Cisco ASA – ‘Prove it’s Not The Firewall!’


KB ID 0001049 Dtd 09/04/15

Blame the Firewall Guy


Yeah, it's funny because it's true! The article title might not sound like the most professional approach, but when the 'Well it's not working now' finger gets pointed at the 'firewall guy/girl', they need to ascertain two things;

1. Is the problem actually the firewall, if not then help the frustrated party track down the actual problem.

2. If your problem IS the firewall, fix it!

I'm just coming out of a major network greenfield site build, all the individual technologies that have been getting planned and designed are now starting to come online and require comms though the firewall solution that I've been working on. So my days are pretty much filled with conversations like this;

Consultant/Engineer: Pete I need some ports opening on the firewall.  Me: OK let me know the IP addresses, host-names, ports, protocols etc, and I'll open them for you.  I then open the requested ports/protocols.  Consultant/Engineer: You know those ports you opened? They don't work.

At this point one of the following has occurred;

1. I've made an error, (it happens I'm human), I might have entered the wrong information, or not applied an ACL, or put the rule on the wrong firewall. Always assume you have done something wrong, until you are 100% sure that's not the case.

2. The person who asked for traffic to be allowed, asked for the wrong thing, either they didn't RTFM, or someone has given them the wrong IP addresses, or because they are human too, they've made a mistake.

3. The traffics not even getting to the firewall, because either it's getting blocked before it gets to you, or there is a routing problem stopping the traffic hitting the firewall. (Remember routing works by Unicorns and Magic, so routing people are not to be trusted!)

4. The traffic needs some kind of special inspection to work through the firewall i.e. ICMP, FTP, or PPTP etc. 

5. Some annoying bug in the ASA code is stopping you, which either requires a lot of Internet and forum searching or a call to TAC to confirm.

If I've forgotten another reason - feel free to contact me. (Link at the bottom of the page).


Step 1: Make sure you are not blocking the Traffic

Packet tracer is your friend! Use it to simulate traffic going though the firewall, and the firewall will tell you what it will do with that traffic. I prefer to use command line, but you can also run packet tracer graphically in the ASDM.

Packer Tracer Graphically

1. From the ASDM > Tools Packet Tracer.

Blame the Firewall Guy

2. Enter the details and click start, if the firewall is blocking the traffic this should tell you where and why.

PAcket Tracer ASDM

Packer-Tracer From Command Line (v 7.21 and upwards)


packet-tracer input source_interface protocol source_address source_port destination_adress destination_port [detailed] [xml]

Syntax Description

  • Source_interface: Specifies the source interface name for the packet trace.
  • Protocol: Protocol type for the packet trace. e.g. icmp, tcp, or udp.
  • Source_address: The IP address for the host thats sending the traffic to be tested.
  • Source_port: Source port (can be and random port usually it's the destination port that's usually important).
  • Destination_address: The IP address for the host that traffic is being sent to.
  • Destination_port: The port that you are testing.
  • Detailed: (Optional) Provides detailed packet trace information.
  • Xml: (Optional) Displays the trace capture in XML format.


Below I'm checking that an internal host ( can get access to a public web server ( via http (TCP port 80). Note: As mentioned above I just picked a random source port (1024).

PAcket Tracer ASDM

OK, so if packet-tracer shows the firewall is not blocking the traffic. Then either there's other ports we don't know about that may need opening, or the traffic is not getting to the firewall. Normally at this point I'd test to see if the traffic is getting to the firewall. To do that I would do a packet capture.

To demonstrate, below someone has requested that we open https from Server A on our LAN, to an Internet server Server B.

PAcket Tracer ASDM


Petes-ASA# configure terminal  Petes-ASA(config)# capture capout interface inside match tcp host host eq 443 

Send some traffic!

Petes-ASA(config)# show capture capout

0 packet captured

0 packet shown  Petes-ASA(config)#

Above the traffic is not getting to the firewall as there's a problem between Server A and the Firewall, either something is blocking the traffic downstream, or Server A cannot route traffic to the firewall.

Below we can see traffic hitting the firewall, in fact sends out three packets on TCP port 443 (https). What we CANNOT SEE is any traffic coming back, in this case Server B is not replying to us, either its down or it cannot route traffic back to us.

Petes-ASA(config)# show capture capout

3 packets captured

1: 20:28:47.165976 > S 1762767908:1762767908(0) win 64240 <mss 1460,nop,nop,sackOK>   2: 20:28:50.214649 > S 1762767908:1762767908(0) win 64240 <mss 1460,nop,nop,sackOK>   3: 20:28:56.168951 > S 1762767908:1762767908(0) win 64240 <mss 1460,nop,nop,sackOK>   3 packets shown  Petes-ASA(config)#

Here is an example of what you should see;

Petes-ASA(config)# show capture capout

11 packets captured

1: 20:34:49.575806 > S 4084340501:4084340501(0) win 64240 <mss 1460,nop,nop,sackOK>   2: 20:34:49.576828 > S 4235939008:4235939008(0) ack 4084340502 win 64240 <mss 1380,nop,nop,sackOK>   3: 20:34:49.577820 > . ack 4235939009 win 64240   4: 20:34:49.578812 > P 4084340502:4084340579(77) ack 4235939009 win 64240   5: 20:34:49.582825 > P 4235939009:4235940127(1118) ack 4084340579 win 64163   6: 20:34:49.583816 > P 4084340579:4084340761(182) ack 4235940127 win 63122   7: 20:34:49.584823 > P 4235940127:4235940170(43) ack 4084340761 win 63981   8: 20:34:49.804783 > . ack 4235940170 win 63079   9: 20:35:20.378322 > F 4084340761:4084340761(0) ack 4235940170 win 63079   10: 20:35:20.379344 > . ack 4084340762 win 63981   11: 20:35:20.379405 > R 4235940170:4235940170(0) ack 4084340762 win 0   11 packets shown  Petes-ASA(config)#

Now the port(s) we want to allow, we can see are actually working, so if theres still a problem, theres probably another port / protocol that's being blocked. To find out we need to enable logging and see if any packets are being denied.

Petes-ASA#configure terminal  Petes-ASA(config)# logg buffer-size 4096  Petes-ASA(config)# logg buffered 7  Petes-ASA(config)# logg on

Try the connection again, then view the log, (here I'm filtering it on, as the log can be quite sizable);

Petes-ASA(config)# show logg | incl  %ASA-7-609001: Built local-host inside:  %ASA-6-302013: Built outbound TCP connection 15 for outside: ( to inside: (  %ASA-4-106023: Deny tcp src inside: dst outside: by access-group "outbound" [0x0, 0x0]  %ASA-4-106023: Deny tcp src inside: dst outside: by access-group "outbound" [0x0, 0x0]  %ASA-4-106023: Deny tcp src inside: dst outside: by access-group "outbound" [0x0, 0x0]  %ASA-6-302014: Teardown TCP connection 15 for outside: to inside: duration 0:00:30 bytes 1420 TCP FINs  %ASA-7-609002: Teardown local-host inside: duration 0:00:30  Petes-ASA(config)#

As we can see traffic is being denied and it's on TCP port 21 (That's FTP if your interested). So let's open that port, and try again;

Petes-ASA(config)# show logg | incl   %ASA-5-111008: User 'enable_15' executed the 'access-list outbound extended permit tcp host host eq 21' command.  %ASA-5-111010: User 'enable_15', running 'CLI' from IP, executed 'access-list outbound extended permit tcp host host eq 21'  %ASA-7-609001: Built local-host inside:  %ASA-6-302013: Built outbound TCP connection 16 for outside: ( to inside: (  %ASA-6-302013: Built outbound TCP connection 17 for outside: ( to inside: (  %ASA-6-302014: Teardown TCP connection 16 for outside: to inside: duration 0:00:30 bytes 1420 TCP FINs  Petes-ASA(config)#

And we are working!

If we have got this far and you are still not working, then check the traffic you are trying to send does not need any special inspection enabling. Or the port number you are using may have been reserved for a particular type of traffic (like this).

Failing that, upgrade the ASA, then open a TAC call. 

Related Articles, References, Credits, or External Links


Author: Migrated

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