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Using Argus Audit Trails to Enhance IDS Analysis PowerPoint Presentation
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Using Argus Audit Trails to Enhance IDS Analysis

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Using Argus Audit Trails to Enhance IDS Analysis

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  1. Using Argus Audit Trailsto Enhance IDS Analysis Jed Haile Nitro Data Systems

  2. Overview • What is an audit trail? • What is Argus? • Overview of IP audit trails • Why are they useful? • Using audit trails to monitor your network • Detecting interesting network events using audit trails • Enhancing IDS analysis using audit trails

  3. What is an IP Audit Trail? • An IP audit trail is a collection of network flows across some point of a network. • A network flow is an identifiable exchange of data between two endpoints on a network. • Flows may be delineated by normal protocol (a SYN replied to by an RST) or by timeouts. • Flows may become exaggerated, as not all network traffic is readily broken into correct sessions with available information

  4. What is Argus? • Written by Carter Bullard as part of a DoD contract while he was at Carnegie-Mellon’s SEI • Runs on unix • The free version is available at • A commercial version is under development by Qosient

  5. More about Argus • Argus uses a client server model: • Data collection engine (Server): Monitors the network using libpcap, collects network data into audit trails. This engine can output the data to a file or to a socket. • Argus client: Reads audit data from a file or from a socket. There are a number of clients available for various purposes.

  6. Argus Clients • ra: reads Argus data and displays it on stdout • ragator: aggregates flows in arbitrary fashions • ramon: produce rmon style reports and tables • racount: counts bytes and packets • rasort: sorts Argus records • raxml: display all fields in xml format • Others: ratop, ragrep, rahistogram, rasrvstats • Lacking: Database client!!

  7. Default RA output timestamp protocol src IP direction dst IP status 17 Apr 02 09:59:16 icmp <-> ECO 17 Apr 02 09:59:16 tcp -> FIN 17 Apr 02 09:59:16 icmp <-> ECO 17 Apr 02 09:59:16 tcp -> FIN 17 Apr 02 09:59:16 tcp -> FIN 17 Apr 02 09:59:16 tcp -> EST 17 Apr 02 09:59:16 tcp -> FIN 17 Apr 02 09:59:17 tcp -> RST 17 Apr 02 10:00:04 tcp -> RST 17 Apr 02 09:59:17 tcp -> RST 17 Apr 02 10:00:02 icmp -> ECO 17 Apr 02 10:00:02 icmp -> ECO 17 Apr 02 10:00:02 icmp -> ECO 17 Apr 02 10:00:02 udp -> TIM 17 Apr 02 10:00:02 icmp -> ECO There is still a lot of other useful data we can capture!!

  8. Data Model • Source IP address • Destination IP address • Source Port • Destination Port • Protocol • Time of first packet • Time of last packet • Packets sent • Bytes sent • Packets received • Bytes received • This set of data is surprisingly rich!

  9. Why are these useful? • This set of data can be analyzed to find network sessions, or sets of session that appear to be suspicious. • In the case of a compromise, the audit trails can be examined to find out what else might have happened. • Excellent tool for network policy monitoring. Makes finding unauthorized servers, or services, or backdoors much easier to detect. • Much smaller than full packet captures, so more can be stored for longer. • Well suited to statistical analysis

  10. Reducing Record Counts • A major problem with collecting network flows is the extreme rate and large quantity of records • Fortunately network flows are readily aggregated • All flows with the same source and destination addresses and ports can be collapsed to a single row, with a counter

  11. Portscan Detection • IP audit trails are an excellent tool for detecting network enumeration attempts. • Snort’s spp_portscan2 uses network flows to detect portscans • To detect portscanning simply count connections from external hosts to distinct hosts and ports on your network • A well defined concept of home network versus external network is critical • A portscan attempt which also correlates to an IDS alert, or to a session that is long or that moves some data might point to a successful compromise

  12. Long Sessions • Long sessions are common on networks • Due to the more stateless nature of udp and icmp, distinct network flows might be collapsed into a single network flow • Long sessions to interesting ports, or inbound to unexpected locations, or with IDS alerts are the things we want to focus on • Extensive correlation is critical to making the important long sessions stand out

  13. Traffic to Nonexistent Hosts • Inbound traffic to a host that is known to not exist • A good way of detecting network enumeration attempts

  14. Traffic to High Ports • Sessions being initiated to high ports on your home network should always be viewed with suspicion • There are exceptions (ftp traffic) • By keeping “state” on your network’s flows you can eliminate many of the valid inbound high port connections • High port traffic + IDS alert…

  15. High Connection Rate • High connection rates could point to DOS attempts, port scanning, auto rooter, P2P activity, worm activity, and more • There are valid network activities which can generate high connection rates • Correlation of high connection rates to other anomalous activities is what we need to look for

  16. High Packet Rate • Another example of could be bad, could be good activity • High packet rates might indicate worm activity, portscanning, or other nastiness • A sudden appearance of high packet rates linked to a previous session which had IDS alerts associated could indicate a host that has been successfully compromised

  17. Stepping Stone Detection • A stepping stone is a computer that is used as an intermediate point between two other computers • Stepping stones are frequently used by attackers to obscure their location/identity • Stepping stones can be detected by correlation of on/off times between two network flows. This is prone to false positives. • A better approach is to correlate on and off times of packet activity inside the flow, but requires finer granularity in the data than can be provided by argus.

  18. Summary • Using IP audit trails is a powerful enhancement to IDS • IP audit trails also give new ways of looking for anomalous traffic, new services on your network, or for getting a better perspective on your networks operation • There is lots to be done!