Category: OSSIM (Page 2 of 2)

AlienVault Troubleshooting: NFSEN cannot start

One of the issues we faced was that our NFSEN suddenly barfed when restarted. This is highly annoying because everytime we reconfigure AlienVault, it has to hang at NFSEN service restart because it couldn’t get it up. I don’t know why.

Eventhough we don’t use netflow much in our environment, it was still a pain for us so we tried to troubleshoot it and finally resolved it.

The issue was when we click on Environment>Netflow we saw these errors

ERROR: nfsend connect() error: Connection refused!

ERROR: nfsend – connection failed!!


Obviously this was irritating. Under Configuration>Deployment>Sensors, we clicked on our AIO and scroll to the bottom, we saw that the netflow collection configuration was not running.

I think it could be because we didn’t set any interface to be ‘monitoring’. We went ahead and set it using the alienvault-setup menu and assigned eth1 to be monitoring. Strangely we couldn’t assign it in the GUI under Configuration>Deployment>AIO>Sensor Configuration and Detection. We only had option for Eth0 (our management) and ETH5 (our logging interface).

Anyway, once we set an interface to monitoring we still couldn’t start nfsen through the GUI or even through the command line under /etc/init.d/nfsen start/stop.

It kept giving this error

Use of uninitialized value $pid in scalar chomp at /usr/bin/nfsend line 765.
Use of uninitialized value $pid in kill at /usr/bin/nfsend line 767.
Use of uninitialized value $pid in concatenation (.) or string at /usr/bin/nfsen

Which made as much sense as greek.

In any case, at least it gave a clue that /usr/bin/nfsend might be complaining because nfsen wasn’t up in the first place. So we went ahead and
VirtualUSMAllInOne:/usr/bin# ./nfsen start
Starting nfcapd:(564D89B81691003B6E98F73F9FFA258C)[25330]
Starting nfsend.

This apparently didn’t through any errors and nfsend seems started! Do a ps -ef and grep nfsen and you have a nice PID allocated.

VirtualUSMAllInOne:/usr/bin# ps -ef | grep nfs
www-data 25330 1 0 23:12 ? 00:00:00 /usr/bin/nfcapd -w -D -p 555 -u www-data -g www data -B 200000 -S 7 -P /var/nfsen/run/ -I 564D89B81691003B6E98F73F9FFA258C -l /var/cache/nfdump/flows//live/564D89B81691003B6E98F73F9FFA258C
www-data 25332 1 0 23:12 ? 00:00:00 /usr/bin/perl -w /usr/bin/nfsend
www-data 25333 25332 0 23:12 ? 00:00:00 /usr/bin/nfsend-comm
root 25339 22649 0 23:12 pts/0 00:00:00 grep –color=auto nfs

So we stopped it again but this time with the init.d script.

VirtualUSMAllInOne:/usr/bin# /etc/init.d/nfsen stop
Stopping Nfsen: nfsenShutdown nfcapd: (564D89B81691003B6E98F73F9FFA258C)[25330]. .
Shutdown nfsend:[25332]..

And started it again using the init.d script

VirtualUSMAllInOne:/usr/bin# /etc/init.d/nfsen start
Starting Nfsen: nfsenStarting nfcapd:(564D89B81691003B6E98F73F9FFA258C)[26383]
Starting nfsend.

Now we checked back our netflow on the gui and it works.

I don’t know if anyone else is facing this or has an explanation to this, but it might or might not have anything to do with our interface not being set to monitoring. You can try this out if you are facing this issue.


OSSIM Part 2: Typical Setup

From the previous post, you have successfully installed OSSIM into a VM running ESXi 5.1. Congratulations.

Go ahead and access the web IP address of the OSSIM (you do remember it, don’t you??!)

You are greeted with the same screen as AlienVault – setting the admin account. You should never lose the root password, the admin password can be reset.

Once that is done, relogin again with the new admin password and go through the wizard.

Let’s start with the interface. Go ahead and configure one for Logging and the other for monitoring (no IP). Assign another IP to it. For now, we didn’t do any scanning or other setup, the whole idea was just to see what OSSIM is offering.

In case you messed up and only set up 2 network interfaces, don’t worry. Just add a new network interface into the VM and power up the OSSIM again.

You would want to reconfigure it to have that new interface so go to configuration and wait for your OSSIM to load up. The annoying thing about AlienVault is that the Getting Started Wizard is literally ‘Getting Started’. You don’t have a way to invoke that wizard again so you generally have to reconfigure your network devices the hard way. There are two ways:

SSH into your OSSIM and run alienvault-setup if not already in the setup menu. Go to Configure Sensor > Configure Network Monitoring and select the new ETH as your network monitor. Then you need to apply changes and wait for OSSIM to rebuild

Second option is GUI>Configuration>Deployment>Click on the OSSIM installation

On the top right, click on Sensor configuration and then on ‘Detection’. You will see listening interfaces there. Go ahead and select the NIC to add to listening interfaces. You don’t need an IP address for monitoring. Apply Changes.

It’s just annoying, and we really wish OSSIM would just allow us to run the getting started wizard again.

If you need to set up a logging and monitoring role, you just need to go to the alienvault-setup, setup the network interfaces under system preferences and give it an IP. Immediately gets a logging and monitoring role. There shouldn’t be more than one interface per subnet. The question here is, can your management interface also be the logging interface. Yes of course, but it’s best not to.

Now, again, we wish OSSIM would be a little more clear on this. They already have an awesome GUI, but you would think running the wizard again would be a simple thing to do. Nope, it’s not. You have one shot at it.

So now, you have an interface to manage, to log and to monitor.Go ahead and have a look at it under the deployment components.

Once this is done, you are basically good to go to start OSSIM!

OSSIM Part 1: Getting Started

After getting our hands wet on AlienVault, another demand we have technically from clients is OSSIM. OSSIM here means Open Source Security Information Management – the open source variant of AlienVault. We can explore the differences in another post, but in this post, let’s get our hands dirty with this AlienVault cousin.

First of all, we are back where we started with VMWARE. I will assume we have a running vmware install, in our case its ESXi 5.1 and managing through SSH and Vsphere.

1) Create a Virtual Machine for OSSIM

It sounds more intuitive than it really is, but VMWare continues to annoy us. Here we just click on File->New->Virtual Machine. Do note for AlienVault it was an OVF image we deployed. For OSSIM, it will be an ISO image, so we first need to create the Virtual Host first.

Go through the wizard and we basically went for the typical installation. We got a little stuck at the Guest Operating System though. We were supposed to load the ISO from the datastore, so in this case, we just randomly selected a 64-bit OS under ‘Others’. Don’t think it will make any difference if we selected anything else, since OSSIM install will basically take over the OS.

2) ISO load up

Once created we need to get the ISO (650MB) into our machine. It’s quite annoying because I was running through a VPN and I tried to WinSCP or SFTP from my laptop to the host and from the host, copy it to datastore. However, the line keeps dying after 200mb transferred and I could never fix it. I don’t know why. Maybe there is a limit or something.

So we went the conventional route:

a) Put the ISO into the datastore – Click on the host (not the VM) and click on Configuration Tab. You will see a datastore there. Select it, right click> Browse Datastore. On the little tabs, click on ‘Upload files to this datastore’, and select your local OSSIM iso and upload it away.

It’s magnificently slow, but it seems to work, and all 600+ MB of the payload was sent into the datastore.

b) Right click on the new OSSIM VM>Edit Settings>CD/DVD Drive

You want to click on ‘Connect at Power on’ and also Datastore ISO File. Go ahead and browse the datastore and select the ISO image you just put into the datastore.

3) Start your engines

So load her up. It will boot into the OSSIM installation menu and basically we did all defaults, and allocated an IP address and let it install

4) Post Installation

We did face a problem after the installation. The OSSIM Console hung at with the ‘VMWARE’ logo and ‘waiting for connection’. We powered off the OSSIM, went back to the CD/DVD drive setting and remove the ‘Connect at power on’ option.


The familiar face of the happy Alien greeted us and yes it takes pretty long to boot up just like her commercial cousin. Get a coffee, and we can then dive deeper into OSSIM.

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