Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Deploy BIG-IP VE in AWS

Cloud is all the rage these days as it has matured into a bona fide, viable option to deploy your applications. While attractive, you may also want to apply, mimic or sync your traditional data center policies like high availability, scalability and predictability in the cloud.

Here we’ll walk through how to create a simple single NIC (sometimes called “one ARM”) instance of BIG-IP VE in the Amazon Web Services console.

Open the AWS management console and click VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) to dive right into the VPC wizard and create a simple, single public subnet VPC.

Give it a name, accept the other defaults and click Create VPC. When it creates a VPC, it also creates a security group for the VPC. There we’ll want to check some of the rules associated with the security group.

You may also want to update the Name tag field so you can more easily find your group going forward.

The source can be the security group itself or you can replace with a specific IP range. While not the safest, here we’re allowing all traffic. You can also edit the outbound rules if needed.

Next, for our application server, we’ll want to create an EC2 instance of a Microsoft Windows machine with a webpage on it in the VPC. The location of your application server is up to you. For this article, you can see we’ve created an application server with a private IP address along with a corresponding public IP address. You don’t need the public address unless you need to connect directly to the app server.

Next we’ll want to deploy an instance of BIG-IP in the VPC. We’ll search the Marketplace for BIG-IP hourly but you can also use your current BIG-IP license in a Bring Your Own License scenario. There are various throughput limits and BIG-IP module bundles so choose what’s appropriate for your situation. (See this doc for more info on recommended instances)

We’ll choose our region and click continue and then Launch.

We’ll then want to select an instance type and when we get to the Instance Details screen, we’ll choose the VPC and subnet we created earlier. You can make more adjustments here or simply accept the auto-assign defaults.

We’ll move through the Storage step and hit the Add Tags spot and give it a name value, like BIG-IP VE1. Often it is just a simple name so you can find it in the list of instances.

Next we select the existing security group we created or we can create a new one. Since the one we created was wide open, you could create one that allows only port 22 (for SSH), port 443 (for web application/virtual server traffic), and 8443 (for management/Config utility access).

Once that’s done we’ll click launch and select our key pair. You’ll use the key pair when you use SSH to connect to BIG-IP VE.

We get the status page as it launches. The one thing to remember is to allocate an elastic public IP so the BIG-IP instance can hit the license server for verification. You can also use that public IP to connect to the config utility and as the Virtual server address. Once the BIG-IP instance is up and running, you can’t access it until you’ve connected and set a strong admin password. You can do this with PuTTy and the key (Connection > SSH >Auth).

Once we’ve locked it down with a strong password, we’ll use the public IP and take a look at the Config utility which allows us to manage our BIG-IP. Using the new password, now we’re able to start the BIG-IP setup wizard like you would any other BIG-IP. That public IP will be the target to serve traffic to the application through BIG-IP.

From here, you can also update management ports, provision modules, and of course, create the virtual server(s) and pools for your application.

Go back to the AWS console, get the private address of the webserver and that becomes the resource address for your pool.

Same thing for the virtual server. Go to AWS, grab the BIG-IP private address (as opposed to the webserver above) and that is what you enter for the virtual server.

Finish the other resource settings, including the appropriate pool and the virtual server is live and visitors can now enjoy the application. We can add whatever services and profiles we need for a fast, available and secure application.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lightboard Lessons: What is MQTT?

The mad dash to connect virtually every noun to the internet or The Internet of Things, is creating a massive M2M network for all the devices, systems, sensors and actuators to connect & communicate on the Internet.

With that, they need a communications protocol to understand each other. One of those is Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT). MQTT is a “subscribe and publish” messaging protocol designed for lightweight machine-to-machine (or IoT) communications.

In this episode of Lightboard Lessons, I light up how MQTT works.



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

OK 2017, Now What?

The Year of the (Fire) Rooster will soon be upon us and the talkative, outspoken, frank, open, honest, and loyal Rooster could influence events in 2017. Whether you were born under the symbol or not, Roosters strive on trust and responsibility, essential for any organization especially in these times.

2016 (Year of the Monkey) brought us a crazy year of high profile breaches, a 500% increase in ransomware, a 0-day per day and slick malware each looking to cause havoc on all parts of society including your mobile device. The monkey’s shenanigans exhausted many of us in 2016 and 2017 will require some quick thinking and practical solutions to battle the ongoing, ever-growing threats.

A year ago I noted, Mobility, both the state of being and the devices we use, will continue to grow and be an immense enabler and/or inhibitor for organizations. Today, we are the devices, controllers and data generators and we’re interacting, even socially, with a growing list of robots and objects. Security continues to flummox folks both from a development standpoint – talking to you IoT manufacturers – and from a purely personal realm. The more connected devices we have in and around our lives, homes and offices the more opportunities for the bad guys to take advantage.

This is sure to continue as our digital, software-defined lives connect and intersect with the things around us. We’ll likely see a number of significant IoT security discussions coming out of CES this week too with cars and robots the starring attraction this year.

And as our lives – personal and professional – continue to be chronicled on the internet, the various thieves, nation states, and activists will continue to be one step ahead, probing data and looking for that golden slab of info. Making money, causing disruptions, or orchestrating outright take-downs through online attacks are big motivations for those seeking notoriety or simply a big score. But it’s not always from the crook or spy half a globe away. Insider threats, malicious or not, have made traditional concepts of the perimeter almost useless.

Here at DevCentral, our community is ready to help you through many of your most challenging application delivery endeavors this year. Like the rooster, we aim to be open and honest about how to accomplish a task with BIG-IP...including when it cannot do something.  In recent weeks we’ve posted mitigations for Mirai bots, the recent PHP 0-days, along with a bunch of iControlREST solutions and an excellent article from Kevin Stewart about TLS Fingerprinting. And we look forward to answering your most perplexing BIG-IP questions. Also our very own Jason Rahm passed his Exam 201 - TMOS Administration so make sure you hit him up for some of your harder questions. The rest of the team will be looking to take the F5 Certified 201 sometime this quarter.

While trends like cloud, mobility, IoT, DevOps and big data will consume your attention, securing those trends and how they map to business objectives will come to roost in 2017 and DevCentral is here to help. Let’s try to be smart, practical, open and honest about our challenges and guard against the vain, boastful and attention grabbing bad guys trying to get the best of us.

The 2017 Rooster arrives January 28, 2017 and we’ll need to be prepared and stay calm when the proverbial fan starts spinning.



*Rooster Image courtesy: http://astrologyclub.org/

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Blog Roll 2016

It’s that time of year when we gift and re-gift, just like this text from last year. And the perfect opportunity to re-post, re-purpose and re-use all my 2016 entries.

After 12 years at F5, I had a bit of a transition in 2016, joining the amazing DevCentral team in February as a Sr. Solution Developer. You may have noticed a much more technical bent since then…hopefully. We completed our 101 Certification Exam this year and will be shooting for the 201 next quarter. We started highlighting our community with Featured Member spotlight articles and I finally started contributing to the awesome LightBoard Lessons series. I also had ACDF surgery this year, which is why November is so light. Thanks to the team for all their support this year. You guys are the best!

If you missed any of the 53 attempts including 7 videos, here they are wrapped in one simple entry. I read somewhere that lists in articles are good. I broke it out by month to see what was happening at the time and let's be honest, pure self-promotion. I truly appreciate the reading and watching throughout 2016.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!


And a couple special holiday themed entries from years past.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Lightboard Lessons: SSO to Legacy Web Applications

IT organizations have a simple goal: make it easy for workers to access all their work applications from any device. But that simple goal becomes complicated when new apps and old, legacy applications do not authenticate in the same way.

In this Lightboard Lesson, I draw out how VMware and F5 helps remove these complexities and enable productive, any-device app access. By enabling secure SSO to Kerberos constrained delegation (KCD) and header-based authentication apps, VMware Workspace ONE and F5 BIG-IP APM help workers securely access all the apps they need—mobile, cloud and legacy—on any device anywhere.



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

F5 DevCentral Asks, ‘How Can We Help in 2017?’

Back in 2003, DevCentral was one of the early/first corporate social media sites dedicated to serving, sharing, supporting and engaging our user community. Some 14 years later, we have MVPs, Featured Members and You all contributing to a lively, engaged community. We have some cool stuff planned for 2017 and we recently asked a few of our Featured Members what they’d like help with in 2017. They share their time, knowledge & tips with the community and we thought, what can we (the collective DevCentral ‘we’) offer back.

The question was: What do you think will be some of your biggest IT challenges in the coming year and how can the DevCentral community help you achieve your goals in 2017?

Here’s what they said:
Yann Desmarest (Innovation Center Manager, e-Xpert Solutions SA): My biggest IT challenges for the coming year will be API security, Oauth and OpenID Connect integration, Data Loss Prevention and CASB (Cloud Access Security Brokers). Through DevCentral, I hope to get resources, code and articles that guide me in the right direction to solve those challenges. I would love to get more dissections of known attacks (DDoS, ransomware, etc.) by security researchers. Some BIG-IP ASM and APM hands-on virtual labs on tricky features along with some tutorials to integrate F5 products with Microsoft Office suite. One request is chat capabilities with DevCentral members to ask questions or interact for sharing feedback.

Koman Vijay Emarose (Network Architect, Rackspace): My team would like an article series from F5 Engineers sharing interesting support cases & solutions on how they resolved it. We’d also like some information around F5’s place within the world of network virtualization and public cloud. Some guidance on F5 supported and recommended automation platform (Ansible, Python, TCL, etc.) examples around usage would be great. Some of the automation works great for certain code versions yet not so much for other versions. F5’s stance on a specific automation tool would be helpful for us to devote our time and resource to master the automation tool. Lastly, some articles on new technologies including but not limited to, Network Virtualization, 5G, IoT and public cloud integration. 
Joel Newton (Senior DevOps System Engineer, SpringCM): We'd like to start thinking about architecting a solution that utilizes Windows containers, so I’d like to understand how best to configure and utilize our BIG-IP LTM devices in a container-based architecture. Maybe publish some research and/or examples from the F5 lab of what F5 folks have done with Windows containers would be cool.
I know the DevCentral team has some ideas and if you’d like to engage with Joel, Vijay or Yann, please reach out to them…or post a comment here.

Finally, we’re conducting a site survey on DevCentral and would appreciate your feedback. If you get a pop-up that looks like:

Please give your feedback on 8 simple questions. Should easily take less than 5 minutes and helps us, help you.


The DevCentral Team

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Top 10, Top 10 Predictions for 2017

The time of year when crystal balls get a viewing and many pundits put out their annual predictions for the coming year. Rather than thinking up my own, I figured I’d regurgitate what many others are expecting to happen.

8 Predictions About How the Security Industry Will Fare in 2017 – An eWeek slideshow looking at areas like IoT, ransomware, automated attacks and the security skills shortage in the industry. Chris Preimesberger (@editingwhiz), who does a monthly #eweekchat on twitter, covers many of the worries facing organizations.

10 IoT Predictions for 2017 – IoT was my number 1 in The Top 10, Top 10 Predictions for 2016 and no doubt, IoT will continue to cause havoc. People focus so much on the ‘things’ themselves rather than the risk of an internet connection. This list discusses how IoT will grow up in 2017, how having a service component will be key, the complete mess of standards and simply, ‘just because you can connect something to the Internet doesn’t mean that you should.’

10 Cloud Computing Trends to Watch in 2017 - Talkin' Cloud posts Forrester’s list of cloud computing predictions for 2017 including how hyperconverged infrastructures will help private clouds get real, ways to make cloud migration easier, the importance (or not) of megaclouds, that hybrid cloud networking will remain the weakest link in the hybrid cloud and that, finally, cloud service providers will design security into their offerings. What a novel idea.

2017 Breach Predictions: The big one is inevitable – While not a list, per se, NetworkWorld talks about how we’ll see more intricate, complex and undetected data integrity attacks and for two main reasons: financial gain and/or political manipulation. Political manipulation? No, that’ll never happen. NW talks about how cyberattacks will get worse due to IoT and gives some ideas on how to protect your data in 2017.

Catastrophic botnet to smash social media networks in 2017 – At the halfway point the Mirai botnet rears its ugly head and ZDNet explains how Mirai is far from the end of social media disruption due to botnets. With botnets-for-hire now available, there will be a significant uptick in social media botnets which aim not only to disrupt but also to earn money for their operators in 2017. Splendid.

Torrid Networks’ Top 10 Cyber Security Predictions For 2017Dhruv Soi looks at the overall cyber security industry and shares that many security product companies will add machine learning twist to their products and at the same time, there will be next-gen malware with an ability to bypass machine learning algorithms. He also talks about the fast adoption of Blockchain, the shift towards mobile exploitation and the increase of cyber insurance in 2017.

Fortinet 2017 Cybersecurity Predictions: Accountability Takes the Stage - Derek Manky goes in depth with this detailed article covering things like how IoT manufacturers will be held accountable for security breaches, how attackers will begin to turn up the heat in smart cities and if technology can close the gap on the critical cyber skills shortage. Each of his 6 predictions include a detailed description along with risks and potential solutions.

2017 Security Predictions – CIO always has a year-end prediction list and this year doesn’t disappoint. Rather than reviewing the obvious, they focus on things like Dwell time, or the interval between a successful attack and its discovery by the victim. In some cases, dwell times can reach as high as two years! They also detail how passwords will eventually grow up, how the security blame game will heat up and how mobile payments, too, will become a liability. Little different take and a good read.

Predictions for DevOps in 2017 – I’d be remiss if I didn’t include some prognosis about DevOps - one of the most misunderstood terms and functions of late. For DevOps, they will start to include security as part of development instead of an afterthought, we’ll see an increase in the popularity of containerization solutions and DZone sees DevOps principals moving to mainstream enterprise rather than one-off projects.

10 top holiday phishing scams – While many of the lists are forward-looking into the New Year, this one dives into the risks of the year end. Holiday shopping. A good list of holiday threats to watch out for including fake purchase invoices, scam email deals, fake surveys and shipping status malware messages begging you to click the link. Some advice: Don’t!
Bonus Prediction!
Top 10 Most Popular Robots to Buy in 2017 – All kinds of robots are now entering our homes and appearing in society. From vacuums to automated cars to drones to digital assistants, robots are interacting with us more than ever. While many are for home use, some also help with the disabled or help those suffering from various ailments like autism, a stroke or even a missing limb. They go by many monikers like Asimo, Spot, Moley, Pepper, Jibo and Milo to name a few.

Are you ready for 2017?

If you want to see if any of the previous year’s prognoses came true, here ya go: