Hardening EdgeRouter Lite – Part 4

This blog post is part of a series on EdgeRouter Lite. You may want to check them all out!

03/13/16My Home Router – EdgeRouter LiteQuick introduction to EdgeRouter Lite
04/09/16Ubiquiti’s EdgeOS CLI IntroductionEdgeOS CLI Primer
05/01/16How to configure EdgeRouter Lite via CLI – Part 1EdgeOS configuration guide for CLI junkies
05/01/16How to configure EdgeRouter Lite via CLI – Part 2EdgeOS configuration guide for CLI junkies
12/03/16Hardening EdgeRouter Lite – Part 1Basic management hardening
12/04/16Hardening EdgeRouter Lite – Part 2EdgeOS with two-factor authentication
12/05/16Hardening EdgeRouter Lite – Part 3Management ACL


In my How to configure EdgeRouter Lite via CLI – Part 2 post, there is an L2TP via IPsec section. The commands shown in that blog post works great. However, there are security concerns with that configuration. The remote-access VPN configuration uses pre-shared secret for machine authentication and user authentication with no two-factor authentication (2FA). In this post, I will demonstrate how to harden remote-access VPN connectivity on EdgeRouter Lite.

User Authentication with 2FA

As mentioned in my how-to configure guide, I prefer L2TP over IPsec, so this post will only cover that. The configuration demonstrated here requires a RADIUS server, such as FreeRADIUS. Check my blog post about it if you want to create your own. If you chose the local Google Authenticator route, there might be a way to tie that with user authentication. That is, however, out of the scope of this post.

The EdgeOS has two L2TP modes for user authentication, local and RADIUS. In my how-to guide, it showed the use of the local account which is separate from device management. As previously discussed, username and password are no longer considered secure today. That said, we’re going to add another factor of authentication to the account.

EdgeOS Commands

The first command is to change user authentication mode to RADIUS.

The second command is to point the device to the RADIUS server and enter the key you want to use.

The last command is to change the default protocol from MS-CHAPv2 to PAP. Unfortunately, Google Authenticator will only work with PAP, as far as I know.

Don’t forget to commit and save the configuration. Issue the commit;save command.

FreeRADIUS Configuration

In my FreeRADIUS blog post, there were only a few lines that needed to be changed or added to the config files. Aside from those modifications the files were left in the default state. That’s okay for the most part. However, when we try to access VPN, it takes a bit longer than using the local account. In this section, we’re going to make some optimizations to speed up the process of authentication.

I am a FreeRADIUS newbie, so I do not know what all of these lines mean, but I commented them out to speed up the process of authentication. I just looked at the debug using sudo freeradius -X command and tried to interpret what it was saying. The lines that included noop, I figured they are not needed for my environment, so I commented them out. Every time I made the change, I tested my VPN to make sure I was able to log in still. If you are currently using or going to use this FreeRADIUS instance for other purposes, then be careful of what you comment out because it may break. Remember, I only use this for remote access VPN and device authentication.

Edit the /etc/freeradius/sites-enabled/default file.

Find the following and comment them out.

Next step is to edit the client.conf file. From what I can tell, this is kind of like an ACL. If you do not add the router’s source IP address, then FreeRADIUS will ignore the traffic from the router. Once you open the file using VI or your favorite text editor, look for the client localhost { line and add the lines listed below.

Since we made changes to the files, we need to restart the service for it to take effect.


Now, go ahead and test your VPN connectivity to see if it works. If everything works, then you can now delete the local account from the configuration. Remember, the format for the password is password+TOTP.


When you are troubleshooting FreeRADIUS, it is very helpful to use the freeradius -X command. This helped me figure out some issues that I’ve encountered when setting this up. This command may be different in other Linux distro, though. Just check the documentation for the right command. From what I can tell, all Debian-based Linux distro uses this command.

Before you can issue the debug command, you need to stop FreeRADIUS service first or you will get an error, as shown below.

Once you’re done with troubleshooting, make sure to start the service back up with sudo service freeradius start command.

Final Words

The problem with local authentication is that we need to enter user account details within EdgeOS. That said, anyone who has admin-level access on EdgeOS will be able to view the password of the users. Changing the remote access VPN authentication from local to RADIUS is a more secure option. On top of that, we can add another factor of authentication.

For the most part, this is secure enough. In fact, I’ve seen a lot of organizations that use a similar setup. However, some organizations or people want to implement the securest method possible for their remote access VPN. That said, they need to implement certificate-based machine authentication. Heck, they may even combine both 2FA and certificate-based machine authentication for maximum security.

If I ever get the L2TP over IPsec working using certificates, then I will cover it in my next blog post. I know it’s possible, but my client is stuck in IKE Phase 1. The problem is most likely my certificates.


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About Andrew Roderos

Andrew Roderos is an IT professional who specializes in networking, a CCIE hopeful, and forever a student of technology. Technologies that he is mostly interested in are routing and switching, virtualization, data center, and a little bit of network security. Outside of the information technology world, he enjoys reading science fiction books, manga, and photography.