Caveats and Gotchas¶
While the configuration XML file kept by pfSense® software includes all of the settings, it does not include any changes that may have been made to the system by hand, such as manual modifications of source code. Additionally some packages require extra backup methods for their data.
The configuration file may contain sensitive information such as VPN keys or certificates, and passwords (other than the admin password) in plain text. Some passwords must be available in plain text during run time, making secure hashing of those passwords impossible (Password Storage Security Policies). Hence backup copies of these files must also be protected in some way. If they are stored on removable media, take care with physical security of that media and/or encrypt the drive.
If the GUI must be used over the WAN without a VPN connection, at least use HTTPS. Otherwise, a backup is transmitted in the clear, including any sensitive information inside that backup file. We strongly recommend using a trusted network or encrypted connection.