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Cisco Defense Orchestrator

Application Policy Management

The Application Policy Management view provides a perspective of application-level policies across devices and services. This unique capability allows for changes to be applied consistently across managed devices and services for URL, URL Categories, Applications, Application Categories, and others, in or outside of the network.

Layer 7 policies are managed differently when compared to managing Layer 3 policies. Layer 3 policies are applied explicitly in support of the desired security profile. For example, should a given IP need to be blocked, an explicit rule would be applied to the device to enforce this policy. Application Policies are different in that they are managed both explicitly and implicitly, when developing a security profile.

To demonstrate this, consider the need to block access to How might this be accomplished within CDO? Let's assume that there are two properly configured Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) devices where FTD1 contains an explicit rule blocking while a second device, FTD2, does not contain an explicit rule blocking Navigating to the Application Policy Management view and entering into the Search bar starts the process. As might be expected, the results show the line for the URL, for the FTD1 device, shows an explicit rule that is set to block.

The second device FTD2, while containing no explicit rule blocking, also shows the URL as blocked, due to an implicit rule. Looking deeper at the Search results, the URL Category "Freeware and Shareware", which contains the URL, is set to block. As a result of the containing URL Category, with no explicit rule for on FTD2 set to allow, means that the FTD2 device will block implicitly.

The ability to search across types and devices simplifies the management of Layer 7 policies, by focusing on the intended question at hand. For example, How do I block Bittorrent? or Why can't I get to In the latter case, a simple search on may show that while there is no explicit rule blocking the URL, there may be an explicit block on the "Gambling" URL category. To permit, and not change the explicit block "Gambling", simply highlight the URL and allow traffic on the desired device. This will create an explicit Allow rule which can be pushed to the device.

Managing Layer 7 policy across multiple devices is also easy to perform. To illustrate this, imagine that the Application Category "web gaming" is blocked across all devices within an organization, however there is the need to permit Farmville. Using the Search capability in Application Policy Manager, a simple search on Farmville will demonstrate that it is implicitly blocked due to the Application Category block on "web gaming". To enable Farmville, set the Action to Enable for the Farmville Application type entries listed. Deploying the policies to their respective devices will enable this Application across the network.

If Automatic IPS updates are enabled on the FTD device, then changes to Layer 7 policies may change dynamically. Here too, the Search capability of Application Policy Management permits easy assessment of URLs.

Using Application Policy Management

  • The lock icon indicates Explicit (blue) policies or Implicit (grey) policies.
  • Click Show All to list all explicit Layer 7 policies on managed devices.
  • Policy Status indicates which policies have been deployed to devices and those that are pending.


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