Idea to use Palo Alto for IDS replacement

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Idea to use Palo Alto for IDS replacement

L3 Networker

I have a idea to use the Palo Alto Firewall Vulnerability Protection Profile has a IDS sensor. 

Here is the idea I have what to run this by anyone. Also need help to know if this will work. 


vulenerability Protection Profile
Create a Rule
Rule Name: IDS Test
Threat Name: any
Action: Alert
Host Type: ?
Category: brute-force, DOS, scan

create a zone for user pc and laptops

create a zone for all servers and equipment 

then assign that profile to these zones


Then using the logging from the palo alto to send it to a seim where you can setup a alert to be sent out correct people to look into this issue.



If a pc is scanning a bunch of other pc's will that create a alert? Reason I ask to see if this will work inside its own zone.




Cyber Elite
Cyber Elite


In my experience, the answer is maybe. It all depends on if the traffic traverses the firewall between zones or interfaces. If you have two laptops on the same subnet, the firewall may not 'see' the traffic between them. Since the PAN's are limited on the number of 'zones', what we have done in tehe past is to use small subnets say a /29 and put the devices we wanted to protect in them, then we just wrote rules that applied to the /29 addresses. That way it wasnt a different zone, but it did traverse security policies so the traffic got scanned. 


Since you are dealing with client machines a small subnet may not work and depending on your topology, it maybe difficult to scan/sniff traffic between two machines on the same subnet/switch. While the PAN is a great border device, you might be better off using a client based solution?


Just a thought.

L5 Sessionator

You didn't say how it will be connectred. Through 2 ports in Virtual wire? Then just assign diferent zone to each interface and all traffic passing through PA will be checked as requested by your security profiles.


And you don't assign security profile (like IPS) to a zone, you assign it to a rule.

@santonic has the right answer as far as a new design standpoint goes. I would really question the PA's ability to fully replace a dedicated IDS though. As good of a job as the PA does, IDS is not it's primary focus and therefore it likely isn't going to work as well as a dedicated IDS that you may already have in place. 

As far as IPS for server protection is concerned I agree that dedicated IPS can do a better job, especialy for fine tuning policies and signatures. 

For client side IPS protection PA does a great job, i would prefer it over dedicated IPS solutions.



We have been using a Palo Alto as an IDS sensor for about 5 years now.  We also have Sourcefire running along side of it.  They are both fed span and tap data from various locations.  I can honestly say that the PA does a pretty good job at identifying informational type traffic as well as critical threats.  We probably have gained more value out of the PA than Sourcefire.

Well current setup on the Palo Alto do not alert on someone scanning inside the network. 

If I scan across zones no alert there as well, does not show up in the threat logging either. 
I did a test run on that nothing happen. 


Can you provide more infomation on your idea using 2 ports in Virtual wire?


Well trying to use the PAN's so we can get rid of the old IDS that will not work with the upgrade core devices. 

Can you recommend a good IDS that will work with IP addresses instead of VLANS? 

Jambulo how do you get the alerts to let you know if something is happen when you are not able to look at the screen for this traffic?

Based on your original question, you need to provide more information on what you are attempting to do and how your network is configured.


As someone else briefly pointed out, a lot of this depends on your logical network configuration. Unless you are using the Palo Alto as a layer 2 switch, the inherent problem is this:


Say you have 2 computers, one with an IP of  and another with an IP of Under most network configurations, the Palo Alto will never see these two computers talking to each other because they are on the same subnet and so they will not pass through the gateway IP. This is a general issue that affects all networking and lends itself to the concept of microsegmentation. From a security perspective, this means that if one PC is compromised, the only line of defense preventing it from attacking other PCs on the same network are host-based firewalls/IPS. Microsegmentation, on the other hand, will ensure that the Palo Alto sees all traffic between nodes, but this is only possible in virtual environments, such as NSX and Azure (and potentially others).


An IDS could be possible even in these environments by using a tap on the switch level (again, this all depends on your network configuration), but not sure PA a practical answer,


So you will almost never be able to fully guard the network, so you have to reduce the attack surface by classifying, identifying and protecting critical assets.


As for getting alerts, traditionally you would set up a log forwarding profile and send the logs to a SIEM device which can be configured to respond to certain events with alerts, etc.


If configured and connected correctly PA will detect scanning (TCP port scan, UDP port scan, service sweeps, sercurity scans...).

Please provide us basic network diagram and PA position. Then we can help you set it up properly.



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