How Do the Zone Defense Tools Work?
Zone defense tools work together to form layers of DoS protection for your network.
When a packet arrives at the firewall, the firewall attempts to match the packet to an existing session, based on the ingress zone, egress zone, source IP address, destination IP address, protocol, and application derived from the packet header. If the firewall finds a match, then the packet uses the Security policy rules that already control the session. If the packet doesn’t match an existing session, the firewall uses Zone Protection profiles, DoS Protection profiles and policy rules, and Security policy rules to determine whether to establish a session or discard the packet, and the level of access the packet receives.
After traffic passes through your dedicated DDoS device at the internet-facing network edge, the first protection the firewall applies is the broad defense of the Zone Protection profile, if one is attached to the zone. The firewall determines the zone from the interface on which the packet arrives (each interface is assigned to only one zone and all interfaces that carry traffic must belong to a zone). If the Zone Protection profile denies the packet, the firewall discards the packet and saves resources by not needing to look up the DoS Protection policy or Security policy. The firewall applies Zone Protection profiles only to new sessions (packets that do not match an existing session). After the firewall establishes a session, the firewall bypasses the Zone Protection profile lookup for succeeding packets in that session.
If the Zone Protection profile doesn’t drop the packet, the second protection the firewall applies is a DoS Protection policy rule. If a Zone Protection profile allows a packet based on the total aggregate amount of traffic going to the zone, a DoS Protection policy rule may deny the packet if it is going to a particular destination or coming from a particular source that has exceeded the flood protection or resource protection settings in the rule’s DoS Protection profile. If the packet matches a DoS Protection policy rule, the firewall applies the rule to the packet. If the rule denies access, the firewall discards the packet and doesn’t perform a Security policy lookup. If the rule allows access, the firewall performs a Security policy lookup. Like the Zone Protection profile, the firewall enforces DoS Protection policy only on new sessions.
The third protection the firewall applies is a Security policy lookup, which happens only if the Zone Protection profile and DoS Protection policy rules allow the packet. If the firewall finds no Security policy rule match for the packet, the firewall discards the packet. If the firewall finds a matching Security policy rule, the firewall applies the rule to the packet. The firewall enforces the Security policy rule on traffic in both directions (c2s and s2c) for the life of the session. Apply the best practice Vulnerability Protection profile to all Security policy rules to help defend against DoS attacks.
The fourth protection the firewall applies is packet buffer protection, which you apply globally to protect the device and can also apply individually to zones to prevent single-session DoS attacks that attempt to overwhelm the firewall’s packet buffer. For global protection, the firewall used Random Early Drop (RED) to drop packets (not sessions) when the level of traffic crosses protection thresholds. For per-zone protection, the firewall blocks the source IP address if it violates the packet buffer thresholds. Unlike zone and DoS protection, packet buffer protection applies to existing sessions.