Simple ASA to IOS VPN

Occasionally you just need a cheat sheet to configure something up. This is meant to be exactly that, a quick configuration of lan to lan IPSec between an ASA and IOS based router.


Host (for testing)

! /// Host is simply here to emulate a
! /// client on one end of the network
hostname Host
interface GigabitEthernet0/1
 description to iosv-1
 ip address
ip route

iosv-1 (IOS IPSec Endpoint)

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Internet Connected Water Heater

So I have to admit that I’m the crusty old curmudgeon who is way behind on things like home automation. After a recent issue with my water heater I opted to replace it with one that utilizes heat pump technology. I know a lot of people are installing tankless models and I strongly considered that path. My challenges were as follows–

  • Relatively High Demand (replacing an 80 Gallon Conventional Electric)
  • Conventional 80 Gallon Electric Models are difficult to purchase (at least in consumer models)
  • Tankless Owners seem to prefer gas over electric models
  • Venting a tankless gas heater would require relocation of plumbing

Given these constraints, I stumbled into the hybrid water heater models. These are big tank models that utilize heat pump technology as a preferred method of moving heat into the water. As demand increases, traditional resistance coils can be invoked to generate heat. Continue reading

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Syncing IOS Clock from Cellular Provider

I recently had a request to enable time synchronization from a Cellular provider to a 3G model of the Cisco 819. Looking through several documentation sources, I found an example of EEM policy utilizing GPS data in this manner.

LTE GPS Antenna Guide Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR G2) and Connected Grid Router

After looking at the TCL script outlined in the above document, I thought it would be an easy modification to achieve this result with the cellular network data. After fighting with the script and EEM policy for a couple of hours, I stepped back and looked at the options for creating an EEM Applet. My goal was to achieve similar results but utilizing the time provided by the cellular carrier. This article outlines my process and the final configuration. Continue reading

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What’s Wrong With the Internet?

How many times have you received that call or even made the statement that “The Internet is Down?” Or perhaps the “Internet is Slow?” Obviously these statements are very rarely true. As a whole, the Internet is functional and it is FAST. However these statements seem true from the perspective of the individual making them. My frustration is that we never have visibility into the data necessary to assess the health of the Internet from a relevant, holistic perspective over time. As a result, consumers and providers have a limited view of problems that randomly present in this manner.

The Problem

When I think about the impact Internet hiccups have on me, I realize that I could do things much differently if it delivered consistent reliability. Even if it wasn’t as reliable as infrastructures like the PSTN, having some semblance of trust in knowing when and how my connections might fail or degrade would help. The resulting improvements would allow me to use more robust tools like video and voice over the Internet and put my cell phone away. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent hours chasing ghosts. These transient issues tend to get resolved when they worsens and the root cause is more easily identifiable. Increasing the trust we have in our services would materially change the way in which we use them. Continue reading

Posted in Rant, Technology | 4 Comments

Merry Christmas 2015 to All

I wanted to thank all of the PacketU readers for their comments and feedback this year. From my family to yours, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


See you in ’16!

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DNC – What does “dropped the firewall” even mean?

In a CNN article that discusses Sander’s access to the Clinton campaign information, I found the following statement–

The breach occurred when the vendor, NGP VAN, which supplies access to the database of voter information for both campaigns dropped the firewall, and at least one Sanders campaign staffer accessed Clinton campaign voter data. The accused staffer, Josh Uretsky, Sanders’ national data director, was fired from the campaign.

I have to ask, what does that even mean? So NGP VAN is using a firewall to isolate data between candidates? Are there no controls in the application? And what does it mean to drop a firewall? 

I have to assume that this would indicate a “permit any” or maybe some other bypass. I’d love to know the technical details around this situation.

Firewalls aren’t magical boxes and this is a “dumbed down” if not inaccurate response.

I’d love to hear from you, so share your experiences by commenting below.
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Internet Redundancy with ASA SLA and IPSec

I’ve seen a lot of examples of redundant Internet connections that use SLA to track a primary connection. The logic is that the primary Internet connection is constantly being validated by pinging something on that ISP’s network and routing floats over to a secondary service provider in the event of a failure. I was recently challenged with how this interacted with IPSec. As a result I built out this configuration and performed some fairly extensive testing.

It is worth noting that this is not a substitute for a properly multi-homed Internet connection that utilizes BGP. It is, however, a method for overcoming the challenges often found in the SMB environments where connections are mostly outbound or can alternatively be handled without completely depending on either of the service provider owned address spaces.

In this article, we will start out with a typical ASA redundant Internet connection using IP SLA. Then we will overlay a IPSec Site to Site configuration and test the failover process.


The base configuration for this lab is as follows. Continue reading

Posted in CCIE Security, CCNA Security, Certification, Security, Technology | 6 Comments

Black Friday, Technology Glitches and Revenue Lost

This morning my wife was trying to purchase something from She ran into an issue at the point of transaction. The error that was being returned looked like the credit card number was invalid. Since the first attempt was on a mobile device, she attempted the transaction again from a computer. This was met with the same challenge. Ultimately, three different credit cards were attempted and none seemed to work. After reviewing the card account activity, I could see a total of about 5 authorizations against the 3 cards.

My wife contacted BELK by phone and they asked us to call our cc company (which I begrudgingly did). Finally they were able to process the cart transaction manually and admitted that we weren’t the only people experiencing the problem. They went on to say that their systems were very slow and that they were having issues with transactions internally too.
Continue reading

Posted in Rant, Technology | Tagged | 3 Comments

Spearphishing Attacks Against Hostmonster Customers

I tend to see a lot of phishing emails. The message I received this morning caught my eye. It was fairly well crafted and obviously targeted. After searching the Internet, I found that some GoDaddy customers have received something similar. This seems to be making its way around the internet to website administrators. The most curious thing to me is how someone associated the email address with a Hostmonster account.

Phishing Email Message

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 6.58.02 AM

As can be seen above, the message read–

Your account contains more than 4035 directories and may pose a potential performance risk to the server. Please reduce the number of directories for your account to prevent possible account deactivation.

In order to prevent your account from being locked out we recommend that you create special temp directory.

The link goes to kct67<dot>ru.

Message headers also suggest a Russian origin–

Received: by with SMTP id 11csp1084546qgx;
        Tue, 17 Nov 2015 20:25:39 -0800 (PST)
X-Received: by with SMTP id k202mr1408853lfe.161.1447820739327;
        Tue, 17 Nov 2015 20:25:39 -0800 (PST)
Return-Path: <[email protected]>
Received: from ( [])
        by with ESMTPS id xd10si580044lbb.198.2015.
        for <[email protected]>
        (version=TLSv1 cipher=RC4-SHA bits=128/128);
        Tue, 17 Nov 2015 20:25:39 -0800 (PST)
Received-SPF: pass ( domain of [email protected] designates as permitted sender) client-ip=;
       spf=pass ( domain of [email protected] designates as permitted sender) [email protected]
Received: from pike.intph ([]
	by with esmtp (Exim 4.77 (FreeBSD))
	(envelope-from <[email protected]>)
	id 1ZyuJH-000K6k-JN
	for [email protected]; Wed, 18 Nov 2015 07:25:31 +0300
Received: (from [email protected])
	by (8.14.5/8.13.8/Submit) id tAI4P7lP079360;
	Wed, 18 Nov 2015 07:25:07 +0300 (MSK)
	(envelope-from qce)

My word of advice would be that site administrators exercise caution when opening messages from their hosting providers. In addition, it certainly makes sense to change applicable passwords on a regular basis.

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Merchant Processes and CID/CVV2

I recently received a letter from the company that monitors my home alarm. It basically stated that to avoid a $3US surcharge that I must opt out of receiving bill in the mail (which is fine) and that I must set up automatic transactions.  I also found this form attached.

Merchant Form Continue reading

Posted in Rant | 2 Comments

OSX, Outlook 2011 and Evernote

If you are using Outlook and Evernote on the Mac, check out the article below. It outlines an AppleScript that allows the user to press Command+E to add an email, or selected portion of an email to Evernote.

As I implemented this, I did run into a couple of caveats. My suggestion is to make sure to read the comments in the script and to relaunch Outlook between changes. Thanks to Justin Lancy for a great tip.

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VLAN Bridging with FirePOWER

Although not immediately obvious, the FirePOWER Series 3 devices can do a form of IPS on a stick. This means that the capability described here should be available to the current appliance versions of the FirePOWER managed devices. The premise involves connecting broadcast domains (VLANs) to bring the managed device inline between the initiator and responder of a flow. Configuration is fairly straightforward but does have some caveats.


  • Even though only a single port is required, a virtual switch must be configured (this cannot just be an inline pair)
  • BPDUs being bridged between VLANs are detected and will render the switchport(s) in an inconsistent state
  • The FirePOWER physical interface will not activate until it is also bound to a Virtual Switch

FirePOWER Bridge VLANsThe diagram shows two devices in the same VLAN (we will assume /24 for the configuration). The device on the top is in VLAN 100. The FirePOWER managed device bridges VLAN 100 to VLAN 101 and allows the two devices to communicate directly with one another. The connection to the FirePOWER device is a single 802.1q trunk.

Frames arriving on VLAN 100 will be processed and egress with a VLAN tag of 101. This configuration is similar to a Router on a Stick but this example processes frames at layer 2. This methodology has been used to shoehorn an IPS between endpoints for quite a while.

R1 Configuration Continue reading

Posted in Security, Technology | 13 Comments