Using the Built-in GeoIP Functionality of GCP HTTP/HTTPS Load Balancers

GCP HTTP/HTTPS Load Balancers offer great performance, and today I learned of a cool almost hidden feature: the ability to stamp custom headers with client GeoIP info. Here’s a Terraform config snippet:

resource "google_compute_backend_service" "MY_BACKEND_SERVICE" {
  provider                 = google-beta
  name                     = "my-backend-service"
  health_checks            = [ ]
  backed {
    group                  = google_compute_instance_group.MY_INSTANCE_GROUP.self_link
    balancing_mode         = "UTILIZATION"
    max_utilization        = 1.0
  custom_request_headers   = [ "X-Client-Geo-Location: {client_region},{client_city}" ]
  custom_response_headers  = [ "X-Cache-Hit: {cdn_cache_status}" ]

This will cause the Backend Service to stamp all HTTP requests with a custom header called “X-Client-Geo-Location” with the country abbreviation and city. It can then be parsed on the server to get this information for the client without having to rely on messy X-Forwarded-For parsing and GeoIP lookups.

Here’s a Python example that redirects the user to UK or Australia localized websites:

#!/usr/bin/env python3

import os

   client_location = os.environ.get('HTTP_X_CLIENT_GEO_LOCATION', None)
   if client_location:
       [country,city] = client_location.split(',')
   websites = { 'UK': "", 'AU': "" }
   if country in websites:
       local_website = websites[country]
       local_website = ""
   print("Status: 301\nLocation: https://{}\n".format(local_website))

except Exception as e:
   print("Status: 500\nContent-Type: text/plain\n\n{}".format(e))

Basic Network-Related Terraform w/ GCP

Setting up Terraform for GCP

Start creating .tf files:

terraform {
  required_providers {
    google = {
      source = "hashicorp/google"

provider "google" {
  version = "3.5.0"
  credentials = file("myproject-123456-f72073802721.json")
  project = "myproject-123456"
  region  = "us-central1"
  zone    = "us-central1-a"

Create new VPC Network with subnets in Oregon and London

# Create new network called 'my-network'
resource "google_compute_network" "TF_NETWORK" {
  name = "my-network"
  auto_create_subnetworks = false

# Create subnet in us-west1 (Oregon);
# Enable private API access & 1 minute 100% flow logging
resource "google_compute_subnetwork" "TF_SUBNET_1" {
  name          = "my-network-subnet-oregon"
  ip_cidr_range = ""
  region        = "us-west1"
  network       =
  private_ip_google_access = true
  log_config {
    aggregation_interval = "INTERVAL_1_MIN"
    flow_sampling        = 1.0
    metadata             = "INCLUDE_ALL_METADATA"

# Create subnet in europe-west2 (London)
# Add secondary IP range
resource "google_compute_subnetwork" "TF_SUBNET_2" {
  name          = "my-network-subnet-london"
  ip_cidr_range = ""
  region        = "europe-west2"
  network       =
  secondary_ip_range {
    range_name    = "tf-subnet-london-secondary-range"
    ip_cidr_range = ""

Create (ingress) firewall rules

# Allow ICMP, SSH, and DNS from RFC-1918 Private Address Space
resource "google_compute_firewall" "TF_FWRULE_1" {
  name    = "allow-ssh-and-dns-from-rfc-1918"
  network =
  allow {
    protocol = "icmp"
  allow {
    protocol = "tcp"
    ports = ["22"]
  allow {
    protocol = "udp"
    ports = ["53"]
  source_ranges = ["","",""]

# Allow HTTP & HTTPS from Internet w/ logging enabled;
# applied to instances with network tag 'nginx' or 'apache'
resource "google_compute_firewall" "TF_FWRULE_2" {
  name    = "allow-http-and-https-from-internet"
  network =
  enable_logging = true
  allow {
    protocol = "tcp"
    ports    = ["80", "443"]
  target_tags = ["nginx", "apache"]

Create an External L7 Load balancer

# Create basic port 80 healthcheck
resource "google_compute_health_check" "TF_HEALTHCHECK" {
  name               = "check-website-backend"
  check_interval_sec = 15
  timeout_sec        = 3
  tcp_health_check {
    port = "80"

# Create Backend service
 with backend timeout of 15 seconds and client IP session affinity
resource "google_compute_backend_service" "TF_BACKEND_SERVICE" {
  name                  = "website-backend-service"
  health_checks         = []
  timeout_sec           = 15
  session_affinity      = "CLIENT_IP"

# Create URL map (Load balancer)
resource "google_compute_url_map" "TF_URL_MAP" {
  name                  = "my-load-balancer"
  default_service       =

# Create HTTP target proxy
resource "google_compute_target_http_proxy" "TF_TPROXY_HTTP" {
  name                  = "my-http-target-proxy"
  url_map               =

# Create ssl cert/key HTTPS target proxy
resource "google_compute_ssl_certificate" "TF_SSL_CERT" {
  name        = "my-ssl-certificate"
  private_key = file("mykey.key")
  certificate = file("mycert.crt")
resource "google_compute_target_https_proxy" "TF_TPROXY_HTTPS" {
  name                  = "my-https-target-proxy"
  url_map               =
  ssl_certificates      = []

# Allocate External Global IP Address
resource "google_compute_global_address" "TF_IP_ADDRESS" {
  name                  = "gcp-l7-externalip-global"

# Create HTTP frontend
resource "google_compute_global_forwarding_rule" "TF_FWD_RULE_1" {
  name                  = "my-frontend-http"
  ip_address            = google_compute_global_address.TF_GLOBAL_IP_ADDRESS.address
  port_range            = "80"
  target                =

# Create HTTPS frontend
resource "google_compute_global_forwarding_rule" "TF_FWD_RULE_2" {
  name                  = "my-frontend-https"
  ip_address            = google_compute_global_address.TF_GLOBAL_IP_ADDRESS.address
  port_range            = "443"
  target                =

AWS or GCP IPSec Tunnels with BGP routing on a FortiGate software version 6.x

To use BGP routing on an AWS or GCP VPN connection, the tunnel interface needs to have its IP address assigned as a /32 and then the remote IP specified:

config system interface
    edit "GCP"
        set vdom "root"
        set ip
        set type tunnel
        set remote-ip
        set interface "wan1"

BGP can be configured under the GUI in Network -> BGP in most cases, but the CLI has additional options. Here’s an example config for a peer with ASN 64512, announcing the prefix.

config router bgp
    set as 65000
    set router-id
    set keepalive-timer 10
    set holdtime-timer 30
    set scan-time 15
    config neighbor
       edit ""
           set remote-as 64512
    config network
        edit 1
            set prefix

VPN throughput Tests – Palo Alto VM-300 to GCP

I was doing a deep dive read of supported IKEv2 ciphers on GCP native VPNs today and thought I’d setup a quick lab to see which settings would provide best throughput. Lab setup was as follows:

  • Palo Alto VM-300 on m4.xlarge in us-east-2 (Ohio)
  • IKEv2 VPN to GCP us-east4 (N. Virginia)
  • Latency is a steady 13ms round trip time
  • AWS side test instance is t3.xlarge (4 vCPU / 16 GB RAM)
  • GCP side test instance is e2-standard-4 (4 vCPU / 16 GB RAM)
  • Both VMs running Ubuntu Linux 18.04.4
  • File is 500 MB binary file transfer via SCP

Throughput speeds (in Mbps) using DH Group 14 (2048-bit) PFS:

Encryption / HashSHA-512SHA-256SHA-1
AES-GCM 256-bit664668672
AES-GCM 128-bit648680704
AES-CBC 256-bit510516616
AES-CBC 192-bit492523624
AES-CBC 128-bit494573658
Average: 604 Mbps

Throughput speeds (in Mbps) using DH Group 5 (1536-bit) PFS:

Encryption / HashSHA-512SHA-256SHA-1
AES-GCM 256-bit700557571
AES-GCM 128-bit660676616
AES-CBC 256-bit464448656
AES-CBC 192-bit595528464
AES-CBC 128-bit605484587
Average: 574 Mbps

Throughput speeds (in Mbps) using DH Group 2 (1024-bit) PFS:

Encryption / HashSHA-512SHA-256SHA-1
AES-GCM 256-bit680626635
AES-GCM 128-bit672664680
AES-CBC 256-bit584452664
AES-CBC 192-bit536520664
AES-CBC 128-bit528502656
Average: 608 Mbps

Key Takeaways

GCP will prefer AES-CBC in their negotiations, but AES-GCM provides roughly 25% better throughput. So if throughput is paramount, be sure to have only AES-GCM in the IPSec profile.

If using AES-CBC, SHA-1, while deprecated, is 13% faster than SHA-256 and 25% faster than SHA-512. Since SAs are rebuilt every 3 hours, cracking isn’t as large a concern as in typical SHA-1 use cases.

DH Group does not affect speeds. May as well use the strongest mutually supported value, which is Group 14 (2048-bit). GCP does not support Elliptic Curve (Groups 19-21) so these couldn’t be tested. I would expect faster SA build times, but no change in transfer speeds.

Assuming SHA-256 and Group 14 PFS, this graph summarizes the results:

Working with CGP Storage via Linux/FreeBSD CLI

Installing Google Cloud SDK on FreeBSD:

This is easily done via package or ports:

pkg install google-cloud-sdk

Installing Google Cloud SDK on Debian/Ubuntu:

Follow the instructions here which are summarized below

Add the Google Cloud SDK as a package source:

echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/] cloud-sdk main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google-cloud-sdk.list

Install required dependencies:

sudo apt install apt-transport-https ca-certificates gnupg

Add Google Cloud public key:

curl | sudo apt-key --keyring /usr/share/keyrings/ add -

Install Google Cloud SDK:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install google-cloud-sdk

Prepping gCloud:

If a proxy server is required, set gcloud to use it:

gcloud config set proxy/type http
gcloud config set proxy/address
gcloud config set proxy/port 3128

Configure gCloud.  This will spit out a URL to paste in to browser, which will return an authorization code

gcloud init

This will generate an encrypted file ~/.gsutil/credstor that will be used for authentication.  To re-authenticate:

gcloud auth login

To switch to a different project:

glcoud config set project <PROJECT_ID>

To switch to a different account:

gcloud config set account

To use a service account:

gcloud auth activate-service-account <ACCOUNT_EMAIL> --key-file=<JSON_KEY_FILE>

CLI commands for working with Google Cloud Storage

List existing buckets

gsutil ls

Create a storage bucket called ‘mybucket’

gsutil mb gs://mybucket

Get information about a bucket called ‘mybucket’

gsutil ls -L -b gs://mybucket/

Upload a single file to the bucket

gsutil cp myfile gs://mybucket/

Upload a directory and its contents to a bucket

gsutil cp -r folder1 gs://code-j5-org/

List contents of a bucket

gsutil ls -r gs://mybucket/

Download a file called ‘testfile.png’ in ‘folder1’

gsutil cp gs://mybucket/folder1/testfile.png

Delete multiple files in a folder

gsutil rm gs://mybucket/folder1/*.png

Delete a folder and all its contents

gsutil rm -r gs://mybucket/folder1

Delete a bucket, if bucket is empty

gsutil rb gs://mybucket

Delete a bucket all all files

gsutil rm -r gs://mybucket

Accessing buckets via HTTPS


curl -X POST --data-binary @[OBJECT_LOCATION] \
-H "Authorization: Bearer [OAUTH2_TOKEN]" \
-H "Content-Type: [OBJECT_CONTENT_TYPE]" \

To download files, buckets can be accessed at https://<bucket name>   For example,


Within GCP for subnets that have “Private google access”, this DNS name will always resolve to

GCP Load Balancers – Two Gotchas

Healthchecks are failing, even though the service is running and open via fw rules

Healthchecks actually originate from GCP directly, rather than the load balancer instance itself.  So these networks must be whitelisted in the firewall rules:


The LB works in the same region, but does not respond from different regions

By default, load balancers operate in regional-only mode.  To switch to global, edit the frontend properties and look for this radio button:



Deploying CheckPoint CloudGuard IaaS High Availability in GCP

A minimum 3 NICs are required and will be broken down like so:

  • eth0 – Public / External Interface facing Internet
  • eth1 – Management interface used for Cluster sync.  Can also be used for security management server communication
  • eth2 – First internal interface.  Usually faces internal servers & load balancers.  Can be used for security management server communication

The Deployment launch template has a few fields which aren’t explained very well…

Security Management Server address

A static route to this destination via management interface will be created a launch time.  If the Security Management server is accessed via one of the internal interfaces, use a dummy address here such as and add the static routes after launch.

SIC key

This is the password to communicate with the Security Management server. It can be set after launch, but if already known, it can be set here to be pre-configured at launch

Automatically generate an administrator password

This will create a new random ‘admin’ user password to allow access to the WebGUI right after launch, which saves some time especially in situations were SSH is slow or blocked.

Note – SSH connections always require public key authentication, even with this enabled

Allow download from/upload to Check Point

This will allow the instance to communicate outbound to Checkpoint to check for updates.  It’s enabled by default on most CheckPoint appliances, so I’d recommend enabling this setting


This is the real catch, and a pretty stupid one.  The form fills out these three subnets:

  • “Cluster External Subnet CIDR” =
  • “Management external subnet CIDR” =
  • “1st internal subnet CIDR” =

If using an existing network, erase the pre-filled value and then select the appropriate networks in the drop-down menus like so:


Also, make sure all subnets have “Private Google Access” checked

Post-launch Configuration

After launch, access the gateways via SSH using public key and/or WebGUI to run through initial setup.  The first step is set a new password for the admin user:

set user admin password

set expert-password

Since eth1 rather than eth0 is the management interface, I would recommend setting that accordingly:

set management interface eth1

I would also recommend adding static routes. The deployment will create static routes for RFC 1918 space via the management interface.  If these need to be overridden to go via an internal interface the CLI command is something like this

set static-route NETWORK/MASK nexthop gateway address NEXTHOP_ADDRESS on

Before importing in to SmartConsole, you can test connectivity by trying to telnet to the security management’s server address on port 18191. Once everything looks good, don’t forget to save the configuration:

save config

Cluster Creation

In SmartConsole, create a new ClusterXL. When prompted for the cluster address, enter the primary cluster address.  The easy way to find this is look the the deployment result under Tools -> Deployment manager -> Deployments


Then add the individual gateways with the management interface.   Walking through the wizard, you’ll need to define the type of each interface:

  • Set the first (external) interface to private use
  • Set the secondary (management) interface as sync/primary
  • Set subsequent interfaces as private use with monitoring.

Note the wizard tends to list the interfaces backwards: eth2, eth1, eth0


The guide lists a few steps to do within the Gateway Cluster Properties, several of which I disagree with. Instead, I’d suggest the following:

  • Under Network Management, VPN Domain, create a group that lists the internal subnets behind the Checkpoint that will be accessed via site-to-site and remote access VPNs
  • On the eth1 interface, set Topology to Override / This Network / Network defined by routes. This should allow IP spoofing to remain enabled
  • Under NAT, do not check “Hide internal networks behind the Gateway’s external IP” as this will auto-generate a NAT rule that could conflict with site-to-site VPNs. Instead, create manual NAT rules in the policy.
  • Under IPSec VPN, Link Selection, Source IP address Settings, set Manual / IP address of chosen interface

Do a policy install on the new cluster, and a few minutes later, the GCP console should map the primary and secondary external IP addresses to the two instances



Failover is done via API call and takes roughly 15 seconds.

On the external network (front end), the primary and secondary firewalls will each get external IP address mapped.  CheckPoint calls these “primary-cluster-address” and “secondary-cluster-address”.  I’d argue “active” and “standby” would be better names, because the addresses will flip during a failover event.

On the internal network (back end0, failover is done by modifying the static route to  The entries will be created on the internal networks when the cluster is formed.

Known Problems

The script $FWDIR/scripts/ is missing

This is simply a mistake in CheckPoint’s documentation.  The correct file name is:


Deployment Fails with error code 504, Resource Error, Timeout expired


Also, while the instances get created and External static IPs allocated, the secondary cluster IP never gets mapped and failover does not work.

Cause: there is a portion of the R80.30 deployment script relating to external IP address mapping that assumes the default service account is enabled, but many Enterprise customers will have default service account disabled as a security best practice.  As of January 2020, the only fix is to enable the default service account, then redo the deployment.

StackDriver is enabled at launch, but never gets logs

Same issue as a above.  As of January 2020, it depends on the default service account being enabled.

VPNs to GCP using IKEv2 when your Cisco router is behind NAT

I was able to follow this tutorial but had to make a few adjustments.  The main one is to configure the public IP address in the IKEv2 profile (see step 3 below). 

Remember of course that the router will need UDP ports 500 & 4500 forwarded by the firewall, which also must support ESP passthrough.

1) Configure a global IKEv2 proposal and policy. 

crypto ikev2 proposal MY_IKEV2_PROPOSAL 
 encryption aes-cbc-256 aes-cbc-192 aes-cbc-128
 integrity sha512 sha384 sha256
 group 24 16 14
crypto ikev2 policy MY_IKEV2_POLICY 

2) And add the peer to the keyring:

crypto ikev2 keyring MY_KEYRING
 peer gcp1
  pre-shared-key abcdef1234567890

3) Create a custom IKEv2 profile.  Note the highlighted public IP address and also the lifetime and DPD interval settings.

crypto ikev2 profile GCP_IKEV2_PROFILE
 match address local interface GigabitEthernet0
 match identity remote address
 ! If router is behind NAT, set this to the public IP
 identity local address
 authentication remote pre-share
 authentication local pre-share
 keyring local MY_KEYRING
 lifetime 36000                       ! 10 hour SA lifetime
 dpd 60 5 periodic                    ! 1 minute keepalives

4) Configure a custom IPSec transform set and profile.  This is 128-bit AES encryption with SHA-256 integrity:

! IPsec Settings
crypto ipsec transform-set ESP_AES128_SHA256 esp-aes esp-sha256-hmac
crypto ipsec profile GCP_IPSEC_PROFILE
 set security-association lifetime kilobytes disable
 set security-association lifetime seconds 10800
 set transform-set ESP_AES128_SHA256
 set pfs group14                          ! 2048-bit
 set ikev2-profile GCP_IKEV2_PROFILE

5) Finally, create the tunnel interface.  Unlike the IKEv2 profile, this simply references the External interface, not the public IP:

interface Tunnel1
 ip address
 ip mtu 1460
 ip virtual-reassembly in 
 ip tcp adjust-mss 1420
 tunnel source GigabitEthernet0
 tunnel mode ipsec ipv4
 tunnel destination
 tunnel protection ipsec profile GCP_IPSEC_PROFILE


The SAs should look like this:

Router#show crypto ikev2 sa
IPv4 Crypto IKEv2 SA

Tunnel-id Local Remote fvrf/ivrf Status 
2 none/none READY 
Encr: AES-CBC, keysize: 128, Hash: SHA256, DH Grp:14, Auth sign: PSK, Auth verify: PSK
Life/Active Time: 36000/1226 sec

Router#show crypto ipsec sa peer

interface: Tunnel1
    Crypto map tag: Tunnel1-head-0, local addr

   protected vrf: (none)
   local  ident (addr/mask/prot/port): (
   remote ident (addr/mask/prot/port): (
   current_peer port 4500
     PERMIT, flags={origin_is_acl,}
    #pkts encaps: 45, #pkts encrypt: 45, #pkts digest: 45
    #pkts decaps: 58, #pkts decrypt: 58, #pkts verify: 58
    #pkts compressed: 0, #pkts decompressed: 0
    #pkts not compressed: 0, #pkts compr. failed: 0
    #pkts not decompressed: 0, #pkts decompress failed: 0
    #send errors 0, #recv errors 0

     local crypto endpt.:, remote crypto endpt.:
     path mtu 1500, ip mtu 1500, ip mtu idb GigabitEthernet0
     current outbound spi: 0x962EDB69(2519653225)
     PFS (Y/N): N, DH group: none

     inbound esp sas:
      spi: 0x10B829B(17531547)
        transform: esp-aes esp-sha-hmac ,
        in use settings ={Tunnel UDP-Encaps, }
        conn id: 5, flow_id: Onboard VPN:5, sibling_flags 80000040, crypto map: Tunnel1-head-0
        sa timing: remaining key lifetime (sec): (14259)
        Kilobyte Volume Rekey has been disabled
        IV size: 16 bytes
        replay detection support: Y  replay window size: 1024
        Status: ACTIVE(ACTIVE)

     inbound ah sas:

     inbound pcp sas:

     outbound esp sas:
      spi: 0x962EDB69(2519653225)
        transform: esp-aes esp-sha-hmac ,
        in use settings ={Tunnel UDP-Encaps, }
        conn id: 6, flow_id: Onboard VPN:6, sibling_flags 80000040, crypto map: Tunnel1-head-0
        sa timing: remaining key lifetime (sec): (14259)
        Kilobyte Volume Rekey has been disabled
        IV size: 16 bytes
        replay detection support: Y  replay window size: 1024
        Status: ACTIVE(ACTIVE)

     outbound ah sas:

     outbound pcp sas:

VPNs to GCP using IKEv1 when your Cisco router is behind NAT

Tried my first VPN to GCP and didn’t have much luck with IKEv1.  While it did detect the remote router being behind NAT, Phase1 wouldn’t come up due to an ID mismatch:

received NAT-T (RFC 3947) vendor ID
remote host is behind NAT
IDir '' does not match to ''

Where is the Real private IP of the router and is the public NAT IP.

This is consistent with the GCP documentation on this topic, which states the following:

When using one-to-one NAT, your on-premises VPN gateway must identify itself using the same external IP address of the NAT device

See also the same configuration with IKEv2.