CARP Secondary Unreachable Over VPN

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If there is a VPN connection to a CARP cluster (site-to-site or mobile/road warrior), often one can communicate with the master but the backup node is unreachable.

The reason for this is that the VPN is configured on both firewalls. The packet from the client goes to the primary over the VPN tunnel that is UP, then goes from the primary to the secondary, and the secondary attempts to send it back over its own copy of the VPN which is DOWN because it is the backup. The packet never makes it back to the user.

To fix it, manual outbound NAT must be configured so that the firewall does NAT on the traffic from the VPN subnet going to the secondary node's IP, and vice versa. that way it appears to originate from the opposing firewall and not the VPN, so the traffic returns as expected. Manual Outbound NAT is likely already set since is is typically a requirement of CARP. If not, Manual Outbound NAT must be enabled for this to work, or Hybrid Outbound NAT may be used on pfSense 2.2 and later.

For example, add a manual outbound NAT rule on the LAN interface, source being the VPN subnet, destination being an alias that contains both the primary and secondary node LAN IPs. Translation would be Interface Address (NOT the CARP VIP!).

With the NAT rule present when attempting to access the opposing node over the VPN the traffic will appear to originate from the node to which the VPN is currently connected and the return traffic will go back as expected.