How to Cruise Ocean Threat Without Sinking Using TheHive 3.1 & Cortex 2.1

Paris, France. The Sun is shining on the city of lights and temperatures are quite high, even for the summer season. Life is good. As a matter of fact, life is excellent.

TheHive Master Cooks are about to go on vacation for a few weeks. But before they pack up their Patagonia bags and leave the sandy beaches for those who enjoy them, preferring mountains, trails, walking and breathing fresh air with family and friends, they would like to make a significant contribution to help TheHive and Cortex users fight cyberattacks even better than they already do. And maybe convince those who don’t that free, open source software is not a joke or a geek fad.

We’d like to welcome to the stage our latest babies, which we are really proud of: TheHive 3.1 and Cortex 2.1, the new versions of the power duo which make digital forensics, incident response and, to an extent, cyber threat intelligence, better, faster, happier, regular exercising (well you know the Radiohead song so we’ll let you continue singing along) since early 2017.

While our project might seem very young, it is not. We’ve been working steadily on TheHive, using it (i.e. eating our own dog food) since early 2014 before releasing it at the end of 2016 once we were satisfied with it, as a token of gratitude to a community that helped us due our jobs in various ways. We then extracted what has become Cortex from its core to ship it as a separate product in February 2017. And we kept improving them at a steady piece for the collective benefit of incident responders, forensicators and threat analysts. And adoption has been rather spectacular. Thanks to all of our users for their love and support!

We believe we are at a moment where people could not brush us off anymore as amateurs. Try TheHive and Cortex, preferably with MISP and get a taste of what professional, free and open source software can be.

TheHive 3.1 and Cortex 2.1 are feature-packed and we won’t be able to cover them all in detail in a single blog post. Rather, we’d like to concentrate on a few important ones.

Stable, Pre-release Channels and New Repositories

We’d like to point out that, in order to improve our release process and given the number of features that we added, TheHive 3.1 and Cortex 2.1 are release candidates at this stage. So we encourage you to test them and report back any bugs or issues you encounter so we can address them and make the final releases as rock-solid as possible.

We have now two release channels: a stable one that should be used for production systems and a pre-release channel that should be used to try the release candidates such as TheHive 3.1-RC1 and Cortex 2.1-RC1, the subjects of this blog post, and help us iron out bugs before adding them to the stable channel. Those who love living on the bleeding edge may be tempted by running the release candidates on their production environment given all the candy and icing we added. They are at liberty of doing so but we don’t want to hear anyone one whining about an RC that broke everything and asking for their money back grin.

We also moved our package and binary repositories to https://bintray.com/thehive-project and Docker images are now under thehiveproject.

Please check TheHive Installation and Cortex Installation guides for further details.

MISP with a Purpose

In previous releases of TheHive, whenever you configured a MISP instance, it was used to import events from and export cases to. Starting from TheHive 3.1.0, we added a purpose to the configuration file. By default, any added MISP instance will be used for import and export (ImportAndExport). However you can configure it to be used for importing events only (ImportOnly) or exporting cases only (ExportOnly).

Extended Events

When an analyst attempts to update a MISP event on which the account used by TheHive to connect to the MISP instance is not part of the original author’s organization, previous versions of TheHive will display a you do not have permission to do that error produced by MISP. Starting from TheHive 3.1, analysts have the ability to create a MISP extended event.

Task Grouping

Case tasks can now be associated with task groups. For example, you could create groups called Identification and Malware Analysis, Containment and Communication and add tasks to them. Of course, this new feature can be used when designing case templates as well.

Import Observables from Analyzer Output

If analyzers produce a set of artifacts in their output (which is the case of several existing ones), TheHive will give you the ability to select those artifacts very easily and add them to your case as observables.

ZIP File Upload

Austin Haigh contributed an important feature which will allow analysts to directly import password-protected ZIP files into a case. The code uses the supplied password when adding the archive to extract its contents and add them one by one to the existing set of observables. This is highly practical when you want to add suspicious files without risking an accidental click which would compromise your endpoint or having to unzip archives containing such files first then add them one by one to TheHive.

Revamped Search Page

The search page has been completely revamped as shown in the screenshot below:

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The New Search Page

You can now select your search scope (cases, tasks, observables, alerts, analyser reports a.k.a. jobs or even the audit logs), apply filters and search TheHive without having to resort to complex, mind numbing Lucene syntax.

Responders and PAP

Last but not least, TheHive and Cortex offer you response capabilities (i.e. perform an action depending on the context) thanks to a new breed of programs called … wait for it … wait for it … responders. TADA!

Responders are very similar to analyzers. In fact we’ve taken the concept and extended it to apply to different elements in TheHive: alerts, cases, tasks, task logs, and observables of course.

mailer_activeResponse.png
Responders in Action

You can reuse almost the same principles that apply to analyzers to write your own responders and if you are feeling generous, contribute them to the community. To give you a head start, we published a sample Mailer responder which, when customized for your environment, should allow you to send emails to inform your fellow analysts that a case has been created and that their help is required. Another example could be the ability to respond to a suspicious email report from a user, which is displayed as an alert, that they can safely ignore the corresponding email.

Like an analyzer, a responder can have two or more service interaction files (or flavors) to allow it to perform different actions. For example, a Mailer responder can send messages using several body templates.

Thanks to our long-time friend Andras Iklody from MISP Project who brought that to our attention, responders (and analyzers starting from Cortex 2.1) support PAP, the Permissible Actions Protocol.

Running into Troubles?

Something does not work as expected? You have troubles installing or upgrading? Spotted new bugs? No worries, please open issues on GitHub or comment on existing ones, join our user forum, contact us on Gitter, or send us an email at support@thehive-project.org. We are here to help.

 

 

 

The Mind-Boggling Implications of Multi-Tenancy

TheHive offers a powerful yet generic query API for all the data stored by the platform in the underlying Elasticsearch database.

Thanks to its DSL (Domain Specific Language), TheHive can handle complex search queries such as the following:

Among all the unassigned tasks, show me all those associated with cases which severity is high but also contain the highest number of observables which datatype is  ‘mail’

When faced with such complex queries, TheHive translates them using its DSL and sends them over to Elasticsearch to obtain the results. TheHive’s dashboards draw their power from such querties.

And while such capability is highly desirable in our opinion, a capability that we will further leverage to add a completely revamped search module in the upcoming Cerana 1 (TheHive 3.1) release, it greatly complicates RBAC (or multi-tenancy) in TheHive.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 11.50.39.png
A Sneak Peek at the New Search Module of the Upcoming Cerana 1 (TheHive 3.1) Release

Indeed, in the RBAC world, the conversion of any search queries submitted to TheHive into an Elasticsearch one is fully dependent on the user context. The user view must be kept within the boundaries of the group or groups to which they belong. Each search filter,  each search parameter, must return only the results that the user can view.

The data scope needs to be clearly identified at the case level. To perform a search against task logs for example, TheHive will need to identify the parent task log, then identify the parent case and only then verify the scope. This is no small undertaking.

Similarities across cases or alerts, such as the Related Cases feature or the relationships between a given alert and existing cases, would need additional work that has not been clearly identified at this stage. But the difficulties do not stop there. Any element that has no clear relationship with case entities will have to be singled out and specific code would need to be added to limit access according to the RBAC rules. This will be clearly the case for the audit trail. Also, what should TheHive display when an analyst group is working on a case that shares observables with another one belonging to a different group? Shall it allow a limited view without any details so that groups may request from a super administrator to authorize both groups to collaborate on the investigation, something that distributed CERTs or SOCs in a large corporation may desire? Or shall it keep the data completely isolated as MSSPs which serve multiple customers with a single instance will require? We know the answer: make it configurable. But take a step back and think of the implications at the code (and security) level.

Contrary to the feature we added to Cortex 2, which allow multiple organizations to use a single Cortex instance, multi-tenancy in TheHive is a much more complex feature to implement and which is expected to have a significant impact on the platform’s performance. It will also need extreme caution to avoid blind spots that attackers (and not so innocent tenants) may exploit to circumvent scope limitations and extend their view to data they are not supposed to access. That’s why we had to delay it to Cerana 2 (TheHive 3.2), currently planned for the end of October 2018.

If you are well versed in Elasticsearch and Scala and willing to help implement this feature, please contact us at support@thehive-project.org.

 

Cortex4py 2 is Out!

Cortex, a free, open source software allows security analysts and threat hunters to analyze and enrich observables (IP addresses, hashes, domains, …) collected in the course of an investigation or received from third parties, for example through MISP, the de facto standard for threat sharing.

On March 29, 2018, we released Cortex 2, a major improvement over the previous version which brought, among other cool features, authentication, caching, multi-tenancy (RBAC) and rate limiting. Instead of deploying several Cortex 1 instances behind reverse proxies which would implement authentification, administrators can deploy a single Cortex 2, create multiple organizations and serve the needs of various information security populations while enjoying extra features.

On May 31, 2018, we published a brand new API guide so that developers can take advantage of the powerful REST API of the product. Sadly, Cortex4py, the FOSS Python library we provide to interact with the API was not compatible with Cortex 2. Until today.

Thanks to the hard work of our dear Nabil Adouani, we are happy to announce the immediate availability of Cortex4py 2.0.0, a complete rewrite of the library in Python 3. Cortex4py 2.0.0 is fully compatible with Cortex 2. However, it doesn’t work with Cortex 1.

While TheHive, the highly popular free and open source Security Incident Response Platform (SIRP) we develop has native support for many Cortex 2 instances, Python developers can leverage Cortex4py to interact with Cortex 2, manage organizations, users, analyzer configurations and analyze observables at scale from alternative SIRPs, SIEMs or custom scripts thanks to the 83 analyzers Cortex 2 has as of June 18, 2018.

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 20.01.27.png
Cortex 2: there is more than one way to interact with it

Use It

To install Cortex4py, use PIP3:

$ sudo -H pip3 install cortex4py

If you are using Python on a Windows operating system, please forgo the sudo command.

Usage

Cortex4py 2 comes with a usage guide which includes many examples. For example, if you want to fetch the last 10 successful jobs that have been executed against domain names and display the result summaries of those 10 jobs you could write something like:

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 19.58.45.png
Sample Python3 code to retrieve Cortex analyzer results

Migrating from Cortex4py 1

If you have already written scripts using Cortex4py 1.x (for Cortex 1), we tried to keep the already available methods. However, we recommend you adapt your code to leverage the new Cortex4py 2 classes and methods as soon as feasible. Moreover, the existing scripts must be updated to support authentication if you intend to use them with Cortex 2. Please read the Cortex4py 2 usage guide for more information.

Support

Cortex 2.0.0 is brand new software. As such, it might contain bugs and limitations. If you find any or encounter problems, please ask on our user forum, contact us on Gitter, or send us an email at support@thehive-project.org. We are here to help.

TheHive 3.0.10 Released

Rejoice DFIR fighters! Your favorite Security Incident Response Platform has just gotten better. TheHive 3.0.10 (codename Cerana 0.10) is just out of the oven. Thomas and Nabil, as the true code Chefs they are, have fixed a number of issues and added a few enhancements in this release. Read on, update and defend your constituency!

Fixes

  • #446: keep observable reports when performing a case merge operation
  • #592: fix the error message when an observable is created with invalid data
  • #583: cases can be merged by using their case ID
  • #584: correct error messages when performing invalid searches
  • #586: a regression was introduced that prevented analyzer names from being reflected in the modal view of mini-reports
  • #512: there were situations were mini-reports won’t display upon job success
  • #522: under certain circumstances, TheHive failed to synchronize MISP events correctly
  • #555: private dashboards must not be searchable
  • #557: fix an error when a merged case is deleted

Enhancements

  • #579: rotate application.log to keep it from becoming huge
  • #564: when submitting a job to Cortex, send the case ID as well
  • #563: poll the status of connectors (MISP, Cortex) every minute and update the UX display accordingly
  • #548: sort related cases by the amount of shared observables
  • #546: display start and end times for closed tasks

Support

Something does not work as expected? You have troubles installing or upgrading? You have spotted new bugs? No worries, please join our user forum, contact us on Gitter, or send us an email at support@thehive-project.org. We are here to help.

Cerana 0.9 and Cortex 2.0.4 are Out!

We are proud to announce the immediate availability of Cerana 0.9 (TheHive 3.0.9) and Cortex 2.0.4. These hotfix releases address a number of issues and we encourage you to update your current installation at your earliest opportunity. For your comfort and sanity. Seriously.

We also took this opportunity to update Cortex analyzers to fix issues with CIRCL Passive SSL, Hybrid Analysis, and the Joe Sandbox URL Analysis template. Moreover, we have updated the cortexutils library to set the taxonomy level to info if it is invalid. To upgrade cortexutils​ to 1.2.4:

sudo pip install -U cortexutils && sudo pip3 install -U cortexutils

To update your Cortex analyzers:

cd /path/to/Cortex-analyzers && git pull

Note: the Bluecoat analyzer was removed since it does not comply with the updated Terms of Service of Symantec Web Pulse SiteReview. Symantec does no longer permit programmatic querying of the service.

Fixes in Cerana 0.9

  • #527: display long reports when the analyst clicks on the corresponding short reports. Meh!
  • #541: make the drop-down menu for case templates scroll when there is a truckload of them.
  • #452: prevent WSAPI failure.
  • #531: fix naming inconsistencies in the Live Stream.
  • #530: correct an error when trying to analyze a filename using the Hybrid Analysis analyzer.
  • #543: generate an error if unable to contact Cortex.
  • #518: merge observable sightings when merging cases.
  • #535: fix the tag color of the PhishTank analyzer which was transparent under certain conditions.

Fixes in Cortex 2.0.4

  • #89: let a read,analyze user change or display their API key.
  • #91: sort analyzers by name.
  • #92: redirect users to the index page when they click on the Cortex logo.
  • #93: under the Organization > Configurations page, the UI displays wrong green checkmarks for empty configurations.
  • #94: orgadmin users are not able to update their organization’s users after the users are created. The UI doesn’t display any error message.
  • #95: avoid ‘lax programming’, Nabil style😜, and strictly filter the list of analyzers in the Run dialog.
  • #90: fix Python dependency errors in docker.

Support

Something does not work as expected? You have troubles installing or upgrading? Spotted new bugs? No worries, please open issues on GitHub or comment on existing ones, join our user forum, contact us on Gitter, or send us an email at support@thehive-project.org. We are here to help.

CorrectionApril 14, 2018
An earlier version of this post did not mention that the Bluecoat analyzer was removed in the latest Cortex Analyzers repository release.

Cortex 2, TheHive and a Whole Slew of Updates

After announcing Cortex 2.0.0 and TheHive 3.0.7, the first version of your favorite SIRP that is (supposedly) compatible with the brand-new version of Cortex, last week, we thought it was time to relax and enjoy the upcoming, long Easter weekend, the sunny sky of Paris (if you can pierce the veil of the Forever Grey Cloud™ that is hanging over the city of lights), and great jazz music. Heck, I even tweeted about it … only to be proven wrong by Life (and Murphy).

We literally field tested Cortex 2 for 3 weeks, we squashed bugs here and there, until almost the very last minute before the release. And yet, our QA needs to be improved by leaps and bounds as we had to release Cortex 2.0.1 one day after unveiling 2.0.0 to correct some additional bugs. And then some members of the core team and of our growing user community took it for a spin. And all hell broke lose. Well, almost 🙂

good_code
Source: XKCD

Session collisions (when TheHive and Cortex 2 are used on the same machine), analyzer malfunctions, connectivity problems … issues that were not identified during the testing phase, even in a production environment, where everything worked as expected. And we call this ‘Computer Science’. Right, right…

So we worked hard, took out our Code Hammer (it’s like Thor’s but cyber) and blasted away all the bugs that we found out or that were reported to us (arigato gozaimasu!) and we are happy to announce the immediate availability of Cortex 2.0.2, TheHive 3.0.8, Cortexutils 1.2.3 and Cortex-Analyzers 1.9.2.

TL;DR Install or upgrade Cortex 2.0.2, update Cortexutils, git pull the Cortex-analyzers repo to get the latest version of the repository, upgrade to TheHive 3.0.8, follow the Quick Start Guide and have a drink.

If you have time (which is admittedly quite scarce nowadays), please read on the changelogs:

What’s Next?

As stated in the previous post, we will release a new version of Cortex4py in order to make it compatible with Cortex 2, continue the work we started with our MISP Project friends to support MISP attribute enrichment through Cortex 2 (MISP currently only supports enrichment using Cortex 1), and perform a long-overdue overhaul of our documentation. We will also release a brand new version of TheHive4py.

Last but not least, we’ll take a hard look at ourselves and our QA. You expect us from us high quality and we hold ourselves to high standards. And we will deliver.

Support

Something does not work as expected? You have troubles installing or upgrading? Spotted new bugs? No worries, please open issues on GitHub or comment on existing ones, join our user forum, contact us on Gitter, or send us an email at support@thehive-project.org. We are here to help.

Unveiling Cortex 2

TheHive Project’s Master Chefs are extremely happy to share, for free their latest recipe with the Cyber Threat Intelligence, Digital Forensics and Incident Response communities: Cortex 2.

As its predecessor, Cortex 2 is published under an AGPL v3 license and it introduces many important features that we brushed upon in a Dec 2017 post.

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 17.16.06
Cortex 2 — Architecture

Update: Cortex 2.0.1 was released since this post went live. It corrects a few bugs we uncovered in 2.0.0 as described in the changelog. Please install Cortex 2.0.1 instead of 2.0.0.

Authentication

Cortex 2 supports all the authentication methods that TheHive supports: LDAP, Active Directory, local accounts, API Keys, and X.509 SSO.

To connect your favorite Security Incident Response Platform with Cortex 2, you will need to update TheHive to Cerana 0.7 (TheHive 3.0.7) which was released today as well. This version fixes a regression pertaining to case templates introduced by Cerana 0.6 and is the first version to fully support Cortex 2’s API changes and authentication.

To make TheHive 3.0.7 analyze observables at scale through Cortex 2, you have to create an account on Cortex 2 with the read and analyze roles (see the next section) and generate the associated API Key. Next, feed the key in TheHive’s /etc/thehive/application.conf as described in the documentation et voilà !

TheHive 3.0.7 remains compatible with Cortex 1 and you can connect it to a mixed set of Cortex 1 and/or Cortex 2 instances with no issues.

Organizations, Analyzers and Rate Limiting

Cortex 2 introduces multi-tenancy through organizations and each organization can have its own set of users, with different roles, its own set of analyzers and, if necessary, rate limits that will prevent analysts from burning quotas.

Multi-tenancy has several interesting use cases. For instance, if you are the CSIRT or CERT of a large multinational organization with several regional teams, you can create an organization for each region within your constituency and enable the analyzers that they may need to use. Let’s assume that you bought a VirusTotal subscription that limits you to 5000 requests per month. You can configure the corresponding analyzers to give each region a fair share of that quota and keeping some requests for your own use.

In case you are a commercial CSIRT or an MSSP, you could do the same for your customers by installing only one Cortex 2 instance and creating an organization for each customer.

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 16.27.05.png
Configure an analyzer graphically and impose rate limits if necessary

User Roles

By default, Cortex 2 is shipped with the default cortex organization which sole purpose is to create other ones and manage the users within each organization and their associated powers. The cortex organization hosts all users with the superAdmin role and it cannot be used to configure or run analyzers.

As described in the new Quick Start Guide, after installing Cortex 2, updating its database and creating the first user who will have super admin powers, you’ll have to create your first organization and at least one user within that organization with orgAdmin rights.

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 16.33.02
Create an organization

You can then log out and log in using the orgAdmin account to create further users within that organization, enable and configure analyzers etc. Please note that no analyzer is enabled by default and you need at least v 1.9.0 of the cortex-analyzers repository. To update your set of analyzers to 1.9.0, please run git pull.

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 16.28.47
Manage users within an organization

Besides the superAdmin and orgAdmin roles, Cortex 2 introduces the read role which allows users to access analyzer reports and read them but not execute analyzers. For that, users need the analyze role (which implies the read role). orgAdmin users can also run analyzers. superAdmin users are limited to the default cortex organization. While they can create organizations and manage users within them, they cannot access analyzer configurations such as confidential API keys or job reports.

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 16.31.28
Job reports

Report Persistence and Caching

Cortex 2 relies on Elasticsearch 5.x to store many configuration items but also all the analyzer reports that have been generated. Unlike its predecessor, you won’t lose your existing reports should you need to restart the service or the host it is running on.

Cortex 2 also introduces report caching. By default the cache.job parameter is set to 10 minutes in /etc/cortex/application.conf. That means that if an analysis on a given observable with a defined TLP is requested and that a report has been previously generated in the last 10 minutes, Cortex 2 will serve that report instead of running a new analysis. This feature can help prevent soliciting analyzers, particularly those which require a subscription or have quotas, when there is no need to do so. Please note that this parameter is global to all the analyzers and all the organizations that are configured in the Cortex 2 instance. We do have plans to make it more granular in future versions.

Migrating from Cortex 1

If you are migrating from Cortex 1.x, we recommend that you:

  1. Save the configuration of your analyzers (which ones are enabled and what their configuration items are, such as users/passwords or API keys).
  2. Install Cortex 2.
  3. Edit /etc/cortex/application.conf to add the secret key as shown in Step 1 of the Quick Start Guide and point Cortex to the location of the analyzers.
  4. Follow the remaining steps of the Quick Start Guide to enable the analyzers you need and reinject their configuration.

What’s Next?

In the upcoming weeks, we will release a new version of Cortex4py in order to make it compatible with Cortex 2, continue the work we started with our MISP Project friends to support MISP attribute enrichment through Cortex 2 (MISP currently only supports enrichment using Cortex 1), and perform a long-overdue overhaul of our documentation.

Feeling Generous? Donate!

As you know, we are a FOSS project and donations are always welcome to make our products even better for the community.

All donations go to Creative Source, the non-profit organization we have created, and we will use them to improve TheHive, Cortex & Hippocampe but also to develop (even better) integrations with other FOSS solutions such as MISP.

So if you are feeling generous, please contact us at support@thehive-project.org.

Creative Source can also provide so-called professional, entreprise-grade support, help integrating the products, train your analysts before they drain or assist you in specific areas such as developing in-house analyzers for Cortex.

Support

Something does not work as expected? You have troubles installing or upgrading? No worries, please join our user forum, contact us on Gitter, or send us an email at support@thehive-project.org. We are here to help.

Correction: March 30, 2018
Instructions on how to update the cortex-analyzers have been added. Also, Cortex 2.0.1 was released to correct a few bugs in the previous version since this post went live.