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R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

As mentioned in the article Revisions Management in R80.x, I do have an informal writeup I use when teaching CCSA R80.10 that helps summarize how R80+ Change Control and Revisions are handled for the inevitable questions that arise in class.  This document is a sprucing up of those notes complete with some new screenshots.

Absolutely no way this document would have been possible without the incredible contributions of Tomer Sole and in particular these articles with content contributed by him:

How to revert a Policy or discard changes? 

Revisions Management in R80.x 

How do you rollback an old policy? 

What follows is merely a roll-up of Tomer's content from an operational perspective, with some new screenshots I have put together.  I hope you find it useful.

Part 1: What are you about to do?

You are in the process of making changes in the SmartConsole and are unsure (or have lost track of) what you have done due to one of your coworkers constantly interrupting you.  If still in an unpublished session, you can see what changes are pending by enabling the Session Pane (only available in R80.10+ management) like this:

This will create a new pane on the far right of the SmartConsole where you can see pending unpublished changes:

This information can be very helpful when deciding to publish or discard a session.  Another way to find pending unpublished rule changes in your current session is to look for "Edited" Access Control rules, indicated by default using a purple line in the Smart Scrollbar:

Smart Scrollbar changes

Note that the colored lines in the Smart Scrollbar will also by default show rule locks currently held by other administrators (dark grey) and search results (yellow) by default.  You can even make section titles (light grey) and a selected/highlighted rule (blue) show up as well:

Smart Scrollbar options

For more information about the Smart Scrollbar and some other great tips for efficiently navigating a large rulebase in the SmartConsole, see this post:

What are some of the tips and tricks for jumping between rules in the rulebase?

So you have now published your session and think you are ready to install policy to the gateway.  A very good habit to get into prior to installation is looking at how many changes you are about to make:

Along the top of the screen, you should ALWAYS look at how many sessions and by how many administrators will be part of what you are about to deploy on the gateway.  Note that this is the total number of changes made in the SMS config since policy was last installed to this particular gateway, and not every change counted here is necessarily part of this gateway's security configuration or will impact how it operates.  If you see sessions and changes that are unfamiliar or unexpected though, it is a very good idea to hit the View Changes button to see exactly what will be included:

Along the top of the screen is a summary of all the different published sessions whose changes will be included if you install policy to the gateway.  As shown above you can highlight one of those sessions, and then select the Audit Logs tab to see a very detailed list of exactly what changes were made in that particular highlighted session. 

Let's assume that everything looks OK and you proceed to install policy to the gateway.

Part 2: The Panic Button

Your phone is ringing nonstop, people are pounding on your door, and it has all gone horribly wrong!  Some very bad change got implemented when you pushed policy to the gateway at the end of the last section and it is impacting production traffic.  You need to fix what you did RIGHT NOW.  Thankfully the Installation History screen will be your savior in this case:

The first Installation Date shown above (1/15/2018) represents the most recent policy push (which is probably what messed everything up), just highlight one of the older installations below it, then click Install Specific Version like this:

When you hit Install, a previously installed known-good copy of the firewall policy will be installed and hopefully undo whatever bad change was installed to the gateway.  Note that doing this does not change any configurations shown to you in the SmartConsole, it ONLY changes what is installed on the gateway back to a good config that was previously installed.  If you hit the Install Specific Version "panic button", install the older policy to the gateway, then reinstall the current security policy again, you will be right back in the "panic" situation again!

So hopefully you have been able to halt the endless door pounding and phone ringing by hitting the "panic" button as shown.  You have bought yourself some time to now figure what boneheaded change was made by one of your coworkers (or you!) that caused this unfortunate situation to occur.

Part 3: The Investigation

While the Installation History screen is typically associated with "panic" reverts of gateway policies as shown in the last section, the View Installed Changes button on that same screen can be very handy for examining the specific changes in a suspect revision that came after the one you reverted to in the prior section:

To see even more information about a certain session, hit the View button which will bring up a read-only copy of the SmartConsole showing the exact state of the configuration after that particular highlighted session was published:

By this time you may have some suspicions that a certain policy layer and its rules may have been changed in a way that caused the "panic" situation to occur.  If so select the policy layer in question, then select Actions...History:

A nice concise list of all changes made in that policy layer in the various sessions is presented.  If you want to see the history of only a specific rule that you suspect is the culprit, simply highlight the rule and click its History tab:

You can also view all changes on the screen below if you aren't sure exactly where to look:

Suppose you have now identified a specific policy layer that was messed with and caused the panic situation to occur.  If there were a multitude of changes made and you don't want to manually back all of them out, you can Revert the policy layer configuration back to a specific point in time, thus discarding the changes made in one or more revisions like this:

In our example above we will be removing (or undo'ing) a total of 5 changes made in the two published sessions just above the one we selected.


Part 4: Your Final Option

If you still can't determine what changes caused the problem, your last ditch effort is to look at the raw system-wide Audit logs like this:

This technique was also possible in R77.30 with the Audit/Management tab of the SmartView Tracker.  The SmartWorkflow product also has some nice change reports in that version.

Hopefully you found this writeup useful, please let me know if you have any other change control techniques that were missed and I'll be happy to add them.  Thanks again to Tomer Sole‌!

--
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23 Replies

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Thanks Tim! I would be very interested to hear about VSX and revision control. Is it really all "under control" now with R80.x when you have VSes stretching across multiple CMAs? All routing and spoofing updates and object changes considered? Ability to roll back to revisions as far as 2000+? 

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Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

VSX is not really in my area of expertise, Tomer Sole should be able to weigh in though.

--
Second Edition of my "Max Power" Firewall Book
Now Available at http://www.maxpowerfirewalls.com

"IPS Immersion Training" Self-paced Video Class
Now Available at http://www.maxpowerfirewalls.com
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Danny
Pearl

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

I'm very interested as well about the status of MDSM with VSX regarding R80.x revision control.

This is where it is really important to function properly.

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Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

I'm really concerned as our MDS had 3000 odd revisions available over 9 months period - would it really work on VSX to roll back to version 1 (the earliest) considering that there has been number of interface and routing changes on top of regular rules. If not, what's the point having 3000 revisions and making code more complex and chewing resources that could be utilised for better purpose? I really think that one should be able to turn it off completely. There are other tools available to achieve the same result (i.e. Tufin)

Since management is becoming noticeably resource hungry all these little things start to add up and decrease user experience  - soon we will need management server performance optimisation book Tim - I only take 10% for the idea

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Thanks Tim,

This is really nice & Informative document.

I just want to know that when we click on History option, How many entry it will show. Means what is the limit of that we can get back to earlier config.

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Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

we had 1500+ revisions available on a busy CMA. That's since the first upgrade to R80 back in March 2017. If you discard VSX concerns then I guess you should be able to go back all the way. Theoretically Smiley Happy

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Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Hi everyone,

Does the "panic button" as described by Tim (install a previous revision on the gateway) satisfy the case that you described - overcoming VSX misconfiguration?

Also I would like to thank Tim Hall‌ for centralizing all these features in one visual guide Smiley Happy

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Hi Guarav,

It will show history back to when the SMS was first loaded/upgraded, unless you have purged prior sessions from the Manage & Settings...Revisions screen.  Note that purging revisions doesn't appear to actually free up any disk space on the SMS as shown by the df command, but presumably makes more storage space within the configuration database available.  Also just to be clear doing a purge does not roll back or undo changes in the purged sessions.

--
Second Edition of my "Max Power" Firewall Book
Now Available at http://www.maxpowerfirewalls.com

"IPS Immersion Training" Self-paced Video Class
Now Available at http://www.maxpowerfirewalls.com
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Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Ok Great.

If this is the case then at some point of time we need to free up the space. I which directory it stores History/ Revision database.

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Hi Gaurav, revisions are not stored in "directories" anymore. The new R80 backend uses native lightweight revisions based on the diff. Purge is available from the GUI. See How can I control the size of my R80.10 Security Management Server? 

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

They are stored now everywhere and nowhere Smiley Happy Revisions Management in R80.x

Revisions are now built-in in the database, describing different baselines of the database state.

Please take a look at other threads here:

Revisions Management in R80.x 

How can I control the size of my R80.10 Security Management Server? 

The revisions themselves are very light and only contain the delta diff (this is unlike pre-R80 Management servers where a revision was a zipped copy of the entire configuration). Either way, you can always open the Revisions view and purge older revisions.

In order to avoid an ever-growing database size, R80.10 Jumbo Hotfix take 42 and above introduces automatic IPS purge which deletes revisions older than 30 days. In R80.10 Jumbo Hotfix take 42 and above this purge happens automatically every 7 days. 

Admin
Admin

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Bravo, Tim!

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Hi Dirk! Not really applicable to this topic about revisions Smiley Happy but I would use API script (or dbedit but that will be much slower) - we recently were faced with a similar issue so I just wrote an API script that created a group containing all IPs/subnets on the list. Depending on your environment (R80? SmartCentre Server or MDS/which CMAs, format of the list) could provide more advise.

Don't know but maybe https://community.checkpoint.com/people/dwelccfe6e688-522c-305c-adaa-194bd7a7becc can move this question to a new thread?

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Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Had a student point out that the Smart Scrollbar in the R80+ SmartConsole can also be used to locate pending unpublished changes, I added some text and screenshots documenting this technique.

--
Second Edition of my "Max Power" Firewall Book
Now Available at http://www.maxpowerfirewalls.com

"IPS Immersion Training" Self-paced Video Class
Now Available at http://www.maxpowerfirewalls.com

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Yeah this is kind of a hidden feature, we really should publish this more What are some of the tips and tricks for jumping between rules in the rulebase? 

See more features that maybe should get their shine  

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Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Haha didn't know it was "hidden" - had to check my presentation i did to my troops back in March 2017.. it was already there! Smiley Happy

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Employee+
Employee+

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Come and check out our alpha version of 'Change Report' supported by SmartConsole Extensions in CPX 2019

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Hi all :

is there a way( like SmartDashboard) to revert all object changes  in one step  ??? similar to revert an old database revision. ? 

if so, I'll thanks to all for your help . 

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Admin
Admin

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

You can revert what was installed on a gateway in one step (the compiled policy) — Step 2 of the root post in this thread.

Reverting the whole database in one step like a R77.30 Database Revision? Not currently possible.

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Sven_Glock
Silver

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Great post, thanks Tim!

As I seem not to be the only one I would like to reask the question about revisions and VSX in MDM environments.
I know about the complexity and the fact that it was not supported  with R77.30's way of revisons.

As I can not find  clear answers about the vsx question please do not beat me for asking this question again:

Is vsx in mdm environments supported for revisons or should I better avoid using revisions in vsx environments like I did the last year since introduction with R77.something?

 

Thanks in advance!

Regards

Sven

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Wolfgang
Gold

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Sven,

I think the problem is a little bit deeper.

Question for R80.xx„Is revision control supported with VSX/MDM or not?“
In my view, YES, but it is useless.

Let me explain.
With revision control you are not able to save or restore any objects, only rules are saved.
If you delete an object, did publish and restore an older revision you didn’t get back the deleted object. A rule contained that deleted object is shown with a „Non-existin object“.

reveisons.PNG

Same thing happens with VSX objects. You can change them but these changes are not reflected in the revisions. That‘s why I think it is possible to use revision with VSX.
But you can‘t revert any changes on these VSX objects because they are not saved in the revisions.

With database revisons under R77.xx you had a chance to use these database revision. If you synchronize your database revision with an backup of your VSX-gateways and reverting both at the same time, everything will be fine.
The problem with that is how VSX works. If you change a VSX-object, these changes are made in the SMS database and too pushed some configuration to the VSX-gateways. These settings have to be the same on SMS and VSX-gateways.

We used this for complete crash recovery only. Everytime we changed a VSX object we create a database revsision and did a backup of the VSX gateway. For revert we installed both, the created database revision and the gateway backup.
If there are no changes in VSX-objects beetween the database revisions you can use them for revert.

With R80.xx you don’t have a complete database revision, it‘s only for rules (maybe and hoping in later releases).And VSX configuration happens the same way as in R77.xx, changes in SMS and on gateway. If you want to restore an older backup of your SMS with VSX gateways you need to restore too a backup from the same time of your gateways.
I know these restore is worst and for larger environments with more then one VSX gateways it‘s not feasable. And at least you really have to know what you are doing.

Maybe someone of the MDM/VSX experts can jump in to discuss.

Wolfgang

Sven_Glock
Silver

Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Hi Wolfgang,

thanks for your detailed explanation. 👍


Let's wait what the VSX/MDM-experts can add to this discussion.

 

Cheers

Sven

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Re: R80+ Change Control: A Visual Guide

Thanks. very informative.

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