Configure the Master Key

Every firewall and Panorama management server has a default master key that encrypts all the private keys and passwords in the configuration to secure them (such as the private key used for SSL Forward Proxy Decryption).
Change the default master key as soon as possible to ensure that you use a unique master key for encryption.
In a high availability (HA) configuration, you must use the same master key on both firewalls or Panorama in the pair. Otherwise, HA synchronization will not work properly.
Additionally, if you are using Panorama to manage your firewalls, you must use the same master key on Panorama and all managed firewalls so that Panorama can push configurations to the firewalls.
Be sure to store the master key in a safe location. You cannot recover the master key and the only way to restore the default master key is to Reset the Firewall to Factory Default Settings.
  1. (
    HA only
    ) Disable HA.
    This step is required before you can deploy a new master key to a firewall HA pair. If you do not disable HA before deploying a new master key, Panorama will lose connectivity to the primary firewall.
    1. Select
      Device
      High Availability
      General
      and edit the Setup.
    2. Disable (clear) the
      Enable HA
      setting and click
      OK
      .
    3. Commit
      your configuration changes.
  2. Select
    Device
    Master Key and Diagnostics
    and edit the Master Key section.
  3. Enter the
    Current Master Key
    if one exists.
  4. Define a new
    New Master Key
    and then
    Confirm New Master Key
    . The key must contain exactly 16 characters.
  5. To specify the master key
    Lifetime
    , enter the number of
    Days
    and/or
    Hours
    after which the key will expire.
    You must configure a new master key before the current key expires. If the master key expires, the firewall or Panorama automatically reboots in Maintenance mode. You must then Reset the Firewall to Factory Default Settings.
    Set the
    Lifetime
    to two years or less, depending on how many encryptions the device performs. The more encryptions a device performs, the shorter the
    Lifetime
    you should set. The critical consideration is to not run out of unique encryptions before you change the master key. Each master key can provide up to 2
    32
    unique encryptions based on the master key value and the Initialization Vector (IV) value. After 2
    32
    unique encryptions, encryptions repeat (are no longer unique), which is a security risk.
    Set a
    Time for Reminder
    value (see next step) for the master key and when the reminder notification occurs, change the master key.
  6. Enter a
    Time for Reminder
    that specifies the number of
    Days
    and
    Hours
    before the master key expires when the firewall generates an expiration alarm. The firewall automatically opens the System Alarms dialog to display the alarm.
    Set the reminder so that it gives you plenty of time to configure a new master key before it expires in a scheduled maintenance window. When the
    Time for Reminder
    expires and the firewall or Panorama sends a notification log, change the master key, don’t wait for the
    Lifetime
    to expire. For grouped devices, track every device (e.g., firewalls that Panorama manages and firewall HA pairs) and when the reminder value expires for the any device in the group, change the master key.
    To ensure the expiration alarm displays, select
    Device
    Log Settings
    , edit the Alarm Settings, and
    Enable Alarms
    .
  7. Enable
    Auto Renew Master Key
    to configure the firewall to automatically renew the master key. To configure
    Auto Renew With Same Master Key
    , specify the number of
    Days
    and/or
    Hours
    to renew the same master key. The key extension allows the firewall to remain operational and continue securing your network; it is not a replacement for configuring a new key if the existing master key lifetime expires soon.
    Automatically renewing the master key has benefits and risks. The benefit is that extending the master key
    Lifetime
    protects against failure to change the master key before its lifetime expires. The risk is that encryptions will repeat and cause a security risk if the number of encryptions the device performs with the master key exceeds the number of unique encryptions the master key can generate (2
    32
    unique encryptions).
    If the Master Key expires (you do not automatically renew it and you do not replace it in a timely manner), the device goes into maintenance mode.
    If you enable
    Auto Renew Master Key
    , set it so that the total time (lifetime plus the auto renew time) does not cause the device to run out of unique encryptions. For example, if you believe the device will consume the master key’s number of unique encryptions in two and a half years, you could set the
    Lifetime
    for two years, set the
    Time for Reminder
    to 60 days, and set the
    Auto Renew Master Key
    for 60-90 days to provide the extra time to configure a new master key before the
    Lifetime
    expires. However, the best practice is still to change the master key before the lifetime expires to ensure that no device repeats encryptions.
    Consider the number of days until your next available maintenance window when configuring the master key to automatically renew after the lifetime of the key expires.
  8. (
    Optional
    ) For added security, select whether to use an
    HSM
    to encrypt the master key. For details, see Encrypt a Master Key Using an HSM.
  9. Click
    OK
    and
    Commit
    .
  10. (
    HA only
    ) Re-enable HA.
    1. Select
      Device
      High Availability
      General
      and edit the Setup.
    2. Select
      Enable HA
      and click
      OK
      .
    3. Commit
      your configuration changes.

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