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> Chapter 6 - FortiOS Carrier > Configuring GTP on FortiOS Carrier

Configuring GTP on FortiOS Carrier

Configuring GTP support on FortiOS Carrier involves configuring a number of areas of features. Some features require longer explanations, and have their own chapters. The other features are addressed here.

GTP support on the Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit

The FortiCarrier unit needs to have access to all traffic entering and exiting the carrier network for scanning, filtering, and logging purposes. This promotes one of two configurations — hub and spoke, or bookend.

A hub and spoke configuration with the Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit at the hub and the other GPRS devices on the spokes is possible for smaller networks where a lower bandwidth allows you to divide one unit into multiple virtual domains to fill multiple roles on the carrier network. It can be difficult with a single FortiOS Carrier as the hub to ensure all possible entry points to the carrier network are properly protected from potential attacks such as relayed network attacks.

A bookend configuration uses two Carrier-enabled FortiGate units to protect the carrier network between them with high bandwidth traffic. One unit handles traffic from mobile stations, SGSNs, and foreign carriers. The other handles GGSN and data network traffic. Together they ensure the network is secure.

The Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit can access all traffic on the network. It can also verify traffic between devices, and verify that the proper GPRS interface is being used. For example there is no reason for a Gn interface to be used to communicate with a mobile station — the mobile station will not know what to do with the data — so that traffic is blocked.

When you are configuring your Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit’s GTP profile, you must first configure the APN. It is critical to GTP communications — no traffic will flow without the APN.


The Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit does more than just forward and route GTP packets over the network. It also performs:

Packet sanity checking

The FortiOS Carrier firewall checks the following items to determine if a packet confirms to the UDP and GTP standards:

  • GTP release version number — must be 0, 1, or 2
  • Settings of predefined bits
  • Protocol type
  • UDP packet length

If the packet in question does not confirm to the standards, the FortiOS Carrier firewall drops the packet, so that the malformed or forged traffic will not be processed.

GTP stateful inspection

Apart from the static inspection (checking the packet header), the FortiOS Carrier firewall performs stateful inspection.

Stateful inspection provides enhanced security by keeping track of communications sessions and packets over a period of time. Both incoming and outgoing packets are examined. Outgoing packets that request specific types of incoming packets are tracked; only those incoming packets constituting a proper response are allowed through the firewall.

The FortiOS Carrier firewall can also index the GTP tunnels to keep track of them.

Using the enhanced Carrier traffic policy, the FortiOS Carrier firewall can block unwanted encapsulated traffic in GTP tunnels, such as infrastructure attacks. Infrastructure attacks involve attempts by an attacker to connect to restricted machines, such as GSN devices, network management systems, or mobile stations. If these attmpts to connect are detected, they are to be flagged immediately by the firewall .

Protocol anomaly detection and prevention

The FortiOS Carrier firewall detects and optionally drops protocol anomalies according to GTP standards and specific tunnel states. Protocol anomaly attacks involve malformed or corrupt packets that typically fall outside of protocol specifications. These packets are not seen on a production network. Protocol anomaly attacks exploit poor programming practices when decoding packets, and are typically used to maliciously impair system performance or elevate privileges.

FortiOS Carrier also detects IP address spoofing inside GTP data channel.

See Configuring the Protocol Anomaly feature in FortiOS Carrier.


FortiOS Carrier active-passive HA provides failover protection for the GTP tunnels. This means that an active-passive cluster can provide FortiOS Carrier firewall services even when one of the cluster units encounters a problem that would result in complete loss of connectivity for a stand-alone FortiOS Carrier firewall. This failover protection provides a backup mechanism that can be used to reduce the risk of unexpected downtime, especially for mission-critical environments.

FortiOS HA synchs TCP sessions by default, but UDP sessions are not synchronized by default. However synchronizing a session is only part of the solution if the goal is to continue GTP processing on a synchronized session after a HA switch. For that to be successful we also need to synch the GTP tunnel state. So, once the master completes tunnel setup then the GTP tunnel is synchronized to the slave.

GTP traffic will only flow without interruption on a HA switch if bidirectional GTP policies have been configured: an internal (GTP server) to external (all) UDP port GTP policy, and an external (all) to internal (GTP server) UDP port GTP policy. If either policy is missing then traffic may be interrupted until traffic flows in the opposite direction.

For more information on HA in FortiOS, see the High Availability (HA) Guide or the FortiOS Administration Guide.

Virtual domain support

FortiOS Carrier is suited to both large and smaller carriers. A single Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit can serve either one large carrier, or several smaller ones through virtual domains. As with any FortiGate unit, Carrier-enabled units have the ability to split their resources into multiple virtual units. This allows smaller carriers to use just the resources that they need without wasting the extra. For more information on HA in FortiOS, see the Virtual Domains (VDOMs) Guide.

Configuring General Settings on the Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit

To configure the GTP General Settings, go to Security Profiles > Carrier > GTP Profile, and edit a GTP profile. Expand General Settings to configure settings. See General settings options.

Configuring Encapsulated Filtering in FortiOS Carrier

Encapsulated traffic on the GPRS network can come in a number of forms as it includes traffic that is “wrapped up” in another protocol. This detail is important for firewalls because it requires “unwrapping” to properly scan the data inside. If encapsulated packets are treated as regular packets, that inside layer will never be scanned and may allow malicious data into your network.

On Carrier-enabled FortiGate units, GTP related encapsulated filtering falls under encapsulated IP traffic filtering, and encapsulated non-IP end user address filtering.

Configuring Encapsulated IP Traffic Filtering

Generally there are a very limited number of IP addresses that are allowed to encapsulate GPRS traffic. For example GTP tunnels are a valid type of encapsulation when used properly. This is the GTP tunnel which uses the Gp or Gn interfaces between SGSNs and GGSNs. However, a GTP tunnel within a GTP tunnel is not accessible — FortiOS Carrier will either block or forward the traffic, but is not able to open it for inspection.

The ability to filter GTP sessions is based on information contained in the data stream and provides operators with a powerful mechanism to control data flows within their infrastructure. You can also configure IP filtering rules to filter encapsulated IP traffic from Mobile Stations.

To configure the Encapsulated IP Traffic Filtering, go to Security Profiles > Carrier > GTP Profile, and edit a GTP profile. Expand Encapsulated IP Traffic Filtering to configure settings. See Encapsulated IP traffic filtering options.

When to use encapsulated IP traffic filtering

The following are the typical cases that need encapsulated IP traffic filtering:

Mobile station IP pools

In a well-designed network, best practices dictate that the mobile station address pool is to be completely separate from the GPRS network infrastructure range of addresses. Encapsulated IP packets originating from a mobile station will not contain source or destination addresses that fall within the address range of GPRS infrastructures. In addition, traffic originating from the users handset will not have destination/source IP addresses that fall within any Network Management System (NMS) or Charging Gateway (CG) networks.

Communication between mobile stations

Mobile stations on the same GPRS network are not able to communicate with other mobile stations. Best practices dictate that packets containing both source and destination addresses within the mobile station's range of addresses are to be dropped.

Direct mobile device or internet attacks

It may be possible for attackers to wrap attack traffic in GTP protocols and submit the resulting GTP traffic directly to a GPRS network element from their mobile stations or a node on the Internet. It is possible that the receiving SGSN or GGSN would then strip off the GTP header and attempt to route the underlying attack. This underlying attack could have any destination address and would probably have a source address spoofed as if it were valid from that PLMN.

You cannot add an IE removal policy when you are creating a new profile.
Relayed network attacks

Depending on the destination the attack could be directly routed, such as to another node of the PLMN, or rewrapped in GTP for transmission to any destination on the Internet outside the PLMN depending on the routing table of the GSN enlisted as the unwitting relay.

The relayed attack could have any source or destination addresses and could be any of numerous IP network attacks, such as an attack to hijack a PDP context, or a direct attack against a management interface of a GSN or other device within the PLMN. Best practices dictate that any IP traffic originating on the Internet or from an MS with a destination address within the PLMN is to be filtered.

Configuring Encapsulated Non-IP End User Address Filtering

Much of the traffic on the GPRS network is in the form of IP traffic. However some parts of the network do not used IP based addressing, so the Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit is unable to perform Encapsulated IP Traffic Filtering.

Depending on the installed environment, it may be beneficial to detect GTP packets that encapsulate non-IP based protocols. You can configure the FortiOS Carrier firewall to permit a list of acceptable protocols, with all other protocols denied.

The encoded protocol is determined in the PDP Type Organization and PDP Type Number fields within the End User Address Information Element. The PDP Type Organization is a 4-bit field that determines if the protocol is part of the ETSI or IETF organizations. Values are zero and one, respectively. The PDP Type field is one byte long. Both GTP specifications only list PPP, with a PDP Type value of one, as a valid ETSI protocol. PDP Types for the IETF values are determined in the "Assigned PPP DLL Protocol Numbers" sections of RFC 1700. The PDP types are compressed, meaning that the most significant byte is skipped, limiting the protocols listed from 0x00 to 0xFF.

To configure the Encapsulated Non-IP End User Address Filtering, go to Security Profiles > Carrier > GTP Profile, and edit a GTP profile. Expand Encapsulated Non-IP End User Address Filtering to configure settings. See Encapsulated non-IP end user traffic filtering options.

Configuring the Protocol Anomaly feature in FortiOS Carrier

When anomalies do happen, it is possible for the anomaly to interrupt network traffic or consume network resources — if precautions are not taken. Anomalies can be generated by accident or maliciously, but both methods can have the same results — degrading the performance of the carrier network, or worse.

To configure GTP protocol anomalies, go to Security Profiles > Carrier > GTP Profile, and edit a GTP profile. Expand the Protocol Anomaly option. SeeProtocol Anomaly prevention options.

The following are some examples:

  • The GTP header specifies the length of the packet excluding the mandatory GTP header. In GTP version 0 (GSM 09.60), the mandatory GTP header size is 20 bytes, whereas GTP version 1 (GSM 29.060) specifies that the minimum length of the GTP header is 8 bytes. The GTP packet is composed of the header, followed by Information Elements typically presented in a Type-Length-Value format. It is possible for an attacker to create a GTP packet with a GTP header field length that is incompatible with the length of the necessary information elements.
  • The same concepts are true for GTP version 2 headers even though there are different fields in them.
  • It is similarly possible for an attacker to create a packet with an invalid IE length. Invalid lengths may cause protocol stacks to allocate incorrect amounts of memory, and thereby cause crashes or buffer overflows.

By default the FortiOS Carrier firewall detects these problems, as well as other protocol anomalies, and drops the packets. All protocol anomaly options are set to Deny by default. However, you can change the policy to allow them.

Configuring Anti-overbilling in FortiOS Carrier

GPRS overbilling attacks can be prevented with a properly configured Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit.

Overbilling can occur when a subscriber returns his IP address to the IP pool. Before the billing server closes it, the subscriber's session is still open and vulnerable. If an attacker takes control of the subscriber's IP address, he can send or receive data and the subscriber will be billed for the traffic.

Overbilling can also occur when an available IP address is reassigned to a new mobile station (MS). Subsequent traffic by the previous MS may be forwarded to the new MS. The new MS would then be billed for traffic it did not initiate.

Anti-overbilling with FortiOS Carrier

The Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit can be configured to assist with anti-overbilling measures. These measures ensure that the customer is only billed for connection time and data transfer that they actually use.

Anti-overbilling on the Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit involves:

  • the administrator configuring the overbilling settings in the GTP profile to notify the Gi firewall when a GTP tunnel is deleted
  • the unit clearing the sessions when the Gi firewall receives a notification from the Gn/Gp firewall about a GTP tunnel being deleted This way, the Gi firewall prevents overbilling by blocking traffic initiated by other users.

The three locations to configure anti-overbilling options include:

  • System > Network > Interface > Gi Gatekeeper — edit an interface, and enable to monitor Gi anti-overbilling traffic on this interface
  • System > Admin > Settings > Gi Gatekeeper Settings — set the context ID and port that anti-overbilling will take place on.
  • Security Profiles > Carrier > GTP Profile > Anti-Overbilling — the IP address, port, interface and context ID to use for anti-overbilling measures.

For detailed options, see Anti-Overbilling options.

Logging events on the Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit

Logging on the Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit is just like logging on any other FortiOS unit. The only difference with FortiOS Carrier is that there are a few additional events that you can log beyond the regular ones. These additional events are covered here.

To enable FortiOS Carrier logging, go to Log&Report > Event Log, and ensure GTP service event is enabled. Once this option is selected, the logging options under Security Profiles > Carrier > GTP Profile will be active.

To change FortiOS Carrier specific logging event settings, go to Security Profiles > Carrier > GTP Profile and edit a GTP profile. Expand the Log section to change the settings. For detailed options, see Log options.

The following information is contained in each log entry:


Timestamp The time and date when the log entry was recorded
Source IP address The sender’s IP address.
Destination IP address The reciever’s IP address. The sender-receiver pair includes a mobile phone on the GPRS local network, and a device on a network external to the GPRS network, such as the Internet.
Tunnel Identifier (TID)

Tunnel Endpoint Identifier (TEID)
An identifier for the start and endpoints of a GTP tunnel. This information uniquely defines all tunnels. It is important for billing information based on the length of time the tunnel was active and how much data passed over the tunnel.
Message type For available message types, see Common message types on carrier networks.
Packet status What action was performed on the packet. This field matches the logging options while you are configuring GTP logging. See Anti-overbilling with FortiOS Carrier.

The status can be one of forwarded, prohibited, state-invalid, rate-limited, or tunnel-limited
Virtual domain ID or name A Carrier-enabled FortiGate unit can be divided into multiple virtual units, each being a complete and self-contained virtual FortiCarrier unit. This field indicates which virtual domain (VDOM) was responsible for the log entry. If VDOMs are not enabled on your unit, this field will be root.
Reason to be denied if applicable If the packet that generated this log entry was denied or blocked, this field will include what part of FortiOS denied or blocked that packet. Such as firewall, antivirus, webfilter, or spamfilter.

An example of the above log message format is for a Tunnel deleted log entry. When a tunnel is deleted, the log entry contains the following information:

  • Timestamp
  • Interface name (if applicable)
  • SGSN IP address (source IP)
  • GGSN IP address (destination IP)
  • Tunnel ID
  • Tunnel duration time in seconds
  • Number of messages sent to the SGSN
  • Number of messages sent to the GGSN