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Processing Intelligence Feeds with Open Source Software. Chris Horsley, SC Leung, Tomas Lima, L. Aaron Kaplan, Raphael Vinot. Overview. Current topics in automatic incident handling for CERTs IFAS HKCERT , IFAS and use-cases IHAP project ContactDB project Current R&D. IFAS.

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processing intelligence feeds with open source software

Processing Intelligence Feeds with Open Source Software

Chris Horsley, SC Leung, Tomas Lima, L. Aaron Kaplan, Raphael Vinot

  • Current topics in automatic incident handling for CERTs
  • IFAS
  • HKCERT , IFAS and use-cases
  • IHAP project
  • ContactDB project
  • Current R&D
  • Information Feed Analysis System
how do national csirts know what s happening
How do national CSIRTs know what’s happening?
  • National CSIRTs need visibility on network in their economy
  • However, many national CSIRTs don’t operate networks themselves, and normally don’t have global (or any) direct visibility
  • How does the CSIRT know what’s going on in their country?
the kindness of strangers
The kindness of strangers
  • Luckily, there are a lot of network operators, research teams, vendors, and other CSIRTs out there that collect information, and will share it with national CSIRTs.
  • And here comes the “but”...
so much data so many formats
So much data, so many formats
  • There are many feeds, all with their own data formats and mediums:
    • Formats: CSV, JSON, XML, STIX, IODEF
    • Mediums: HTML, RSS, email, HTTP APIs
  • While there are efforts to standardise data formats, this will take a long time, and will likely never cover 100% of feeds
  • We can’t change the format of remote feeds - we can only change what we do with the data.
the need for standards
The need for standards
  • Different feeds use many terms to mean the same thing:
    • ip, source_ip, src_ip, endpoint, attacker_ip, cnc_ip...
  • If we receive events from many feeds, we need to normalise so we can compare them together.
the need for storage
The need for storage
  • As a national CSIRT, we’re concerned with the health of national networks: which means measurement.
  • We can only measure longterm if we store events, enabling us to analyse them.
  • We also want to search through events, like:
    • C&C servers in domestic networks in last week
    • Bots infected with on BigISP
    • Defaced web sites targeting gov.zz
need for automation
Need for automation
  • There’s way too much network event data out there to manually process
  • Options:
    • a) use lots of analyst time doing tedious log processing
    • b) write lots of small, independent scripts
    • c) ignore inbound logs completely
    • d) use an automated processing system
so what do we need
So what do we need?
  • We need something which automatically:
    • Gathers many different types of feeds
    • Normalises the data in those feeds
    • Stores that data somewhere
    • Allows search and performs statistical analysis
  • IFAS = Information Feed Analysis System
  • Project sponsored by HKCERT and developed by HKCERT and CSIRT Foundry
  • An integration of open source tools, released as open source for CSIRTs
  • Abusehelper: gather, process, and enrich feeds, generate events
  • Logstash: process and normalise feeds
  • Elasticsearch: store events in schema-free index server
  • Kibana: search through events
  • IFAS Reporter: get overall statistics, build realtime dashboards
ifas dashboard
IFAS – Dashboard

*Drill down right at the chart

  • Visualize information
  • Open source under Apache 2.0 License
  • Only possible with the hard work released under open source licenses from Abusehelper and Elasticsearch teams
  • Contributions, bug reports, feature requests most welcome!
  • Production: 8-16GB memory machine
  • Dev: 4GB possible
  • Multi-core machine (4+ ideal)
  • Runs in a VM no problem
out of the box feeds
Out of the box feeds

Out of Box Feed Plugins

(4 publicly available)

  • CleanMX
  • Millersmiles
  • Phishtank

Other developed Plugins

  • Malc0de
  • Malicious Domain List
  • Arbor SRF
  • Shadowserver
  • Zone-H


… more, and your own

where to get it
Where to get it
  • Currently under closed pilot to trusted CSIRTs
    • Eventually public release
  • Please contact [email protected] for details
ifas and use cases

IFAS and Use Cases


ifas log search
IFAS - Log Search
  • Powerful search on all the information collected

Feed Details

Keywords here

Add columns of


ifas reporter
IFAS - Reporter
  • Statistical analysis-Trends & Distributions
    • Free form statistical reports







nesting filtering deduplication1
Nesting, filtering, deduplication

Number of phishings in “.AU” in each ASN by brand

ifas alert
IFAS - Alert
  • Set tracking criteria – get notify ASAP
    • domain: *
    • Alert lists : educational institutions (hkedu), NGOs (hkorg)



Real-time situational awareness for CERT management

analysis of trend with events
Analysis of Trend with Events
  • Correlate Cryptolocker 2013-Oct with Zeus
engage isps for large scale incident handling
Engage ISPs for large scale incident handling


  • Data do help HKCERT engaging ISPs (their sales team)
  • Data do help a server hosting SP understand their customers’ security problems
converting security events into incident reports
Converting security events into incident reports
  • Defacement
  • Phishing
  •  Export to CSV for batch processing, with some other scripts
  • Malware hosting – a bit difficult
  • Large volume of incidents – need prioritisation
future of ifas a collaboration platform
Future of IFAS - a collaboration platform
  • All you can use
  • All you can contribute
    • Add input filters for new feeds
    • Add new plug-in modules
    • Add new chart and visualization
    • Integrate with other systems, e.g. RTIR
  • Standard language: STIX, taxonomy of ENISA
dsms decision support monitoring system
DSMS (Decision Support & Monitoring System)
  • An ongoing project that turn security events into Actionable Data
    • Set Priority, Choose Monitors, Consolidate Results




Status Check

(HTTP, DNS) via proxy

Input  URL


Status ?

Interface Module

Decision Support


(online /offline)

Interfaces to Monitors

Interface Module

Public analysis sys (VirusTotal, ThreatExpert)


Request to monitor

Interface Modules


Private analysis sys

Interface Modules

Web reputation





Consolidated Results

  • Very similar to IFAS, developed in parallel by,
  • Also uses Logstash, Elastic Search and Abusehelper
  • Less work on the Webinterface, more work on Ontology, „Data harmonisation document“
ihap history
IHAP - History
  • Discussions about CERT.AT developments/documents
  • Discussions about cooperation between CERTs
  • ENISA support
ihap goals
IHAP - Goals
  • Open Source
  • Maintainable
  • Flexible and Modular - must be possible to integrate existing software and modules (Pastemon, AbuseHelper, etc..)
  • Reusable
  • Easily Extendable - should require little knowledge and basic programming skills
  • Easily Deployable
  • Easily Updatable – easy to share new developments with other CERTs and update the system with that new code
  • Easily Configurable - config files that can be easily modified to fit CERT‘s needs
  • Documented - must be well documented
links code
Links & Code

common field names for ah
Common field names for AH
  • A standard set of well defined field names within Abusehelper (AH)
  • Allows CERTs to:
    • Write bots which are interoperable within AH
    • Measure in identical ways
    • Easier to parse different feeds („generic santizer bot“) : you just have to define the mappings
background problem
Background/ problem
  • [email protected] lookups suck (IRT object not in use, no standard; Just now RIPE DB is changing with abuse-c:)
  • Getting the right lookup is non-trivial, complex
  • Many (national) CERTs create their own abuse contact lookup DBs.
  • National CERT DB, TI directory, FIRST data can not be looked up automatically via scripts.
  • A caching contact database with more specific internal data
  • Some of this data (tel nos, etc) will never be in the public whois
  • Unify with TI, FIRST etc data
  • Make it query-able by scripts
Number based resource:IP addr, netblock, ASN

Name based resource:domain name, hostname


Get country()


Extract ccTLD

IANA ccTLD list

Whois DB (RIPE, ARIN, ..)



Cymru, ...

Whois DB (registrant, registrar)

National CERT DB

Country code

Country code

National CERT for country

IRT object, abuse-c, ...

Email Address

what exists now
What exists now?
  • Public code repo ;-)
  • Whois server (thx Mauro)
  • RESTful API (Mauro, Rafiot)
  • Some scripts to import TI data (Aaron, David)
  • Still some bugs ;-)
code document with ripe
Code & document with RIPE
  • Document (WIP):
  • Codebase:
  • (thx Rafiot, David, Mauro!)
  • The CERT community has limited ressources for development
  • We re-implement the same thing all the time
  • Let‘s share code or at least exchange ideas on how to automate incident handling!
  • Let‘s share on how to measure success
  • Thanks HKCERT, ENISA,,, CIRCL, etc..
  • Mailinglist: