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PFSYNC(4)                    Device Drivers Manual                   PFSYNC(4)

     pfsync - packet filter state table logging interface

     pseudo-device pfsync

     The NetBSD version of PF is obsolete, and its use is strongly
     discouraged.  Use npf(7) instead.

     The pfsync interface is a pseudo-device which exposes certain changes to
     the state table used by pf(4).  State changes can be viewed by invoking
     tcpdump(8) on the pfsync interface.  If configured with a physical
     synchronisation interface, pfsync will also send state changes out on
     that interface using IP multicast, and insert state changes received on
     that interface from other systems into the state table.

     By default, all local changes to the state table are exposed via pfsync.
     However, state changes from packets received by pfsync over the network
     are not rebroadcast.  States created by a rule marked with the no-sync
     keyword are omitted from the pfsync interface (see pf.conf(5) for

     The pfsync interface will attempt to collapse multiple updates of the
     same state into one message where possible.  The maximum number of times
     this can be done before the update is sent out is controlled by the
     maxupd parameter to ifconfig (see ifconfig(8) and the example below for
     more details).

     Each packet retrieved on this interface has a header associated with it
     of length PFSYNC_HDRLEN.  The header indicates the version of the
     protocol, address family, action taken on the following states, and the
     number of state table entries attached in this packet.  This structure is
     defined in <net/if_pfsync.h> as:

           struct pfsync_header {
                   u_int8_t version;
                   u_int8_t af;
                   u_int8_t action;
                   u_int8_t count;

     States can be synchronised between two or more firewalls using this
     interface, by specifying a synchronisation interface using ifconfig(8).
     For example, the following command sets fxp0 as the synchronisation

           # ifconfig pfsync0 syncdev fxp0

     By default, state change messages are sent out on the synchronisation
     interface using IP multicast packets.  The protocol is IP protocol 240,
     PFSYNC, and the multicast group used is  When a peer address
     is specified using the syncpeer keyword, the peer address is used as a
     destination for the pfsync traffic.

     It is important that the pfsync traffic be well secured as there is no
     authentication on the protocol and it would be trivial to spoof packets
     which create states, bypassing the pf ruleset.  Either run the pfsync
     protocol on a trusted network - ideally  a network dedicated to pfsync
     messages such as a crossover cable between two firewalls, or specify a
     peer address and protect the traffic with ipsec(4) (it is not supported
     at the moment on NetBSD due to the lack of any encapsulation pseudo-

     There is a one-to-one correspondence between packets seen by bpf(4) on
     the pfsync interface, and packets sent out on the synchronisation
     interface, i.e. a packet with 4 state deletion messages on pfsync means
     that the same 4 deletions were sent out on the synchronisation interface.
     However, the actual packet contents may differ as the messages sent over
     the network are "compressed" where possible, containing only the
     necessary information.

     pfsync and carp(4) can be used together to provide automatic failover of
     a pair of firewalls configured in parallel.  One firewall handles all
     traffic - if it dies or is shut down, the second firewall takes over

     Both firewalls in this example have three sis(4) interfaces.  sis0 is the
     external interface, on the subnet; sis1 is the internal
     interface, on the subnet; and sis2 is the pfsync
     interface, using the subnet.  A crossover cable connects
     the two firewalls via their sis2 interfaces.  On all three interfaces,
     firewall A uses the .254 address, while firewall B uses .253.  The
     interfaces are configured as follows (firewall A unless otherwise


           inet NONE


           inet NONE


           inet NONE


           inet vhid 1 pass foo


           inet vhid 2 pass bar


           up syncdev sis2

     pf(4) must also be configured to allow pfsync and carp(4) traffic
     through.  The following should be added to the top of /etc/pf.conf:

           pass quick on { sis2 } proto pfsync
           pass on { sis0 sis1 } proto carp

     If it is preferable that one firewall handle the traffic, the advskew on
     the backup firewall's carp(4) interfaces should be set to something
     higher than the primary's.  For example, if firewall B is the backup, its
     /etc/ifconfig.carp1 would look like this:

           inet vhid 2 pass bar \
                   advskew 100

     The following must also be added to /etc/sysctl.conf:


     bpf(4), carp(4), inet(4), inet6(4), ipsec(4), netintro(4), pf(4),
     ifconfig.if(5), pf.conf(5), protocols(5), ifconfig(8), tcpdump(8)

     The pfsync device first appeared in OpenBSD 3.3.

     pfsync is not available when using pf(4) as a kernel module.

NetBSD 9.99                     August 17, 2018                    NetBSD 9.99