Last month, I told you how to update the software on the Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA), Cisco's latest and greatest firewall ("Five steps to upgrading the software on a Cisco ASA 5510"). In that article, I briefly mentioned the ASA's GUI management interface, the Adaptive Security Device Manager (ASDM). This week, let's take a closer look at the latest version of the interface — ASDM 6.x — and see what it has to offer.
What does ASDM 6.x have to offer?
It's always a good idea to read the release notes whenever a vendor releases a new version of software. When reading the ASDM version 6.x release notes, I noticed a few significant improvements as well as some important information. For example, ASDM 6.x only works with ASA software version 8.x, so upgrade your ASA software before upgrading your ASDM software.
Here's what else stood out:
- Redesigned interface and expanded help
- Visual Policy Editor
- Firewall dashboard
- More complex configuration support
- Device list
- SSL VPN Configuration Wizard
- Startup Wizard enhancements
- ASDM Assistant voice configuration options
- Packet Capture Wizard
Let's take a closer look at two of these improvements: ASDM Startup Wizard and the firewall dashboard.
To access the ASDM, point your Web browser to:
where x.x.x.x is the IP address of the ASA.This should take you to the Cisco ASDM 6.0 opening page, as shown in Figure A.
Click the Run Startup Wizard button to launch the wizard, as shown in Figure B.
The Startup Wizard is a very user-friendly guide that walks you through performing the initial configuration of ASA. Using it, you can configure the hostname, domain name, enable password, Auto Update, interface IP addressing, static routing, DHCP servers for inside clients, NAT and PAT, and administrative access. Figure C, Figure D, Figure E, Figure F, and Figure G offer sample screenshots from this wizard.
Firewall dashboardAnother new feature that ASDM 6.x boasts is the firewall dashboard. This is one of the two dashboards available from the Home menu of the ASDM interface. Figure H offers a sample screenshot.
This dashboard is a great place to see the current status of your firewall connections, dropped packets, possible attacks, and what traffic is flowing in and out of the ASA. In my opinion, this is something that all firewalls need, so I'm thankful to see it on the ASA.
The PIX PDM and the ASA ASDM have always had the "device dashboard," which shows CPU/RAM and some traffic stats. However, as these are firewalls, they really needed a firewall-oriented dashboard.
I'm very impressed with the new features offered by ASDM 6.x. There's a ton of new SSL VPN features and wizards, and the GUI is very user-friendly.
I think the Startup Wizard will be a great way for new users to begin using ASA, and it will make the box seem less intimidating than Cisco firewalls have been in the past. Good work, Cisco.
David Davis has worked in the IT industry for 12 years and holds several certifications, including CCIE, MCSE+I, CISSP, CCNA, CCDA, and CCNP. He currently manages a group of systems/network administrators for a privately owned retail company and performs networking/systems consulting on a part-time basis.
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