This document describes the step to configure a Cisco ASA via REST API using the ThreatSTOP Centralized Manager with Web Automation enabled.

Overview

This document covers the integration process for ThreatSTOP’s IP Defense service on a Cisco ASA via Rest API. This integration requires a ThreatSTOP Centralized Manager (TSCM) Virtual Machine (VM) stood up in any environment with access to the ASA’s REST API. Once configured the TSCM will routinely update the ASA ACL refreshing based on the policy you select. It will also collect logs for upstream analysis and data reporting.

ThreatSTOP Data Flow Diagram

Fig 1. : Network traffic between ThreatSTOP services, the TSCM and the ASA. (click to expand)

Web Automation features

This document provides the steps when using the Web Automation features of ThreatSTOP. For the command line-based installation, please read this document instead. The Web Automation features are:

  • Client configuration settings are managed on the ThreatSTOP portal, instead of using the TSCM command line.
  • Changes to the policy selection are automatically propagated from the portal to the TSCM
  • The TSCM reports problems applying policies or uploading logs to the ThreatSTOP Portal, providing more visibility into potentials system or network problems.

Compatibility

ASA Compatibility

  • The current version of the Cisco ASA REST API integration is an active BETA release. We’ve tested this on ASAv running version 9.15(1). The BETA designation is due to the fact we’ve have seen some stability issues if the ASA is loaded with a larger policy when system hardware resources are low. For this reason caution should be taken in specifying a max policy size and gradually increased over time.
Manufacturer Version API Version Supported
Cisco ASAv 9.15(1)1 1.3(x) Yes †
Cisco ASA 9.15(1)1 1.3(x) Yes †
Cisco ASAv 9.15(1)15 1.3(x) No † †
Cisco ASAv 9.16 1.3(x) No † †
  • † - This is a BETA release
  • † † - Cisco has broken their REST API on AWS ASAv for certian versions of firmware. You can launch a supported version of the firmware, contact support for help.

ASA REST API Compatibility Matrix

Please see the official Cisco REST API compatibility matrix to see if your device / firmware supports running the REST API.

  • The Maximum Policy Size is the maximum number of ACLs that your device can support. It depends on the hardware and memory available on the device. Please contact your Cisco reseller to find out the capacity of your device, or refer to this independent document .

Install Methods

TSCM Install via Web Automation

Installing directly on your device via Web Automation, covered by this document. This allows you to configure settings on our web interface and have them automatically update on the ASA after initial installation. This method works by initiating a pairing command on the device to link up to our services. From that point forward your device will stay in sync with configuration updates you make on the portal. For more information regarding Web Automation here.

TSCM CLI Install

Installing via CLI setup wizard on a TSCM virtual machine (VM), which is covered on the CLI integration documentation.

Quick settings

Quick settings are provided below for expert installers who have already read through the documentation and understand what they are doing.

Link Command:

tsadmin add --type auto --device_id=[Device ID] --auto_key=[Device Key]
Setting Value
Device ID Retrieved from the device settings page
Device Key Retrieved from the device settings page

Installation considerations

  • If you are looking for time-tested stability, use either our SSH implementation or the firepower build.
  • This is a BETA release, please monitor your installations accordingly. See excerpt from Cisco’s website regarding the API instability and recommended recourse below.
  • While this build tested fine on several different versions of the ASA platforms, we’ve noticed ASAs with lower resources (2 core/8GB ram) start to return HTTP 500 response codes suddenly even while the rest of the system seems to operate ok. Unfortunately, once you get into this mode it usually requires manual intervention to revert the REST API to good working order. See article for more details.

…“Maximum Supported Configuration Size

The ASA Rest API is an “on-board” application running inside the physical ASA, and as such has a limitation on the memory allocated to it. Maximum supported running configuration size has increased over the release cycle to approximately 2 MB on recent platforms such as the 5555 and 5585.

The ASA Rest API also has memory constraints on the virtual ASA platforms. Total memory on the ASAv5 can be 1.5 GB, while on the ASAv10 it is 2 GB. The Rest API limits are 450 KB and 500 KB for the ASAv5 and ASAv10, respectively.

Therefore, be aware that large running configurations can produce exceptions in various memory-intensive situations such as a large number of concurrent requests, or large request volumes. In these situations, Rest API GET/PUT/POST calls may begin failing with 500 - Internal Server Error messages, and the Rest API Agent will restart automatically each time.

The workarounds to this situation are either move to higher-memory ASA/FPR or ASAV platforms, or reduce the size of the running configuration.”…

Please read 9.14 release notes for more information.

Prerequisites

TSCM System Specs

The TSCM is delivered as an OVA or VHD image, built using Ubuntu 20.04 as the base Operating System. It is preconfigured with:

  • 2 CPUs
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 20 GB of disk space

You will need a Hypervisor such as vSphere, ESXi, Virtualbox or Hyper-V to deploy the image.

Cisco ASA Requirements

  • Install and enable the Cisco REST API .SPA file.

  • REST API account with enough privileges to POST/PUT/DELETE. At the time of this writing that is privilege 15. See Command Authorization section of their doc for more information.

    • Privilege level 3 or greater is required to invoke monitoring requests.
    • Privilege level 5 or greater is required for invoking GET requests.
    • Privilege level 15 is necessary for invoking PUT/POST/DELETE operations.

Connectivity

To retrieve its configuration and policy, and to upload log data, the TSCM needs the following connectivity:

  • DNS over TCP - Policy service
    • Hostname: dns.threatstop.com
    • IP Range: 192.124.129.0/24
    • Outbound TCP port 53 or 5353
  • DNS over TLS - Configuration service
    • Hostname: ts-ctp.threatstop.com
    • IP Range: 192.124.129.0/24
    • Outbound TCP port 5353
  • HTTPS - Log service
    • Hostname: logs.threatstop.com
    • IP range: 204.68.99.208/28
    • Outbound TCP port 443
    • Direct Connection or via Proxy
  • NTP
    • Hostname: ntp.ubuntu.com
    • Outbound UDP port 123

It must also be able to communicate with the Cisco device:

  • HTTPS
    • TCP/443
    • From the TSCM to the ASA
  • Syslog
    • TCP or UDP Port 514
    • From the ASA to the TSCM

Setup

Step 1 - Portal device configuration

During this step, you will create a device entry on the Admin portal to provision your device on the ThreatSTOP side. You will select a device type IP Defense > Cisco > ASA via REST API and enter the configuration settings.

To create a ASA device entry:

  • Log into the Admin Portal with your ThreatSTOP account
  • Browse to the Device page and click Add Device
  • Select the ASA model:
    • Type: IP Defense
    • Manufacturer: Cisco
    • Model: ASA via REST API
    • Integration Type: TSCM with Web Automation

The Admin Portal will display a form to enter the device settings described below and the links to retrieve the TSCM image.

  • Nickname: this is a mnemonic name used to identify the device. It can be set to any string (A-Z, 0-9, - and _). If you create multiple device entries, each entry must have a unique nickname. The Nickname will be used to identify the device on the TSCM and in the Reporting user interface.

  • Policy: select a pre-defined policy or a customized policy. It must be an IP Defense Policy.

  • IP Type: Access to the ThreatSTOP services is controlled in part using an ACL allowing the device IP to connect. If your device has a static public IP address (the most common case), select static. If your device has a dynamic public IP address, the ThreatSTOP services can lookup the IP address using a DNS fully-qualified name (FQDN).

  • Public IP address: In static mode, this is the public IP address of the device. It is possible to configure multiple device entries with the same public IP address.

  • Domain name: In Dynamic mode, this is a DNS FQDN which must be kept up-to-date as an A record pointing to the device’s dynamic IP.

  • Internal IP address: This is the internal address of the device. The TSCM will communicate with the ASA via REST API using this IP address or API_URL value if not set to ‘auto’. Note: Authentication credentials are documented below.

  • Note: An optional field to store a note of your choice about the device - location, identifiers, model…

  • Object Group Size: This setting sets the maximum amount of addresses in an object-group before a new object-group is created.

  • Object Group Prefix: a name we’ll use to label Object Groups that the TSCM will use to store the subnets. The default is ThreatSTOP, which will create two main object-groups (ThreatSTOP-Block, ThreatSTOP-Allow) you can assign to access-lists, access-groups, etc…

  • Token Auth: Defaults to “yes”, which will allow use of REST API Tokens, VS. constantly sending credentials.

  • Allow Self-Signed Certificates: This setting allows your TSCM to connect to the ASA’s API even if the certificate is a self-signed (insecure) certificate. We highly recommend you install a proper SSL certificate on your HTTP endpoints. Allowing this setting in an insecure environment could have security implications.

  • Enable Log Upload: If enabled, the TSCM will send logs received from the device to the ThreatSTOP reporting system. This is the recommended setting. When disabled, logs for this device will not be available for reporting in the Portal.

  • Max Policy Size: select the highest number of ACLs supported by your ASA; see this document for guidance. If the policy becomes larger than this setting, the TSCM will truncate it to match the configured setting.

Upon saving the form, a device entry will be created in ThreatSTOP’s cloud.

Advanced Settings

The TSCM supports the following advanced settings, which cover uncommon ASA configurations or network environments.

  • API URL: This optional field over-rides the automatically generated URL set by leaving the setting on ‘auto’. Use this setting when you install a proper SSL Certificate and want to connect via the hostname. This should be the root API url. For example, if your device is accessible via https://uswest.asa.acme.co/api/doc , your root API url would be simply https://uswest.asa.acme.co

  • DNS Port: The TSCM uses TCP Port 53 (outbound connections) to retrieve policy data. If this port is blocked or filtered (for example, networks using a DNS Application Layer Gateway), use this setting to switch to TCP Port 5353.

  • Syslog IP address: Typically, logs will sent over syslog by the device itself. If logs are sent by another IP address (for example, after being processed by a SIEM, or in High-Availability configurations), that IP address should be configured in this field.

  • Log file size: the TSCM will upload logs after 15 minutes and when the log file size is reached. For systems under very heavy network traffic with many blocked connections, lowering this value will cause logs to be uploaded more often.

  • Enable policy updates: this setting can be used to temporarily disabled policy updates by the TSCM. This is not recommended but can be used if device configuration changes needed to be suspended.

  • High-Availability IP addresses: Allows syslog to match logs sent from more than one IP Address

  • Log Upload Proxy: If your environment requires using a proxy to reach HTTPs URLs, you can specify the address of a proxy. The proxy must support HTTPs using the CONNECT protocol. The proxy address must be http://address:port, where address is either an IP address or a fully-qualified domain name. HTTPs proxies are not supported. If you provide a proxy URL, the TSCM configuration will also prompt you for an optional user and password during the TSCM installation. Provide them if the proxy requires authentication.

Step 2 - Backup ASA configuration

Before we get started making changes to your ASA, although not required, it’s good practice to make a backup of your existing device configuration. In the example below we’ll make an on-device local backup called pre-threatstop-config.backup but you can name it whatever makes sense to you.

copy running-config flash:/pre-threatstop-config.backup

We recommend getting a copy off the device as well but that’s outside the scope of this document.

Step 3 - ASA REST API Account Provisioning

You will need to supply REST API account credentials during the setup. If you haven’t done so already, let’s provision an account below.

  • Log into your ASA, then get into global config mode
  • Identify the minimum network slice & network interface that should be allowed to access the HTTP interface. In our example below we’ll say 10.0.1.0/24 can access the credentials via the “Management” interface.
ciscoasa(config)# aaa authentication http console LOCAL
ciscoasa(config)# http server enable
ciscoasa(config)# http 10.0.1.0 255.255.255.0 management
ciscoasa(config)# username threatstop password L0nG$3Cre7P@$sW0RdHAsH priv 15

Step 4 - Enabling the REST API

To enable the REST API you will have to have the .SPA file that corresponds to your version of IOS. If you are following along with a cloud instance of the Cisco ASAv, the .SPA file is already loaded on your device. Note the filenames may be newer on your device. See the following document for detailed steps to enable the REST API.

config term
ciscoasa(config)# rest-api image boot:/asa-restapi-715183-lfbff-k8.SPA
ciscoasa(config)# rest-api agent

Step 5 - Download software

If you’ve just downloaded a fresh .OVA from the site, you can skip this step.

After booting the TSCM and logging in via ssh, let’s verify you have the ts-asarest module installed as shown below (version may be newer).

  • Using ssh, login as threatstop to your TSCM VM and type the following commands

    # first we will check to see if ts-awsrest module is installed
    tsadmin version --all
    threatstop@tsclient$ tsadmin version --all
      [INFO ] : ThreatSTOP Versions:
      Module               Version
      -------------------- ----------
        TSCM-Core          1.46-08
        ts-asa             3.40
        ts-asarest         1.01
    

If you get an error, or don’t see ts-asarest listed in the output, create a snapshot of your VM and upgrade your ThreatSTOP software as shown below.

threatstop@tsclient$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade -y && sudo apt-get install -y ts-asarest

# to verify run the previous command and look for the new module name.

After booting the TSCM and logging in via ssh, we will link the TSCM VM to the device created in step one.

The TSCM has a configuration utility named tsadmin. A reference for the utility is provided here but we will cover the full installation steps below.

  • Login with the threatstop account using ssh

  • Obtain the Device ID and Device Key from the device configuration page. You can copy them to your clipboard by clicking the icon. The Device ID is the string tdid_ followed by 8 alpha-numerical characters.

  • Validate that the TSCM can reach the ASA using SSH
    ssh admin@<ASA IP address>
    The authenticity of host '<ip address>' can't be established.
    ECDSA key fingerprint is SHA256:UW05wRgAblpwjfObj4ZklSYfau8PnoE1GXXuSCO5Zfs.
    Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?
    
    • Accept the host key
    • Login to validate the password
  • Run the following command:
$ tsadmin add --type auto --device_id=[Device ID] --auto_key=[Device Key]
  • The tsadmin command will first retrieve the device settings from the ThreatSTOP Portal. If the command fails, check the Troubleshooting section.

  • Once the configuration is retrieved, tsadmin will prompt for credentials for the ASA device. They will be used to connect to the device but will not be stored outside of the TSCM image.
    • a username (typically, admin)
    • a password
    • the enable password
  • tsadmin will verify the connectivity to the device. If you are prompted to access an SSH Host key, please proceed.

At this time, the TSCM has successfully linked itself to the device entry, and validated its ability to reach the ASA device.

Sample session:

$ tsadmin add --type auto --device_id=tdid_abcd1234 --auto_key=BTFDWvEepY2z3LcSjmp3lgW+jUiVjAIF6lYvd2cnCikKO855YiUKfhmEcWvK1Ztouw==
Web Automation - Retrieving configuration from ThreatSTOP Portal
Next, please provide credentials for the asa device (not stored on the portal)
Device username : admin
Device password :
Cisco "enable" password :
[INFO ] : Assuming device default user name and password prompts
[INFO ] : Validating access with DNS server
[INFO ] : Assuming device default user name and password prompts
[INFO ] : Checking connectivity to the Cisco ASA at 172.21.50.3
Successfully added tstest

You can view the list of devices linked on the TSCM image:

$ tsadmin list
| Device name | Type | Device ID     | Management IP | Log upload ID | Log  | Log uploads |
| tstest      | asa  | tdid_abcd1234 | 172.21.50.3   | tdid_abcd1234 | 100k | enabled     |
  • From this point on, the TSCM will retrieve policy data (IP subnets) and configure them on the ASA, every hour.
  • To force the initial update and proceed with testing, run the following command
    $ tsadmin update <device name>
    

This will create (if not already created) and populate the two Object Groups defined in the device settings.

To verify that the Object Group have been created, open an SSH session to the device and execute the following commands:

enable
configure terminal
show running-config object-group id <Object Group name>

Step 7 - ASA configuration

Applying ACLs

With the Object Groups populated, the last step is to configure the ASA. Open an SSH session and execute the following commands.

enable
configure terminal
(config)# access-list global_access extended permit ip object-group ThreatSTOP-Allow any log
(config)# access-list global_access extended permit ip any object-group ThreatSTOP-Allow log
(config)# access-list global_access extended deny ip object-group ThreatSTOP-Block any log
(config)# access-list global_access extended deny ip any object-group ThreatSTOP-Block log
end

Enabling Log forwarding

To configure the device to send logs to the TSCM, enter the following:

enable
configure terminal
logging enable
logging timestamp
logging host management <TSCM IP address>
end

Step 8 - Testing Configuration

There are several ways of testing the ASA is properly blocking and logging web traffic. A few are listed below as examples.

  • Log into a machine behind the Cisco ASA firewall and attempt to visit bad.threatstop.com
  • Use packet-tracer to verify the expected policy is being applied to traffic
ASA# packet-tracer input inside tcp 64.87.3.133 80 10.0.0.50 80 detailed

See this excellent guide to identify which policy may be taking affect.

If you are not able to ping, you may have to enable ICMP in your global policy map. See this article for more details.

policy-map global_policy
   class inspection_default
   inspect icmp

Logging and Reporting

If log upload is enabled, the firewall will now upload logs every 15 minutes, as long as there were ASA Actions performed by the policy since the last upload. The logs can be analyzed in the IP Defense Reports 15 minutes after they’ve been uploaded.

  • To manually run log send process run tsadmin logs <device name>.

Logs are stored in /var/log/threatstop/devices/<device name>/syslog

Configuration changes

Changing the policy

  • Update the policy assigned to the device in the Admin Portal
  • Wait 15 minutes for the changes to propagate to ThreatSTOP’s policy service
  • Run tsadmin configure <device name> commands to set the updated block and allow policy names.

Uninstall steps

  • To remove the integration, the first step is to remove any configuration you have setup using the Object-Groups (ThreatSTOP-Block & ThreatSTOP-Allow unless you changed prefix ). Do a show run | grep ThreatSTOP to see if you have any access-group / access-list directives in your configuration & remove them. Below are some examples of removing access-group(s) / access-list(s).
no access-group inside_access_out in interface inside
enable
configure terminal
(config)#no access-list global_access extended permit ip object-group ThreatSTOP-Allow any log
(config)#no access-list global_access extended permit ip any object-group ThreatSTOP-Allow log
(config)#no access-list global_access extended deny ip object-group ThreatSTOP-Block any log
(config)#no access-list global_access extended deny ip any object-group ThreatSTOP-Block log
end
  • Next, we’ll remove the device on the TSCM. This will stop any policy updates or changes to the ASA device.
    $ tsadmin remove <devicename>
    
  • If log forwarding was enabled, turn it off with one of the following commands:
    • If you have log forwarded to several servers
      enable
      configure terminal
      no logging host inside <TSCM IP Address>
      
    • or, to disable logging entirely:
      enable
      configure terminal
      no logging
      
  • The last step is to delete the device entry on the Portal, using the Device List page. This step will caused the log data from the device to be unavailable in the Reporting interface of the Portal. If needed, you can recreate a new device entry for the same device, with the same or different settings. Note that the new entry will have a different Device ID for linking the TSCM.

Additional considerations

Support for multiple devices

High-Availability clusters

If your Cisco ASA is part of a High-Availability cluster, the TSCM can connect to each device in the cluster to keep the Object Groups up-to-date. If your devices share a single IP address and replicate configuration, the TSCM will continue updating the object-groups as expected. If your setup has individual ASAs with their own independent IP address, add another device in the TSCM to have the object-groups updated the same way as the first.

Other operations

Current configuration

To view the current settings on the TSCM, run

$ tsadmin show <device name>

Configuration changes

  • To update the configuration of the device, run the tsadmin ‘configure’ command:
    $ tsadmin configure <device name>
    

The configure command also supports the –advanced option enable the advanced settings described in the configuration section of this document.

Software updates

To update the TIP and retrieve new versions of the ThreatSTOP software, login as threatstop and run the following command:

$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade

Troubleshooting

  • Failure to install / link device as shown in step five. If you are unable to pair the device via the command shown on the device portal, check that the TDID and TSIG keys are typed precisely. Ensure that the TSCM’s date/time is in sync, part of the secure communication channel requires time synchronization with just a few minutes of deviation.

  • Failure to retrieve policy: tsadmin add fails with this error: “block or allow list [name] could not be fetched from ThreatSTOP DNS servers.” There are two common causes:
    • A network connectivity problem using DNS over TCP (Outbound connection to ts-dns.threatstop.com on Port 53).
    • the policy is not available yet. It typically takes 15 minutes for new devices and new policies to be activated in the Policy Service.
  • If the network connectivity is ok, and 15 minutes have elapsed since the device entry was created, please contact ThreatSTOP Support at support@threatstop.com.

  • Some versions of the Cisco ASA software include a DNS Application Layer Gateway (ALG) enabled by default, which interferes with ThreatSTOP’s DNS updates, creating failures to retrieve the policy data. The ALG can be disabled with these commands:
    no ip nat service alg tcp dns
    no ip nat service alg udp dns
    
  • If tsadmin add fails to connect to the device, check the credentials (username, password and enable password). If they are correct, check if the ssh password prompt has been changed from Cisco’s defaults (Password:).
  • If you are unsure where to start, simply turning up debugging output to a SSH session may give you a hint as to what is happening. Look at this article to see how to turn on debugging to the terminal monitor.
  • Another great built-in utility is the packet capture command. This is useful when troubleshooting when you are unsure client traffic is hitting your ASA. See how to use it here.
  • If traffic is not flowing but should be, check the following two settings to see if they may apply to your specific setup.

Please review the following commands and comments to ensure you get the expected behavior. The first pertains to same-security-levels and the second to traffic amongst zones:

  • same-security-traffic permit inter-interface
    
    • PERMIT communication between different interfaces and* zones with the *same security level”
  • same-security-traffic permit intra-interface
    
    • PERMIT communication between peers connected to the same interface and different interfaces in the same zone”

Please note: if you do not*** **enable one, or both, of these settings, the default action will be to DENY all traffic inter- or intra-interface,** **amongst all interfaces of the same security level*.

  • Failed to retrieve policy error message
    • If you receive this error message while configuring the ThreatSTOP software, check the connectivity to the ThreatSTOP DNS service described above.
    • If this is a new policy or device, wait 15 minutes for the configuration to propagate.
    • If the issue persists, please contact ThreatSTOP support.
  • Failing updates / overloaded REST API returning HTTP 500 responses
    • If you have started getting 500 response codes from the REST API, first try to restart the rest API by running no rest-api agent followed by rest-api agent.
    • If this does not work, you may have loaded too many objects onto your system. You can try setting your maxpolicysize setting lower, then manually deleting some of the object-groups then run tsadmin update <device name> again.
conf t
no object-group network ThreatSTOP-Block-10
no object-group network ThreatSTOP-Block-9
...

It is important to run update after doing this to see if you’ve freed enough memory for the REST API. This also ensures the correct object-groups are nested in the master object-groups (ThreatSTOP-Block & ThreatSTOP-Allow).

To get a list of configured settings run:

tsadmin show <device name>

To get a full list of available command line parameters on the command line type:

tsadmin add --type asarest --help

Version Changelog

Version Release Date Notes
1.00 2021-04-01 Initial Cisco ASA REST API support