Book Image

Network Security with pfSense

By : Manuj Aggarwal
Book Image

Network Security with pfSense

By: Manuj Aggarwal

Overview of this book

While connected to the internet, you’re a potential target for an array of cyber threats, such as hackers, keyloggers, and Trojans that attack through unpatched security holes. A firewall works as a barrier (or ‘shield’) between your computer and cyberspace. pfSense is highly versatile firewall software. With thousands of enterprises using pfSense, it is fast becoming the world's most trusted open source network security solution. Network Security with pfSense begins with an introduction to pfSense, where you will gain an understanding of what pfSense is, its key features, and advantages. Next, you will learn how to configure pfSense as a firewall and create and manage firewall rules. As you make your way through the chapters, you will test pfSense for failover and load balancing across multiple wide area network (WAN) connections. You will then configure pfSense with OpenVPN for secure remote connectivity and implement IPsec VPN tunnels with pfSense. In the concluding chapters, you’ll understand how to configure and integrate pfSense as a Squid proxy server. By the end of this book, you will be able to leverage the power of pfSense to build a secure network.
Table of Contents (7 chapters)

What is pfSense?

pfSense is a free, customized distribution of FreeBSD. FreeBSD itself is an operating system for a variety of platforms, which focuses on features, speed, and stability. It's derived from BSD, the version of UNIX developed at the University of California, Berkeley. It is developed and maintained by a large community. You can use pfSense to turn a computer into a fully-featured router and firewall. This software was first developed in 2004 as an offshoot of the popular m0n0wall project. The main difference between pfSense and m0n0wall is that pfSense is designed for personal computers and servers instead of embedded devices. This allows pfSense to offer more flexibility and features. pfSense is a very flexible and powerful tool that you can easily adapt to numerous applications, from a home router to a firewall, for a large corporate network. pfSense is easy to install and maintain. It has a very useful web-based user interface. pfSense also has many features that are usually only found in expensive commercial routers. You can use the following three types of install media to install pfSense:

  1. Optical disk image: That could be an ISO image, a CD, or a DVD disc. This is an easy and familiar choice. Use this option if the target hardware has an optical drive. This is especially useful if the BIOS will not boot from USB.
  2. Memstick: This option is similar to the CD or DVD, but runs the installation from a USB thumb drive. It's often faster than a CD or DVD. This is very useful with new devices, as many of them don't have integrated optical drives, making this the current best recommendation.
  3. Serial memstick: This option is similar to the memstick image, but runs using the serial console rather than VGA for newer embedded systems.

The following is the graphical representation of the installation media:

pfSense is a very impressive software. The following are some of its key features:

  • pfSense is very robust and it supports a number of great features. This allows you to have a single device that performs all the functions you need at the edge of your network. The downside of this is that all your functions work from a single machine, so it's a single point of failure.
  • To offset this, pfSense also supports high availability, which means that you can group several devices together.
  • One of the most significant benefits is that pfSense is free. You can simply download the software from the website. Although virtualization is supported, you will, of course, need to spend on the hardware that you are going to install the software on. However, all things considered, it is more cost-effective than other solutions.
  • pfSense can be installed on any hardware, which makes it highly flexible and very scalable.
  • pfSense is also highly extensible. It has an energetic and dedicated community behind it. They have built and contributed tons of useful add-ons to the pfSense platform. Most of these add-ons are also completely free.