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Getting Started with the Cisco PIX Firewall

This sample chapter covers exam topics for the Secure PIX Firewall Advanced Exam (CSPFA 9E0-511) including user interface, configuring the PIX Firewall, time setting and NTP support, and DHCP server configuration.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter covers the following exam topics for the Secure PIX Firewall Advanced Exam (CSPFA 9E0-511):

5. User interface

6. Configuring the PIX Firewall

8. Time setting and NTP support

13. DHCP server configuration

This chapter describes the basic preparation and configuration required to use the network firewall features of the Cisco PIX Firewall. It focuses on how to establish basic connectivity from the internal network to the public Internet.

"Do I Know This Already?" Quiz

The purpose of this quiz is to help you determine your current understanding of the topics covered in this chapter. Write down your answers and compare them to the answers in Appendix A. The concepts in this chapter are the foundation of much of what you need to understand to pass the CSPFA Certification Exam. Unless you do exceptionally well on the "Do I Know This Already?" pretest and are 100% confident in your knowledge of this area, you should read through the entire chapter.

  1. How do you access privileged mode?

  2. What is the function of the nameif command?

  3. What six commands produce a basic working configuration for a Cisco PIX Firewall?

  4. Why is the route command important?

  5. What is the command to flush out the ARP cache on a Cisco PIX Firewall?

  6. True or false: It is possible to configure the outside interface on a Cisco PIX Firewall to accept DHCP requests.

  7. What type of environment uses the PIX DHCP client feature?

  8. What command releases and renews an IP address on the PIX?

  9. Give at least one reason why it is beneficial to use NTP on the Cisco PIX Firewall.

  10. Why would you want to secure the NTP messages between the Cisco PIX Firewall and the NTP server?

Foundation Topics

Access Modes

The Cisco PIX Firewall contains a command set based on Cisco IOS Software technologies that provides three administrative access modes:

  • Unprivileged mode is available when you first access the PIX Firewall through console or Telnet. It displays the > prompt. This mode lets you view only restricted settings.

  • You access privileged mode by entering the enable command and the enable password. The prompt then changes to # from >. In this mode you can change a few of the current settings and view the existing Cisco PIX Firewall configuration. Any unprivileged command also works in privileged mode. To exit privileged mode, enter the disable, exit, or ^z command.

  • You access configuration mode by entering the configure terminal command. This changes the prompt to (config)# from #. In this mode you can change system configurations. All privileged, unprivileged, and configuration commands work in this mode. Use the exit or ^z command to exit configuration mode.


PIX version 6.2 supports 16 privilege levels. This new feature allows Cisco PIX Firewall commands to be assigned to one of the 16 levels. These privilege levels can also be assigned to users. This is discussed in detail in Chapter 4, "System Maintenance."

Configuring the PIX Firewall

Six important commands are used to produce a basic working configuration for the PIX Firewall:

ip address

Before you use these commands, it can prove very useful to draw a diagram of your Cisco PIX Firewall with the different security levels, interfaces, and IP addresses. Figure 6-1 shows one such diagram that is used for the discussion in this chapter.

Figure 6-1Figure 6-1 Documenting Cisco PIX Firewall Security Levels, Interfaces, and IP Addresses

interface Command

The interface command identifies the interface hardware card, sets the speed of the interface, and enables the interface all in one command. All interfaces on a Cisco PIX Firewall are shut down by default and are explicitly enabled by the interface command. The basic syntax of the interface command is as follows:

interface hardware_id hardware_speed [shutdown]

Table 6-1 describes the command parameters for the interface command.

Table 6-1 interface Command Parameters

Command Parameter



Indicates the interface's physical location on the Cisco PIX Firewall.


Sets the connection speed, depending on which medium is being used. 1000auto sets Ethernet speeds automatically. However, it is recommended that you configure the speed manually.

1000sxfull—Sets full-duplex Gigabit Ethernet.

1000basesx—Sets half-duplex Gigabit Ethernet.

1000auto—Automatically detects and negotiates full-/half-duplex Gigabit Ethernet.

10baset—Sets 10 Mbps half-duplex Ethernet (very rare these days).

10full—Sets 10 Mbps full-duplex Ethernet.

100full—Sets 100 Mbps full-duplex Ethernet.

100basetx—Sets 100 Mbps half-duplex Ethernet.

Make sure that the hardware_speed setting matches the port speed on the Catalyst switch the interface is connected to.


The shutdown parameter administratively shuts down the interface. This parameter performs a very similar function in Cisco IOS Software. However, unlike with IOS, the command no shutdown cannot be used here. To place an interface in an administratively up mode, you reenter the interface command without the shutdown parameter.

Here are some examples of the interface command:

interface ethernet0 100full
interface ethernet1 100full
interface ethernet2 100full

nameif Command

As the name intuitively indicates, the nameif command is used to name an interface and assign a security value from 1 to 99. The outside and inside interfaces are named by default and have default security values of 0 and 100, respectively. By default, the interfaces have their hardware ID. Ethernet 0 is the outside interface, and Ethernet 1 is the inside interface. The names that are configured by the nameif command are user-friendly and are easier to use for advanced configuration later.

The syntax of the nameif command is

nameif hardware_id if_name security_level

Table 6-2 describes the command parameters for the nameif command.

Table 6-2 nameif Command Parameters

Command Parameter



Indicates the interface's physical location on the Cisco PIX Firewall.


The name by which you refer to this interface. The name cannot have any spaces and must not exceed 48 characters.


A numerical value from 1 to 99 indicating the security level.

Here are some examples of the nameif command:

nameif ethernet0 outside security0
nameif ethernet1 inside security100
nameif ethernet2 dmz security20

The security_level value controls how hosts/devices on the different interfaces interact with each other. By default, hosts/devices connected to interfaces with higher security levels can access hosts/devices connected to interfaces with lower-security interfaces. Hosts/devices connected to interfaces with lower-security interfaces cannot access hosts/devices connected to interfaces with higher-security interfaces without the assistance of access lists or conduits.

You can verify your configuration by using the show nameif command.

ip address Command

All the interfaces on the Cisco PIX Firewall that will be used must be configured with an IP address. The IP address can be configured manually or through Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). The DHCP feature is usually used on Cisco PIX Firewall small office/home office (SOHO) models. DHCP is discussed later in this chapter.

The ip address command is used to configure IP addresses on the PIX interfaces. The ip address command binds a logical address (IP address) to the hardware ID. Table 6-3 describes the parameters for the ip address command, the syntax of which is as follows:

ip address if_name ip_address [netmask]

Table 6-3 ip address Command Parameters

Command Parameter



The interface name that was configured using the nameif command.


The interface's IP address.


The appropriate network mask. If the mask value is not entered, the PIX assigns a classful network mask.

Here's an example of the ip address command:

ip address inside

Use the show ip command to view the configured IP address on the PIX interface.

nat Command

The nat (Network Address Translation) command lets you translate a set of IP addresses to another set of IP addresses.


PIX 6.2 supports bidirectional translation of inside network IP addresses to global IP addresses and translation of outside IP addresses to inside network IP addresses.

The nat command is always paired with a global command, with the exception of the nat 0 command. Table 6-4 describes the command parameters for the nat command, the syntax of which is as follows:

nat (if_name) nat_id local_ip [netmask]

Table 6-4 nat Command Parameters

Command Parameter



The internal network interface name.


The ID number to match with the global address pool.


The IP address that is translated. This is usually the inside network IP address. It is possible to assign all the inside network for the local_ip through nat (inside) 1 0 0.


Network mask for the local IP address.

Here are some examples of the nat command:

nat (inside) 1
nat (inside) 1

Chapter 5, "Understanding Cisco PIX Firewall Translation and Connections," discusses NAT in greater detail.

global Command

The global command is used to define the address or range of addresses that the addresses defined by the nat command are translated into. It is important that the nat_id be identical to the nat_id used in the nat command. The nat_id pairs the IP address defined by the global and nat commands so that network translation can take place. The syntax of the global command is

global (if_name) nat_id global_ip | global_ip-global_ip [netmask]

Table 6-5 describes the parameters and options for the global command.

Table 6-5 global Command Parameters

Command Parameter



The external network where you use these global addresses.


Identifies the global address and matches it with the nat command it is pairing with.


A single IP address. When a single IP address is specified, the PIX automatically performs Port Address Translation (PAT). A warning message indicating that the PIX will PAT all addresses is displayed on the console.


Defines a range of global IP addresses to be used by the PIX to NAT.


The network mask for the global IP address(es).

There should be enough global IP addresses to match the local IP addresses specified by the nat command. If there aren't, you can leverage the shortage of global addresses by PAT entry, which permits up to 64,000 hosts to use a single IP address. PAT divides the available ports per global IP address into three ranges:

  • 0 to 511
  • 512 to 1023
  • 1024 to 65535

PAT assigns a unique source port for each UDP or TCP session. It attempts to assign the same port value of the original request, but if the original source port has already been used, PAT starts scanning from the beginning of the particular port range to find the first available port and assigns it to the conversation. PAT has some restrictions in its use. For example, it cannot support H.323 or caching name server use. The following example shows a configuration using a range of global IP and single IP for PAT:

nat (inside) 1
global (outside) 1 netmask
global (outside) 1 netmask

When a host or device tries to start a connection, the PIX Firewall checks the translation table if there is an entry for that particular IP. If there is no existing translation, a new translation slot is created. The default time that a translated IP is kept in the translation table is 3 hours. You can change this with the timeout xlate hh:mm:ss command. To view the translated addresses, use the show xlate command.

route Command

The route command tells the Cisco PIX Firewall where to send information that is forwarded on a specific interface and that is destined for a particular network address. You add static routes to the PIX using the route command.

Table 6-6 describes the route command parameters, the syntax of which is as follows:

route if_name ip_address netmask gateway_ip [metric]

Table 6-6 route Command Parameters

Command Parameter



The name of the interface where the data leaves from.


The IP address to be routed.


The network mask of the IP address to be routed.


The IP address of the next-hop address. Usually this is the IP address of the perimeter router.


Specifies the number of hops to gateway_ip.

The following example shows a default route configuration on a Cisco PIX Firewall:

route outside 1

The 1 at the end indicates that the gateway router is only one hop away. If a metric is not specified in the route command, the default is 1. You can configure only one default route on the PIX Firewall. It is good practice to use the clear arp command to clear the PIX Firewall's ARP cache before testing your new route configuration.


The Routing Information Protocol (RIP) can be enabled to build the Cisco PIX Firewall routing table. RIP configuration specifies whether the PIX updates its routing tables by passively listening to RIP traffic and whether the interface broadcasts itself as a default route for network traffic on that interface. It is also important to configure the router providing the RIP updates with the network address of the PIX interface. The syntax to enable RIP is

rip if_name default | passive [version [1 | 2]] [authentication [text | md5
 key (key_id)]]

Table 6-7 describes the rip command parameters.

Table 6-7 rip Command Parameters

Command Parameter



The interface name.


Broadcasts a default route on the interface.


Enables passive RIP on the interface. The Cisco PIX Firewall listens for RIP routing broadcasts and uses that information to populate its routing tables.


The RIP version. Use version 2 for RIP update encryption. Use version 1 to provide backward compatibility with the older version.


Enables authentication for RIP version 2.


Sends RIP updates in clear text.


Encrypts RIP updates using MD5 encryption.


The key to encrypt RIP updates. This value must be the same on the routers and on any other device that provides RIP version 2 updates. The key is a text string of up to 16 characters in length.


The key identification value. The key_id can be a number from 1 to 255. Use the same key_id that is in use on the routers and any other device that provides RIP version 2 updates.

Testing Your Configuration

Making sure that the configuration you entered works is an important part of the configuration process. At this point you would test basic connectivity from the inside interface out to the other interfaces. Use the ping and debug commands to test your connectivity.

The ping command sends an ICMP echo request message to the target IP and expects an ICMP echo reply. By default, the PIX denies all inbound traffic through the outside interface. Based on your network security policy, you should consider configuring the PIX to deny all ICMP traffic to the outside interface, or any other interface you deem necessary, by entering the icmp command. The icmp command controls ICMP traffic that terminates on the PIX. If no ICMP control list is configured, the PIX accepts all ICMP traffic that terminates at any interface (including the outside interface). For example, when you first configure the PIX, it is a good idea to be able to ping an interface and get a response. The following makes that possible for the outside interface:

icmp permit any any outside


icmp permit any any outside is used during the testing/debugging phase of your configuration process. Make sure that you change it to not responding to ping request after you complete testing. It is a security risk to leave it accepting and responding to ICMP packets.

After the icmp permit command has been configured, you can ping the outside interface on your Cisco PIX Firewall and ping from hosts on each firewall interface. For example:

ping outside

You can also monitor ping results by starting debug icmp trace.

Saving Your Configuration

Configuration changes that you have made stay in the PIX's RAM unless you save them to Flash memory. If for any reason the PIX must be rebooted, the configuration changes you made are lost. So when you finish entering commands in the configuration, save the changes to Flash memory with the write memory command, as follows:

Pix# write memory


There is one obvious advantage of not having configuration changes committed to Flash memory immediately. For example, if you make a configuration that you cannot back out of, you simply reboot and get back the settings you had before you made the changes.

You are now done configuring the Cisco PIX Firewall. This basic configuration lets protected network users start connections and prevents users on unprotected networks from accessing (or attacking) protected hosts.

Use the write terminal or show running-config command to view your current configuration.

Configuring DHCP on the Cisco PIX Firewall

The Cisco PIX Firewall has features that let it be configured as a:

  • DHCP server
  • DHCP client

Using the PIX Firewall DHCP Server

The DHCP server is usually used in SOHO environments with lower-end models of the Cisco PIX Firewall, such as the 501 and 506 units. Table 6-8 shows DHCP clients that are supported by PIX.

Table 6-8 Cisco PIX Firewall DHCP Client Support

PIX Firewall Version

Cisco PIX Firewall Platform

Maximum Number of DHCP Client Addresses (Active Hosts)

Version 5.2 and earlier

All platforms


Version 5.3 to version 6.0

PIX 506/506E

All other platforms



Version 6.1 and higher

PIX 501

PIX 501 with optional 50-user license

PIX 506/506E

All other platforms





The PIX DHCP server can be enabled only on the inside interface.

As with all other DHCP servers, you have to configure DNS, WINS, IP address lease time, and domain information on the PIX. Six steps are involved in enabling the DHCP server feature on the PIX:

Step 1

Enable the DHCP daemon on the Cisco PIX Firewall to listen to DHCP requests from clients:


dhcpd enable inside

Step 2

Specify the IP address range that the PIX DHCP server assigns:


dhcpd address inside

Step 3

Specify the lease length to grant to the client. The default is 3600 seconds:


dhcpd lease 2700

Step 4

Specify a DNS server (optional):


dhcpd dns

Step 5

Specify WINS servers (optional):


dhcpd wins

Step 6

Configure the domain name the client uses (optional):


dhcpd domain axum.com

Configuring the PIX Firewall DHCP Client

DHCP client support on the Cisco PIX Firewall is designed for use by SOHO environments in which DSL and cable modems are used. The DHCP client can be enabled only on the PIX's outside interface. When the DHCP client is enabled, DHCP servers on the outside provide the outside interface with an IP address.


The DHCP client does not support failover configuration.

The DHCP client feature on your firewall is enabled by the ip address dhcp command:

ip address outside dhcp [setroute] [retry retry_cnt]

The setroute option tells the Cisco PIX Firewall to set its default route using the default gateway parameter that the DHCP server returns. Do not configure a default route when using the setroute option.


The same command, ip address dhcp, is used to release and renew the outside interface's IP address.

To view current information about the DHCP lease, enter the following command:

show ip address dhcp

Configuring Time Settings on the Cisco PIX Firewall

There are at least two ways in which the PIX gets its time setting information:

  • NTP server
  • System clock

Network Time Protocol (NTP)

The Network Time Protocol (NTP) is used to implement a hierarchical system of servers that provide a source for a precise synchronized time among network systems. It's important to maintain a consistent time throughout all network devices, such as servers, routers, and switches. When analyzing network events, logs are an important source of information. Analyzing and troubleshooting network events can be difficult is there is time inconsistency with network devices on the network. Furthermore, some time-sensitive operations, such as validating certificates and certificate revocation lists (CRLs), require precise time stamps.


The latest Cisco PIX Firewall OS, version 6.2, lets you obtain the system time from NTP version 3 servers. This feature is available only on Cisco PIX Firewall version 6.2.

The syntax to enable an NTP client on the PIX is

ntp server ip_address [key number] source if_name [prefer]

Table 6-9 describes the parameters of the ntp command.

Table 6-9 ntp Command Parameters

Command Parameter



This is the time server's IP address with which the PIX synchronizes.


This option requires an authentication key when sending packets to the NTP server.


The authentication key. This number is useful when you use multiple keys and multiple servers for identification purposes.


If the source keyword is not specified, the routing table is used to determine the interface.


The interface name used to send packets to the NTP server.


Reduces switching back and forth between servers by making the specified server the preferred time server.

Communication of messages between the PIX and the NTP servers can be authenticated to prevent the PIX from synchronizing time with rogue NTP servers. The three commands used to enable NTP authentication are as follows:

ntp authenticate
ntp authentication-key number md5 value
ntp trusted-key number

The ntp authenticate command enables NTP authentication and refuses synchronization to an NTP server unless the server is configured with one of the authentication keys specified using the ntp trusted-key command.

The ntp authentication-key command is used to define authentication keys for use with other NTP commands to provide a higher degree of security. The number parameter is the key number (1 to 4294967295). md5 is the encryption algorithm. The value parameter is the key value (an arbitrary string of up to 32 characters).

The ntp trusted-key command is used to define one or more key numbers corresponding to the keys defined with the ntp authentication-key command. The Cisco PIX Firewall requires the NTP server to provide this key number in its NTP packets. This provides protection against synchronizing the PIX system clock with an NTP server that is not trusted.

To get remove NTP configuration, use the clear ntp command.

PIX Firewall System Clock

The second method of configuring the time setting on the PIX Firewall is the system clock. The system clock is usually set during the initial setup interview question when you're configuring a new Cisco PIX Firewall. You can change it later using the clock set command:

clock set hh:mm:ss month day year

Three characters are used for the month parameter. The year is a four-digit number. For example, to set the time and date to 17:51 and 20 seconds on April 9, 2003, you would enter

clock set 17:51:20 apr 9 2003


The system time, unlike NTP, is not synchronized with other network devices.

Cisco PIX Firewall version 6.2 has made some improvements to the clock command. The clock command now supports daylight saving (summer) time and time zones. To configure daylight saving time, enter the following command:

clock summer-time zone recurring [week day month hh:mm week day
 month hh:mm [offset]]

Table 6-10 describes the parameters for the clock command.

Table 6-10 clock Command Parameters

Command Parameter



Automatically switches to summer time (for display purposes only).


The name of the time zone.


Indicates that summer time should start and end on the days specified by the values that follow this keyword. The summer time rule defaults to the United States rule.

week day

Sets the day of the week (Sunday, Monday).


The full name of the month, such as April.


The time in 24-hour military format.


The number of minutes to add during summer. The default is 60 minutes.

Time zones are set just for the purpose of display. It does not change the internal PIX time, which remains universal time clock (UTC). To set the time zone, use the clock timezone command.

The following clock summer-time command specifies that summertime starts on the first Sunday in April at 2 a.m. and ends on the last Sunday in October at 2 a.m.:

pix(config)# clock summer-time PDT recurring 1 Sunday April 2:00 last Sunday
 October 2:00

Sample PIX Configuration

Example 6-1 shows sample output for a PIX configuration. Can you identify some of the commands that have been discussed in this chapter?

Example 6-1 Sample PIX Configuration

pix# show config
: Saved
: Written by deguc at 11:29:39.859 EDT Fri Aug 8 2002
PIX Version 6.2(2)
nameif ethernet0 outside security0
nameif ethernet1 inside security100
nameif ethernet2 dmz security20
enable password GgtfiV2tiX5zk297 encrypted
passwd kP3Eex5gnkza7.w9 encrypted
hostname pixfirewall
domain-name axum.com
clock timezone EST -5
clock summer-time EDT recurring
fixup protocol ftp 21
fixup protocol http 80
fixup protocol h323 h225 1720
fixup protocol h323 ras 1718-1719
fixup protocol ils 389
fixup protocol rsh 514
fixup protocol rtsp 554
fixup protocol smtp 25
fixup protocol sqlnet 1521
fixup protocol sip 5060
fixup protocol skinny 2000
pager lines 24
no logging on
interface ethernet0 100full
interface ethernet1 100full
interface ethernet2 100full
mtu outside 1500
mtu inside 1500
mtu dmz 1500
ip address outside
ip address inside
ip address dmz
ip audit info action alarm
ip audit attack action alarm
no failover
pdm location inside
arp timeout 14400
global (outside) 1 netmask
global (outside) 1
global (dmz) 1 netmask
nat (inside) 1 0 0
nat (dmz) 1 0 0
route outside 1
timeout xlate 3:00:00
timeout conn 1:00:00 half-closed 0:10:00 udp 0:02:00 rpc 0:10:00 h323 0:05:00
 sip 0:30:00 sip_media 0:02:00
timeout uauth 0:05:00 absolute
aaa-server TACACS+ protocol tacacs+
aaa-server RADIUS protocol radius
aaa-server LOCAL protocol local
 http server enable
http inside
no snmp-server location
no snmp-server contact
snmp-server community public
no snmp-server enable traps
floodguard enable
no sysopt route dnat
telnet inside
telnet timeout 5
 terminal width 80

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We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020