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> Chapter 22 - Parallel Path Processing - Life of a Packet > UTM/NGFW packet flow: flow-based processing

UTM/NGFW packet flow: flow-based inspection

Flow-based UTM/NGFW inspection identifies and blocks security threats in real time as they are identified using single-pass architecture that involves Direct Filter Approach (DFA) pattern matching to identify possible attacks or threats.

If a FortiGate or a VDOM is configured for flow-based inspection, depending on the options selected in the firewall policy that accepted the session, flow-based inspection can apply IPS, Application Control, Cloud Access Security Inspection (CASI), Web Filtering, DLP, and Antivirus. Flow-based inspection is all done by the IPS engine and as you would expect, no proxying is involved.

note icon Flow-based DLP is supported but not recommended. Flow-based DLP is not available from the GUI, but can be configured from the CLI.

Before flow-based inspection can be applied the IPS engine uses a series of decoders to determine the appropriate security modules to be applied depending on the protocol of the packet and on policy settings. In addition, if SSL inspection is configured, the IPS engine also decrypts SSL packets. SSL decryption is offloaded and accelerated by CP8 or CP9 processors

All of the applicable flow-based security modules are applied simultaneously in one single pass, and pattern matching is offloaded and accelerated by CP8 or CP9 processors. IPS, Application Control and CASI, flow-based Web Filtering and flow-based DLP filtering happen together. CASI signatures are applied as part of application control. Flow-based antivirus caches files during protocol decoding and submits cached files for virus scanning while the other matching is carried out.

Flow-based inspection typically requires less processing resources than proxy-based inspection and since its not a proxy, flow-based inspection does not change packets (unless a threat is found and packets are blocked). Flow-based inspection cannot apply as many features as proxy inspection (for example, flow-based inspection does not support client comforting and some aspects of replacement messages).

IPS, Application Control, and CASI are only applied using flow-based inspection. Web Filtering, DLP and Antivirus can also be applied using proxy-based inspection.