fixup on cisco firewalls

During migration to our new one of our new firewalls, I became aware that our outbound mail was not getting out and the queue was just growing. After a bit of digging around I found that our internal mail server could establish a SMTP connection to the server it was trying to send to, the message just wasn’t going down the connection.

I telnet’ed to the SMTP server that we were trying to deliver to, to try and manually send a message by issuing SMTP commands, the conversation went something like the following:

RECV>  220 ****2************************************
SEND> HELO mail. squiggle.org
RECV> 500 5.5.1 Command unrecognized: “XXXX”

Every command that I issued resulted in not being recognised, but each letter substituted as XX’s. After a bit more investigation (netcat listning on port 25 to see what was really being sent), it became apparent that something was altering the SMTP commands, and also the server header on the initial 220 by the looks of it.

After looking into what could be making these alterations, I found out that the likly culprit was our newly configured Cisco PIX firewall… Cisco fixup can run on a firewall and inspect the data in a SMTP session, to try and secure it more, by restricting it to a certain commandset, ours just looked to be restricting the whole lot! Disabling the fixup for SMTP with the following command fixed the issue:

> no fixup protocol smtp 25 

As soon as this rule was added, mail started flowing again!

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