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Extending the Life of Forefront TMG 2010 with Zscaler Cloud Based Security

September 16, 2013 6 comments

Forefront TMG End of Life

With the end of life announcement for Microsoft Forefront TMG 2010, one of the most common questions I am asked is “What should I replace my Forefront TMG firewall with?” Many are surprised when I reply “Why do you want to replace it?” Simply because Forefront TMG will not be developed in the future does not mean there’s an immediate need to replace it. Considering the fact that Forefront TMG mainstream support extends until April 2015, and extended support lasts until April 2020, often the decision to replace TMG is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to marketing pressure by vendors of competing solutions.

Do You Need to Replace Forefront TMG 2010 Now?

If you have deployed Forefront TMG 2010 as a firewall, basic forward or reverse web proxy, or remote access or site-to-site VPN, there is no need to replace Forefront TMG 2010 right now. All of the features used in these deployment scenarios will continue to function in to perpetuity. You have until April 2020 to find a replacement for Forefront TMG, which should give you plenty of time to consider alternative solutions. However, if you have deployed Forefront TMG as a secure web gateway, the situation is a little different. Although support for the product extends until April 2020, the Web Protection Service (WPS) subscription will only function until the end of 2015. This means that URL filtering reputation database updates, antimalware signatures, and Network Inspection System (NIS) signatures will no longer be updated past this time. Not to worry, there are some excellent cloud-based security solutions that can be integrated with Forefront TMG 2010 to effectively extend the life of TMG for the foreseeable future.

Extending the Life of Forefront TMG 2010 with Zscaler

Recently I had the opportunity to evaluate the Zscaler Cloud-based security solution. Zscaler provides security-as-a-service and integrates seamlessly with Forefront TMG to provide essential web security protection with URL filtering, dynamic web content control, virus and malicious software scanning, HTTPS inspection capabilities, and more. The Zscaler security solution provides significantly more protection than the native Forefront TMG technologies offer. There are also tremendous economies of scale to be gained by using this cloud-based security solution, as Zscaler has more than 4000 enterprise customers in 180 countries, servicing more than 10 million users globally. The threat intelligence gained from having such a broad view of Internet activity worldwide enables Zscaler to quickly identify emerging threats on a global basis and extend protection to all of its customers quickly and effectively.

Zscaler Integration with Forefront TMG 2010

Integrating an on-premises Forefront TMG firewall with the Zscaler cloud is accomplished without having to install a plug-in on the TMG firewall. On-premises web traffic is delivered to the Zscaler cloud service by Forefront TMG through the use of web proxy chaining rules. After you’ve signed up for the service, simply configure a web proxy chaining rule to forward web proxy requests from Forefront TMG to the Zscaler cloud proxy gateways.

Forefront TMG 2010 Zscaler Web Proxy Chaining Configuration

Forefront TMG 2010 Zscaler Web Proxy Chaining Configuration

Zscaler Protection for Mobile Users

The Zscaler solution has some additional advantages over Forefront TMG’s native web protection mechanisms. With a cloud-based solution, Zscaler’s protection can also be extended transparently to mobile users, keeping them safe regardless of where they are. Zscaler has more than 100 datacenters worldwide, ensuring quick response times and low latency wherever the mobile user happens to be. Integrating individual clients can be done using proxy PAC files to route traffic to Zscaler’s datacenters. Additionally there is an option to install an agent on the client to forward traffic, which has the benefit of preventing the end user from disabling proxy settings to bypass content filtering restrictions.

Forefront TMG 2010 and Zscaler – Better Together

You may be asking yourself “Why not just use Zscaler exclusively? Why do I need TMG at all?” Valid question! Integrating Zscaler with Forefront TMG provides the best of both worlds in terms of security and performance. With Forefront TMG 2010 on premises, you have a Common Criteria-certified enterprise-class firewall to provide the highest level of security for your network. You can leverage strong user and group-based authentication, and you gain the added benefit of local caching for web content. In addition, you can make use of Forefront TMG 2010’s other features like multi-networking to create perimeter or DMZ networks for isolating public-facing services, reverse proxy for on-premises web-based and non-web based applications and services, remote access VPN for managed and non-managed mobile users, and site-to-site VPN to connect remote offices, business partners, or cloud service providers.

Forefront TMG End of Sale? Not Quite!

Although Microsoft is committed to supporting Forefront TMG 2010 for many years to come, they are no longer selling Forefront TMG 2010 licenses or the Web Protection Service (WPS) subscription licenses. If you’ve already deployed Forefront TMG 2010, or have already purchased Forefront TMG processor licenses and the WPS subscription, you have nothing to worry about. If you’re looking to deploy Forefront TMG 2010 today, you can’t purchase licenses for the software from Microsoft. However, you can still obtain Forefront TMG 2010 through a Microsoft OEM partner like Celestix Networks. (Full disclosure: Celestix Networks is my current employer.)

Keep Calm and Carry On

In my estimation, you can safely deploy or keep Forefront TMG 2010 in your environment and still gain a healthy return on your investment for many years to come. If you’re using Forefront TMG for publishing services such as Outlook Web App (OWA) or SharePoint, or you’re leveraging client-based remote access or site-to-site VPN, you have nothing to worry about. If you’re using Forefront TMG as a secure web gateway, you can enhance and extend the solution by using Zscaler’s cloud-based security solution for less than you would have paid for the Microsoft WPS subscription. No need to go out and replace your Forefront TMG 2010 solution for quite a few more years! If you are considering a new deployment, you can still purchase Forefront TMG 2010 from Microsoft OEM partners like Iron Networks. So Keep Calm and Deploy Forefront TMG 2010 today!

Keep Calm and Deploy Forefront TMG 2010!

Win a Copy of Windows Server 2012 Security from End to Edge and Beyond

As many of you know, I recently joined the team at Iron Networks to work more closely with DirectAccess and to be involved with some of their exciting new solutions for enabling the Microsoft private cloud. I was noticing that they don’t have much of a following on Twitter yet, so in an effort to change that I’m announcing a Twitter contest! This Friday, May 31, I will select one individual who is following both me and Iron Networks on Twitter and send you a free copy of Tom and Deb Shinder and Yuri Diogenes’ latest book entitled “Windows Server 2012 Security from End to Edge and Beyond”. I had the privilege of serving as the book’s technical reviewer and I can tell you it is an excellent reference that you’ll want to have in your library. So go out and follow me and Iron Networks for a chance to win!

Iron Networks

Windows Server 2012 Security from End to Edge and Beyond

Windows Server 2012 Security Book

January 11, 2013 Comments off

Great news! Windows Server 2012 Security from End to Edge and Beyond is now available for pre-order! Yuri Diogenes along with Tom and Deb Shinder are the authors of this forthcoming title from Syngress Publishing which covers architecting, designing, planning, and deploying Windows Server 2012 security solutions. I have the privilege of serving as the technical reviewer of the book and I can tell you from experience it will be a vital reference that anyone working with Windows Server 2012 will want to have in their library. Pre-order your copy today!

Windows Server 2012 Security from End to Edge and Beyond

Forefront TMG and UAG 2010 Presentation at TechEd North America 2012

June 19, 2012 Comments off

For those of you who were not able to attend Microsoft TechEd North America 2012 this year, the session I presented entitled “Demystifying Microsoft Forefront Edge Security Solutions: TMG and UAG” is now available online. Enjoy!

Forefront TMG and UAG Presentation at TechEd North America 2012

Forefront TMG 2010 Account Lockout Feature for FBA

Consider a scenario in which you have published your Exchange 2010 Outlook Web App servers using Forefront TMG 2010 and are using Active Directory or LDAP authentication along with Forms-based Authentication (FBA). In an effort to gain access to the system, an attacker may perform a brute force password attack by either manual or programmatic means. The attacker will attempt to guess the password for a given user until they reach the configured account lockout threshold as defined in Active Directory. Once this happens, the attacker will have to wait for the password to unlock automatically or be unlocked by an administrator depending on your security policy. Effectively this results in a Denial of Service (DoS) because the legitimate user is unable to authenticate when this happens.

To address this concern, Forefront TMG SP2 includes a feature that allows administrators to enforce an account lockout policy on the Forefront TMG firewall itself. When configured with thresholds lower than those configured in Active Directory, this feature provides valuable protection from DoS that result from unsuccessful password guessing attempts. To enable this feature, install Forefront TMG 2010 SP2, and then follow these detailed instructions.

ESET Gateway Security Beta for Forefront TMG 2010

February 2, 2012 Comments off

For security administrators looking to improve upon Forefront TMG 2010’s already strong advanced web protection features, leading anti-virus vendor ESET recently announced the beta availability of its Gateway Security for Forefront TMG 2010 software. ESET Gateway Security for Forefront TMG delivers advanced, gateway-integrated virus and malicious software scanning to provide comprehensive protection for web-based protocols like HTTP and FTP. ESET Gateway Security for Forefront TMG also supports SMTP, IMAP, and POP3 protocols to provide anti-malware and anti-spam capabilities for added protection. In addition, ESET Gateway Security for Forefront TMG 2010 includes host-based security for the TMG firewall’s underlying operating system, as well as automatic file exclusion configuration to ensure compatibility with Forefront TMG. ESET Gateway Security for Forefront TMG 2010 is fully compatible with existing ESET centralized management tools and supports Microsoft ISA Server 2006. Download the beta today!

ESET Gateway Security Beta for Forefront TMG 2010

Updating SQL Server on Forefront TMG 2010

November 28, 2011 Comments off

Keeping the base operating system of your Forefront TMG 2010 firewall up to date is vitally important to the overall security of your edge security solution. To manage system updates, many administrators will configure their Forefront TMG 2010 firewalls to use Windows Update or WSUS, or manage them using System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or another third-party systems management platform.

In my experience, SQL server running on the Forefront TMG 2010 firewall is often overlooked and commonly not updated. I believe this happens because updates for SQL server are classified as optional.

So, as a reminder, don’t overlook updates for SQL server on Forefront TMG 2010 firewalls or UAG 2010 servers! Using the Windows Update control panel application, select the option to install the latest service pack for Microsoft SQL Server 2008, which at the time of this writing is Service Pack 3. You can install the service pack directly if you choose; SQL Server 2008 Express SP3 can be downloaded here. After applying the latest service pack you can confirm that SQL has been updated by opening an elevated command prompt and entering the following commands:

osql -E -S .\msfw

select @@version [press enter]
go [press enter]

The output of the command should indicate that the installed SQL version is Microsoft SQL Server 2008 (SP3) – 10.0.5500.0 (X64).

Note: Applying service packs and updates to SQL is highly recommended to maintain the most secure Forefront TMG 2010 firewall possible. Upgrading the version of SQL installed on the TMG firewall is not supported and definitely not recommended, so don’t attempt to upgrade to SQL Server 2008 R2 Express.