Category Archives: FortiOS 6

Best Practices – Logging and reporting

Logging and reporting

The default log device settings must be modified so that system performance is not compromised. The FortiGate unit, by default, has all logging of FortiGate features enabled, except for traffic logging. The default logging location will be either the FortiGate unit’s system memory or hard disk, depending on the model. Units with a flash disk are not recommended for disk logging.

Log management

When the FortiGate unit records FortiGate activity, valuable information is collected that provides insight into how to better protect network traffic against attacks, including misuse and abuse. There is a lot to consider before enabling logging on a FortiGate unit, such as what FortiGate activities to enable and which log device is best suited for your network’s logging needs. A plan can help you in deciding the FortiGate activities to log, a log device, as well as a backup solution in the event the log device fails. This plan should provide you with an outline, similar to the following:

  • What FortiGate activities you want and/or need logged (for example, security features). l The logging device best suited for your network structure.
  • If you want or require archiving of log files. l Ensuring logs are not lost in the event a failure occurs.

After the plan is implemented, you need to manage the logs and be prepared to expand on your log setup when the current logging requirements are outgrown. Good log management practices help you with these tasks.

Log management practices help you to improve and manage logging requirements. Logging is an ever-expanding tool that can seem to be a daunting task to manage. The following management practices will help you when issues arise, or your logging setup needs to be expanded.

  • Revisit your plan on a yearly basis to verify that your logging needs are being met by your current log setup. For example, your company or organization may require archival logging, but not at the beginning of your network’s lifespan. Archival logs are stored on a FortiGate unit’s local hard drive, a FortiAnalyzer unit, or a FortiCloud server, in increasing order of size.
  • Configure an alert message that will notify you of activities that are important to be aware about. For example: if a branch office does not have a FortiGate administrator, you will need to know at all times that the IPsec VPN tunnel is still up and running. An alert email notification message can be configured to send only if IPsec tunnel errors occur.
  • If your organization or company uses peer-to-peer programs such as Skype or other instant messaging software, use the IM usage dashboard widget or the Executive Summary’s report widget (Top 10 Application Bandwidth Usage Per Hour Summary) to help you monitor the usage of these types of instant messaging software. These widgets can help you in determining how these applications are being used, including if there is any misuse and abuse. Their information is taken from application log messages; however, application log messages should be viewed as well since they contain the most detailed information.
  • Ensure that your backup solution is up-to-date. If you have recently expanded your log setup, you should also review your backup solution. The backup solution provides a way to ensure that all logs are not lost in the event that the log device fails or issues arise with the log device itself.
  • When downloading log messages and viewing them on a computer, the log file will be downloaded like any other file. Log file names contain their log type and date in the name, so it is recommended to create a folder in which to archive your log messages, as they can be sorted easily.

System memory and hard disks

If the FortiGate unit has a hard disk, it is enabled by default to store logs. This also means that you do not have to enable this and configure the settings for logging to the hard disk, but modify these settings so that it is configured for your network logging requirements.

If the FortiGate unit has only flash memory, disk logging is disabled by default, as it is not recommended. Constant rewrites to flash drives can reduce the lifetime and efficiency of the memory. It must be enabled in the CLI under config log disk setting.

For some low-end models, disk logging is unavailable. Check a product’s Feature Matrix for more information. In either case, Fortinet recommends using either a FortiAnalyzer unit or the FortiCloud service.

Best Practices – Using static IPs in a CAPWAP configuration

Using static IPs in a CAPWAP configuration

In a large FortiAP deployment with more than 20 FortiAPs connecting to a Fortigate Wireless Controller (AC), it is recommended to use static IPs on the access points instead of DHCP, setting the AC IP statically and the AC discovery type to static (Type 1), instead of learning it through broadcast, multicast, or DHCP.

This makes management of the APs easier since you know the exact IP of each access point. Troubleshooting also becomes easier as the debug of the AC controller won’t continuously attempt the different discovery methods in sequence (broadcast > multicast > static).

Best Practice – Wireless


The following section contains a list of best practices for wireless network configurations with regard to encryption and authentication, geographic location, network planning, power usage, client load balancing, local bridging, SSIDs, and the use of static IPs.

Encryption and authentication

It is best practice to always enable the strongest user authentication and encryption method that your client supports. Fortinet recommends the following security, in order of strongest to weakest:

l WPA2 – Enterprise 802.1x/EAP – Personal pre-shared key (8-63 characters) l WPA – Enterprise 802.1x/EAP – Personal pre-shared key (8-63 characters) l WEP128 – 26 Hexadecimal digit key l WEP64 – 10 Hexadecimal digit key l None – Open system

Geographic location

Ensure that the FortiGate wireless controller is configured for your geographic location. This ensures that the available radio channels and radio power are in compliance with the regulations in your region.

The maximum allowed transmitter power and permitted radio channels for Wi-Fi networks depend on the region in which the network is located. By default, the WiFi controller is configured for the United States. If you are located in any other region, you need to set your location before you begin configuring wireless networks.

The location setting can only be changed from CLI. To change the country to France, for example, enter the following:

config wireless-controller setting set country FR


To see the list of country codes, enter a question mark (‘?’) in place of the country code.

Using an incorrect geographic location is a common error that can lead to unpredicable results on the client side.

Network planning

It is recommended that you perform a proper site survey prior positioning the wireless access point. In order to evaluate the coverage area environment, the following criteria must be taken into account:

l Size of coverage area l Bandwidth required l Client wireless capabilities Wireless     Lowering the power level to reduce RF interference

After completing a RF site survey, you’ll have a good idea of the number and location of access points needed to provide users with adequate coverage and performance.

However, prior to installing the access points, be sure to determine the RF channel(s) you plan to use. This will ensure that users can roam throughout the facility with substantial performance.

To avoid co-channel interference, adjacent Wi-Fi APs must be configured to use non-overlapping channels. Otherwise, you’ll find poor performance will degrade because of interference between access points.

It is recommended to statically configure the non-overlapping channels on every access point, using one Custom AP profile per AP (or group of APs). If static configuration cannot be used, the FortiOS Wi-Fi Controller includes the Automatic Radio Resource Provisioning (ARRP) feature.

Lowering the power level to reduce RF interference

Relevant Product(s): FortiAP

Reducing power reduces unwanted coverage and potential interference to other WLANs. Areas of unwanted coverage are a potential security risk. If possible, reduce the transmitter power of your wireless access point so that the signal is not available beyond the areas where it is needed. Auto Tx Power Control can be enabled to automatically adjust the transmit power.

In cases where customers complain about slow wireless traffic through a FortiAP, it might be necessary to try to reduce the possibility of RF interference. It is best practice not to locate FortiAPs near steel beams or other interfering materials. You can try using a wireless sniffer tool to collect the wireless packets and then analyze the extent of air interference.

A common mistake is spacing FortiAPs based upon the 5Ghz radio frequency. The 2.4Ghz signal travels further.

You have two options when confronted with slow wireless traffic through a FortiAP:

Option #1: Reducing transmit power

Perform a speed test and record the results. Set one of the radios on a FortiAP to be in dedicated monitoring mode. Then observe how many APs are detected. If the number of APs is too high (i.e., greater than 20), try reducing the transmit power in the WTP profile for the FortiAPs until the number of dedicated APs has dropped significantly.

Repeat the speed test.

Option #2: Ensuring that VAPs are distributed over the available channels

No built-in tools are available to measure RF interference directly. However, FortiOS 5.0 does allow for automatic power adjustment, which should minimize the occurrence of RF interference.

Wireless client load balancing

Wireless load balancing allows your wireless network to more efficiently distribute wireless traffic among wireless access points and available frequency bands. FortiGate wireless controllers support the following types of client load balancing:

  • Access Point Hand-off – The wireless controller signals a client to switch to another access point.
  • Frequency Hand-off – The wireless controller monitors the usage of 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and signals clients to switch to the lesser-used frequency.

Local bridging

Whenever possible, use local bridging to offload the CAPWAP tunnel. Note that in this case, Wi-Fi client devices obtain IP addresses from the same DHCP server as wired devices on the LAN. The vlan ID can only be configured from the CLI:

config wireless-controller vap edit “vaplocalbridge” set vdom “root” set ssid “testvaplocalbridge” set local-bridging enable set vlanid 40 —> only available in CLI



Advertising SSIDs

  • It is highly recommended to advertise the SSID. It makes it easier for customers and wireless clients. Also, if you ‘hide’ the SSID (known as ‘network cloaking’), then clients will always look for it when they’re outside the coverage area, which searches for known SSIDs, in effect leaking the SSID anyway. Refer to RFC 3370. Furthermore, many of the latest Broadcom drivers do not support hidden SSID for WPA2.
  • For security reason, you might want to prevent direct communication between your wireless clients. In this case, enable Block Intra-SSID Traffic (in the SSID configuration).
  • In a network with multiple wireless controllers, you need to change the mesh SSID so that each mesh root has a unique SSID. Other controllers using the same mesh root SSID might be detected as fake or rogue APs. Go to WiFi & Switch Controller > SSID to change the SSID. Fortinet also recommends that you create a new preshared key instead of using the default.

Best Practice – Explicit proxy

Explicit proxy

  • For explicit proxies, when configuring limits on the number of concurrent users, you need to allow for the number of users based on their authentication method. Otherwise you may run out of user resources prematurely.
  • Each session-based authenticated user is counted as a single user using their authentication membership (RADIUS, LDAP, FSSO, local database etc.) to match users in other sessions. So one authenticated user in multiple sessions is still one user.
  • For all other situations, the source IP address is used to determine a user. All sessions from a single source address are assumed to be from the same user.
  • Set the explicit web proxy and explicit FTP proxy Default Firewall Policy Action to Deny. This means that a firewall policy is required to use these explicit proxies, allowing you to control access and impose security features.

Do not enable the explicit web or FTP proxy on an interface connected to the Internet. This is a security risk because anyone on the Internet who finds the proxy could use it to hide their source address. If you must enable the proxy on such an interface make sure authentication is required to use the proxy.

Best Practices – Virtual Domains (VDOMs)

Virtual Domains (VDOMs)

VDOMs can provide separate firewall policies and, in NAT/Route mode, completely separate configurations for routing and VPN services for each connected network or organization. This section provides a list of best practices for configuring VDOMs.

Per-VDOM resource settings

While Global resources apply to resources shared by the whole FortiGate unit, per-VDOM resources are specific to only one Virtual Domain.

By default all the per-VDOM resource settings are set to no limits. This means that any single VDOM can use up all the resources of the entire FortiGate unit if it needs to do so. This would starve the other VDOMs for resources to the point where they would be unable to function. For this reason, it is recommended that you set some maximums on resources that are most vital to your customers.

Virtual domains in NAT/Route mode

Once you have enabled virtual domains and created one or more VDOMs, you need to configure them. It is recommended that you perform the following tasks in the order given (while you may not require all for your network topology):

  1. Change the management virtual domain.
  2. Configure FortiGate interfaces in a NAT/Route VDOM.
  3. Configure VDOM routing.
  4. Configure security policies for NAT/Route VDOMs.
  5. Configure UTM profiles for NAT/Route VDOMs.
  6. Test the configuration.

Virtual clustering

If you decide to disable override for clurstering, as a result of persistent renegotiating, you should disable it for both cluster units.

Best Practices – WAN Optimization

WAN Optimization

WAN Optimization features require significant memory resources and generate a high amount of I/O on disk. Before enabling WAN Optimization, ensure that the memory usage is not too high. If possible, avoid other diskintensive features such as heavy traffic logging on the same disk as the one configured for WAN Optimization needs.

In general, it is preferable to enable the Transparent Mode checkbox and ensure that routing between the two endpoints is acceptable. Some protocols may not work well without enabling Transparent Mode.

Other best practices for utilizing the WAN Optimization feature follow.

Sharing the WAN Opt. tunnel for traffic of the same nature

WAN optimization tunnel sharing is recommended for similar types of WAN optimization traffic (such as CIFS traffic from different servers). However, tunnel sharing for different types of traffic is not recommended. For example, aggressive and non-aggressive protocols should not share the same tunnel.

Ordering WAN Opt. rules appropriately

l Precise, port specific WAN Optimization rules should be at the top of the list. l Generic rules, such as overall TCP, should be at the bottom of the list.

Avoiding mixing protocols in a WAN Opt. tunnel

Different protocols may be more or less talkative or interactive . Mixing protocols in a tunnel may result in a delay for some of them. It is recommended to define protocol specific wan-optimization rules and restrict the ports to the necessary ones only for performance reasons.

Setting correct configuration options for CIFS WAN Opt.

Ensure that the WAN Optimization rules cover TCP ports 139 and 445 (on the same or two different rules). Also ensure that Transparent Mode is selected.

Setting correct configuration options for MAPI WAN Opt.

For MAPI WAN Optimization, only specify a rule with TCP port 135 (unless the MAPI control port is configured differently). Derived data sessions using other random ports will be handled by the CIFS wan-optimization daemon even with only the control port configured.

Testing WAN Opt. in a lab

  • Ensure that WAN emulators are used to simulate the WAN. If no WAN emulator is used, it is expected to have better results without WAN Optimization than with WAN Optimization.
  • To test the difference between cold transfers (first-time transfers) and warm transfers, it is recommended to generate a random file of the cold transfer to ensure that the test is the first time that the file has been seen.

WAN Optimization                                                                                            Interface monitoring (port monitoring)

Regarding byte compression and type of file

Enabling byte compression on file transfers already compressed (.jpeg files, compressed archive, etc.) won’t provide any performance increase and could be seen as a misuse of CPU resources.

Regarding network address translation (NAT)

Selecting the NAT feature in a security policy does not have any influence on WAN Optimization traffic.

High Availability

There is no benefit to using active-active mode, so for pure WAN Optimization needs, use active-passive mode. Refer to the FGCP High Availability section for other best practices related to HA.

Authentication with specific peers

Configure WAN optimization authentication with specific peers. Accepting any peer is not recommended as this can be less secure.

Best Practices – FGCP High Availability

FGCP High Availability

Fortinet suggests the following practices related to high availability:

  • Use Active-Active HA to distribute TCP and UTM sessions among multiple cluster units. An active-active cluster may have higher throughput than a standalone FortiGate unit or than an active-passive cluster.
  • Use a different host name on each FortiGate unit when configuring an HA cluster. Fewer steps are required to add host names to each cluster unit before configuring HA and forming a cluster.
  • Consider adding an Alias to the interfaces used for the HA heartbeat so that you always get a reminder about what these interfaces are being used for.
  • Enabling load-balance-all can increase device and network load since more traffic is load-balanced. This may be appropriate for use in a deployment using the firewall capabilities of the FortiGate unit and IPS but no other content inspection.
  • An advantage of using session pickup is that non-content inspection sessions will be picked up by the new primary unit after a failover. The disadvantage is that the cluster generates more heartbeat traffic to support session pickup as a larger portion of the session table must be synchronized. Session pickup should be configured only when required and is not recommended for use with SOHO FortiGate models. Session pickup should only be used if the primary heartbeat link is dedicated (otherwise the additional HA heartbeat traffic could affect network performance).
  • If session pickup is not selected, after a device or link failover all sessions are briefly interrupted and must be reestablished at the application level after the cluster renegotiates. For example, after a failover, users browsing the web can just refresh their browsers to resume browsing. Users downloading large files may have to restart their download after a failover. Other protocols may experience data loss and some protocols may require sessions to be manually restarted. For example, a user downloading files with FTP may have to either restart downloads or restart their FTP client.
  • If you need to enable session pickup, consider enabling session-pickup-delay to improve performance by reducing the number of sessions that are synchronized. See Improving session synchronization performance on page 1.
  • Consider using the session-sync-dev option to move session synchronization traffic off the HA heartbeat link to one or more dedicated session synchronization interfaces. See Improving session synchronization performance on page 1.
  • To avoid unpredictable results, when you connect a switch to multiple redundant or aggregate interfaces in an active-passive cluster you should configure separate redundant or aggregate interfaces on the switch; one for each cluster unit.
  • Use SNMP, syslog, or email alerts to monitor a cluster for failover messages. Alert messages about cluster failovers may help find and diagnose network problems quickly and efficiently.

Heartbeat interfaces

Fortinet suggests the following practices related to heartbeat interfaces:

  • Configure at least two heartbeat interfaces and set these interfaces to have different priorities.
  • For clusters of two FortiGate units, as much as possible, heartbeat interfaces should be directly connected using patch cables (without involving other network equipment such as switches). If switches have to be used they should not be used for other network traffic that could flood the switches and cause heartbeat delays.
  • If you cannot use a dedicated switch, the use of a dedicated VLAN can help limit the broadcast domain to protect the heartbeat traffic and the bandwidth it creates.
  • For clusters of three or four FortiGate units, use switches to connect heartbeat interfaces. The corresponding heartbeat interface of each FortiGate unit in the cluster must be connected to the same switch. For improved redundancy use a different switch for each heartbeat interface. In that way if the switch connecting one of the heartbeat interfaces fails or is unplugged, heartbeat traffic can continue on the other heartbeat interfaces and switch.
  • Isolate heartbeat interfaces from user networks. Heartbeat packets contain sensitive cluster configuration information and can consume a considerable amount of network bandwidth. If the cluster consists of two FortiGate units, connect the heartbeat interfaces directly using a crossover cable or a regular Ethernet cable. For clusters with more than two units, connect heartbeat interfaces to a separate switch that is not connected to any network.
  • If heartbeat traffic cannot be isolated from user networks, enable heartbeat message encryption and authentication to protect cluster information. See Enabling or disabling HA heartbeat encryption and authentication on page 1.
  • Configure and connect redundant heartbeat interfaces so that if one heartbeat interface fails or becomes disconnected, HA heartbeat traffic can continue to be transmitted using the backup heartbeat interface. If heartbeat communication fails, all cluster members will think they are the primary unit resulting in multiple devices on the network with the same IP addresses and MAC addresses (condition referred to as Split Brain) and communication will be disrupted until heartbeat communication can be reestablished.
  • Do not monitor dedicated heartbeat interfaces; monitor those interfaces whose failure should trigger a device failover.
  • Where possible at least one heartbeat interface should not be connected to an NP4 or NP6 processor to avoid NP4 or NP6-related problems from affecting heartbeat traffic.
  • Where possible, the heartbeat interfaces should not be connected to an NP4 or NP6 processor that is also processing network traffic.
  • Where possible, each heartbeat interface should be connected to a different NP4 or NP6 processor.
  • Any FortiGate interface can be used as a heartbeat interface including 10/100/1000Base-T, SFP, QSFP fiber and copper, and so on. If you set up two or more interfaces as heartbeat interfaces each interface can be a different type and speed.

Interface monitoring (port monitoring)

Fortinet suggests the following practices related to interface monitoring (also called port monitoring):

  • Wait until a cluster is up and running and all interfaces are connected before enabling interface monitoring. A monitored interface can easily become disconnected during initial setup and cause failovers to occur before the cluster is fully configured and tested.
  • Monitor interfaces connected to networks that process high priority traffic so that the cluster maintains connections to these networks if a failure occurs.
  • Avoid configuring interface monitoring for all interfaces.

Supplement interface monitoring with remote link failover. Configure remote link failover to maintain packet flow if a link not directly connected to a cluster unit (for example, between a switch connected to a cluster interface and the network) fails.

Best Practices – Networking


When configuring your network, ensure that there is no ‘back door’ access to the protected network. For example, if there is a wireless access point, it must be appropriately protected with password and encryption.

Be sure to also maintain an up-to-date network diagram which includes IP addressing, cabling, and network elements.

Routing configuration

  • Always configure a default route.
  • Add blackhole routes for subnets reachable using VPN tunnels. This ensures that if a VPN tunnel goes down, traffic is not mistakingly routed to the Internet unencrypted.

Policy routing

Keep the number of policy routes to a minimum to optimize performance in route lookup and to simplify troubleshooting.

Dynamic routing

l Select a Router ID that matches an IP assigned to an interface. This avoids the likelihood of having two devices with the same router ID. l For routing over an IPsec tunnel, assign IP addresses to both ends of the tunnel.

Advanced routing

Use the following best practices for advanced routing when dealing with Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) and Open Shortest Path First (OSPF).

Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)

If you are using BGP, it is recommended that you enable soft-reconfiguration. This has two benefits:

l It allows you to perform ‘soft clear’ of peers after a change is made to a BGP policy. l It provides greater visibility into the specific prefixes learned from each neighbor.

Leave soft-reconfiguration disabled if your FortiGate does not have much unused memory. Soft-reconfiguration requires keeping separate copies of prefixes received and advertised, in addition to the local BGP database.

Open Shortest Path First (OSPF)

  • Avoid use of passive interfaces wherever possible. l Avoid use of virtual links to connect areas. All areas should be designed to connect directly to the backbone area.
  • Ensure that all backbone routers have a minimum of two peering connections to other backbone neighbors. l An entire OSPF domain should be under common administration.

Network Address Translation (NAT)

  • Beware of misconfiguring the IP Pool range. Double-check the start and end IPs of each IP pool. The IP pool should not overlap with addresses assigned to FortiGate interfaces or to any hosts on directly connected networks.
  • If you have internal and external users accessing the same servers, use split DNS to offer an internal IP to internal users so that they don’t have to use the external-facing VIP.

Configuring NAT

Do not enable NAT for inbound traffic unless it is required by an application. If, for example, NAT is enabled for inbound SMTP traffic, the SMTP server might act as an open relay.

Transparent Mode

  • Do not connect two ports to the same VLAN on a switch or to the same hub. Some Layer 2 switches become unstable when they detect the same MAC address originating on more than one switch interface or from more than one VLAN.
  • If you operate multiple VLANs on your FortiGate unit, assign each VLAN id to its own forwarding domain to ensure that the scope of the broadcast does not extend beyond the VLAN it originated in.

To protect against Layer 2 loops:

  • Enable stpforward on all interfaces. l Use separate VDOMs for production traffic (TP mode VDOM) and management traffic (NAT/Route mode VDOM).
  • Only place those interfaces used for production in the TP mode VDOM. Place all other interfaces in the NAT/Route mode VDOM. This protects against potential Layer 2 loops.

Using Virtual IPs (VIPs)

  • Use the external IP of when creating a VIP for a FortiGate unit where the external interface IP address is dynamically assigned.
  • Be sure to select the correct external interface when creating a new virtual IP (VIP). The external interface should be set to the interface at which the FortiGate unit receives connection requests from external networks.