“Hey Juniper, How’s the security state of my network?”

“Hey Juniper, How’s the security state of my network?”

Most of us probably have asked Siri, Alexa, Google some questions and answers over the past years; Smart assistants are one of those new interactions. And honestly, not that many questions you asked were probably related to networks, were they? And yet, after hearing Juniper present at Security Field Day 3, these type of questions might in the near future become a normal way to allow you to interact with the network. Sounds like something from Star Trek, and is just science fiction? I beg to differ for a number of reasons. 

Before I dive into Juniper’s security strategy, let’s first review the current state of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) as a concept. To do that, I will explain what happens when you ask Siri to do something or a question like what is the date?.  

First of all, after you’ve asked the question, that audio bit (which is just a record of frequencies) is guessed into a sentence. It is a form of translation, where Machine Learning is used to do well-calculated guesses in what kind of word you tried to pronounce. And I can tell you that if English is not your native tongue, some weird word-guesses come out.


Once there is a digital sentence, another process is used to narrow down your digital sentence into a single pattern-matched result. This allows you to say things like “create a meeting on date X, Y or z”.
The model uses the pattern “create a meeting” for the match and the other values are stored in variables.

After a pattern has been matched, the code corresponding to that pattern is executed. The result of that code will be a string/sentence. That sentence is then being translated to audio using Text-To-Speech and read out loud to you.

This is a perfect flow for a single sentence / command /question. But many of these smart assistents start to show real issues once you start to create related questions, like you can do with a toddler.  And that is because the flow I described above does not have that much space for relaying context between flows. So most models in these smart assistents are built / designed for a single task, and if you put them in sequence, it appears as if the assistent is “smart”. But it is not (yet).

Yes, developments go fast, and I heard last year in San Jose a great story of self-learning models and also the core faults that are inside these models because of the way the models are designed and built. But that is a completely other discussion. 

But if AI/ML is not that far ahead yet, how would you then be able to ask Juniper about the security state of the network? That how is one of the things Juniper told at Security Field Day 3.

They leverage the power of AI/ML (and that is to have more answers than just a yes or now) in their security solutions for only a predefined, supervised, set of options. Juniper uses models (they call them supervised models) to analyse metadata about the flows in your network to detect malware and other anomalies in your network, just like other network and security vendors have done. Juniper has adopted AI/ML on detecting anomalies or other weird behaviour on your network. And that can help you a lot in gaining more visibility and control in your network.

Because with everything connected to the network, increased security by leveraging encryption, more data in the cloud, we as a human are reaching our limits in finding anomalies or odd behaviors by hand. A simple computer, using a properly tuned model, can find those anomalies much faster. And because that model does that, you can focus on determining whether that anomaly is really an anomaly of yet another new application on the network.

And if you would trust those reports blindly, you can of course automate actions, but personally I am always careful with those. Suppose it is the CEO’s smartphone, you might want to call the CEO first before you throw him off the network.

Personally I do believe firmly in that AI/ML can help you in your daily job in finding those odd behaviors that without them you’d never be able to spot and help you in providing a better, smoother, more stable and secure network. But you do need to keep in mind that it is still a computer that presents you information from a lot of data and that presentation will be biased.

But definitely a good thing that Juniper has started to embrace that principle across their portfolio. 
That can bring them quite a bit.

And to be able to ask Juniper about the security state of the network? That would be not that hard to implement, because JunOS has API’s from the start. Just build an application and integrate it with existing API’s for smart assistents. If you want to see a demo, just watch this video taken from a presentation where I asked Siri how many clients were connected to the network.

FDM Application fails after upgrade

FDM Application fails after upgrade

This is just a quick blog post for those that might have FDM issues after upgrading your FTD software.

I have recently updated my Firepower appliance from 6.5.0 to One of the reasons to update is not only that 6.5.0 is a .0 release, but also that I noticed some failed rule-update deployments that set snort to block all traffic.

Unfortunately, after upgrading, FDM reported an error that it could not be launched with an application failure error. The suggested action was to remove the manager, add a new local manager and begin from scratch. This is the error: “The Firepower Device Manager application cannot be opened. Please try again”

While googling for a possible caveat of this behavior on, I came across a caveat in 6.2.3 that has the same behavior. 

That caveat has supported me in fixing my solution. What I did was executing the following commands:


Basically, you go into expert mode, find the tomcat directory used for FDM and then remove a status file and try to restart it.

With me, this worked and helped me get back access to FDM. Should you run into issues with FDM after an upgrade, this “hack” might help you.

Disclaimer: You are entering expert mode of FTD, it means you can DESTROY your FTD configuration and box. Be aware of what you are doing and make sure you have a backup. 

Upgrading Firepower1010 to 6.5

Upgrading Firepower1010 to 6.5

The Cisco FirePower 1010 appliance (FP1010, successor to the ASA5506 which can run FTD 6.3 and higher) has finally become available. As I am relocating to a new home, it was time to replace my trusty 5506-X with the FP1010 and get a new fresh start with FTD. Since FTD 6.5 is just out, and it enables the switchports on the FP1010, it was time to upgrade the appliance. In this post I will share my method of upgrading the FP1010 to the latest version, 6.5. 

Time to get started with the upgrade. In this blog post I assume the FP1010 appliance has never been booted and has just been unboxed. You need to have the following items

  • Laptop with FTP/SCP/SFTP server (TFTP is possible, I had issues with USB); I used my MacBookPro for this
  • Laptop connected to the management interface of the FP1010
  • The upgrade image, in my case: cisco-ftd-fp1k.6.5.0-115.SPA

Once you have everything ready, the following steps can be used to upgrade the FP1010 appliance:

Firepower architecture

Firepower appliances are really a different platform to the trusty old ASA platform. One of the architectural differences is that the appliance is running FXOS as the operating system and the security services you want to run (FTD or ASA) are installed as an instance. I think the best to compare it with is VMWare and running virtual services. FXOS looks a lot in its command set to the NFVIS operating system that runs on the ENCS series. It is based on the UCS platform and uses quite a different CLI then you are familiar with in the ASA world. 

The larger appliances (FP4100 and FP9300) FXOS and the security instances are separated, which means that you first configure FXOS and then you can load the security instance on it. The smaller Firepower appliances, such as the FP2100, FP1100 and the FP1000 series have FXOS and the security instance bundled in a single release. This means that you always run a specific FXOS system with a specific ASA or FTD version.

1.  Connect the console of the FP1010 to the laptop and power on the appliance
2.  Connect a network cable from the mgmt interface to your laptop

3.  Wait until the FP1010 is booted. Once it’s booted, the console will show:


4.  Type the command “connect ftd” and run through the initial setup wizard. If you do not accept the EULA and run through the setup, somehow the network is not working as expected and you cannot download the software. And yes, that took me some hours to figure out…

You must accept the EULA to continue.Press <ENTER> to display the EULA:
End User License Agreement

Effective: May 22, 2017

*** SNIP***
Please enter 'YES' or press  to AGREE to the EULA: YES

System initialization in progress.  Please stand by.
You must change the password for 'admin' to continue.
Enter new password:
Confirm new password:
You must configure the network to continue.
You must configure at least one of IPv4 or IPv6.
Do you want to configure IPv4? (y/n) [y]: y
Do you want to configure IPv6? (y/n) [n]: n
Configure IPv4 via DHCP or manually? (dhcp/manual) [manual]:
Enter an IPv4 address for the management interface []:
Enter an IPv4 netmask for the management interface []:
Enter the IPv4 default gateway for the management interface [data-interfaces]:
Enter a fully qualified hostname for this system [firepower]:
Enter a comma-separated list of DNS servers or 'none' [,]:
Enter a comma-separated list of search domains or 'none' []:
If your networking information has changed, you will need to reconnect.

Setting DNS servers:
No domain name specified to configure.
Setting hostname as firepower
DHCP server is enabled with pool: You may disable with configure network ipv4 dhcp-server-disable
Setting static IPv4: netmask: gateway: data on management0
Updating routing tables, please wait...
All configurations applied to the system. Took 3 Seconds.
Saving a copy of running network configuration to local disk.
For HTTP Proxy configuration, run 'configure network http-proxy'

Manage the device locally? (yes/no) [yes]: yes
Configuring firewall mode to routed

Update policy deployment information
    - add device configuration
Successfully performed firstboot initial configuration steps for Firepower Device Manager for Firepower Threat Defense.

5.  After the setup, the console will have a very empty prompt: “>” Now type exit The prompt will now look like firepower# 

6. This means you are now in FXOS , this looks like UCS CIMC software, so it is a bit different.
Enter the command scope firmware , the prompt will show

firepower /firmware
7. Check the IP address of your laptop and initiate the software download via the command structure

download image sftp://userid@iplaptop/path/to-image/cisco-ftd-fp1k.6.5.0-115.SPA

I have used

download image sftp://myuserid@

The console will now prompt for your password and then it will initiate a download task:

firepower /firmware # download image scp://myuserid@192.1687.45.46:/Users/myuserid/Downloads/cisco-ftd-fp1k.6.5.0-115.SPA
Please use the command 'show download-task' or 'show download-task detail' to check download progress.

You can use the “show download-task detail” to show the details, which has output like

Download task:
File Name: cisco-ftd-fp1k.6.5.0-115.SPA
Protocol: Sftp
Port: 0
Userid: myuserId
Path: /Users/myuserId/Downloads
Downloaded Image Size (KB): 59264
Time stamp: 2019-10-07T06:48:09.268
State: Downloading
Status: Downloading the image
Transfer Rate (KB/s): 29632.000000
Current Task: downloading image cisco-ftd-fp1k.6.5.0-115.SPA from 192.168.45

However, if there is a failure, it will only show “failed“. I found out that the command

show event provides much more information, but requires a bit decoding. The following output is from a successful download:
Creation Time            ID       Code     Description
------------------------ -------- -------- -----------
2019-10-07T06:48:09.269     27339 E4195702 [FSM:STAGE:END]: (FSM-STAGE:sam:dme:F
2019-10-07T06:48:09.269     27340 E4195703 [FSM:STAGE:END]: checking pending man
agement network config(FSM-STAGE:sam:dme:FirmwareDownloaderDownload:CheckPending
2019-10-07T06:48:09.269     27341 E4195704 [FSM:STAGE:ASYNC]: downloading image
cisco-ftd-fp1k.6.5.0-115.SPA from
But if there is a failure, it would look a bit more like this


2019-10-07T06:47:40.120     27329 E4195706 [FSM:STAGE:REMOTE-ERROR]: Result: end
-point-failed Code: ERR-DNLD-no-file Message: No such file#(sam:dme:FirmwareDown

It tells you it couldn’t find the file. The show event is quite handy.
Once the download is completed, the show detail command would look like this:

Download task:
    File Name: cisco-ftd-fp1k.6.5.0-115.SPA
    Protocol: Sftp
    Port: 0
    Userid: nefkensp
    Path: /Users/nefkensp/Downloads
    Downloaded Image Size (KB): 1031174
    Time stamp: 2019-10-07T06:48:09.268
    State: Downloading
    Status: validating and unpacking the image
    Transfer Rate (KB/s): 32224.187500
    Current Task: unpacking image cisco-ftd-fp1k.6.5.0-115.SPA on primary(FSM-ST

8.  Now that the software is downloaded, it is time to validate if the package is available. Use the command show package to check for that:

firepower /firmware # show package
Name Package-Vers
--------------------------------------------- ------------
cisco-ftd-fp1k.6.4.0-102.SPA 6.4.0-102
cisco-ftd-fp1k.6.5.0-115.SPA 6.5.0-115

9.  Now as the package is available, let’s install it. Go to the subscope auto-install:

firepower /firmware # scope auto-install
firepower /firmware/auto-install # 

10.  and install the package via the install security-pack version command:

firepower /firmware/auto-install # install security-pack version 6.5.0-115 
The system is currently installed with security software package 6.4.0-102, which has:
   - The platform version:
   - The CSP (ftd) version:
If you proceed with the upgrade 6.5.0-115, it will do the following:
   - upgrade to the new platform version
During the upgrade, the system will be reboot

Do you want to proceed ? (yes/no):yes

This operation upgrades firmware and software on Security Platform Components
Here is the checklist of things that are recommended before starting Auto-Install
(1) Review current critical/major faults
(2) Initiate a configuration backup

Do you want to proceed? (yes/no):yes

Triggered the install of software package version 6.5.0-115
Install started. This will take several minutes.
For monitoring the upgrade progress, please enter 'show' or 'show detail' command. 

11. Now let’s wait for the upgrade or use the “show” command to check the status:

firepower /firmware/auto-install # show

Firmware Auto-Install:
    Package-Vers Oper State                   Upgrade State
    ------------ ---------------------------- -------------
    6.5.0-115    Scheduled                    Ready
firepower /firmware/auto-install #

12.  And after waiting for some 20-30 minutes, FTD has been upgraded. Congratulations!