Configuring GTP on FortiOS Carrier

Packet sanity checking

The FortiOS Carrier firewall checks the following items to determine if a packet confirms to the UDP and GTP


  • GTP release version number — must be 0, 1, or 2
  • Settings of predefined bits
  • Protocol type
  • UDP packet length

If the packet in question does not confirm to the standards, the FortiOS Carrier firewall drops the packet, so that the malformed or forged traffic will not be processed.


GTP stateful inspection

Apart from the static inspection (checking the packet header), the FortiOS Carrier firewall performs stateful inspection.

Stateful inspection provides enhanced security by keeping track of communications sessions and packets over a period of time. Both incoming and outgoing packets are examined. Outgoing packets that request specific types of incoming packets are tracked; only those incoming packets constituting a proper response are allowed through the firewall.

The FortiOS Carrier firewall can also index the GTP tunnels to keep track of them.

Using the enhanced Carrier traffic policy, the FortiOS Carrier firewall can block unwanted encapsulated traffic in GTP tunnels, such as infrastructure attacks. Infrastructure attacks involve attempts by an attacker to connect to restricted machines, such as GSN devices, network management systems, or mobile stations. If these attmpts to connect are detected, they are to be flagged immediately by the firewall .


Protocol anomaly detection and prevention

The FortiOS Carrier firewall detects and optionally drops protocol anomalies according to GTP standards and specific tunnel states. Protocol anomaly attacks involve malformed or corrupt packets that typically fall outside of protocol specifications. These packets are not seen on a production network. Protocol anomaly attacks exploit poor programming practices when decoding packets, and are typically used to maliciously impair system performance or elevate privileges.

FortiOS Carrier also detects IP address spoofing inside GTP data channel. See Configuring the Protocol Anomaly feature in FortiOS Carrier.



FortiOS Carrier active-passive HA provides failover protection for the GTP tunnels. This means that an active- passive cluster can provide FortiOS Carrier firewall services even when one of the cluster units encounters a problem that would result in complete loss of connectivity for a stand-alone FortiOS Carrier firewall. This failover protection provides a backup mechanism that can be used to reduce the risk of unexpected downtime, especially for mission-critical environments.

FortiOS HA synchs TCP sessions by default, but UDP sessions are not synchronized by default. However synchronizing a session is only part of the solution if the goal is to continue GTP processing on a synchronized session after a HA switch. For that to be successful we also need to synch the GTP tunnel state. So, once the master completes tunnel setup then the GTP tunnel is synchronized to the slave.

GTP traffic will only flow without interruption on a HA switch if bidirectional GTP policies have been configured: an internal (GTP server) to external (all) UDP port GTP policy, and an external (all) to internal (GTP server) UDP port GTP policy. If either policy is missing then traffic may be interrupted until traffic flows in the opposite direction.

For more information on HA in FortiOS, see the High Availability (HA) Guide or the FortiOS Administration Guide.


Virtual domain support

FortiOS Carrier is suited to both large and smaller carriers. A single Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit can serve either one large carrier, or several smaller ones through virtual domains. As with any FortiGate unit, Carrier- enabled units have the ability to split their resources into multiple virtual units. This allows smaller carriers to use just the resources that they need without wasting the extra. For more information on HA in FortiOS, see the Virtual Domains (VDOMs) Guide.



Configuring General Settings on the Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit

To configure the GTP General Settings, go to Security Profiles > Carrier > GTP Profile, and edit a GTP profile. Expand General Settings to configure settings. See General settings options.


Configuring Encapsulated Filtering in FortiOS Carrier

Encapsulated traffic on the GPRS network can come in a number of forms as it includes traffic that is “wrapped up” in another protocol. This detail is important for firewalls because it requires “unwrapping” to properly scan the data inside. If encapsulated packets are treated as regular packets, that inside layer will never be scanned and may allow malicious data into your network.

On Carrier-enabled FortiGate units, GTP related encapsulated filtering falls under encapsulated IP traffic filtering, and encapsulated non-IP end user address filtering.


Configuring Encapsulated IP Traffic Filtering

Generally there are a very limited number of IP addresses that are allowed to encapsulate GPRS traffic. For example GTP tunnels are a valid type of encapsulation when used properly. This is the GTP tunnel which uses the Gp or Gn interfaces between SGSNs and GGSNs. However, a GTP tunnel within a GTP tunnel is not accessible — FortiOS Carrier will either block or forward the traffic, but is not able to open it for inspection.

The ability to filter GTP sessions is based on information contained in the data stream and provides operators with a powerful mechanism to control data flows within their infrastructure. You can also configure IP filtering rules to filter encapsulated IP traffic from Mobile Stations.

To configure the Encapsulated IP Traffic Filtering, go to Security Profiles > Carrier > GTP Profile, and edit a GTP profile. Expand Encapsulated IP Traffic Filtering to configure settings. See Encapsulated IP traffic filtering options.

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