Clientless SSL VPN remote access has its pluses and minuses. I’ve found it to be more complicated to set up and customize than remote access using the VPN client. However, with a bit of patience, you’ll find it’s actually quite flexible and provides a way to offer users access to needed resources in a very controlled environment, without having to manage a client install.

This will be a two-part article with the first part covering the initial setup and the second part going into more depth on the customization of the remote user interface.

Keep in mind that the SSL VPN remote access solution does have some limitations. In a clientless SSL session, the Cisco ASA acts as a proxy between the remote user and the internal resources. When accessing resources, the ASA establishes a secure connection and validates the server SSL certificate. This certificate is never seen by the end user. The ASA does not permit communication with sites that have invalid certificates.

As always, refer to for more detailed information and specific configuration variations.

In the following steps, I’ll set up the basics of Clientless SSL VPN access. I’ve supplied most of the command-line work here as well as the ASDM equivalent.

Step 1. Configure an identity certificate

Here, I am creating a general purpose, self-signed, identity certificate named sslvpnkey and applying that certificate to the “outside” interface. You can purchase a certificate through a vendor such as Verisign, etc., if you choose.

corpasa(config)#crypto key generate rsa label sslvpnkey

corpasa(config)#crypto ca trustpoint localtrust

corpasa(config-ca-trustpoint)#enrollment self

corpasa(config-ca-trustpoint)#fqdn sslvpn.


corpasa(config-ca-trustpoint)#keypair sslvpnkey

corpasa(config-ca-trustpoint)#crypto ca enroll localtrust noconfirm

corpasa(config)# ssl trust-point localtrust outside

Figure A

Step 2. Enable SSL VPN Access
corpasa(config-webvpn)#enable outside
corpasa(config-webvpn)#svc enable

Figure B

Step 3. Create a Group Policy

Group Policies are used to specify the parameters that are applied to clients when they connect. The remote access clients will need to be assigned an IP address during login; so we’ll set up an address pool for them, but you could also use a DHCP server if you have one.

corpasa(config)#ip local pool VPN mask

Next, I’ve made some modifications to the default group policy for items such as the dns-servers, the default domain, etc. Typically, the default group policy is where you will set up the global values common to most users.

Corpasa (config)#group-policy DfltGrpPolicy attributes

Corpasa (config-group-policy)# wins-server value

Corpasa (config-group-policy)#  dns-server value

Corpasa (config-group-policy)#  dns-server value

Corpasa (config-group-policy)# vpn-tunnel-protocol svc webvpn

Corpasa (config-group-policy)# split-tunnel-policy tunnelspecified

Corpasa (config-group-policy)# split-tunnel-network-list value inside-network

Corpasa (config-group-policy)#  address-pools value VPN

Figure C

Then, I’ll create a group policy named Operations. This is where I’ll configure the items specific to our SSL users, which in this case is the operations team.

Corpasa (config)#group-policy Operations internal

Corpasa (config)#group-policy Operations attributes

Corpasa (config-group-policy)#   banner value Tech Op Remote Access

Corpasa (config-group-policy)#   banner value Unauthorized access prohibited

Corpasa (config-group-policy)#   vpn-tunnel-protocol webvpn

Corpasa (config-group-policy)#   webvpn

Corpasa (config-group-webvpn)#  url-list value TechOps

Corpasa (config-group-webvpn)#  homepage none

Corpasa (config-group-webvpn)#  svc ask none default webvpn

Corpasa (config-group-webvpn)# customization value TechOps

Corpasa (config-group-webvpn)# hidden-shares visible

Corpasa (config-group-webvpn)#  file-entry enable

Corpasa (config-group-webvpn)#  file-browsing enable

Corpasa (config-group-webvpn)#  url-entry enable

Figure D

Step 4. Configure access list bypass

By using the sysopt connect command we tell the ASA to allow the SSL/IPsec clients to bypass the interface access lists.

corpasa(config)#sysopt connection permit-vpn

Step 5. Create a connection profile and tunnel group

As remote access clients connect to the ASA, they connect to a connection profile, which is also known as a tunnel group. We’ll use this tunnel group to define the specific connection parameters we want them to use during this SSL VPN session.

First, let’s create the tunnel group RA_SSL:

corpasa(config)# tunnel-group RA_SSL webvpn-attributes

Figure E

Next, I’ll assign the specific attributes:

corpasa(config)#tunnel-group RA_SSL webvpn-attributes

corpasa(config-tunnel-webvpn)# group-alias RA_SSL enable

corpasa(config-tunnel-webvpn)# customization TechOps

corpasa(config-webvpn)# group-url https://MyASAIP/RA_SSL enable

Figure F

Step 6. Configure NAT exemption

Now I need to tell the ASA not to NAT the traffic between the remote access clients and the internal network they will be accessing. First I’ll create an access list that defines the traffic, and then we’ll apply this list to the nat statement for our interface.

corpasa(config)#access-list no_nat extended permit


corpasa(config)#nat (inside) 0 access-list no_nat

Figure G

Step 7. Configure user accounts

Now we’re ready for some user accounts. Here I’ll create a user and assign this user to our remote access VPN. While you are setting up local accounts here, you can also configure domain servers and use domain authentication if you choose to do so.

corpasa(config)#username hyde password l3tm3in

corpasa(config)#username hyde attributes

corpasa(config-username)#service-type remote-access

Figure H

Finishing up:

Don’t forget to save your configuration to memory.

corpasa#write memory

Verify your configuration by establishing a remote access session and use the following show command to view session details.

corpasa #show vpn-sessiondb webvpn

This should get the basics of your SSL VPN remote access configured on the Cisco ASA. Unfortunately, your users won’t have many resources until you configure them. In part 2, I’ll look at how to customize the SSL VPN portal to provide the required access for your remote users. Stay tuned!

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