Tag: nxlog

Alienvault with NXLog Conclusion


This is the final part of our foray into NXLog and Alienvault.

To recap: You have enabled Rsyslog over TCP, you have forwarded NXlog IIS FTP logs over to Alienvault, you have created an initial plugin to identify unsuccessful logins and done the CFG and SQL files and wrote into the ossim-db.

You need to do one more thing:


The command reconfigures the whole system, to ensure that the plugin is properly used.

Once done, you can do the following:

Cat /var/log/alienvault/agent/agent.log | grep 10000

Now finally you might be able to see something like

Apr  4 11:30:18 VirtualUSMAllInOne ossim-agent: Alienvault-Agent[INFO]: Plugin[10000] Total lines [138] TotalEvents:[22]  EPS: [0.00] elapsed [10.01] seconds

Which means out of 138 lines in the log, Alienvault was able to parse 22 into events. Which makes sense since you only set up one policy – Unsuccessful Logins.

The best practice is simply to have a generic ‘Catch All’ policy at the end of the plugin which is extremely general and will catch everything else. With the methods in the previous article, hopefully you will be able to grasp this cryptic skill of plugins creation. Go ahead and try it.

If you head over to GUI, Go to Configuration->Threat Intelligence->Data Source->Data Source Groups.

Now create a new group and call it ‘EVERYTHINGISAWESOME’. Or something you like.

Now, lets add Data Source. Select the new data source you created, 10000.

Now head to Analysis->SIEM.

Filter Data Source Groups to the group you just created.

AWESOME! You can see UNSUCCESSFUL LOGIN and finally there is a source and destination IP and no longer

Go ahead and click on it and feel the warm, fuzzy feeling of success flow over you.

There’s one last thing you will need to do before we wrap this up in a ribbon.

Custom Directives.

You see, at the end, all the stuff you see in SIEM is useful only if you are eyeballing it. And in general, most people would rather eyeball the latest episode of the Walking Dead as opposed to eyeballing a SIEM. Heck, some people I know would rather eyeball a tulip growing than watching logs in a SIEM. That’s where Alarms come in. Alienvault has a very simple philosophy on alarms: if the Priority of the event, the Asset Value and the Reliability of that event is high enough, we are gonna throw out an Alarm. An Alarm is something that you should be somewhat…alarmed about.

So back to our unsuccessful login. In theory, if someone did one unsuccessful login, you would chalk it up to a typo. Two in a row, within 1 seconds, well, maybe he’s in a hurry. 5 in a row within 5 seconds, he’s going to look suspicious, but hey, he could be someone from senior management. Or the marketing director who thinks the DVD drive is a cupholder. 10 in a row within 10 seconds? OK, I’m just going to throw up an alarm and let the security guys know about this fellow.

How does it work?

Without going into too much intricacies of the Alienvault engine, it’s basically down to directives. And after wading through the swamp called custom plugins, you will find this a lot easier as it’s mostly done on the GUI.

First of all, obviously, make sure your custom plugin works.

Then, head to Configuration->Threat Intelligence and click on Directives.

You will see ‘User Contributed’ as empty. You can either create one from scratch or clone an existing one. I recommend the latter. Alienvault ships with around 2,000 directives in built and I would just feel bad to neglect the existing ones….I am sure the Alienvault engineers will be happier if you used theirs. They worked hard on these directives.

OK – for this case, I specifically want to know if someone is trying to bruteforce my extremely sensitive FTP server (I know, you are asking why I am using FTP and not SFTP, and my answer is: ILLUSTRATION.). So the first thing I do is, look, there is a convenient directive group called ‘Bruteforce Attack’. You already have over a hundred directives drawn out for you. Click on it.

Take your pick in any of the directives shown. For me, I chose

AV Bruteforce attack, FTP authentication attack against DST_IP 

Click on the “Clone” icon next to it.

You will find there’s one directive now under ‘User Contributed’.

You need to modify it somewhat.


A brief understanding will be useful here. This directive is basically saying:

a) If there is ONE occurrence of unsuccessful login from any IP to any destination that uses this data source, set the reliability to 4. Now, depending on your priority (usually it’s 3) and your asset value (usually it’s 2), this won’t throw an Alarm. The alarm works by

(Reliability X Priority X Asset Value) >= 25

So if you set your asset value as 5, then even one single wrong login will light up your Alarm panel.

b) So back to the rule – if there is 3 occurences of wrong login from the same source and same destination, we are going to raise the reliability up a little. But notice the timeout value – The timeout value defines how many seconds the plugin will wait to receive a response from the destination to which the request was sent. So if we don’t get a response within the timeout period the rule expires and the directive process defined in the rule is discarded.

c) Change the data source to the one that you created, in this case IIS_FTP and in the popup, select UNSUCCESSFUL LOGINS (in our case, the SID is 1). Everything else, we just took it from the original directive.

d) Restart the server. This doesn’t actually restart the whole Alienvault, just the correlation machine, so don’t worry that your SIEM is going to go down.

The final test is to just try to login into your FTP server with wrong passwords repeatedly.

Now head over to your Analysis->Alarms

You will see

AV Bruteforce attack, IIS FTP authentication attack against Host-192-168-0-35

Click on the details and scroll down and you will see the corresponding events and the correlation level of each event. You will see right at the bottom, after the first four attempts, an alarm was raised and the correlation level was raised. Then it goes through the next set of rules – after 10 attempts again, an alarm was raised and correlation level was raised.

Using policies (not covered here, else this article will be the size of War and Peace) – we can then decide what we want to do with this alarm – open a ticket, execute a script, send an email or trigger an SMS etc.

That’s about it. So we’ve covered getting NXLog all the way to Alienvault, Alienvault interpreting it through a plugin you created, and then using these new custom events to trigger an alarm using a directive you modified.

Welcome to the Alien Nation!

Alienvault with NXLog Part 3


This is our third session on getting Alienvault to play with NXLog. In the first two articles, we’ve explored on enabling TCP for rsyslog on Alienvault (thoroughly optional), and to forward NXLog logs (in this case FTP) to Alienvault. The problem is AV is having a hard time digesting the log and using the stock syslog as a plugin, is spewing out useless events with the IP as The raw logs are fine.

We’re going to take a brief look at Plugins. I am not going to dive deep into plugins, there are plenty of source material out there from Alienvault and from Google, but a brief look here will do.

Plugins is the magic that interprets logs. If you head over to


You fill find tons of plugins already written for you out of the box. Problem is there is bound to be something that isn’t supported. Now to be clear there are many ways to skin a cat, if you are into cat-skinning.

a) Let AV do the work. This is the best way. This way allows you to get down to doing your work, and unless your job description is actually sitting down writing Alienvault plugins, I would suggest this method. You need to have a maintenance contract with AV though.


b) Using the smart event collector.


Yes, there is actually a plugin creator out of the box! Again, you will need some basic config and you would think this is a Godsend GUI to solve all your plugins problem. Except – I believe it’s still in development on this as I fed it a couple of times and it gave some functional results, but struggled to customise to the one I wanted. It’s probably a good starting point, else, I suggest to roll up your sleeve and impress your co-workers by working manually on plugins. (after trying out route A, of course).

To summarise plugins, they consist of two files:

a) The CFG File – this is where all the stuff you need to write occurs. The suggestion is to just copy a current cfg file in the plugins directory and make it your own, and change the plugin_id.

b) The SQL file – this is found in /usr/share/doc/ossim-mysql/contrib/plugins. This is where once the cfg file is ready, we actually write the events we want to capture into the ossim-db.

Starting with the cfg file for the above example, here is a snapshot

# Alienvault plugin - CUSTOM
# Author: Professor Xavier
# Plugin iis_ftp id:10000 version: 0.0.1
# Last modification: 2016-04-01 13:00
# Plugin Selection Info:
# Microsoft:IIS Internet Information Services FTP:-





There are a few key components here. First, the header is a must. Second, this is a simplified example whereby I did not use any translation yet. What these ‘translations’ are, are simply a way to interpret events that look the same and change these so-called identifiers to numeric plugin_sid so you don’t end up writing extra Regex. It sounds important, but for a demo, let’s leave it empty for now and we will see that you actually don’t need it to run. It’s like a spoiler on a car. It makes your file looks good, but your car can run fine.

By the way Regex is regular expression, and its basically in python format.

The headers are necessary here, and after that are some default values that are self explanatory. The work starts at the bottom. You generally need to have

a) A Specific rule (that refers to a specific event – in this case UNSUCCESSFUL LOGINS)

b) A catchall rule (which I did not write here, due to time), but it’s generally where all the other events are caught, usually with the help of translation tables.

In this example, we have Unsuccessful Login.

The key is to take the actual unsuccessful login log from the raw log file itself, presented:

Apr  3 16:48:05 S006-SVR01 IIS[1] 2016-04-03 08:46:51 5490 - FTPSVC2 S006-SVR01 - 21 PASS *** 530 1326 41 25 17 0 6080e2d2-0565-4eb1-9eec-407683eac92a -#015

And head over to https://regex101.com/, and do some testing.

Make sure you select your ‘Flavor’ on the left menu as PYTHON, and then put in the raw log line under ‘TEST STRING’. Now you need to start doing the regular expression above, under “REGULAR EXPRESSION” (WOW!).

The thing about Regex is, it’s like programming. There is a way to do it that it works, and there is a way to do it that it works beautifully. I am the type of pseudo programmer whereby I would always forget to comment or to forget to do memory management on my C code in university. Instead of building functions and classes etc I would just create long lines of inefficient code just to get the work done and receive a barely passing mark and a long look of disapproval from my university lecturers. In this case, efficient code is key because if you are running tons of lines of logs through AV, the last thing you want your box to do is to wade through a pile of inefficient REGEX to understand it.

Thankfully, this article isn’t about efficient regex, so I suggest to really get cracking on it, or get Alienvault regex gurus to work on it. Instead, what you see above is a very simple regex just to show some demo that AV can actually grab logs, interpret it and put it into an event in the SIEM. The regex above is rife with /s and /S, basically just saying, there is a whitespace, or there is a non-whitespace (characters).

However, you will notice that we assign a few variables as well – namely, IP addresses, usernames , device, ports and of course date.

normalize_date is an inbuilt function to ensure that the date in the raw log is normalized to something that AV understands.

The plugin_sid is also important, as it assigns the event (within this plugin) a place in the database and allows AV to work on it and identify it. AV also allows 9 userdata slots to be used for other reasons for identification. So in this case, we want to match whatever we see in the logs that has ‘PASS’ and the errorcode ‘530’ in it and we would know this means that someone tried to login unsuccessfully.

Once the demo cfg is ready, you need to build your SQL File.

The SQL file, again, you can just take it from another SQL file in the SQL folder, and rename it appropriately. It’s a lot shorter and it might go something like this:

DELETE FROM plugin WHERE id = "10000";
DELETE FROM plugin_sid where plugin_id = "10000";
INSERT IGNORE INTO plugin (id, type, name, description) VALUES (10000, 1, 'IIS_FTP', 'IIS FTP');
INSERT IGNORE INTO plugin_sid (plugin_id, sid, category_id, class_id, name, priority, reliability) VALUES (10000, 1, NULL, NULL, 'UNSUCCESSFUL LOGIN', 4, 3);

That’s pretty much it. First, you delete the plugin and then insert a new one with the required descriptions and names and put in the plugin_sid (Event Type IDs), in this case “1”, which equates to UNSUCESSFUL LOGIN.

Run the command

cat iis_ftp.sql | ossim-db

to write the sql to the DB (of course using the actual SQL name you have).

And you are now ready to do some testing!



Alienvault with NXLog Part 2


So, you have now figure out to enable Syslog over TCP on Alienvault. As it turns out, it’s optional in a sense you can get NXlog to run UDP. But it’s good to know.

Now in general, we don’t mess around with other systems other than Alienvault. But in reality, over so many POCs and deployment, its invariable that we will need to get our hands dirty and figure out with the client what on earth is happening and why don’t we see those dratted logs coming in. In the previous post, we’ve explored the useful tcpdump and the netstat – tulpen commands. But for this one, let’s look at the other side: NXlog and see how we set it up.

First of all, we obviously want to get something going in that windows box. Let’s say for instance, we set up FTP IIS there and we want to shovel all those logs over to AV. Now, I will assume FTP IIS is already up and logging is already done there, else we are going to be stuck talking about all sort of stuff that a million other articles have already explored.

We will jump into NXLog. Install NXLog (again, not going to explore that here), and once its up and running, we have set up the conf as follows

define ROOT C:\Program Files (x86)\nxlog
Moduledir %ROOT%\modules
CacheDir %ROOT%\data
Pidfile %ROOT%\data\nxlog.pid
SpoolDir %ROOT%\data
LogFile %ROOT%\data\nxlog.log
#Where your logs are
define IIS_LOGS C:\inetpub\logs\FTPSVC2
<Extension syslog>
 Module xm_syslog
#Define IIS Source
<Input IIS>
Module im_file
File "%IIS_LOGS%\u*"
SavePos TRUE
#Add in Syslog Fields
Exec $SourceName = 'IIS';
Exec $ProcessID = '1';
Exec $MessageID = '2';
#Don't send comments over
Exec if $raw_event =~ /^#/ drop();
#Define Output
<Output AV_Syslog>
Module om_udp
Host <Host of Alienvault>
Port 514
OutputType LineBased
Exec to_syslog_ietf();
#Make something happen
<Route IIS>
Path IIS => AV_Syslog

A few things are happening here, but basically you are getting NXLog to look into the specific folder for a file starting with u* and send it via UDP syslog to the Alienvault. Restart the NXLog and see if it works.

You should be seeing something on the tcpdump in Alienvault.

For starters, make sure your logfile is getting logs. Easiest way is to fire up an FTP client and just put or get into your FTP server and see if you see the logs ON THE SERVER first. If it’s there, then its a good start. You should be seeing some traffic hitting your Alienvault via the TCPDump.

Now for Alienvault, I know a lot of documentation out there teaches you to set up rsyslog manually and all, but with the new versions, they have simplified it. What we did was to go to the actual asset on the GUI: Assets and Groups -> Asset IP -> Details -> Plugins

Edit the Plugins and select Syslog

Most of us will go huh? Will this work?

No, it won’t work. Not yet anyway, but once this is done, you get two things:

Back in AV CLI, run

more /etc/ossim/agent/config.yml

The config.yml shows that for that particular device, it’s tied to which log file on the AV. Very useful especially if you have hundreds of logs coming in and you get confused.


You should see a folder with the IP of the server you have NXLog running on and in that folder, a nice log file, which in turn will have the details of the logs that NXLog is sending over.

The problem now, is that AV doesn’t quite understand this log. Not yet. That’s where plugins come in play. We used the syslog plugin only as a placeholder to create the logfile. The syslog plugin won’t understand it.

Wait till you see a few lines coming into your Alienvault log file from the NXLog.

/var/log/alienvault/agent -> cat agent | grep 4007

What you have done here is to see if syslog plugin (Plugin id is 4007) can see anything coming in. It does, you might see some events like

Apr 2 11:27:25 VirtualUSMAllInOne ossim-agent: Alienvault-Agent[INFO]: Plugin[4007] Reading from /var/log/alienvault/devices/
Apr 2 12:17:02 VirtualUSMAllInOne ossim-agent: Alienvault-Agent[INFO]: Plugin[4007] Total lines [134] TotalEvents:[134] EPS: [5.80] elapsed [10.01] seconds
Apr 2 12:17:12 VirtualUSMAllInOne ossim-agent: Alienvault-Agent[INFO]: Plugin[4007] Total lines [134] TotalEvents:[134] EPS: [0.00] elapsed [10.01] seconds

It basically means Alienvault processed x number of lines as ‘events’. Which you might think is great, but not so.

Back in the GUI SIEM, you can filter the datasource by ‘syslog’ and you will get a bunch of syslogs but with the destination and source host as Basically this means, AV sees stuff coming, it uses syslog plugin to attempt to read the log but couldn’t figure out the IPs within that log due to its format and just sends out this cryptic line. Going into the event itself will give you a clue – the raw logs does state it is an FTP log coming from the FTP server, through NXLog. This means that Alienvault sees the logs, but using the syslog plugin, couldn’t interpret it properly due to its format.

So. You are half way there. The logs are coming in from a windows box through NXLog, and Alienvault sees it, but needs to speak the same language to understand it. Enter custom plugins.

Stay tuned!


Alienvault with NXLog

For various reasons unknown to mankind, Windows has a very retarded relationship with logs. Because it was designed without any inkling of networking or internet in mind, Windows logs are very local and very stupid. I don’t know why, maybe because whoever created windows never really thought that their OS will be in a networked environment.

Anyway, to get Windows to work with a sort of syslog capability, NXLog can be used. In the next few articles, we will explore how to get it working, because like everything else in Windows, it needs some work. 10 years from now, our children will probably do the same thing by clicking an icon and everything magically works. For now, its back to CLI.

First – NxLog runs on TCP 514. Alienvault by default listens on UDP only.

Go ahead to /etc/rsyslog.conf 

# provides UDP syslog reception
$ModLoad imudp
$UDPServerRun 514

# provides TCP syslog reception
$ModLoad imtcp
$InputTCPServerRun 514

The ones in bold were commented, so just go ahead uncomment it and service rsyslog restart.

Do a netstat -tulpen | grep rsyslog and you should see it listening. For good measure, do nc – vt 514 and it will say its open.


Not really. Alienvault has additional issues. For some reason, even if you turn off Alienvault Firewall from the setup menu, you still cannot telnet to 514 from another system. Something is obviously blocking it.

I will assume you have installed nxlog in your windows. In nxlog.conf under C:\Program Files (x86)\nxlog\conf, you should see

<Output out-5141>
#Send to central nxlog listener on tcp port 5141, change host address
Module om_tcp
Host xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
Port 514
OutputType LineBased

Just replace the xxx with the IP of your Alienvault

Go ahead to

C:\Program Files (x86)\nxlog\data\nxlog.log

You might encounter

2016-03-23 10:31:47 ERROR couldn’t connect to tcp socket on <IP ADDRESS>:514; A connection attempt failed because the connected party did not properly respond after a period of time, or established connection failed because connected host has failed to respond.  

Obviously, the IP is your Alienvault IP. This generally means there is some issue. Try telneting to port 514 from your Windows and you will get a timeout.

On your Alienvault

VirtualUSMAllInOne:/var/log# tcpdump -i eth0 “tcp port 514”

Restart your nxlog on your windows and you will see some packets coming in. It’s just not connecting. This shows you that the packets are reaching your AV, but for some nefarious reason your AV is not willing to talk.


As I mentioned, disabling firewall on the Alienvault menu doesn’t help because…I don’t know. It just doesn’t.

Luckily, we know a secret.


This little file is where you configure your policies for firewall. Just add

-A INPUT -p tcp -m state –state NEW -m tcp –dport 514 -j ACCEPT

At the bottom. This opens up the port 514 to chat.

Now, you need to reload the ossim config. No, service ossim-server restart or service ossim-agent restart won’t work. You need to do the full ossim-reconfig.

Once that is done, do a telnet again, or a tcpdump or check the nxlog log (after restarting).

2016-03-23 11:12:08 INFO nxlog-ce-2.8.1248 started
2016-03-23 11:12:08 INFO connecting to <IP ADDRESS>:514

Your port 514 is open now.

We will configure NXlog in the next article to send logs over to Alienvault.

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