Distinguish between alert data (including generation tools) and previously covered NSM monitoring (including collection tools).250 words2 sourcesAPA formatDue Thurs (NO EXCUSES)Chapter 10: Alert Data: NSM Using SguilWHY SGUIL?Other projects correlate and integrate data from multiple sources. The Automated IncidentReporting project (http://aircert.sourceforge.net/) has ties to the popular Snortinterface ACID. The Open Source Security Information Management project (http://www.ossim.net/) offers alert correlation, risk assessment, and identification of anomalousactivity. The Crusoe Correlated Intrusion Detection System (http://crusoecids.dyndns.org/) collects alerts from honeypots, network IDSs, and firewalls. TheMonitoring, Intrusion Detection, [and] Administration System (http://midasnms.sourceforge.net/) is another option. With so many other tools available, why implementSguil?These are projects worthy of attention, but they all converge on a common implementationand worldview. NSM practitioners believe these tools do not present the rightinformation in the best format. First, let’s discuss the programmatic means by whichnearly all present IDS data. Most modern IDS products display alerts in Web-based interfaces.These include open source tools like ACID as well as commercial tools like CiscoSecure IDS and Sourcefire.The browser is a powerful interface for many applications, but it is not the best way topresent and manipulate information needed to perform dynamic security investigations.Web browsers do not easily display rapidly changing information without using screenrefreshes or Java plug-ins. This limitation forces Web-based tools to converge on backward-looking information.2 Rather than being an investigative tool, the IDS interfacebecomes an alert management tool.Consider ACID, the most mature and popular Web-based interface for Snort data. Ittends to present numeric information, such as snapshots showing alert counts over thelast 24 or 72 hours. Typically the most numerous alerts are given top billing. The fact thatan alert appears high in the rankings may have no relationship whatsoever to the severityof the event. An alert that appears a single time but might be more significant could beburied at the bottom of ACID’s alert pile simply because it occurred only once. Thisbackward-looking, count-based method of displaying IDS alert data is partially driven bythe programmatic limitations of Web-based interfaces.Now that we’ve discussed some of the problems with using Web browsers to investigatesecurity events, let’s discuss the sort of information typically offered by those tools.Upon selecting an alert of interest in ACID, usually only the payload of the packet thattriggered the IDS rule is available. The unlucky analyst must judge the severity andimpact of the event based solely on the meager evidence presented by the alert. The analystmay be able to query for other events involving the source or destination IPaddresses, but she is restricted to alert-based information. The intruder may have takendozens or hundreds of other actions that triggered zero IDS rules. Why is this so?Most IDS products and interfaces aim for “the perfect detection.” They put their efforttoward collecting and correlating information in the hopes of presenting their best guessthat an intrusion has occurred. This is a noble goal, but NSM analysts recognize that perfectdetection can never be achieved. Instead, NSM analysts look for indications and warnings,which they then investigate by analyzing alert, full content, session, and statisticaldata. The source of the initial tip-off, that first hint that “something bad has happened,”almost does not matter. Once NSM analysts have that initial clue, they swing the fullweight of their analysis tools to bear. For NSM, the alert is only the beginning of thequest, not the end.SO WHAT IS SGUIL?Sguil is the brainchild of its lead developer, Robert “Bamm” Visscher. Bamm is a veteranof NSM operations at the Air Force Computer Emergency Response Team and Ball Aerospace& Technologies Corporation, where we both worked. Bamm wrote Sguil to bringthe theories behind NSM to life in a single application. At the time of this writing, Sguil iswritten completely in Tcl/Tk. Tcl is the Tool Command Language, an interpreted programminglanguage suited for rapid application development. Tk is the graphical toolkitthat draws the Sguil interface on an analyst’s screen.3 Tcl/Tk is available for both UNIXand Windows systems, but most users deploy the Sguil server components on a UNIXsystem. The client, which will be demonstrated in this chapter, can be operated on UNIXor Windows. Sguil screenshots in some parts of the book were taken on a Windows XPsystem, and those in this chapter are from a FreeBSD laptop.I do not explain how to deploy Sguil because the application’s installation method isconstantly being improved. I recommend that you visit http://sguil.sourceforge.net anddownload the latest version of the Sguil installation manual, which I maintain at that site.The document explains how to install the Sguil client and server components step-by-step.Sguil applies the following tools to the problem of collecting, analyzing, validating,and escalating NSM information.• Snort provides alert data. With a minor modification to accommodate Sguil’s need foralert and packet data, Snort is run in the familiar manner appreciated by thousands ofanalysts worldwide.• Using the keepstats option of Snort’s stream4 preprocessor, Sguil receives TCP-basedsession data. In the future this may be replaced or supplemented by Argus, John Curry’sSANCP (http://sourceforge.net/projects/sancp), or a NetFlow-based alternative.• A second instance of Snort collects full content data. Because this data consists of libpcaptrace files, Snort could be replaced by Tcpdump or Tethereal (and may have beenso replaced by the time you read this).• Tcpflow rebuilds full content trace files to present application data.• P0f profiles traffic to fingerprint operating systems.• MySQL stores alert and packet data gathered from Snort. PostgreSQL may one day besupported.Sguil is a client-server system, with components capable of being run on independenthosts. Analysts monitoring a high-bandwidth link may put Snort on one platform, theSguil database on a second platform, and the Sguil daemon on a third platform. Analystsconnect to the Sguil daemon from their own workstations using a client-server protocol.Communication privacy is obtained by using the SSL protocol. No one needs to “push” awindow to his or her desktop using the X protocol. Thanks to ActiveState’s free ActiveTcldistribution, analysts can deploy the Sguil client on a Windows workstation and connectto the Sguil daemon running on a UNIX system.4 Analysts monitoring a low-bandwidthlink could conceivably consolidate all client and server functions on a single platform.This chapter explains the Sguil interface and while doing so illuminates the thoughtprocess behind NSM. I start by explaining the interface and use live data collected whilemonitoring one of my own networks. I then revisit the case study described in Chapter 4.Because I used Tcpreplay to relive the intrusion for Sguil’s benefit, the timestamps on theSguil events do not match the timestamps on the libpcap traces. I trust this does notdetract from the learning value of the information.If you would like to try Sguil without implementing all of the server and sensor components,you are in luck. Curious analysts can download the Sguil client from http://sguil.sourceforge.net and connect to the Sguil demo server running at bamm.dyndns.org.Prospective Sguil users can see Sguil in action on Bamm’s server, chat with other users,and get a feel for the interface before deploying the server components on their ownnetwork.THE BASIC SGUIL INTERFACESguil relies on Snort for its primary flow of alert data. (If all Sguil did was allow easieraccess to Snort alerts, many people would still prefer it to several alternative interfaces.)Snort alerts populate the RealTime Events tab. (I’ll explain the Escalated Events tabshortly.) By default Sguil breaks the top half of the screen into three windows (seeFigure 10.1). Alert information is shown in each window, with the top window showingthe most severe alerts, the middle window showing less serious alerts, and the bottomwindow showing the least important alerts. These windows correspond to the prioritylevels in Snort, with priority levels 1 and 2 at the top, 3 and 4 in the middle, and 5 at thebottom. Analysts can tweak the sguil.conf configuration file to present a single panewith all alerts if they so choose. Fonts are also configurable by using Sguil’s File→ChangeFont sequence.The bottom part of the main Sguil display is broken vertically into two halves. The leftside of the screen shows host name and Whois database information, at the discretion ofthe analyst. Because DNS queries for host names or lookups for Whois information maytake up to several seconds, many analysts turn these options off unless they need theinformation. Sguil does not cache results internally, although the default DNS server usuallywill. The bottom of the left side of the screen shows system messages or user messages,depending on the tab selected. System messages pertain to the amount of space lefton the disk collecting NSM information. User messages appear in an interactive chatapplication similar to Internet Relay Chat. Anyone logged in with the Sguil client to thesame Sguil server can communicate via the interface in the User Messages tab. Figure 10.1shows that user sguil thinks that “Sguil rocks!”The right side of the bottom of the main Sguil window is dedicated to the highlightedalert. This varies according to the nature of the alert. Reconnaissance alerts show the sortsof packets caused by the scan. All other alerts show the packet details in a manner similarto that used by ACID. Above the packet details you find options for displaying the rulethat generated the Snort alert.The alert highlighted in Figure 10.1 has a message type of WEB-MISC /~root access.The ST column on the far left of the top pane shows a value of RT. The ST column refers tothe status of the alert. A status of RT means “real time,” meaning the alert has appeared inthe Sguil interface and is waiting for validation or escalation. This feature hints at theaccountability features built into Sguil. Alerts simply do not scroll off the screen, to belost in a database. Analysts must inspect and validate or escalate alerts. (I’ll cover that inthe section Making Decisions with Sguil.) The second column, marked with the CNTheader, shows the count of similar events. Because this WEB-MISC alert has been seen fromthe same source IP to the same destination IP 14 times, the CNT field shows that number.This value increments dynamically while the interface is active.The third column shows the name of the sensor generating the alert. In this singlesensorconfiguration, only the name bourque appears. To the right of the sensor name isa two-part number representing the sensor and alert number. Here it’s 1.73474, whichcorresponds to sensor ID 1, “connection” ID 73474. Beyond the sid.cid field we see atimestamp, followed by the source IP, source port, destination IP, destination port, andprotocol of the packet or, potentially, the stream that generated the alert. Bringing up therear is the alert message.We see that a packet containing the string /~root headed toward any ports defined inthe $HTTP_PORTS variable (such as 80 TCP) will trigger this alert. If the rule definition isnot sufficient to help the analyst understand the alert, he or she can press thewww.snort.org button, which launches an instance of the defined Web browser. TheURL for the alert will be visited, which in this case is http://www.snort.org/snort-db/sid.html?sid=1145. On this page the analyst can read Snort’s own documentation forthe WEB-MISC /~root access alert.If the Show Packet Data button is selected, Sguil shows the packet that triggered thealert. In our example, it shows the following:GET /~root HTTP/1.0.This is the ASCII representation of the application data; the hexadecimal value is alsoshown.On the left-hand side of the screen in Figure 10.1, DNS and Whois information hasbeen turned on. As a result we see the source IP of resolves to njektd.com,and the destination IP is a Comcast cable modem. The Whois data for the source IPshows it belongs to a netblock owned by the Speakeasy DSL ISP.SGUIL’S ANSWER TO “NOW WHAT?”At this point you might think Sguil is a cool way to look at Snort alerts. It certainly is, butwe’re only getting started. The question that NSM theory was designed to answer wasstated in the beginning of the book: “Now what?” Now that we have an alert, what doesthe analyst do with it? Most commercial and many open source systems leave analystswith alerts and expect them to make escalation decisions based on the informationpresent in the alert. The fact that Snort can be tweaked to show the information seen thusfar is a big win for the open source community. Where do we go next?Sguil is designed to collect alert, session, and full content data. If we have the Snortsensor configured to log libpcap data for port 80 TCP, we can take the next step using fullcontent data. If we right-click on the sid.cid field of the highlighted event, we are givenoptions to query the following items.• Event History: Show any comments and the validation status assigned by an analyst tothe alert. New alerts marked RT do not have an event history yet.• Transcript: Generate full content data for the alert, if available. Sguil will query thesensor for libpcap data associated with the alert, use Secure Copy to transport it to theanalyst workstation, and display the transcript in a new window.• Transcript (force new): Regenerate the transcript. If the first transcript was createdwhile the session was still open, a transcript created using force new may show additionaldata that was exchanged during the session. Requested transcripts are stored onthe server running the Sguil daemon and used to generate future transcripts for userswho don’t possess a copy of the pcap file on their local workstations.• Ethereal: Launch Ethereal, reading the same data as would be transferred to generate atranscript.• Ethereal (force new): As with forcing a new transcript, this option tells Ethereal toinspect the latest date for the session designated by the selected alert.Transcripts are very useful for ASCII-based protocols, like HTTP. For the WEB-MISC/~root access alert, Figure 10.2 shows part of the transcript.The “Now what?” question for the WEB-MISC /~root access alert was “Did this attacksucceed?” If the attack succeeded, we might have seen a 200 OK HTTP status codereturned by the target, along with the contents of the /~root directory. Instead we see a403 Forbidden HTTP status code, indicating the attack did not succeed.The availability of transcripts is incredibly powerful. While it is tedious to inspectevery alert in this manner, the power of having this sort of data on hand cannot bedenied. There is no ambiguity here because we know as much as the intruder does abouthow the victim responded to the attack. After all, we see exactly the same data theintruder sees. (Of course, encryption obfuscates this form of investigation.)Certain protocols are not easy for analysts to inspect by using transcripts. Figure 10.1shows an RPC portmap listing TCP 111 alert at the top of the first pane. This is a good can-didate for investigation using Ethereal. After highlighting the top alert and right-clickingon the sid.cid field, we launch Ethereal and see the results shown in Figure 10.3.Using Ethereal, we see the DUMP Reply tells the intruder what RPC services the targetoffers. Again, by looking at the same data as seen by the remote party, we can evaluatethe likelihood of the attack succeeding. Both ASCII and binary full content data helpus understand the nature of the alert and the probability the intruder can accomplishher goal.Resolving the alert at hand isn’t the only item of concern. What else has an intruderattempted? There are two ways to answer this question: queries for alerts and queriesfor sessions. By default Sguil supports querying against the source or destination IPaddresses for either form of information. Let’s return to the source of the WEB-MISC/~root access alert, Right-clicking on the source IP address gives the followingoptions.• Query Event Table: The analyst can query for alerts from the source IP, the destinationIP, or from the source IP to the destination IP.• Query Sessions Table: The analyst can query for sessions from the source IP, the destinationIP, or from the source IP to the destination IP.• Dshield IP Lookup: The analyst can query on source or destination IP. Querying onthe source IP, for example, sends the URL http://www.dshield.org/ipinfo.php?ip= to the default Web browser. This returns data from theDshield database, along with Whois information.Querying for alerts means asking to see the traffic Snort judged to be suspicious. Queryingfor sessions means showing summaries of traffic and letting the analyst decide whatis or is not suspicious. Analyzing session data is potentially more work, but it is a contentneutralapproach. Snort alerts may not trigger on events obscured by encryption or fragmentedby evasion tools. Session data has a greater chance of being recorded for eventsthat do not trigger Snort rules and thereby lack alert data.For the first example, we will query for events by right-clicking on the IP address66.92.162.97 and selecting Query Event Table→Qry Src IP. This action launches theQuery Builder, as shown in Figure 10.4.Once the Query Builder is started, an analyst can enter SQL statements in the EditWhere Clause field. By selecting items from the three columns, the Query Builder helpsconstruct more complicated queries. In most cases, the items requiring modification arethe event.timestamp value (to accommodate queries for older events) or the LIMIT value.In our example, we leave the defaults and receive the results shown in Figure 10.5.The screenshot concentrates on the alerts displayed in the main Sguil window. Noticethat the CNT value is 1, so all of the aggregated WEB-MISC /~root access alerts are seenindividually. Besides alerts from the intruder to the target ( to,Sguil shows alerts triggered by the target’s response. These are ATTACK-RESPONSES 403Forbidden alerts. Any one of these alerts can be investigated in the same way the originalWEB-MISC /~root access alert was analyzed.Had we queried for sessions instead of alerts, we would have seen results like thoseshown in Figure 10.6. Session data is content-neutral, so Sguil reports any sessions recordedby the keepstats option of Snort’s stream4 preprocessor. Session results do not appear asalerts. Certain columns are easy to understand, such as the sensor name, starting and endingtimestamps, and source and destination IPs and ports. The second column, Ssn ID, is asession identifier. The final four columns provide information on the numbers of packetssent by the source and destination and on the count of bytes sent by the source and destination.From the session results window, analysts can generate transcript, launch Ethereal, orquery for any field or combination of fields in the event or session database tables.MAKING DECISIONS WITH SGUILHopefully by now it’s easy to appreciate the power of investigating events with Sguil. Navigatingthrough a sea of full content, alert, and session data is not the end game, however.NSM is about providing actionable intelligence, or interpretations of indications andwarnings, to decision makers. Sguil also helps us manage and classify the events occurringacross our protected domains.Sguil uses the following alert categories and associated function keys to mark alertswith those categories in its database.• F1: Category I: Unauthorized Root/Admin Access• F2: Category II: Unauthorized User Access• F3: Category III: Attempted Unauthorized Access• F4: Category IV: Successful Denial-of-Service Attack• F5: Category V: Poor Security Practice or Policy Violation• F6: Category VI: Reconnaissance/Probes/Scans• F7: Category VII: Virus Infection• F8: No action necessary• F9: EscalateIf analysts believe an alert indicates normal activity, they highlight the event and pressthe F8 key. If they believe the event indicates an event of categories I through VII, theymark the appropriate number. If they cannot make a decision, they escalate the alert byusing the F9 key. Note that only alerts can be categorized; session data cannot be classified.Assume the analyst in our scenario makes a few decisions such that several of the alertspreviously shown have been marked using the appropriate function keys. Once the eventsare classified, they are marked in Sguil’s MySQL database with the credentials of the classifyinguser and any comments he or she may have made. Aggregated events (i.e., thosewith CNT greater than 1) are all marked with the same category if the aggregated event ishighlighted and classified. Figure 10.7 shows an excerpt from the results of the samequery for events to or from Sited:Bejtlich, R. (2004). The Tao of Network Security Monitoring: Beyond Intrusion Detection. Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition.

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