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Today, we are highlighting how Cloudflare enables administrators to create security policies while using dedicated source IPs. With on-premise appliances like legacy VPNs, firewalls, and secure web gateways (SWGs), it has been convenient for organizations to rely on allowlist policies based on static source IPs. But these hardware appliances are hard to manage/scale, come with inherent vulnerabilities, and struggle to support globally distributed traffic from remote workers.
Throughout this week, we’ve written about how to transition away from these legacy tools towards Internet-native Zero Trust security offered by services like Cloudflare Gateway, our SWG. As a critical service natively integrated with the rest of our broader Zero Trust platform, Cloudflare Gateway also enables traffic filtering and routing for recursive DNS, Zero Trust network access, remote browser isolation, and inline CASB, among other functions.
Nevertheless, we recognize that administrators want to maintain the convenience of source IPs as organizations transition to cloud-based proxy services. In this blog, we describe our approach to offering dedicated IPs for egressing traffic and share some upcoming functionality to empower administrators with even greater control.
Cloudflare’s dedicated egress IPs
Source IPs are still a popular method of verifying that traffic originates from a known organization/user when accessing applications and third party destinations on the Internet. When organizations use Cloudflare as a secure web gateway, user traffic is proxied through our global network, where we apply filtering and routing policies at the closest data center to the user. This is especially powerful for globally distributed workforces or roaming users. Administrators do not have to make updates to static IP lists as users travel, and no single location becomes a bottleneck for user traffic.
Today the source IP for proxied traffic is one of two options:
- Device client (WARP) Proxy IP – Cloudflare forward proxies traffic from the user using an IP from the default IP range shared across all Zero Trust accounts
- Dedicated egress IP – Cloudflare provides customers with a dedicated IP (IPv4 and IPv6) or range of IPs geolocated to one or more Cloudflare network locations
The WARP Proxy IP range is the default egress method for all Cloudflare Zero Trust customers. It is a great way to preserve the privacy of your organization as user traffic is sent to the nearest Cloudflare network location which ensures the most performant Internet experience. But setting source IP security policies based on this default IP range does not provide the granularity that admins often require to filter their user traffic.
Dedicated egress IPs are useful in situations where administrators want to allowlist traffic based on a persistent identifier. As their name suggests, these dedicated egress IPs are exclusively available to the assigned customer—and not used by any other customers routing traffic through Cloudflare’s network.
Additionally, leasing these dedicated egress IPs from Cloudflare helps avoid any privacy concerns which arise when carving them out from an organization’s own IP ranges. And furthermore, alleviates the need to protect your any of the IP ranges that are assigned to your on-premise VPN appliance from DDoS attacks or otherwise.
Dedicated egress IPs are available as add-on to for any Cloudflare Zero Trust enterprise-contracted customer. Contract customers can select the specific Cloudflare data centers used for their dedicated egress, and all subscribing customers receive at least two IPs to start, so user traffic is always routed to the closest dedicated egress data center for performance and resiliency. Finally, organizations can egress their traffic through Cloudflare’s dedicated IPs via their preferred on-ramps. These include Cloudflare’s device client (WARP), proxy endpoints, GRE and IPsec on-ramps, or any of our 1600+ peering network locations, including major ISPs, cloud providers, and enterprises.
Customer use cases today
Cloudflare customers around the world are taking advantage of Gateway dedicated egress IPs to streamline application access. Below are three most common use cases we’ve seen deployed by customers of varying sizes and across industries:
- Allowlisting access to apps from third parties: Users often need to access tools controlled by suppliers, partners, and other third party organizations. Many of those external organizations still rely on source IP to authenticate traffic. Dedicated egress IPs make it easy for those third parties to fit within these existing constraints.
- Allowlisting access to SaaS apps: Source IPs are still commonly used as a defense-in-depth layer for how users access SaaS apps, alongside other more advanced measures like multi-factor authentication and identity provider checks.
- Deprecating VPN usage: Often hosted VPNs will be allocated IPs within the customers advertised IP range. The security flaws, performance limitations, and administrative complexities of VPNs are well-documented in our recent Cloudflare blog. To ease customer migration, users will often choose to maintain any IP allowlist processes in place today.
Through this, administrators are able to maintain the convenience of building policies with fixed, known IPs, while accelerating performance for end users by routing through Cloudflare’s global network.
Cloudflare Zero Trust egress policies
Today, we are excited to announce an upcoming way to build more granular policies using Cloudflare’s dedicated egress IPs. With a forthcoming egress IP policy builder in the Cloudflare Zero Trust dashboard, administrators can specify which IP is used for egress traffic based on identity, application, network and geolocation attributes.
Administrators often want to route only certain traffic through dedicated egress IPs—whether for certain applications, certain Internet destinations, and certain user groups. Soon, administrators can set their preferred egress method based on a wide variety of selectors such as application, content category, domain, user group, destination IP, and more. This flexibility helps organizations take a layered approach to security, while also maintaining high performance (often via dedicated IPs) to the most critical destinations.
Furthermore, administrators will be able to use the egress IP policy builder to geolocate traffic to any country or region where Cloudflare has a presence. This geolocation capability is particularly useful for globally distributed teams which require geo-specific experiences.
For example, a large media conglomerate has marketing teams that would verify the layouts of digital advertisements running across multiple regions. Prior to partnering with Cloudflare, these teams had clunky, manual processes to verify their ads were displaying as expected in local markets: either they had to ask colleagues in those local markets to check, or they had to spin up a VPN service to proxy traffic to the region. With an egress policy these teams would simply be able to match a custom test domain for each region and egress using their dedicated IP deployed there.
You can take advantage of Cloudflare’s dedicated egress IPs by adding them onto a Cloudflare Zero Trust Enterprise plan or contacting your account team. If you would like to be contacted when we release the Gateway egress policy builder, join the waitlist here.