IT Infrastructure

Firewall and VPN Solutions

A firewall employs packet filtering to allow or disallow the flow of very specific types of network traffic. IP packet filtering provides a way for you to define precisely what IP traffic is allowed to cross the firewall. IP packet filtering is important when you connect private intranets to public networks like the Internet.

VPN Server and Firewall Configurations
There are two approaches to using a firewall with a VPN server:
  • The VPN server is attached to the Internet and the firewall is between the VPN server and the intranet.
  • The firewall is attached to the Internet and the VPN server is between the firewall and the intranet.

VPN Server Behind the Firewall

In a more common configuration, the firewall is connected to the Internet and the VPN server is another intranet resource connected to a demilitarized zone (DMZ). The DMZ is an IP network segment that typically contains resources available to Internet users such as Web servers and FTP servers. The VPN server has an interface on the DMZ and an interface on the intranet.

In this approach, the firewall must be configured with input and output filters on its Internet interface to allow the passing of tunnel maintenance traffic and tunneled data to the VPN server. Additional filters can allow the passing of traffic to Web servers, FTP servers, and other types of servers on the DMZ.

Because the firewall does not have the encryption keys for each VPN connection, it can only filter on the plaintext headers of the tunneled data, meaning that all tunneled data passes through the firewall. However, this is not a security concern because the VPN connection requires an authentication process that prevents unauthorized access beyond the VPN server.