Identify Sessions That Use an Excessive Percentage of the Packet Buffer

When a firewall exhibits signs of resource depletion, it might be experiencing an attack that is sending an overwhelming number of packets. In such events, the firewall starts buffering inbound packets. You can quickly identify the sessions that are using an excessive percentage of the packet buffer and mitigate their impact by discarding them.
Perform the following task on any hardware-based firewall model (not a VM-Series firewall) to identify, for each slot and dataplane, the packet buffer percentage used, the top five sessions using more than two percent of the packet buffer, and the source IP addresses associated with those sessions. Having that information allows you to take appropriate action.
  1. View firewall resource usage, top sessions, and session details. Execute the following operational command in the CLI (sample output from the command follows):
    admin@PA-7050> show running resource-monitor ingress-backlogs 
    -- SLOT:s1, DP:dp1 -- USAGE - ATOMIC: 92%  TOTAL: 93% 
    TOP SESSIONS:SESS-ID      PCT   GRP-ID   COUNT 
    6            92%   1        156                   7        1732 
    SESSION DETAILS SESS-ID PROTO SZONESRC       SPORT  DST       DPORT  IGR-IF    EGR-IF       APP 
    6    6     trust 192.168.2.35 55653  10.1.8.89 80  ethernet1/21 ethernet1/22 undecided 
    The command displays a maximum of the top five sessions that each use 2% or more of the packet buffer.
    The sample output above indicates that Session 6 is using 92% of the packet buffer with TCP packets (protocol 6) coming from source IP address 192.168.2.35.
    • SESS-ID—Indicates the global session ID that is used in all other show session commands. The global session ID is unique within the firewall.
    • GRP-ID—Indicates an internal stage of processing packets.
    • COUNT—Indicates how many packets are in that GRP-ID for that session.
    • APP—Indicates the App-ID extracted from the Session information, which can help you determine whether the traffic is legitimate. For example, if packets use a common TCP or UDP port but the CLI output indicates an APP of undecided, the packets are possibly attack traffic. The APP is undecided when Application IP Decoders cannot get enough information to determine the application. An APP of unknown indicates that Application IP Decoders cannot determine the application; a session of unknown APP that uses a high percentage of the packet buffer is also suspicious.
    To restrict the display output:
    On a PA-7000 Series model only, you can limit output to a slot, a dataplane, or both. For example:
    admin@PA-7050> show running resource-monitor ingress-backlogs slot s1 
    admin@PA-7050> show running resource-monitor ingress-backlogs slot s1 dp dp1
    On PA-5000 Series, PA-5200 Series, and PA-7000 Series models only, you can limit output to a dataplane. For example:
    admin@PA-5060> show running resource-monitor ingress-backlogs dp dp1
  2. Use the command output to determine whether the source at the source IP address using a high percentage of the packet buffer is sending legitimate or attack traffic.
    In the sample output above, a single-session attack is likely occurring. A single session (Session ID 6) is using 92% of the packet buffer for Slot 1, DP 1, and the application at that point is undecided.
    To see whether a session is offloaded or not, use the show session id <session-id> operational command in the CLI as shown in the following example. The layer7 processing value indicates completed for sessions offloaded or enabled for sessions not offloaded.
    session-bittorrent-offloaded.png

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