pfSense config tips

pfSense 2.2 dropped last week and to pay homage, I’ve put together some configuration tips that I do immediately post install. Yes I am a biased pfSense user going on five years and haven’t looked back. When I look at some of the crappy home gear that comes with a hefty price tag and lack of advanced features in comparison to my pfSense UTM, I find myself saying, “It don’t make sense, if it ain’t pfSense!” OpenDNS

  • Force DNS requests from local clients to use the DNS Forwarder or Resolver on pfSense for resolution. I chose to use OpenDNS servers based on their reliability and reputation for filtering out malicious domains. I recommend checking out Blocking DNS queries to external resolvers.
  • The OpenDNS server IP’s are 208.67.222.222 & 208.67.220.220

OpenDNS Firewalling Strategy

  • Employ egress filtering – Strive to allow only the minimum required outbound traffic. Allow what you know (e.g. web traffic on TCP 80 & 443, DNS queries on TCP/UDP 53), block the rest, and work through it by analyzing the firewall logs and fine tuning the rules making them as granular as possible.
  • Rulesets are evaluated from the top down on a first match basis. Check out the ‘Firewall Rule Basics‘ article for a quick overview.
  • Default deny – Most commercial routers come with default allow rules on the LAN – pfSense is no exception. The best approach is to disable or remove the “Default LAN > any” rule. Check out the ‘Example basic configuration’ article that gives a great understanding of how rules are setup.
  • Reduce log noise – Make sure your logs are not getting over-spammed with things such as NetBIOS broadcasts. Too much noise will overshadow the important messages that you want to see. Make sure to carefully analyze your logs and review the frequency. Get a thorough understanding of what is generating the logs, and only then decide if it is something that you deem safe to filter out.

pfblockerNG (coming soon?) – Update pfblockerNG v1.0 has been released for 2.2 – thanks to developer BBcan177. I’ve had a chance to play with it a bit. I’ve added some block lists from Emerging Threats and so far so good. I’m already seeing some activity being logged because of the rules.

  • pfBlocker was a must have package for pfSense that could be used to block IP ranges of spammers, botnets and/or entire countries. It would have made this list, but the package is outdated and has some noted issues with pfSense 2.2. Development is under way for it’s replacement called pfBlockerNG. Keep a close eye on the forums for the latest news.

A special thanks to all the wonderful folks that contribute to the pfSense project. Your time and efforts are greatly admired and appreciated.

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