Chapter 7. Firewall Policies

This chapter describes working with policies. Chapter 10 describes compiling and installing a policy.

7.1. Policies and Rules

Each firewall object has several sets of rules associated with it: access policy rules, Network Address Translation (NAT) rules, and routing rules.

  • Access policy rules filter traffic, controlling access to and from the firewall machine and the machines behind it. An access policy rule set is sometimes just called a "policy."
  • NAT rules describe address and port transformations that the firewall should make to packets flowing through it.
  • Routing rules establish static routes in the firewall.

Firewall software varies widely in the way it can process packets. For example, some firewalls perform address and port transformations first and then apply policy rules, while some others do it the other way around. There are many other variations and features specific to particular implementations. In Firewall Builder though, you work with an abstract firewall that looks and behaves the same regardless of the target firewall platform. You can build and install firewall polices for one platform, then switch the target and use the exact same policies to generate rules for an entirely different platform. (This assumes both platforms support the features you need.)

Firewall Builder compensates for differences in implementation between firewall platforms. For example, Cisco PIX applies its access list rules to the packet before it performs address and port transformations according to the NAT rules. As a result, a policy rule that controls access to a server behind the firewall doing NAT should be written using the firewall object instead of the server object. The meaning of such a rule is not obvious at a glance since you have to keep in mind all the NAT rules as well as remember that this policy rule controls access not to the firewall machine, but rather to the server behind it. Firewall Builder takes into account these variations like this by using smart algorithms to transform rules defined in the GUI into rules that achieve the desired effect in the target firewall platform. Using Firewall Builder, you write your rules as if NAT translation happens before the access rules are applied.


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