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Security How To

Traffic Control

Though Traffic control is central to pfSense, there are some serious limitations in the current version. Traffic shaping in Version 1.2.3 doesn't handle either Squid HTTP traffic or failover. (Squid uses your loopback interface, which is not shaped, but there is a workaround). Version 2, to be released soon, supposedly does.

Traffic shaping can be effective on a single WAN system or multi-WAN, but just on a single WAN interface with static routing. For example, you can direct all file transfer protocols (P2P, FTP, etc) through your secondary WAN interface, and leaving HTTP on the primary interface.

I will introduce traffic shaping. But full traffic shaping is complex, requiring specific details of not only your traffic, but of use patterns. This kind of traffic shaping is outside the scope of this article; more details can be found in the pfSense forums.

The Wizard sets up initial traffic queues and rules that can then be tuned; it uses your actual bandwidth figures to allocate traffic across the defined queues. So, before you start, you will need to gather your bandwidth figures, both up and down, using any number of sources (DSLReports, for example).

The first time you go to the Traffic Shaper (Firewall->Traffic Shaper) you will be presented with the wizard interface, which will step you through setting up traffic queues for the traffic you want to shape.

Traffic Shaper Wizard

Figure 8: Traffic Shaper Wizard

Here are the options for types of traffic that can be prioritized:

Traffic Type Description
VoIP Higher priority for VOIP traffic, generic or Vonage, Voice Plus, Asterisk
Peer To Peer Allocate Bandwidth to generic P2P traffic, or Disable and Lower priority for about 20 protocols of P2P traffic
Gaming Increase priority for about 20 Games, including BattleNet, WOW, Xbox360
Other Set priority for about eight categories including VPN, IM, HTTP, and Multimedia
Table 1: Traffic Shaper options

You can also define a Penalty Box, a specific IP or alias to limit if traffic levels are high.

Once you finish the wizard, it will generate traffic queues, which are essentially separate sets of routing rules. When you return to the Traffic Shaper, you will now have three tabs: Rules;Queues; and a tab for rerunning the wizard.

Traffic Shaper queues

Figure 9: Traffic Shaper queues

The values and order of the rules can all be tuned to prioritize traffic. By editing a queue, you can change the traffic percentage, and the corresponding priority of the traffic.

To verify that traffic is moving through your queues, go to the Queue Status page (Status->Queues). The various bar graphs should dynamically show changes in traffic patterns after a short delay. Attention should be paid to any drops, which indicate traffic problems.

Traffic Shaper queue status

Figure 10: Traffic Shaper queue status

Both Squid and Snort offer traffic control facilities. Squid offers both transfer caps and throttling under the Traffic Management tab of the Squid page (Services->Proxy Server). These settings are straightforward, and allow for throttling of particular categories of downloads.

Squid traffic management

Figure 11: Squid traffic management

Snort, on the other hand, offers rules for blocking certain protocol traffic , such as IM Traffic (emerging and snort chat.rules) and P2p traffic (snort and emerging p2p.rules).

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