Protocol Fixup

PIX uses protocol fixup to deal with special behaviors, exhibited by certain protocols, that cannot be dealt with by the ASA in its normal mode of operation. You saw an example of this in the section "Multimedia Support". Another example of such protocol behavior is exhibited by FTP. Active FTP requires that after the client has initiated a connection to the server (a command session), the server should connect to the client (a data session) using a different port number combination than the one the client used to initiate the connection.

The server initiates this connection on its own rather than respond back to the initial connection the client has opened. Assuming that the client is sitting behind a PIX firewall, this requires the PIX to find out the new port number on which the server would connect to the client. PIX finds out this port by listening to the initial conversation between the client and the server taking place on the command session connection initiated by the client. Then the PIX sets up a translation if one is required and opens a hole in the firewall for the packets to go through to the client sitting on the inside. This requires special handling and is called 'ftp protocol fixup'. The fixup protocol command allows the PIX administrator to change the port number that the PIX looks for to start this special handling procedures. For example, using the fixup protocol ftp 2021 command, PIX can be forced to monitor port 2021 to tell it to start using the special ftp fixup procedures. Please note that Passive FTP requires the client to initiate the command connection as well as the subsequent data connection. This eliminates the need for the firewall to be aware of the ftp negotiations taking place and the subsequent special handling.

Other protocols supported by the PIX fixup are HTTP, SMTP, RSH, SQLNET, and H.323.

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