Using Static Port with Outbound NAT

By default, pfSense rewrites the source port on all outgoing packets. Many operating systems do a poor job of source port randomization, if they do it at all. This makes IP spoofing easier, and makes it possible to fingerprint hosts behind the firewall from their outbound traffic. Rewriting the source port eliminates these potential (but unlikely) security vulnerabilities. Source port randomization also allows NAT to overload connections properly when multiple local clients need to reach the same remote server IP address and port simultaneously.

However, rewriting the source port breaks some applications which require the source port to remain unmodified. Notably, there are a handful of protocols, including IPsec and some games, which suffer from this limitation.

Automatic Outbound NAT rules on pfSense will retain the source port for UDP 500 (ISAKMP for IPsec VPN traffic) by default because this traffic will almost always be broken by rewriting the source port.

Setting Static Port using Hybrid Outbound NAT

To disable source port rewriting, the Static Port option must be used on outbound NAT rules. When crafting these rules, be as specific as possible with the source, destination, and destination port to avoid problems with other traffic

  • Navigate to Firewall > NAT on the Outbound tab
  • Select Hybrid Outbound NAT
  • Click Save
  • Click Add with the up arrow to add a rule to the top of the list
  • Set Interface to WAN
  • Set the Protocol to match the desired traffic (e.g. UDP)
  • Set the Source to match the local source of traffic, such as LAN Net or a specific device such as a game console IP address, or an alias containing multiple such devices
  • Leave the Source Port box empty, which indicates any
  • Set the Destination to match the traffic, if known, otherwise leave set to ‘any’
  • Set the Destination Port to a specific port or port alias, if it is known, otherwise leave the box blank for any
  • Set the Translation Address to Interface Address or an appropriate VIP if needed
  • Check Static Port to indicate that traffic matching this rule will retain the original source port
  • Click Save
  • Click Apply Changes
  • Navigate to Diagnostics > States
  • Enter the IP address of the device in the Filter box if a specific source was used in the rule
  • Click Filter
  • Click Kill

Now connections matching that rule will have their source port retained.

Manual Outbound NAT

This procedure can also be performed with Manual Outbound NAT rules but using Hybrid Outbound NAT is easier because it allows the automatic rules to be used rather than having to manually maintain all outbound NAT rules.

When using manual mode, ensure that the copied or new rule is moved to the top of the rule list. Rules are processed from the top down and the first match is used. If the rule is below any other rule that can match the same traffic, then the new rule would never be used.

Older/Upgraded Releases

pfSense 1.2.3 and older releases did not rewrite the source port on SIP (UDP 5060) traffic, by default pfSense 2.0 and later do. If problems with handsets are encountered on an older release, or on a configuration originally generated on an older release, upgrade to a current version of pfSense or manually adjust the outbound NAT rules.