Secure IOS Template Version 6.5 19 MAY 2014

By Team Cymru, noc at

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One of the challenges of any network is how to mitigate, if not deny, the various attacks launched daily on the Internet. While blocking the script kiddies and their attempts to gain root or scan a subnet is one challenge, a greater challenge has been to mitigate the DDoS attacks. While nothing is foolproof, layers of protection can be applied to the problem.

Taking a holistic view of the challenge led to the creation of the layered approach. In this approach, the following philosophies are applied:

  1. The border router provides for protocol protection and defends itself and the firewall.
  2. The firewall provides port protection and defends itself and the host residing behind it.
  3. The end stations are configured to survive various DOS attacks as well as to reduce the number of noxious services which might be exploited.

This results in the "funnel effect," wherein progressively less nasty traffic comes through the overall pipe. The network is "crunchy through and through," not just at the edges.

A brief aside - If you are interested in tuning your UNIX systems to provide additional defense against myriad attack types, please peruse my UNIX IP Stack Tuning Guide.

The purpose of this document is to introduce the first wall of defense, the router. The attached template provides a work in progress towards the goal of a secure border device. This template does not cover router or routing protocol basics, and only lightly touches on the topic of router performance tuning (e.g. using the loopback device instead of the null device for black hole routes). For more on router performance tuning tips, please see my Cisco Router Performance Tuning document.

As an added bonus, George Jones has written a tool, NCAT, that will validate Cisco router configurations. Using a template configuration, NCAT will ensure that any router configuration adheres to the policies in the template. I highly recommend this tool. You will find it at

We no longer list the bogons in this template, so please look for detailed bogon insight on our Bogon List.

Barry Greene and Philip Smith, both formerly of Cisco, have published a book entitled Cisco ISP Essentials. This is an excellent collection of clue. You can learn more about it at

Cisco maintains a nice collection of security documents here.


I truly appreciate the suggestions, bug reports, and thoughtful discourse provided by these folks. Thank you!

Bruce Babcock
Alison Gudgeon
Paul Jacobs
Deepak Jain
George Jones
Christian Koch
Mark Kent
Thomas Kernen
John Kristoff
Christopher Morrow
Hank Nussbacher
Johan van Reijenda
Ken Reiss
Rafi Sadowsky
Steve Snodgrass
Alfredo Sola
David Wolsefer
And, of course, the FIRST community.


The Cisco Secure IOS Configuration Template is simply a template, or a starting point. Individual sites will need to modify the template to varying degrees. For example, the template does not include any routing protocol information. This would make the template far too large and specific. Although one could argue that a BGP configuration would meet the needs of a great many border routers, it was decided to shelve that piece for another template. You may wish to peruse my Secure Cisco BGP Configuration Template to assist you in securing your BGP configuration. As with all templates, your mileage may vary.

The template has undergone a trial by fire, protecting various sites. In one case, a modified version of this template protects a site that endures upwards of 10000 attacks per day. The template has weathered the storm well, although not without some real time modification. As the instruments and methods of the malcontents change, so do the attack styles. However, this template has yet to fail, and the sites behind it have remained on-line throughout attacks of moderate to great intensity.

Clearly, hardware counts. A 2501 with this template will not provide much in the way of protection, and certain features of this template will not work on the lower tier of Cisco routing products. The template was written with a Cisco 7000 or greater model in mind.

This template is not a panacea. It will not stop all attack types. It is simply a part of a larger design. Remember the layered approach.

Decisions, Decisions

As noted, the template must be modified to fit the environment. Obviously such things as IP addresses and routes must be changed. How ever, there are other decisions to be made. The IP address of the FTP, TACACS+, and syslog servers must be noted, for example.

Enabling the anti-spoofing feature of CEF (reverse-path) is another thorny issue for those with the potential for asymmetric data flows. In this case, ACLs should be used for anti-spoofing protection. Both options are provided in the template.

Determining the proper CAR limits for multicast, ICMP, and UDP is quite site specific. While some defaults have been placed in the configuration, it is best to size the pipe and modify the limits accordingly. It is difficult to model a situation where ICMP should be allowed more than 575Kb/s of bandwidth, however your mileage may vary.


As with all things, test test test. Do not deploy a configuration without thoroughly testing it in a non-production environment. If you do not understand the commands or the accompanying comments, do not utilize them. You may find yourself in a sticky debugging session at some point, so complete understanding of the configuration is highly recommended.

This template WILL NOT WORK without modification to suit your gear and topology!

Question, Comments, Suggestions

This is a work in progress, and feedback from those who use the template, have their own bag of tricks, or endure malicious attacks is most welcome! If you have questions, I will do my best to answer them and assist you. Please route all commentary and questions to

I hope you find this helpful in your effort to fend off the Internet vandals!


The commands are in BOLD text so that they stand out from the surrounding comments.

! Secure router configuration template.
! Version 6.5
! @(#)Secure IOS template v6.5 19 MAY 2014 Team Cymru
! @(#)
! This configuration assumes the following topology:
!       |
! (Ethernet 2/0)
! (Ethernet 2/1)
!       |
!       |
! In this case, is the loghost, FTP server, etc.
! for the router. It could also be the firewall if
! circumstances dictate.
service nagle
service tcp-keepalives-in
service tcp-keepalives-out
! Show copious timestamps in our logs
service timestamps debug datetime msec show-timezone localtime
service timestamps log datetime msec show-timezone localtime
! Ensures all passwords and secrets are obfuscated when looking at
! configuration files
service password-encryption
no service dhcp
hostname secure-router01
boot system flash slot0:rsp-pv-mz.121-5a.bin
logging buffered 16384 debugging
no logging console
! The keyword 'secret' ensures MD5 is used when 'service password
! encryption' is used (above.) The keyword 'password' uses a mechanism
! which is simple to reverse-engineer and should be avoided
enable secret <PASSWORD>
no enable password
! Use TACACS+ for AAA. Ensure that the local account is
! case-sensitive, thus making brute-force attacks less
! effective.
aaa new-model
aaa authentication login default group tacacs+ local-case
aaa authentication enable default group tacacs+ enable
aaa authorization commands 15 default group tacacs+ local
aaa accounting exec default stop-only group tacacs+
aaa accounting commands 15 default stop-only group tacacs+
aaa accounting network default stop-only group tacacs+
tacacs-server host
tacacs-server key cheezit
! In the event that TACACS+ fails, use case-sensitve local
! authentication instead. Keeps the hackers guessing, and
! the router more secure.
username <USERNAME> secret <PASSWORD>
! Logging the commands run while at enable level access is
! a great way to track mistakes, security issues, etc.
 log config
  logging enable
  logging size 500
  notify syslog
! Ensure TCL doesn't use an initilizaion file where available. This won't show up in the
! config. It will break your router-based TCL scripts if
! if you use such, so use with care!
no scripting tcl init
no scripting tcl encdir
! Enable the netflow top talkers feature.
! You can see the top N talkers (50 in this example) with the
show ip flow top-talkers command. This is a handy
! utility to use during DDoS attacks and traffic issues. You
! can sort-by either packets or bytes, as you prefer.
ip flow-top-talkers
 top 50
 sort-by packets
! Don't run the HTTP server.
no ip http server
no ip http secure-server
! Allow us to use the low subnet and go classless
ip subnet-zero
ip classless
! Disable noxious services
no service pad
no ip source-route
no ip finger
no ip bootp server
no ip domain-lookup
! Block brute force login attempts while maintaining access for legitimate source addresses.
! This is in theory unnecessary if VTY ACLs are in place, yet things happen and this adds the
! "belt" to the VTY ACL "suspenders."
! Note carefully the use of ACL 100 in the login quiet-mode statement. This ensures our
! legitimate administrator addresses can still reach the router even after a vigorous
! bruteforce or attack attempt.
login block-for 100 attempts 15 within 100
login quiet-mode access-class 100
login on-failure log
login on-success log
! Catch crash dumps; very important with a "security router."
ip ftp username rooter
ip ftp password <PASSWORD>
! Give our core dump files a unique name.
exception core-file secure-router01-core
exception protocol ftp
exception dump
! Fire up CEF for both performance and security.
ip cef
! Set the timezone properly. It is best to standardize on one
! timezone for all routers, thus making problem tracking easier.
clock timezone GMT 0
! Synchronize our clocks with a local (trusted and authenticated)
! NTP server. The SECRETKEY must be the same on both the router
! and the NTP server.
ntp authentication-key 6767 md5 <SECRETKEY>
ntp authenticate
ntp update-calendar
ntp server
! Configure the loopback0 interface as the source of our log
! messages. This is often used for routing protocols as well.
! Select an IP address that uniquely identifies this router.
! One trick is to allocate a netblock for use as the router
! loopback netblock.
int loopback0
 ip address
 no ip redirects
 no ip unreachables
 no ip proxy-arp
! Configure null0 as a place to send naughty packets. This
! becomes the "roach motel" for packets -- they can route in,
! but they can't route out.
interface null0
 no ip unreachables
interface Ethernet2/0
 description Unprotected interface, facing towards Internet
 ip address
 ! Do we run CEF verify? Yes if the data path is symmetric. No
 ! if the data path is asymmetric.
 ip verify unicast reverse-path
 ! Apply our template ACL
 ip access-group 2010 in
 ! Allow UDP to occupy no more than 2 Mb/s of the pipe.
 rate-limit input access-group 150 2010000 250000 250000 conform-action transmit exceed-action drop
 ! Allow ICMP to occupy no more than 500 Kb/s of the pipe.
 rate-limit input access-group 160 500000 62500 62500 conform-action transmit exceed-action drop
 ! Allow multicast to occupy no more than 5 Mb/s of the pipe.
 rate-limit input access-group 170 5000000 375000 375000 conform-action transmit exceed-action drop
 ! Don't send redirects.
 no ip redirects
 ! Don't send unreachables.
 ! NOTE WELL that this may break PMTU discovery.
 ! For example, if this router is edge for a VPN of any sort, you might need
 ! to enable ip unreachables
 ! A typical symptom is ping working but a larger transmission doesn't.
 no ip unreachables
 ! Don't propogate smurf attacks.
 no ip directed-broadcast
 ! Don't pretend to be something you're not. :-)
 no ip proxy-arp
 ! Do not reveal our netmask
 no ip mask-reply
 ! Log all naughty business.
 ip accounting access-violations
 ! If you allow multicast in your network or participate in the
 ! MBONE, the following multicast filtering steps will help to
 ! ensure a secure multicast environment. These must be applied
 ! per interface.
 ip multicast boundary 30
 ! Keep flow data for analysis. If possible, export it to a
 ! cflowd server.
 ip route-cache flow
 ! When you configure anything to do with ntp on an IOS box, it will start listening on all
 ! interfaces. It is therefore a good idea that interfaces with public addresses have ntp disabled
 ! and therefore don't show a socket, unless that is what the interface is intended to do.
 ntp disable
 ! Disable Maintenance Operations Protocol on all interfaces
 no mop enable
interface Ethernet2/1
 description Protected interface, facing towards DMZ
 ip address
 ! Do we run CEF verify? Yes if the data path is symmetric. No
 ! if the data path is asymmetric.
 ip verify unicast reverse-path
 ! If we are using RPF, comment out the ACL below.
 ip access-group 115 in
 no ip redirects
 no ip unreachables
 no ip directed-broadcast
 no ip proxy-arp
 ip accounting access-violations
 ip multicast boundary 30
 no ip mask-reply
 ip route-cache flow
 ! Disable Maintenance Operations Protocol on all interfaces
 no mop enable
! Default route to the Internet (could be a routing
! protocol instead)
ip route
! Route to network on the other side of the firewall
ip route
! Black hole routes. Do not combine this with TCP Intercept;
! in fact, don't use TCP Intercept at all.
! Bogons
! Team Cymru has removed all static bogon references from this template
! due to the high probability that the application of these bogon filters
! will be a one-time event. Unfortunately many of these templates are
! applied and never re-visited, despite our dire warnings that bogons do
! change.
! This doesn't mean bogon filtering can't be accomplished in an automated
! manner. Why not consider peering with our globally distributed bogon
! route-server project? Alternately you can obtain a current and well
! maintained bogon feed from our DNS and RADb services. Read more at the
! link below to learn how!
! Export our NetFlow data to our NetFlow server, NetFlow
! provides some statistics that can be of use when tracing the true
! source of a spoofed attack.
ip flow-export source loopback0
ip flow-export destination 2055
ip flow-export version 5 origin-as
! Log anything interesting to the loghost. Capture all of
! the logging output with FACILITY LOCAL5.
logging trap debugging
logging facility local5
logging source-interface loopback0
! With the ACLs, it is important to log the naughty folks.
! Thus, the implicit drop all ACL is replaced (augmented,
! actually) with an explicit drop all that logs the attempt.
! You may wish to keep a second list (e.g. 2011) that does not
! log. During an attack, the additional logging can impact the
! performance of the router. Simply copy and paste access-list 2010,
! remove the log-input keyword, and name it access-list 2011. Then
! when an attack rages, you can replace access-list 2010 on the
! Internet-facing interface with access-list 2011.
! Block SNMP access to all but the loghost
access-list 20 remark SNMP ACL
access-list 20 permit
access-list 20 deny any log
! Multicast - filter out obviously naughty or needless traffic
access-list 30 remark Multicast filtering ACL
! Link local
access-list 30 deny log
! Locally scoped
access-list 30 deny log
! sgi-dogfight
access-list 30 deny host log
! rwhod
access-list 30 deny host log
! ms-srvloc
access-list 30 deny host log
! ms-ds
access-list 30 deny host log
! ms-servloc-da
access-list 30 deny host log
! hp-device-disc
access-list 30 deny host log
! Permit all other multicast traffic
access-list 30 permit log
! Block access to all but the loghost and the firewall, and log any
! denied access attempts. This also serves to create an audit trail
! of all access to the router. Extended ACLs are used to log some
! additional data.
access-list 100 remark VTY Access ACL
access-list 100 permit tcp host host range 22 23 log-input
access-list 100 permit tcp host host range 22 23 log-input
access-list 100 deny ip any any log-input
! Leave one VTY safe for access, just in case. The host
! is a secure host in the NOC. If all the VTYs are
! occupied, this leaves one VTY available.
access-list 105 remark VTY Access ACL
access-list 105 permit tcp host host range 22 23 log-input
access-list 105 deny ip any any log-input
! Configure an ACL that prevents spoofing from within our network.
! This ACL assumes that we need to access the Internet only from the
! network. If you have additional networks behind
!, then add them into this ACL.
access-list 115 remark Anti-spoofing ACL
! First, allow our intranet to access the Internet.
access-list 115 permit ip any
! Second, allow our firewall to access the Internet. This is useful
! for testing.
access-list 115 permit ip host any
! Now log all other such attempts.
access-list 115 deny ip any any log-input
! Rate limit (CAR) ACLs for UDP, ICMP, and multicast.
access-list 150 remark CAR-UDP ACL
access-list 150 permit udp any any
access-list 160 remark CAR-ICMP ACL
access-list 160 permit icmp any any
access-list 170 remark CAR-Multicast ACL
access-list 170 permit ip any
! Deny any packets from the RFC 1918, IANA reserved, test,
! multicast as a source, and loopback netblocks to block
! attacks from commonly spoofed IP addresses.
access-list 2010 remark Anti-bogon ACL
! Claims it came from the inside network, yet arrives on the
! outside (read: Internet) interface. Do not use this if CEF
! has been configured to take care of spoofing.
! access-list 2010 deny ip any log-input
! access-list 2010 deny ip any log-input
! Bogons
! Team Cymru has removed all static bogon references from this template
! due to the high probability that the application of these bogon filters
! will be a one-time event. Unfortunately many of these templates are
! applied and never re-visited, despite our dire warnings that bogons do
! change.

! This doesn't mean bogon filtering can't be accomplished in an automated
! manner. Why not consider peering with our globally distributed bogon
! route-server project? Alternately you can obtain a current and well
! maintained bogon feed from our DNS and RADb services. Read more at the
! link below to learn how!
! Drop all ICMP fragments
access-list 2010 deny icmp any any fragments log-input
! Allow IP access to the intranet (firewall filters specific ports)
access-list 2010 permit ip any
! Allow multicast to enter. See also access-list 30 for more
! specific multicast rules.
access-list 2010 permit ip any
! Our explicit (read: logged) drop all rule
access-list 2010 deny ip any any log-input
! Do not share CDP information, which contains key bits about our
! configuration, etc. This command disabled CDP globally. If you
! require CDP on an interface, use cdp run and disable cdp
! (no cdp enable) on the Internet-facing interface.
no cdp run
! SNMP is VERY important, particularly with MRTG.
! Treat the COMMUNITY string as a password - keep it difficult to guess.
! For SNMP versions 1-2
snmp-server community <COMMUNITY> RO 20
! Introduce ourselves with an appropriately stern banner.
banner motd %
Router foo. Access to this device or the attached
networks is prohibited without express written permission.
Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of both civil
and criminal law.

We don't like you. Go away.

line con 0
 exec-timeout 15 0
 transport input none
line aux 0
 exec-timeout 15 0
line vty 0 3
 access-class 100 in
 exec-timeout 15 0
! Enable SSH connectivity.
! Obviously, you must have an IOS image that supports SSH, and don't
! forget to generate the key with crypto key generate rsa.
! To enable SSH access to the device, you additionally require a domain
! name to be set via "ip domian name x" before generating RSA keys
 ip domain-name <YOUR.DOMAIN>
! Disable SSHv1
 ip ssh version 2
 transport input ssh
line vty 4
 access-class 105 in
 exec-timeout 15 0
 transport input ssh
! End of the configuration.

Change Log

Changes in version 6.5:

Changes in version 6.4: Changes in version 6.3: Changes in version 6.2: Changes in version 6.1: Changes in version 6.0: Changes in version 5.10: Changes in version 5.9: Changes in version 5.8: Changes in version 5.7: Changes in version 5.6: Changes in version 5.5: Changes in version 5.4: Changes in version 5.3: Changes in version 5.2: Changes in version 5.1: Changes in version 5.0: Changes in version 4.9: Changes in version 4.8: Changes in version 4.7: Changes in version 4.6: Changes in version 4.5: Changes in version 4.4: Changes in version 4.3: Changes in version 4.2: Changes in version 4.1: Changes in version 4.0: Changes in version 3.9: Changes in version 3.8: Changes in version 3.7: Changes in version 3.6: Changes in version 3.5: Changes in version 3.4: Changes in version 3.3: Changes in version 3.1: Changes in version 3.0: Changes in version 2.9:
Changes in version 2.8:
Changes in version 2.7:
Changes in version 2.6:
Changes in version 2.5:
Changes in version 2.3:
Changes on 22 JUN 2001 (version 2.3.1):
Changes on 16 OCT 2001 (version 2.3.2):
Changes in version 2.4:

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