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Cfengine and multiple firewalls/security realms

From: Scott Omar Burch
Subject: Cfengine and multiple firewalls/security realms
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 10:38:25 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 0.5 (X11/20040306)


We have been working through testing Cfengine and noticed a few things that are making deployment/operation difficult in our environment. The following things have caused us trouble:

1) Authentication with keys appears to be tied to the primary network interface of each server. Systems which sit behind firewalls in our environment have multiple network interfaces. The primary network interface is always considered the production interface. We always have a secondary interface which is used for management operations (backups, monitoring, etc.). If I have a host called snoopy then qfe0 would be snoopy and qfe1 would be snoopy-mgmt. For this example snoopy sits behind a firewall and the Cfengine policy server is on the other side of the policy server. When we execute cfrun on the policy server we found that no matter what we did we could not get authentication to work along the management interface...we needed to open 5308 on the production interface...Cfengine appears to always use the interface named snoopy. (This problem is really a minor issue, but we would prefer to do all Cfengine operations on the management interface..we did try binding the agent/cfservd to managment..but that did not work because the keys appear to only try to finalize the authentication along the production interface)

2) Our bigger issue is how to have a policy server when there are multiple security realms. We have multiple layers of firewalls. For instance there are firewalls between application servers, web servers, database servers, and authentication servers, as well as our internal networks. (The servers in application/database/web/authentication layers are on external networks). The Cfengine policy server sits in a special managment network that is on our internal network. Our general policy is not to allow external machines to tunnel through our firewalls. Source NAT and Destination NAT is in heavy use here, so sometimes we have used NAT names for internal machines to allow access to them from outside..also sometimes host routes along the management interfaces solve some issues. How are others working around this type of issue. We don't really want to have multiple policy servers..I especially don't want multiple servers that require the use of external tools to keep in sync (I have seen the discussions of having a policy server inside/outside, etc...obviously this will not work here as we have mutiple firewalls to contend with..we would need far more than 2 policy servers. It would be really nice if Cfengine had the option to push rather than pull, that would allow it to function nicely in our environment without opening holes through our firewalls. I am aware that it is unlikely that Cfengine could be used to exploit the policy server, but buffer overflows have and can be introduced in the code...and we are not generally willing to take those risks (also having a general policy to open ports into our internal network is not a good practice). We care as much about the security of the servers that are clients as we do about the policy server. What are your suggestions..and are there any plans to implement the option of a Cfengine push/rather than pull.


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