the network topology. All protection and decryption features of the firewall can be used

Layer 3

Layer 3 offers all the options that virtual wire has. In addition Layer 3 offers virtual routers, virtual private networks and routing protocols

The firewall can mix and match these interface types on a single device.

Security Zones and Security Policies

Palo Alto firewalls use the concept of security zones to secure and manage networks.

Different security policy rules are created to control traffic to and from each zone

The physical location of the zone does not matter, a single zone can be at different locations throughout an enterprise.

Descriptive zone names should be chosen that help designate specific types of business, functions, location or access privileges

By default the Palo Alto firewall allows intrazone traffic, and a denys interzone traffic

In-band network interfaces

There are three types of in-band network interfaces to allow traffic flow across and enterprise

They are labeled with the format ethernet n/n

The first type is on a single-slot firewall, where the interfaces are ethernet1/1, ethernet1/2 and so on. The second number represents the inband port.

On a multi-slot firewall, the first number represents the slot number, the second number represents the inband port

Logicial interfaces can be sub-interfaces on a physical interface, in a format of ethernet1/1.1 or ethernet1/1.2

A physical port or subinterface can only be assigned to a single zone. A zone can contain multiple physical or logical interfaces

Interface Zone Types

Tap Zone contains Tap interfaces

Layer 2 Zones contain Layer 2 intefaces

Tunnel zones do not contain any interfaces, they are used for a feature called tunnel content inspection and for a specific scenario that involves tunnel-in-tunnel encapsulation

Virtual Wire zone contains virtual wire interfaces

Layer 3 zones can contain layer 3 interfaces, VLAN interfaces, Loopback interfaces or Tunnel interfaces. All these interface types can be assigned IP addresses

HA intefaces are not used to control network traffic, and used for synchronisation of a pair of firewalls deployed in a high availability configuration. They cannot be placed in a security zone

The management interface also does not control network traffic, and is used for firewall management. It cannot be assigned to a zone

Tap Interfaces

Tap interfaces allow passive monitoring of switch traffic from the SPAN or mirror port.

The firewall cannot control or perform traffic shaping on ports where it is configured as a tap interface

If the port passes mirror traffic, the tap interface can only support SSL Inbound Decryption

Even though the firewall cannot block traffic, it can still identify the traffic

This is useful for the administrator when it comes to configuring sercurity rules on whether to permit or deny traffic

Virtual Wire Interfaces

A virtual wire interface binds two firewall interfaces together. It is typically used when no switching or routing is required by the firewall. It sits transparently between two network devices so no configuration changes are required. No MAC address or IP address is assigned to either virtual wire interface

Creating the virtual wire is completed in two steps:

  • Create the virtual wire object
  • Configure the virtual wire interfaces

It should be noted though that Palo Alto firewalls come factory preconfigured with Ethernet ports 1 and 2 preconfigured as virtual wire interfaces, allowing all untagged traffic through.

Since network traffic flows through the firewall, the firewall can examine, shape, and block traffic. The virtual wire configuration can take advantage of many Palo Alto features such as App-ID, Content-ID, NAT, QoS, SSL decryption and User-ID

A virtual wire is also known as a ‘bump in the wire’ deployment or ‘transparent in-line deployment’.

As the virtual wire is transparent between other devices, it does not support routing or firewall management traffic as no IP address is assigned to the virtual wire interface. A virtual wire configuration can also not service as a end point for a VPN tunnel

Virtual Wire Subinterfaces

A virtual wire sub-interace can read and process traffic based on several factors:

  • VLAN tags ( 1 – 4094)
  • IP classifers (untagged, traffic, source IP)
  • VLAN tags and IP classifers (source IP)

The IP classifer can be made up of a specific address, a range of addresses, ro a subnet address.

Each sub interface can be assigned to a seperate security zone, allowing granular policy controls to traffic flows arriving or leaving through the same port.

Layer 2 interfaces

A layer 2 interface provides switching between two or more interfaces through a VLAN object. This is normally used when no routing is required

To create a layer 2 interface:

  • Create a VLAN object
  • Configure the Layer 2 interfaces that the VLAN object connects too

Note that the firewall does not take part in any spanning tree protocol. The firewall does forward STP packets that arrive from external switches in the VLAN object to the other switches.

In Layer 2 mode the fireewall can support App-ID, Content-ID, User-ID, SSL decryption and QoS. A layer 2 interface does not support routing or firewall management as no IP addresses are assigned to a layer 2 interface

Layer 2 sub-interfaces

Like virtual wire, layer 2 can be divided up into sub interfaces. Sub interfaces can be assigned to different zones and security policies can be applied to them.

VLAN traffic is isolated by a sub-interface, this is caused by two factors:

  • Need routing between VLANs
  • Security policy blocks interzone traffic by default

This is a good configuration candidate for multi tenanted networks

Layer 3 interfaces

The layer 3 interface type allows routing of traffic between multiple layer 3 interfaces.

As a layer 3 interface can carry out routing, network traffic can flow through the firewall between different layer 3 interfaces. The firewall can examine, shape and block traffic as it traverses these interfaces

The routing between layer 3 interfaces is carried out by an internal virtual router inside the Palo Alto firewall

A layer 3 deployment typically takes more work as it usually requires network reconfiguration in the organisation.

A layer 3 firewall supports App-ID, Content-ID, User-ID, SSL decryption, NAT and QoS. Additionally, unlike the other interface types so far, the layer 3 interface can support management traffic and VPN traffic as it is assigned an IP address

A layer 3 interface supports IPv6 too, these can deployed seperately or as part of a dual stack configuration. The firewall needs to be enabled to use IPv6 though.

This can be turned on in Device -> Setup -> Session -> Session Settings -> [Gear Icon], click the option ‘Enable IPv6 Firewalling’

Layer 3 sub-interfaces

Similar to Layer 2 sub interfaces, traffic in each VLAN is isolated; requiring a virtual router to connect together, and security policy blocks interzone traffic flow by default.

To allow trafifc to flow between zones, appropiate security rules need to be configured.

If two seperate sub-interfaces have the same VLAN number, the firewall will use ethernet witching to pass traffic between the zone interfaces.

If two seperate sub-interfaces have different VLAN numbers, the traffic needs to pass through the virtual router on the IP layer.

Virtual Routers

The Palo Alto makes use of an internal virtual router to reach other subnets

The virtual router can be configured in several ways to reach other subnets. Using static routes, or with the use of a dynamic routing protocol.

The Palo Alto can support the BGPv4, OSPFv2, OSPFv3 and RIPv2 routing protocols. The Palo Alto can also route multicast with the PIM-SM (spare mode) v2 and PIM-SSM (source specific multicast) v2 multicast routing protocols.

Whilst on the topic of multicast, host facing interfaces have multicast support with IGMP v1, v2 and v3.

The Palo Alto firewall can be configured with multiple virtual routers, and have inter virtual router links between them.

Multiple Static Default Routes

Multiple static default routes can be configured on the Palo Alto firewall. When assigned different metrics, the route with the lowest metric is chosen for use by the Palo Alto firewall.

Path monitoring can be used to determine whether a default route is valid. If the router is no longer deemed to be valid the Palo Alto firewall will switch to the next higher metric route in it’s routing table

Path monitoring will continue to monitor all paths, even after a failure. If the path monitoring detects a lower metric default router is usable again, it will switch back to that default route with the lower metric.

VLAN Interfaces

Network interfaces that are attached to a layer 2 interface, and a vlan object can be attached to the virtual router through the configuration of a VLAN interface.

A VLAN interface can be assigned an IPv4 or IPv6 address and attached to a virtual router. This provides a path from the Layer 2 interfaces of the firewall to the Layer 3 interfaces of the firewall

Loopback Interfaces

The loopback interface is a logical non physical interface that be reached through a physical interface or sub inteface.

It behaves just like a host interface that can serve clients and is assigned an IP address.

Firewall services provided through the loopback interface could be a access point to the management web interface through HTTPs, a GlobalProtect Portal, a GlobalProtect Gateway, or an IPSec VPN tunnel endpoint.

Policy Based Forwarding

Policy based forwarding allows traffic to take an alternative path compared to the next hop specified in the routing table. They are typically used to specify an outgoing interface for security or performance reasons.

Policy based forwarding does not apply to traffic that originates locally from the firewall itself. Examples would be an IPSec VPN, GlobalProtect, or traffic originating from a virtual router

Policy Based Forwarding can be configured from Policies -> Policy Based Forwarding

These rules can be customised to specify matching criteria such as source zone or interface, source or destination IP address, application, or destination port. If the criteria is matched, the rule can be set to specify an outgoing interface

Policy based forwarding contains a feature that allows path monitoring to verify connectivity to the outgoing interface/next hop address. This allows the firewall to direct traffic through an alternative outgoing interface if the interface specified by the policy based forwarding becomes unavaiable for any reason.

An ICMP ping is used as heartbeats to verify the next hop IP address is indeed reachable.

The path monitoring / montioring profile can be configured to have a threshold number of heartbeats to determine whether the external next hop IP address is unreachable. If the monitoring profile picks up that the IP address is unreachable, the rule can be disabled or an alternative route specified. If the rule is disabled the virtual router will use it’s routing table to determine the next hop IP address to be used.

Once fail over or wait recover action is taken, the profile continues to check if the next hop IP address is reachable. If it becomes reachable the firewall will automatically revert to using the policy based forwarding rule

EDU-110 Study Palo Alto

EDU-110: Initial Configuration of Palo Alto Firewall


Connect to the firewall and login as admin

Configure the network settings for the management interface port

Describe the difference between the running configuration and the candidate configuration

Configure dynamic firewall updates to update the applications and threats database

Create a local firewall administrative account

Access the firewall logs

Access to the firewall

The Palo Alto firewalls are built in with a dedicated out of band network management port.

This port only passes traffic for management functions of the firewall, it cannot be configured as a standard traffic interface. It can be used for direct connectivity to the management plane of the firewall.

The default IP address of the firewall is for most physical models. The default address for virtual firewalls is set to recieve an address from a DHCP server.

Any initial configuration for a Palo Alto firewall must be performed from the dedicated mangement port, labeled MGT, or via a serial connection to the console port.

The baud rate and settings for the serial connection is 9600-8-N-1

The default username and password for the Palo Alto are:

Username: admin

Password: admin

The firewall will prompt you to change these credentials in the CLI and web interface away from the defaults.

The password for the administrator on the firewall is stored in the firewalls XML configuration file, but is encrypted using the firewalls master key.

Methods of administrative access to the firewall

There are four ways of accessing the firewalls administrative functions

Web Interface – The most common way to configure and monitor a Palo Alto firewall. The graphical web interface provides detailed administrative and reporting tools in a browser format.

SSH or Console (Command Line Interface) – The CLI allows access to the firewall to display status and configuration information. It allows modification too. The CLI can be accessed through SSH, Telnet, or the serial console.

Panorama – If multiple firewals are deployed, Panorama can be used to manage configurations, policies, software and dynamic content updates all in one place. Panorama aggregates data from all the firewalls and can display them all within the Panorama web application

REST XML API – The REST based interface allows access to operational status, reports and packet captures. Like the other methods, it allows access to configure the firewall too. The XML API can be configured to capture login events and send them to the firewall. The API is implemented using HTTP/HTTPS requests and responses. An API browser is also present on the firewall, by appending /api at the end of the firewalls URL, for example:

Reset to Factory Configuration

To reset the Palo Alto firewall back to factory configuration, if the password is known enter the CLI interface and enter the following command:

request system private-data-reset

This command will erase all logs, reset all settings, and saves a default configuration once the management IP address has changed.

If the password is not known to the firewall, reboot the firewall and whilst it is starting up, enter the command


After some time, the firewall wil offer you the option to reset to factory defaults via the menu option Reset to Factory Default

Configuring the Management Interface

On the system you will access the Palo Alto, change it’s IP address to one in the subnet (anything between –

Once the configuration has been applied, connect to the MGT port via an ethernet cable to your device

After some seconds have passed, open a web browser and navigiate to

A Palo Alto login prompt page should appear, log in to the firewall using the default username and password of admin / admin

Once logged into the firewall, navigate to the Device -> Setup -> Interfaces section

Click Management

A window will open up, configure the network settings for the management interface as required

Commit the configuration, and reconnect to the web interface using the new network configuration

Configuring General Settings

Under Device -> Setup -> Management -> General Settings -> [Gear Icon]

From top to bottom of this pop-up window.

Hostname – An identifiable name for the firewall that can contain up to 31 characters. These characters can contain a mix of alphanumeric, hypen and underscore characters. The default hostname is the model of the firewall.

Domain Name – By default, this is empty. Can contain up to 31 alhanumeric, hypen, or underscore characters

DHCP Checkboxes:

  • Accept DHCP server provided Hostname
  • Accept DHCP server provided Domain

Login Banner, configures a pop-up message to present when logging into the Palo Alto firewall

SSL/TLS Service Profile: When SSL/TLS is in use, the firewall requires a digital certificate that wil be trusted by the clients

Long/Lang: Configure these settings to put the firewall on the map under the ACC tab

Configure DNS and NTP servers

Go to: Device -> Setup -> Services -> [Gear Icon]

DNS server configuration is required in order for the Palo Alto firewall to reach update servers

The NTP configuration is optional, but it’s recommended. It makes it easier for a human to read through the logs!

Note, if the management interface has been configured by DHCP. These values can be assigned to the firewall automatically via DHCP

The Services window also allows the domain name of the update server to be configured, to grab the latest sofrware and any updates to the threat database.

Clicking the checkbox to validate the update servers identity adds a level security between the firewall and the update server.

Service Routes

To access external services, the management port is used by default.

These external services would be:

  • Update services
  • DNS services
  • NTP services
  • Licence Retrieval
  • Panorama
  • Other external services

If the managment port is does not wish to be used for these services, an alternative port or logical interface can be configured to be used instead.

This will be configured under the panel in:

Device -> Setup -> Services -> Service Route Configuration

Configuration Types

The firewall has two types of main configuration, the running configuration and the candidate configuration.

The running configuration is the actual configuration running on the Palo Alto firewall. It’s maintained in a file on the firewall called running-config.xml

The running configuration is copied to the candidate configuration file during startup. Any edits made before a commit are made to the candidate configuration.

Once a commit has been made, the candidate configuration overwrites the running configuration.

The firewall saves the previous running configuration and labels these by a date and timestamp.

The web interface contains a set of operations that can be used to manage the running and candidate configurations.

Global Configuration Management

The Configuration Management section, in Device -> Setup -> Operations contains options for global configuration management (For all administrators changes, rather than one admin)

Revert, Save, and Load manage local configurations on the firewall

Export operations transfer configurations as XML formatted files to accessing host accessing the Palo Alto firewall through the web browser

Import operations import configurations from the host running the web browser to the Palo Alto

If a configuration is loaded or reverted from configuration management, only a full commit is possible. A full commit writes all changes made to the running configuration

Configuration Options

At boot time, the latest configuration on the hard disk is loaded to the candidate configuration in the control plane memory.

The control plane forces an automatic commit to copy this candidate configuration into the running configuration in the control plane memory.

The running configuration is then pushed to the running configuration in the data plane memory, where it used to inspect, control, and secure traffic traversing the firewall.

Any administrators that make changes to the candidate configuration and follows with a commit writes the changes in control plane and data plane memory. The firewall does automatically take timestamped backups when a commit is performed.

Saving a candidate configuration

A candidate configuration can be saved in several ways:

Navigate to Device -> Setup -> Operations

Click Save named configuration snapshot to save the current candidate configuraiton to a XML filename on the disk. Multiple named configurations can be saved this way

Click Save candidate configuration to save the configuration to memory. If edits are made and the save canddiate configuration is clicked again, the previous save is overwritten. Note that this saved configuration is stored in viotile memory and will be erased if the firewall is rebooted.

A named configuration snapshot can be loaded to replace the existing candidate configuration. The loaded file is in the format of an XML file.

Revert to last saved configuration aborts any changes to the configuration since the last save.

To delete any candidate configuration and start over, click Revert to running configuration. This copies the running configuration to a fresh candidate configuration.

Admin Level Commit

An admin level commit enables an administrator to only commit their changes to the running configuration, and not any other administrators active changes.

If Commit All Changes is selected, this commits all changes made by all administrators. This can only be selected if the administrator has the correct privileges.

A middle ground is also available, that a group of administrators changes can be commited, leaving other administrators changes alone.

Administrator Level Save and Revert

Per-admin changes can be saved without needing to commit, the icons are available on the ‘Config’ drop down on the top right section of the page.

The Save Changes icon allows an admit to save current changes and continue later without needing to commit a partially completed configuration change.

The saved changes made by any administrator are written to the same default XML file, but each change is tagged with information about the administrator that made that change.

The Revert Changes icon removes the most recent changes since the last saved candidate configuration.

There is a choice between reverting to the last saved configuration made by the administrator logged in, or the last saved configuration made by other administrators

Preview and Validate Changes

The preview changes button compares the candidate and running configurations.

Preview changes will open a window that displays a side by side comparison of the running and candidate configurations before a commit is made. Differences are coloured coded to indicate where configuration has been added, changed, or deleted.

The change summary lists the individual settings where changes are being commited

It will list object names, whether its shared, or for a specific virtual system, and whether it has been edited, created, or deleted.

The validate commit button will show any errors that may appear during a commit

The validation is performed with a syntactic and semantic validation of the firewall configuration before being commited.

The semantic validation determines whether the configuration is valid and complete. This would reduce the number of failures at a commit time.

The results will show any warnings or errors that would of been displayed on a full commit. Warnings don’t prevent a commit though.

The preview and validate commit buttons will display all changes by all administrators, or just changes made by select administrators.

Transaction Locks

Device -> Setup -> Management -> General Settings

A lock can be taken to block other administartors:

  • Commiting a candidate configuraton
  • Making changes to the candidate configuration

Locks can be removed by the administrator who created them, or by an administrator with superuser rights.

A lock can be configured to be automatically taken when an administrator logs in.

Commit and configuration locks are released automatically when an administrator commits their configuration.

Licencing and Software Updates

The process of activating the firewall is:

Register the firewall with Palo Alto Networks

  • Click Assets on the Customer Support Portal
  • Enter the serial number
  • Click Register Device
  • (For VM Firewalls) Register an e-mailed auth code to the Support account on the Customer Support Portal
    • Existing support accounts access the VM-Series Authentication Code link on the Support Portal
    • If no support account exists, use the capacity auth-code to register and create an account

Active a support licence

  • Before subscriptions can be added, the support licence must be activated. Click Device -> Support and Active Support using an authorisation code

Active the licences for each subscription that was purchased in Device -> Licences (Once support is activated)

The activation of the WildFire licence requires a commit

Before any licences can be retrieved, the firewall itself needs to go through an initial configuration of an IP address information, and a DNS server address to reach the internet.

Dynamic Updates

Updates include new anti-virus and anti-spyware definitions, new malicious domains and malicious URLs along with new application signatures. It is essential to download theses updates to the firewall to maintain the most current protection offered. A threat protection licence is required to download Applications and Threats updates

Updates can be downloaded directly from the Palo Alto update server via two paths.

One is downloading the updates to another system such as a user desktop or Panaorama mangement device, and then uploading to the firewall.

Two is navigating to the Device -> Dynamic Updates section of the firewall and clicking Install to Install the update.

The following release schedules are available for updates:

Antivirus is daily

Applications and Threats: weekly updates, with new applications coming monthly

WildFire: Around every 5 minutes

The firewall can be configured to check for updates as frequently as required. As often as every hour for anti-virus, applications and threats as often as every 30 minutes and wildfire updates can be checked once per minute

PAN-OS Updates

To maintain the most current protection, the firewall requires to be updated to the latest PAN-OS software.

When an upgrade is performed, it is important to download the next x.0 base release, before downloading to the next minor release. When installing the minor release the base release is automatically installed

Like dynamic updates, there are two methods of updating the firewall, via uploading a file or using the Check Now hyperlink

The MGMT port is used to fetch these updates, but can be configured to use a seperate in-band port

The firewall must be running the most recent version of Applications and Threats database. The software upgrade process fails if it does not have a current update.

Administrator Account and Role Respositories

The firewall can authenticate locally or remotely defined administartors: A local account and password, or a remote account and password.

PAN-OS software supports remote authentication using Active Directory, Kerberos, LDAP, RADIUS and TACACS+

Roles for each administrator can be defined locally, or remote too using Custom Roles or Dynamic Roles

Remote role assignments are supported via RADIUS or TACACS+ using VSAs, Vendor Specific Attributes

All administrators changes, whether local or remtoe, are logged in the firwalls Configuration and System logs. Time logged in is logged, and any configuration changes that are made

Firewall Authentication of non-local users

Before an external authentication service can be used, an authentication profile requires to be created on the firewall. The authentication profile contains information to authenticate an administrator account against an external authentication service once one of the services servers can be reached.

An authentication sequence is a method where a firewall can contact multiple services to authenticate an account. A specified list of authentication profiles can be created by adding them to the optional authentication sequence on a firewall.

If created, specify the sequence instead of the profile on the user account on the firewall

An authentication profile uses a server profile, which is used to locate the external authentication services servers. A server profile can be configured a list of external authentication servers

Step one:

Authenticate non-local password

Step two:

Read optional authentication sequence

Step three:

Go to first/next Authentication profile

Step Four:

Has a server profile been found?

If No:

Login has failed, check if they’re is another authentication profile and go to Step three

If Yes:

Was an account found?

If No:

If there is anoither authentication profile, go to step three

If Yes:

Check the password authentication

Server Profiles

Devices -> Server Profiles

Server profiles define connections that the firewall can make to external servers for the purposes of authentication.

These types of external servers could be Kerberos, LDAP, RADIUS, SAML, or TACACS+ servers

Server profiles are required to validate login information for accounts that were not locally created on the firewall

Authentication Profiles

Devices -> Authentication Profiles

The authentication profile specifies what server profile and settings are used to authenticate the administrator account. An authentication profile is specified when an administrator account is created where the name and password are maintained on an external service

Authentication Sequence

An optional configuration if multiple external services have been defined.

The list is created with a list of Authentication Profiles that are in order of most preferred to least preferred, that should be checked to authenticate an administrator account.

Each one in the list is checked until one profile succesfully authenticates the user.

If a local database is preseent in the list, the firewall checks that one first regardless of where in the order it comes

Authentication only fails once all profiles fail the query of the login information

EDU-110 Study Palo Alto

EDU-110: Security Operating Platform and Architecture


Describe the characteristics of the Security Operating Platform

Describe the differences between single-pass architecture and parallel processing

Describe the Zero Trust security model and how it relates to traffic moving through the network

Cyber Attack Lifecycle

  • Reconnaissance
    • Attackers carefully plan their attacks: They identify and select targets, research them. Using phishing tatics or data mining from a social media platform or company website. Company networks are scanned on this stage to look for vulnerabilities, services, and applications that can be exploited.
  • Weaponisation
    • Attackers determine the methods that will be used to deliver the malicious payloads to achieve their objective. The malicious payload could be present in an website, or specially crafted packages to attract the victim.
  • Delivery
    • The attackers may also choose to e-mail a PDF or word document.
  • Exploitation
    • The attacker now deploys the exploit against the vulnerabler application or system. Using the exploit kit or weaponised document. The deployment of this explot gives the attacker an initial entry point into the targeted network.
  • Installation
    • With initial access, attackers will try to establish a escalated privileges to gain control of the system. This will also allow the attacker to try gain a perisistent entry point into the network for future access.
  • Command and Control
    • The attackers establish a command channel back to a specific attacker control server, to allow communication back and forth between their own infrastricture and the infected devices
  • Act on the objective
    • The attacker has a persistent ongoing connection into the network. They can now act upon their motivations to try achieve their goal. Motivations could be data exfiltration, destruction of critical infrastructure or defacing web property.

Network Security Platform

The Palo Alto Networks Security Platform has three objectives:

Prevention-Focused Architecture – React only to the threats that are critically important

Highly Automated – Reduce or remove manual response

Safely enables all applications – Granular use of controls and prevention of known and unknown cyberthreats

Security Operating Platform


Apps can be created and developed on a common application framework, known as Cortex, to rapidly build and deliver cloud-based security services with no additional infrastructure or on-premises hardware changes. Apps are delivered from the cloud to extend the capabilities of the platform, including the ability to effortlessly collaborate between apps, share threat context and intelligence, and drive automated resposne and enforcement

Contains Coretex Data Lake, and Cortex XDR

Network Security

Palo Alto Networks Security Operating Platform firewalls are designed to safely enable applications and prevent modern threats. The firewall can identify all network traffic based on applications, users, content, and devices, and lets you express your business policies in the form of easy-to-understand security rules.

Advanced Endpoint Protection

Traps Advanced Endpoint Protection providfes multi-method prevention, a proprietary combination of malware and exploit prevention methods that pre-emptively block both known and unknown threats directly on an endpoint

Cloud Security

The Palo Alto Networks VM-Series firewall is a virtualised form of the Palo Alto Networks Security Operating Platform firewall. The VM-Series firewalls are designed for use in a virtualised or cloud environment to identify all network traffic based on applications,u sers, content, and devices

Additional Palo Alto Products

Panorama – Allows consolidated policy creation and centralised management. Allows for the implementation and control of firewalls centrally with an efficient rulesbase, adds insight into network-wide traffics and threats across multiple firewalls

Prisma Software as a Service – Protects cloud based applicatinos such as Box, Salesforce, and Dropbox by managing permissinobs and scanning files for external exposure and sensitive information. Prisma SaaS is focused on data loss prevention for personally identifiable information, payment card industry information and other sensitive data.

GlobalProtect – Safeguards the mobile workforce by inspecting all traffic using the organisations next generation Palo Alto firewalls deployed as internet gateways. Devices with the GlobalProtect app establish a secure SSL/VPN connection to the firewall with the best performance for a given location. Proves the organisation with full visibility of all network traffic.

AutoFocus – Gives security operatiyons and analysis teams direct access to all the threat intelligence Palo Alto networks gathers from customers, open source feeds, and the Unit 42 threat research team.

This allows security teams to focus their effects on the most important attacks and understand the most critical elements of those attacks.

Next Generation Firewall Architecture

The firewall allows you specifiy security policies based on identifcation of applications seeking access to the network.

This is different to traditional firewalls that seek to identify applications via their protocol and port number.

The next generation firewall uses packet inspection and a library of application signatures to distinguish between applications that use the same protocol and port number. With this technology the next generation firewall can identify malware applications that may use common port numbers

The Single Pass Architecture

The Palo Alto firewall has a strength in it’s single pass parallell processing (SP3) engine. Each protection feature uses the same stream based signature format. This means the firewall can check for all risks that could be present in packets simultaneously.

An advantage of this simultaneous scanning is traffic can cross the Palo Alto firewall and be scanned with a minimal amount of packet buffering. This allows these advanced features to be enabled without slowing down the performance of the firewall.

The Firewall Architecture

The Palo Alto firewall has processors dedicated to specific security functions, that all work in parallel. These security functions can be be implemented in hardware offloading or software. The hardware offloading components types and capacities will vary on the specification of the firewall model.

Data Plane Processing:

  • Signature Matching Components (Single pass pattern matching), a stream based uniform signature matching technology that looks for exploits, virues, spyware, credit card numbers and social security numbers with.
  • Security Processing Components (Enforcing Security Policy), a multicore processor that can handle complicated tasks such as secure sockets layer (SSL decryption)
  • Network Processing Components, responsible for the routing and network address translation (NAT), plus all network layer communication such as:
    • Flow Control
    • MAC Lookup
    • Route Lookup
    • Quality of Service

On the higher end hardware models, the data plane has three seperate processors that are connected via 1Gbps busses.

Control Plane Management

Contains the management parts of the firewall, responsible for management user interface for configuration, logging, and routing updates.

The higher end models of Palo Alto firewalls have their own dual core processor, RAM, and hard drive/SSD.

The Zero Trust Model

North-South traffic: Traffic that enters and leaves the network

East-West traffic: Internal traffic that never leaves the gateway

Data flows in a open network are open to a few vulnerabilities, such as a lack of visibility. If the network administrators cannot view traffic the administrators have no control of the traffic. This leaves networks open to attacks from both inside the organisation and from the public internet.

Another few examples of vulnerabilities:

Remote employees are treated as internal traffic

Wireless users, partner connections, or guests create new entry possible vulnerable entry points into the network

Remote offices need to be considered as providers of untrusted traffic because of where they are located.

Internal employees may unintentionaly present as a security threat with USB keys, or file downloads

Data flows secured by Palo Altos

The security model that Palo Altos follow is to remove the presumption of trust, known as the zero trust model.

This is an alternative security model that aims to address the shortcomings of failing permieter centric strategies by removing the assumption of trust.

Trust boundries are created taht compartmentalise different segements of the network enviroment.

Security functionality is also moved closer to different pockets of resources that require the protection needed by a firewall.

Palo Alto firewalls offer a range of threat prevention technologies that give an integrated approach against threats.

DeliveryExploitationInstallationC2Act on the Objective
App-IDBlocked high risk applicationsBlock C2 communications on standard well known portsPrevent exfiltration and lateral movement
URL FilteringBlock known malware sitesBlock malware and fast flux domains
VulnerabilityBlock the exploitPrevent lateral movement
Anti-spywareBlock spyware and C2 traffic
Anti-VirusBlock malwarePrevent lateral movement
TrapsMonitor allowed processes and executablesPrevent the exploitPrevent malilcious .exe from running
File BlockingPrevent drive by downloadsPrevent exfiltration and lateral movement
DoS and/or ZonePrevent evasionsPrevent Denial of Service attacks
WildFireIdentify MalwareDetect unknown malwareDetect new C2 traffic

Physical Firewall Platforms

PA-220 or PA-220R series

PA-800 Series

PA-3200 Series

PA-5200 Series

The PA-5280 firewall is similar to the PA-5260 firewall, but the PA-5280 firewall has double the data-plane memory. This means that the session capacity on the 5280 is doubled over that of the 5260

PA-7000 series – PA-7050 and PA-7080 are chassis architecture

Panorama M-200 or M-500/WF-500/600 servers

Virtual Systems

Virtual systems (vsys) are seperate, logical firewall instances within a single physical Palo Alto firewall.

Rather than multiple firewalls, service providers and enterprises can use a single pair of firewalls and enable virtual systems.

A virtual system consists of a set of physical and logical interfaces and subinterfaces, virtual routers and security zones. A deployment mode of virtual wire, layer 2, or layer 3 can be chosen. When virtual systems is enabled the following can be segmented from the other virtual systems:

  • Administrator access
  • Management of all policies, including:
    • Security
    • NAT
    • Policy based forwarding
    • Decryption
    • Application Override
    • Authentication
    • Denial of Service Protection
  • All objects
    • Address objects
    • Application groups
    • Application filters
    • Dynamic Block Lists
    • Security Profiles
    • Decryption Profiles
    • Custom Objects
  • User-ID
  • Certificate Management
  • Server Profiles
  • Logging, reporting, visibility functions

The PA-3X00, PA-5X00, PA-7X00 firewalls all have support for virtual systems. The number of maximum virtual systems vary per platform.

On the PA-3×00 series firewall, a licence is required to create multiple virtual systems.