Security profiles

Where security policies provide the instructions to the FortiGate unit for controlling what traffic is allowed through the device, the Security profiles provide the screening that filters the content coming and going on the network. Security profiles enable you to instruct the FortiGate unit about what to look for in the traffic that you don’t want, or want to monitor, as it passes through the device.

A security profile is a group of options and filters that you can apply to one or more firewall policies. Security profiles can be used by more than one security policy. You can configure sets of security profiles for the traffic types handled by a set of security policies that require identical protection levels and types, rather than repeatedly configuring those same security profile settings for each individual security policy.

For example, while traffic between trusted and untrusted networks might need strict antivirus protection, traffic between trusted internal addresses might need moderate antivirus protection. To provide the different levels of protection, you might configure two separate profiles: one for traffic between trusted networks, and one for traffic between trusted and untrusted networks.

Security profiles are available for various unwanted traffic and network threats. Each are configured separately and can be used in different groupings as needed. You configure security profiles in the Security Profiles menu and applied when creating a security policy by selecting the security profile type.

There is a separate handbook for the topic of the Security Profiles, but because the Security Profiles are applied through the Firewall policies it makes sense to have at least a basic idea of what the security profile do and how they integrate into the FortiGate's firewall policies. The following is a listing and a brief description of what the security profiles offer by way of functionality and how they can be configured into the firewall policies.

  • HTTP
  • SMTP
  • POP3
  • IMAP
  • FTP
  • NNTP
  • MAPI
  • DNS
  • IM


Antivirus is used as a catch all term to describe the technology for protection against the transmission of malicious computer code sometimes referred to as malware. As anyone who has listened to the media has heard that the Internet can be a dangerous place filled with malware of various flavors. Currently, the malware that is most common in the Internet, in descending order, is Trojan horses, viruses, worms, adware, back door exploits, spyware and other variations. In recent years, not only has the volume of malicious software become greater than would have been believed when it first appeared but the level of sophistication has risen as well.

The Antivirus Filter works by inspecting the traffic that is about to be transmitted through the FortiGate. To increase the efficiency of effort it only inspects the traffic being transmitted via the protocols that it has been configured to check. Before the data moves across the FortiGate firewall from one interface to another it is checked for attributes or signatures that have been known to be associated with malware. If malware is detected, it is removed.

Web Filtering

Malicious code is not the only thing to be wary of on the Internet. There is also the actual content. While the content will not damage or steal information from your computer there is still a number of reasons that would require protection from it.

In a setting where there are children or other sensitive people using the access provided by a connected computer there is a need to make sure that images or information that is not appropriate is not inadvertently displayed to them. Even if there is supervision, in the time it takes to recognize something that is inappropriate and then properly react can expose those we wish to protect. It is more efficient to make sure that the content cannot reach the screen in the first place.

In an organizational setting, there is still the expectation that organization will do what it can to prevent inappropriate content from getting onto the computer screens and thus provoking an Human Resources incident. There is also the potential loss of productivity that can take place if people have unfiltered access to the Internet. Some organizations prefer to limit the amount of distractions available to tempt their workers away from their duties.

The Web filter works primarily by looking at the destination location request for a HTTP(S) request made by the sending computer. If the URL is on a list that you have configured to list unwanted sites, the connection will be disallowed. If the site is part of a category of sites that you have configured to deny connections to the session will also be denied. You can also configure the content filter to check for specific key strings of data on the actual web site and if any of those strings of data appear the connection will not be allowed.

The configuration for each of these protocols is handled separately.

DNS filtering is similar to Web Filtering from the viewpoint of the user. The difference is under the hood. When using regular Web Filtering, the traffic can go through some processing steps before it gets to the point where the web filter determines whether on not the traffic should be accepted or denied. Because the filtering takes place at the DNS level, some sites can be denied before a lot of the additional processing takes place. This can save resource usage on the FortiGate and help performance.

Application Control

Application Control is designed to allow you to determine what applications are operating on your network and to the also filter the use of these applications as required. Application control is also for outgoing traffic to prevent the use of applications that are against an organization’s policy from crossing the network gateway to other networks. An example of this would be the use of proxy servers to circumvent the restrictions put in place using the Web Filtering.

Intrusion Protection (IPS)

Intrusion Prevention System is almost self explanatory. In the same way that there is malware out on the Internet that the network needs to be protected from there are also people out there that take a more targeted approach to malicious cyber activity. No operating system is perfect and new vulnerabilities are being discovered all of the time. An intrusion prevention system is designed to look for activity or behavior that is consistent with attacks against your network. When attack like behavior is detected it can either be dropped or just monitored depending on the approach that you would like to take.

As new vulnerabilities are discovered they can be added to the IPS database so that the protection is current.


Spam or unsolicited bulk email is said to account for approximately 90% of the email traffic on the Internet. Sorting through it is both time consuming and frustrating. By putting an email filter on policies that handle email traffic, the amount of spam that users have to deal with can be greatly reduced.

Data Leak Prevention (DLP)

Data Leak Prevention is used to prevent sensitive information from leaving your network. When people think of security in the cyber-world one of the most common images is that of a hacker penetrating your network and making off with your sensitive information, but the other way that you can lose sensitive data is if someone already on the inside of your network sends it out. This does not have to be an act of industrial espionage. It can just be a case of not knowing the policies of the organization or a lack of knowledge of security or laws concerning privacy.

For instance, a company may have a policy that they will not reveal anyone’s Social Security number, but an employee emails a number of documents to another company that included a lengthy document that has a Social Security number buried deep within it. There is not malicious intent but if the information got out there could be repercussions.

If an organization has any information in a digital format that it cannot afford for financial or legal reasons, to leave its network, it makes sense to have Data Leak Prevention in place as an additional layer of protection.


Voice over IP is essentially the protocols for transmitting voice or other multimedia communications over Internet Protocol networks such as the Internet. The Security Profiles VoIP options apply the SIP Application Level Gateway (ALG) to support SIP through the FortiGate unit. The SIP ALG can also be used to protect networks from SIP-based attacks.


Internet Content Adaptation Protocol (ICAP) off loads HTTP traffic to another location for specialized processing. The purpose of this module when triggered is to send the incoming HTTP traffic over to a remote server to be processed thus taking some of the strain off of the resources of the FortiGate unit. The reasons for the specialized process could be anything from more sophisticated Antivirus to manipulation of the HTTP headers and URLs.

Just like other components of the FortiGate, there is the option for different Proxy Option profiles so that you can be very granular in your control of the workings of the FortiGate. In the case of the Proxy Option profiles the thing that you will want to focus on is the matching up of the correct profile to a firewall policy that is using the appropriate protocols. If you are creating a Proxy Option profile that is designed for policies that control SMTP traffic into your network you only want to configure the settings that apply to SMTP. You do not need or want to configure the HTTP components.

The Web Application Firewall performs a similar role as devices such as Fortinet's FortiWeb, though in a more limited fashion. It's function is to protect internal web servers from malicious activity specific to those types of servers. This includes things like SQL injection, Cross site Scripting and trojans. It uses signatures and other straight forward methods to protect the web servers, but it is a case of turning the feature on or off and the actions are limited toAllow,MonitororBlock.To get protection that is more sophisticated, granular and intelligent, as will as having many more features, it is necessary to get a device like the FortiWeb that can devote more resources to the process. However, if your needs are simple, choosing to use the WAF feature built into the FortiGate should provide valuable protection.

The comfort client feature to mitigates this potential issue by feeding a trickle of data while waiting for the scan to complete so as to let the user know that processing is taking place and that there hasn’t been a failure in the transmission. This slow transfer rate continues until the antivirus scan is complete. Once the file has been successfully scanned without any indication of viruses the transfer will proceed at full speed.

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