Filtering Bridges

Alex Dupre

Revision: 43184
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Last modified on 2013-11-13 by hrs.

Often it is useful to divide one physical network (like an Ethernet) into two separate segments without having to create subnets, and use a router to link them together. The device that connects the two networks in this way is called a bridge. A FreeBSD system with two network interfaces is enough in order to act as a bridge.

A bridge works by scanning the addresses of MAC level (Ethernet addresses) of the devices connected to each of its network interfaces and then forwarding the traffic between the two networks only if the source and the destination are on different segments. Under many points of view a bridge is similar to an Ethernet switch with only two ports.

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Table of Contents
1. Why use a filtering bridge?
2. How to Install
3. Final Preparation
4. Enabling the Bridge
5. Configuring The Firewall
6. Contributors

1. Why use a filtering bridge?

More and more frequently, thanks to the lowering costs of broad band Internet connections (xDSL) and also because of the reduction of available IPv4 addresses, many companies are connected to the Internet 24 hours on 24 and with few (sometimes not even a power of 2) IP addresses. In these situations it is often desirable to have a firewall that filters incoming and outgoing traffic from and towards Internet, but a packet filtering solution based on router may not be applicable, either due to subnetting issues, the router is owned by the connectivity supplier (ISP), or because it does not support such functionalities. In these scenarios the use of a filtering bridge is highly advised.

A bridge-based firewall can be configured and inserted between the xDSL router and your Ethernet hub/switch without any IP numbering issues.

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