Network Address Translation in FortiOS (Part 2)

Configuring NAT in FortiOS

This article is a continuation of the introduction to Network Address Translation. Please see this link for the previous post.

FortiOS handles NAT in a way that traditionally different from other next generation firewall (NGFW) providers. In most cases, NGFWs maintain a separate NAT table and a separate access policy rule base. See the following example from the firewall vendor Checkpoint:

Figure. – Example from Checkpoint NAT Table
Figure. – Example from Checkpoint Firewall Access Rule Table

FortiOS default configuration is to combine both the NAT functions into the same rule as the access policies.

Figure. – Example from FortiOS IPv4 Access Rule

Due to this method, there is confusion when migrating to FortiOS from a different NGFW platform. To better understand the nuances associated with the default FortiOS method of applying NAT, I will illustrate some common use cases and configurations.

Source NAT (Overload)

FortiOS can translate the source IP address of a packet to either its outgoing interface IP address assigned to the firewall or to a dynamic IP pool object. Below is an example of an IPv4 Policy where the NAT policy dictates that the source IP address of matching traffic should be translated to the “Outgoing Interface Address” of the FortiGate.

Figure. – Screenshot of IPv4 Access policy with NAT Section highlighted
config firewall policy
    edit 1
        set name "default outbound"
         set srcintf "port2"
        set dstintf "port1"
        set srcaddr "n-internal"
        set dstaddr "all"
        set action accept
        set schedule "always"
        set service "ALL"
        set fsso disable
        set nat enable
    next
end

However, if the FortiOS administrator wishes to use a different IP address than that which is assigned to the FortiGate outgoing interface, an IP Pool object can be leveraged to specify the IP address to use.

Figure. – Example of IP Pool object creation
config firewall ippool
    edit "ippool_external_50.50.1.100"
        set startip 50.50.1.100
        set endip 50.50.1.100
    next
end

Please note: The “ARP Reply” setting will force the FortiGate to answer ARP requests for this IP address on any interface. Please make sure this is intended when assigning the IP address to the FortiGate.

After the creation of the IP Pool object, it can be referenced in the NAT section of the access rule.

Figure. – Screenshot of IPv4 Access policy with NAT Section referencing IP Pool
config firewall policy
    edit 1
        set name "default outbound"
         set srcintf "port2"
        set dstintf "port1"
        set srcaddr "n-internal"
        set dstaddr "all"
        set action accept
        set schedule "always"
        set service "ALL"
        set ippool enable
        set poolname "ippool_external_50.50.1.100"
        set fsso disable
        set nat enable
    next
end

Source NAT (One-to-one)

In the case where you want to map multiple hosts to their own respective corresponding public IP Addresses, IP pools can be leveraged. As part of the IP Pool definition, there is an option to specify “one-to-one”.

Figure. – Screenshot of IP Pool selection with one-to-one parameter configured
config firewall ippool
    edit "ippool_r-external_50.50.1.101-102"
        set type one-to-one
        set startip 50.50.1.101
        set endip 50.50.1.102
    next
end

It is important to note to create an address object that corresponds to the exact number of IP addresses defined in the IP Pool. This will allow for this function to operate in a predictable manner.

Figure. – Screenshot showing address object with range of two IP addresses
config firewall address
    edit "r-internal"
        set type iprange
        set start-ip 10.4.93.20
        set end-ip 10.4.93.21
    next
end

Once this parameter has been configured, a corresponding IPv4 Access rule referencing this object can be created.

config firewall policy
    edit 1
        set name "default outbound"
        set srcintf "port2"
        set dstintf "port1"
        set srcaddr "n-internal"
        set dstaddr "all"
        set action accept
        set schedule "always"
        set service "ALL"
        set ippool enable
        set poolname "ippool_r-external_50.50.1.101-102"
        set fsso disable
        set nat enable
    next
end

Also, the FortiGate assigns the lowest source IP in the address object to the lowest IP address of the IP Pool and increments up from there. To illustrate this point, see the following example:

IP Pool Range: 50.50.1.101,50.50.1.102

Internal Hosts: 10.4.93.20, 10.4.93.21

IP address Mapping

Internal IPIP Pool
10.4.93.2050.50.1.101
10.4.93.2150.50.1.102
Figure. – Screenshot showing session table with mapping of Source NAT IP addresses

Destination NAT/Virtual IP (One-to-One)

FortiOS can translate the destination IP address of incoming packets to expose services and applications for hosts that are behind it. The most common method to accomplish this is via the Virtual IP method mapping an external IP address to an internal host behind the FortiGate.

As an example, suppose a webserver at IP address 10.9.43.20 is behind the FortiGate. To reach the webserver from the Internet, the FortiGate is configured with a Virtual IP to allow traffic sent to the IP address 50.50.1.103 to the internal webserver. The configuration to allow this would be as follows:

Figure. – Screenshot of Virtual IP configuration
config firewall vip
    edit "dnat_external_webserver"
        set extip 50.50.1.103
        set extintf "any"
        set mappedip "10.4.93.20"
    next
end

Once the Virtual IP has been configured, it is activated by using it within a firewall policy:

Figure. – Screenshot of IPv4 Policy with Virtual IP reference
config firewall policy
    edit 2
        set name "Inbound WebServer Access"
        set srcintf "port1"
        set dstintf "port2"
        set srcaddr "all"
        set dstaddr "dnat_external_webserver"
        set action accept
        set schedule "always"
        set service "HTTP" "HTTPS"
        set fsso disable
    next
end

By using the Virtual IP object within the firewall automatically activates the destination IP address translation. It is not required to enable “NAT” under the “Firewall / Network Options” section in most cases as that option is used to perform NAT on the source address. The common exception where you may want to enable “NAT” is when the host you are translating the IP address to does not have the FortiGate configured as its default gateway.

Destination NAT/Virtual IP (Port Forwarding)

FortiOS can examine the destination port of an incoming packet and based on that, perform a translation to a specific internal host behind the FortiGate. This is extremely useful from when there is a limited number of public facing IP addresses available to use but you want to expose multiple applications and services for different internal hosts.

As an example, suppose there are two internal webservers behind a FortiGate and the FortiGate only has one public address to use to expose their services. The FortiGate can be configured to allow port 50443 traffic to be redirected to 10.4.93.20 on port 443. Concurrently, it can allow port 51443 traffic to be redirected to 10.4.93.21 on port 443. A table of this example is as follows:

External IPExternal PortInternal IPInternal Port
50.50.1.1045044310.4.93.20443
50.50.1.1045144310.4.93.20443

The equivalent of this configuration in FortiOS is shown as follows:

Figure. – Screenshot of port forwarding rule with 50443
config firewall vip
    edit "dnat_webserver1"
        set extip 50.50.1.104
        set extintf "any"
        set portforward enable
        set mappedip "10.4.93.20"
        set extport 50443
        set mappedport 443
    next
end

The configuration above creates a Virtual IP port forwarding object that takes traffic destined to 50.50.1.104 on port 50443 and translates it to the internal web server at 10.4.993.20. As 50443 is not typically a well-known server port for web servers, the FortiGate translates the port to 443 so that the web server listening on that port can receive the traffic destined to it on the port that the application binds to.

Figure. – Screenshot of port forwarding rule with 51443
config firewall vip
    edit "dnat_webserver2"
        set extip 50.50.1.104
        set extintf "any"
        set portforward enable
        set mappedip "10.4.93.21"
        set extport 51443
        set mappedport 443
    next
end

Similar to the explanation above, the configuration above creates a Virtual IP port forwarding object that takes traffic destined to 50.50.1.104 on port 51443 and translates it to 10.4.93.21 on port 443.

Once the corresponding Virtual IP objects have been created, they can be added to a firewall rule as shown below:

Figure. – Firewall policy referencing port forwarding Virtual IP objects
config firewall policy
    edit 3
        set name "Inbound Web Port Forwarding"
        set srcintf "port1"
        set dstintf "port2"
        set srcaddr "all"
        set dstaddr "dnat_webserver1" "dnat_webserver2"
        set action accept
        set schedule "always"
        set service "HTTPS"
        set fsso disable
    next
end

Please note that in the definition of the firewall rule, it is only required to specify the “service” to match the translated port. This is why only “HTTPS” (TCP/443) is being referenced in the firewall object.

This topic is core to the foundation of the FortiGate deployment as many networks still require NAT today. Hopefully this serves as a good primer for those who may have come from a different NGFW and need clarification on how to use NAT in FortiOS. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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