Unleash the Power of Dockerized Analyzers in 5 Minutes

One of the big improvements you’ll notice in Cortex 3 is the support for dockerized analyzers. And amongst some of their benefits, the installation process has been significantly simplified. So let’s assume you do not want to bang your head against Python, or other library dependencies. Then read one for a way to set up analyzers and run them quickly.

The following instructions have been tested on Ubuntu 18.04. If you already have a Cortex instance up and running, you can jump directly to the docker installation section below.

Install System Packages

Prerequisites

  • Ensure your system contains the required packages:
sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl software-properties-common
  • Oh, and Cortex should have access to the internet 😉

Cortex

Configure your system to install packages from TheHive-Project repositories.

echo 'deb https://dl.bintray.com/thehive-project/debian-stable any main' | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/thehive-project.list
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp://pgp.mit.edu --recv-key 562CBC1C

Install Cortex:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cortex

The Cortex files will be put in /opt/cortex. The Cortex binary will be executed using the cortex account.

The configuration file is /etc/cortex/application.conf.

The Cortex log file is /var/log/cortex/application.log.

Docker

We recommend reading the Docker documentation to install the software.

For Ubuntu 18.04, you can run the following commands:

wget -O- https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/gpg | sudo apt-key add -
add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu bionic stable"
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install docker-ce

Use Docker with Cortex

Start by giving the cortex account the permission to run Docker.

usermod -a -G docker cortex

Next, in the Cortex configuration file (/etc/cortex/application.conf) ensure jobs will be executed using Docker:

job {
runner = [docker]
}

Follow the Standard Analyzer Catalog

If you are a complete Cortex noob, please read the Quick Start Guide.

Configure Cortex to get the catalog with up-to-date versions of analyzers. Edit /etc/cortex/application.conf to set the catalog URLs in the analyzer configuration section as shown below:

## ANALYZERS
#
analyzer {
  urls = ["https://dl.bintray.com/thehive-project/cortexneurons/analyzers.json"]
[..]
}

Once Cortex is configured, restart the service with the following command, wait a few seconds and you should be able to connect to Cortex on https://<yourCortexHost&gt;:9001 et voilà!

sudo service restart cortex

Important Note: The catalog analyzers.json contains information regarding versions of analyzers we consider stable and that are updated with bug fixes. This is typically synchronised with our master branch on Github. When you are using this catalog, you are de facto benefiting from the latest analyzer updates without needing to refresh anything in Cortex or setup again the configuration to get the latest version.

We also provide two additional catalogs:

  • analyzers-stable.json which strictly follows versions of analyzers if you do not want any uncontrolled updates. What does that mean in practice? You will have to click on the Refresh button in Cortex to update your analyzers, disable old ones and enable new versions. Moreover, you will also have to setup again their configuration. Typically, if you installed and setup Cortex with this catalog and the current version of FileInfo analyzers is 6.0, you won’t benefit from the next version, let’s say 6.1, unless you refresh Cortex.
  • analyzers-devel.jsonwhich contains information about new analyzers or version of analyzers that contains code that has been reviewed but not tested enough (or even not tested at all at times) to be deemed ready for production environments. This is typically synchronized with the develop branch of our Github repository.

Same goes for responders. All available catalogs for Cortex are published on bintray so you can choose the one that better fits your needs (or your risk/gambling profile :p).

A Short Story of Getting Work Done: TheHive 3.3.0

Some of our die-hard fans noticed that we silently released TheHive 3.3.0 a few days ago, after six release candidates. Well. Silently won’t be the right word to use in this case as we are drowning under work and feature requests and we sometimes postpone communication in favour of getting true real work done.

So, without any further ado, we are happy to announce the official availability of our latest (and of course greatest) release of the most-advanced, next-gen, HI (Human Intelligence), gluten-free, (add here any keyword that you fancy to help us get the Gartner attention and land in the Magic Quadrant™), free and open source Security Incident Response Platform Security Orchestration Automation & Response Platform.

As stated earlier, TheHive 3.3.0 went through the largest number of release candidates to date in order to ensure it contains more features than bugs (or unexpected functionality as our dear Nabil call them sometimes).

Since RC5 which we have blogged about on Feb 26, 2019, below is an outline of the changes we made. Check TheHive Installation Guide for installation instructions.

The new Related Alerts tab in Case View introduced in 3.3.0-RC5

Fixed Issues

  • #899: fix a crashing issue encountered with Firefox
  • #907: dynamic (auto-refresh) of cases was broken in 3.3.0-RC5
  • #930: merging cases by CaseID was broken

Implemented Enhancements

  • #666: add support for filtering tags by prefix and wildcard search
  • #901: remove the possibility of creating cases from scratch (i.e. empty cases) when explicitly disabled by an admin
  • #908: add support for text-based widgets to the dashboards
  • #912: responders can now add tags to alerts when triggered thanks to the new AddTagToAlert operation

Looking for Help?

Something does not work as expected? Then please join our user forum, contact us on Gitter, or send us an email at support@thehive-project.org.

Since You are Here

TheHive and Cortex are a huge success. According to our estimates, there are about a hundred organisations of different sizes and locations using or testing them. And as the number of users grows, so does the number of features, professional service and support requests. 

We tried finding a solution to keep TheHive Project as healthy as possible. So we created Creative Source, a nonprofit organisation (NPO), in the hope that we could leverage it to hire more developers thanks to the generous donations of our large user community. Sadly, not everyone in this world is generous and altruistic. At the end, all but one company (yes, exactly one) trusted us enough to make a donation and get tailored services for its needs in return. Most of the others either did not reply to our proposals or explained that their procurement process does not accommodate working with NPOs.

As we informed you a few weeks ago, some members of our core team are finalising an alternative option to ensure not only the viability of TheHive and Cortex as FOSS products on the long run but the ability to provide professional training, support, and services without making highly bureaucratic, think-in-the-box-but-never-outside procurement departments freak out.

Expect to hear from us soon…

The Dockerization Will not be Televised

Do you know what the following set of commands achieve?

$ cd /opt/Cortex-Analyzers
$ sudo git pull
$ for I in $(find /opt/Cortex-Analyzers -name 'requirements.txt'); do sudo -H pip2 install -U -r $I; done \
&& for I in $(find /opt/Cortex-Analyzers -name 'requirements.txt'); do sudo -H pip3 install -U \
-r $I || true; done

The answer is obvious Doctor Watson, right? These highly readable commands (pun intended) allow you to update your Cortex analyzers and responders to the latest stable versions, downloading new ones in the process, going over all the Python 2 and Python 3 dependencies to install the missing ones and upgrade the old ones to make sure they work correctly. These operations take quite a long time and cause some headaches in the process (Hello, I have Python 3.X and this dependency is no longer required, or Hi, I have an old version of Python 2 and it seems I need this other dependency).

And if you are lucky enough to get it running smoothly, you are still not done as you need to log in to the Cortex UI as an organisation administrator (unlike TheHive, Cortex supports multi-tenancy), click on the Refresh analyzers button under Organization > Analyzers then go to Organization > Responders and click on Refresh responders.

So while the answer to the opening question might be simple, updating analyzers and responders is far from being straightforward, to say the least, even if we forget the ugly fact that both are stored in a repository “conveniently” named Cortex-Analyzers*:

thehive@thehive-training:/opt/Cortex-Analyzers$ ls -d a* r*
analyzers  responders

Unnecessary Complexity Must Die

Your lovely, hard-working bees hate unnecessary complexity. Our project’s front page blatantly states our mission to bring Security Incident Response to the masses. And we have to stand by our words even if TheHive and Cortex are free, open source solutions and we do not gain anything from them save for the huge satisfaction of helping our fellow incident handlers level the fight against cybercriminals & all kinds of other animals of the APT (Advanced Persistent Troll Threat) bestiary.

There is only one possible solution: simplify the installation and update process of the current, official 115 analyzers and responders we have as of this writing, the future ones and any private or unofficial ones written in other programming languages such as those developed in Go by Rosetelecom-CERT.

Docker all the Things!

Starting from Cortex 3.0, the next major release of your favourite analysis and active response engine, all analyzers and responders will be dockerized. It will no longer be necessary to install them along with their various dependencies. They will be dowloaded from our cortexengine Docker organisation. Sysadmins might also configure automatic updates.

As a side advantage of using Docker, analyzers, and responders will also be isolated from each other which gives more flexibility and possibilities.

© Steve Simson. This artwork and the title of this blog post are inspired by The Revolution will not be televised, a song from the late and great Gil Scott-Heron.

For those users who have private, custom analyzers and responders that they don’t want or can’t share with the community, several options will be available:

  • Continue managing their analyzers and responders in the same way as currently supported by Cortex 2 (i.e. launch them as processes, with no isolation whatsoever).
  • Dockerize them and store them locally on their Cortex instance.
  • Dockerize them and publish them on a Docker registry, either the official one or a private registry.

A Docker image of Cortex 3 will still be provided. It will contain a Docker engine to launch dockerized analyzers and responders using DIND (Docker in Docker).

It won’t be necessary to modify the code of the current, official analyzers and responders. A drone job will monitor the analyzer and responder repository and automatically build docker images when it detects changes.

The Cortex Web interface will be slightly modified to accommodate the whole process and allow adding in-house/private Certificate Authorities to allow Cortex to smoothly perform updates in those corporate environments where TLS/SSL inspection is enabled.

Nice Movie Trailer. When is it Coming to a Theatre near me?

We are working hard to get Cortex 3 out of the oven in Q1 (of this year, yes). We will reach out to you, dear reader, in due time, to help us test it and refine it before putting it on the digital shelf for free, as usual. We will provide a smooth migration path in order to move safely your current analyzers and responders and their configuration to Cortex 3.

So to paraphrase the late and great Gil Scott-Heron:

The dockerization will not be televised

The dockerization will not be televised

The dockerization will be live.

Since you are here

The success of TheHive and Cortex continue to grow, far more than we initially foresaw. As far as we know, there are about a hundred organisations of different sizes and locations using or testing them. And as the number of users grows, so does the number of features, professional service and support requests.

We have tried addressing these requests through Creative Source, a nonprofit organisation (NPO). All but one company trusted us enough to make a donation and get tailored services for its needs in return. Most of the others either did not reply to our proposals or explained that their procurement process does not accommodate working with NPOs.

Some members of our core team are actively working on alternative options to ensure not only the viability of TheHive and Cortex as FOSS products on the long run but the ability to provide professional training, support, and services without freaking out highly bureaucratic, think-in-the-box-but-never-outside procurement departments.

Stay tuned 🐝


(*) When the idea behind Cortex was born into our hive mind, we did not initially think about active response capabilities. So we naturally called the repository which was supposed to contain analyzers Cortex-Analyzers . When, at a later stage, we added responders, we put them in the same repository for obvious laziness pretences  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Correction: February 15, 2019
Typographical errors have been corrected. Some rewording has been made for the sake of clarity.