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Cisco AAA Identity Management Security: Getting Familiar with ACS 5.1

  • Sample Chapter is provided courtesy of Cisco Press.
  • Date: Feb 2, 2011.

Chapter Description

ACS 5.1 has a completely different user interface from ACS 4.2. Throughout the course of this chapter you will become familiar with the GUI and know where different functions are located.

Monitoring and Reports

The Monitoring and Reports drawer replaces the Reports and Activity section of previous versions of ACS. You can now view reports based on different criteria such as Access Service, End Point, and Failure Reason, among others. ACS 5.x also introduces a configurable dashboard for reports and alarms.

The Monitoring and Reports drawer contains the Launch Monitoring and Report Viewer option. Click this option to open the Monitoring and Reports Viewer in another browser window or tab. The layout of the new window is similar to the main window but contains only the following two drawers:

  • Monitoring and Reports
  • Monitoring Configuration

The Monitoring and Reports drawer contains the following options:

  • DashBoard: ACS 5.1 provides a new customizable dashboard that contains tabs and portlets where your favorite queries, recent alarms and reports, and health status of ACS reside. Each of these tabs can have multiple portlets, with each portlet containing an application of your choice. You can select an application from the available list. Some of the important applications available in the dashboard by default are as follows:
    • Recent Five Alarms: This application is available in the General tab and shows the latest five alarms.
    • Favorite Reports: This application contains links to favorite reports. The favorite list is configuration from the Reports option discussed later.
    • Live Authentications: This application is available in the Troubleshooting tab and shows authentication requests received in real time. This is a very useful application for troubleshooting. By default, it refreshes every 10 seconds and is configured to monitor RADIUS requests.
    • NAD Show Command: A neat little application that can connect to a network device using SSH or Telnet and run a show command. You have to provide the login details and the show command to run. ACS will display the output in a new window. This is also a very useful application. It saves you from jumping between ACS GUI and Telnet or SSH clients.
    • ACS Health Status: Shows the health of the ACS server.
  • Alarms: ACS 5.x introduces alarms. The monitoring component retrieves data from ACS and generates alarms to notify you of critical system conditions. These alarms can be viewed in the Inbox option in this drawer or can be received through Syslog and email. There are two types of alarms in ACS: Threshold and System. Threshold alarms are defined on logs collected from ACS. You can configure a threshold alarm to notify you of different events such as authentication activity, system health, and process status, among others. System alarms notify you of critical conditions encountered during the execution of the ACS Monitoring and Reporting viewer. System alarms also provide the informational status of system activities, such as data purge events or the failure of the log collector to populate the View database. You cannot configure system alarms. This drawer contains the following options:
    • Inbox: Generated alarms can be viewed in the Inbox. After you view an alarm, you can edit the status of the alarm, assign the alarm to an administrator, and add notes to track the event.
    • Thresholds: You can configure thresholds from this page. A maximum of 100 thresholds can be configured in an ACS server. Four thresholds exist by default, out of which only the System Errors threshold is enabled.
    • Schedules: Each threshold has a schedule associated with it. The schedule defines when a threshold is run. You need to configure schedules on this page before you can use them in thresholds. By default, ACS has a nonstop schedule that monitors events 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Reports: The Reports section contains different predefined reports that you can use to monitor and troubleshoot ACS. These reports include authentication and authorization reports (similar to passed and failed reports from ACS 4.x), access service reports, ACS configuration and operation audits, and network device summary, among others. You can add any of the reports to your Favorites and those will be displayed in the General tab of the dashboard. The following report categories are available in the catalog:
    • AAA Protocol: Contains RADIUS and TACACS+ authentication, authorization (TACACS+ only) and accounting reports, AAA diagnostics, and authentication trend. Passed and failed logs from previous ACS version have been divided into protocol-specific authentication and authorization reports. Figure 4-26 shows the TACACS+ authentication report.
      Figure 4-26

      Figure 4-26 TACACS+ Authentication Report

    • Access Service: Contains a graphical summary report and a top count report for authentication in respect to access services.
    • ACS Instance: Contains different system-related reports such as configuration and operations audit reports, health summary, administrator logins and entitlement reports, and ACS system diagnostics.
    • Endpoint: Contains MAC address-based authentication summary reports, MAC address-based top authentications reports, and machine-based top authentication reports.
    • Failure Reason: Contains summary and top authentication failure reports. This is one of the most important reporting sections. A close look at this section can tell you about any access attacks being carried out against your network.
    • Network Device: Contains summary and top authentication reports in respect to network devices. These reports are useful in tracking which devices are generating the maximum number of requests.
    • Session Directory: Contains active session, terminated sessions, and session history reports for RADIUS and TACACS+. Accounting packets received from devices are used to maintain session information.
    • User: Contains summary and top authentication reports in respect to users.
  • Troubleshooting: ACS 5.x contains some nice troubleshooting options. The following options are available in the Troubleshooting section:
  • Connectivity Tests: You can run a ping, traceroute, and nslookup for a hostname or IP address to see whether the device is reachable from ACS. This is important to see whether the requests from a device and replies from ACS to the device are not getting dropped in the network.
  • ACS Support Bundle: The support bundle is a zip archive of diagnostic information, including system log files. You can also choose to include ACS configuration, ACS debug log files, ACS localstore log files, and core files. This support bundle will be needed by the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) for troubleshooting.
  • Expert Troubleshooter: This section contains some nice tools to check the configuration of a device and ACS. Using RADIUS Authentication troubleshooting tool, you can select a failed or passed log from RADIUS authentication report and have it check the ACS and device configuration to see why the authentication failed or passed. Figure 4-27 shows the report generated by this tool when changing the RADIUS shared key on the device. This section also contains the NAD show command application from the dashboard and the Evaluate Configuration Validator, which checks the configuration of a device to see whether it is configured properly for a task such as 802.1x authentication.
    Figure 4-27

    Figure 4-27 RADIUS Authentication Troubleshooting Tool at Work

The Monitoring Configuration drawer contains various configuration options for the Monitoring and Report Viewer. Configuration of ACS View (the Monitoring and Reporting part of ACS 5.x) is out of the scope of this book.

7. ACS 5.1 Command-Line Interface (CLI) | Next Section Previous Section

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