Archive for February, 2016

Visualizing honeypot activity  

Posted at 5:02 pm in Uncategorized

Certain honeypot intruders are quite persistently trying to open outbound SSH tunnels, as described in an earlier article. So far I’ve seen a lot of attempts to open tunnels towards mail server TCP ports 25 (SMTP), 465 (SMTPS) and 587 (submission); web servers on TCP ports 80 (HTTP) and 443 (HTTPS); but also several other TCP ports.

For visualizing the activity, I fed the logs to AfterGlow. Below is shown a diagram of attempted SSH tunnels, where the intruders’ IP addresses are shown as red circles, the ports to which they attempt to connect are are light blue, and the targets are yellow triangles.

As the diagram shows, certain targets are attacked from different intruders (although with adjacent IP addresses). The objects’ sizes indicate frequency.


Simple honeypot map (one day only)

Simple honeypot map (one day only, low activity)


Another diagram, illustrating the frequency of attacks:

Medium complexity, still mostly readable.

One day of activity, two attackers. Still mostly readable.


Feeding two weeks of logs to AfterGlow was less informative. The graph clearly shows that certain sources are very busy, and certain destinations are frequently attacked – but that’s about where the diagram stops being useful.

Complex honeypot mapping (two weeks)

Complex honeypot map (two weeks)


In combination with some drill-down details, AfterGlow could be quite useful for analyzing details. I’ve got two items on my AfterGlow wishlist: 1) that labels go on top of objects, and 2) better avoidance logic so that objects do not cover other objects.

The corresponding Munin graph is also registering SSH tunneling attempts.

Honeypot activity

Written by bjorn on February 26th, 2016

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Honeynet outbound probes  

Posted at 8:42 am in Uncategorized

My Cowrie honeypot is now seeing a surge of outbound SSH tunnel probes, both towards different mail servers but also towards a specific web server, probably with the purpose of informing about a successful intrusion. The honeypot has seen outbound attempts before, but not as persistent as with this bot from .ru.

Cowrie fakes successful SSH tunneling, so the bot is at least kept somewhat busy. The honeypot is also in a very tight network environment with limited possibilities for outbound connections.

Here are some examples, formatted for readability:

2016-02-22 01:43:00+0100 [SSHService ssh-connection on
  HoneyPotTransport,1580,] direct-tcp connection
  request to
2016-02-22 01:43:01+0100 [SSHService ssh-connection on
  HoneyPotTransport,1580,] direct-tcp connection
  request to
2016-02-22 01:43:54+0100 [SSHChannel None (883) on
  SSHService ssh-connection on HoneyPotTransport,1580,]
  direct-tcp forward to with data
2016-02-22 02:00:28+0100 [SSHChannel None (979) on
  SSHService ssh-connection on HoneyPotTransport,1580,]
  direct-tcp forward to with data
  'POST / HTTP/1.1\r\nUser-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0;
   Windows NT 5.1; SV1)\r\nContent-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded\r\n
   Connection: close\r\nContent-Length: 21\r\nHost:\r\n\r\n'
2016-02-22 03:39:18+0100 [SSHChannel None (0) on
  SSHService ssh-connection on HoneyPotTransport,1589,]
  direct-tcp forward to with data
  'POST / HTTP/1.1\r\nUser-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0;
   Windows NT 5.1; SV1)\r\nContent-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded\r\n
   Connection: close\r\nContent-Length: 21\r\nHost:\r\n\r\n


Written by bjorn on February 22nd, 2016

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More Logstalgia fun: Honeypot visualization  

Posted at 7:37 pm in Uncategorized

As the saying goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, it’s not that bad, but with a tool like Logstalgia available there’s a pretty low threshold for looking for other ways to use it. So why not try visualizing honeypot login activity?

I’ve been running a honeypot for some time, first using Kippo and later switching to Cowrie. Among Cowrie’s useful improvements is the ability to log to syslog. Already having a parser in place for converting syslog activity to a feed that Logstalgia accepts, adding Cowrie-to-Logstalgia support didn’t take much effort.

An additional parameter is added to indicate successful logins (at least from the intruder’s point of view), Logstalgia intuitively shows this by making the paddle not block the attempt. Also, instead of faking some status code, I set up the converter to assign the login name to the “URL” field and the password to the “status code” field. That way Logstalgia shows consecutive attempts with the same login name as a series of attacks on the same resource, while the different attempted passwords bounce off the paddle.

Note that the short video is running at 4x normal speed. You’ll have to click to make it start.

Sample syslog input (slightly redacted for readability):

cowrie: [SSHService ssh-userauth on HoneyPotTransport,446,] login attempt [ts/ts] failed
cowrie: [SSHService ssh-userauth on HoneyPotTransport,447,] login attempt [apache/apache] failed
cowrie: [SSHService ssh-userauth on HoneyPotTransport,448,] login attempt [games/games] failed
cowrie: [SSHService ssh-userauth on HoneyPotTransport,449,] login attempt [minecraft/minecraft] failed


The corresponding Logstalgia feed:



The output was fed to Logstalgia like this:

cat output.txt | logstalgia -600x200 -g "Login,URI=^[a-zA-Z0-9],100" -x -


With live visualization via syslog, the data is fed to Logstalgia directly and not from a file like shown above.

For a nice final touch, I’ve also added a Munin graph showing honeypot login attempts. The graph was made with the “loggrep” plugin, looking for corresponding values.

Written by bjorn on February 9th, 2016

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Live visualizing Mikrotik firewall traffic with Logstalgia  

Posted at 9:54 pm in Uncategorized

Previously I’ve written about visualizing firewall activity. Revitalizing a fireplot graphing tool gives a nice day-to-day overview, but after being reminded of Logstalgia in this Imgur post I wanted to give live visualization a shot.

Logstalgia is a neat tool for visualizing activity, by feeding it log files or live feeds. It’s originally designed for parsing web server logs, but it also accepts a generic format that allows for other purposes as well. By writing a short Perl script that acts like a syslog server (receiver) and converting the input to a format that Logstalgia accepts, my Mikrotik router is now live reporting any connection attempt to or through the firewall. For the visualization below I triggered a portscan to create some activity, or the video would be rather boring.

To make this work, the firewall must somehow identify traffic that’s being denied (unless you only log blocked traffic). The script will then pass only these log records to Logstalgia. I’ve been testing this with a Mikrotik device, but any firewall able to log to or through syslog will work fine.

Original syslog input

Feb 6 21:42:36 BLOCK: in:ether1 out:(none), src-mac 00:00:00:6a:f3:9c,
proto ICMP (type 8, code 0),>, len 28


Logstalgia formatted output:



I’m starting the perl script and Logstalgia like this:

./syslog2logstalgia | logstalgia -800x640 --disable-progress -x \
--no-bounce --hide-response-code --sync \
-g "TCP,URI=TCP,45" -g "UDP,URI=UDP,45" -g "ICMP,URI=ICMP,10" \


Note that visualizing firewall logs with Logstalgia has been done by a lot of other people. Howtos for other firewall products may be available via your favourite search engine.

Written by bjorn on February 6th, 2016

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Logging WordPress activity to OSSEC  

Posted at 11:53 pm in Uncategorized

Today I came across this blog article, explaining how to make WordPress log suspicious activity to an audit log file, which in turn can be monitored by OSSEC. Everything mentioned in the article was all fine and dandy, until I read the last paragraph: “Note that for this feature to work, you have to use our fork of OSSEC […]“.

Being less than enthusiastic about replacing my existing OSSEC (version 2.8.3) installation with a fork (even if the fork happens to originate from OSSEC’s founder), I wanted to make this work with what I’ve already got. Following the main instructions from the blog article, I installed the sucuri-scanner plugin but did not request an API key – at this point, at least. Then, by providing an absolute path to an existing log file, to which the web server has write access, I activated the plugin’s audit log exporter.

The same absolute path was added to the OSSEC agent‘s ossec.conf (/var/ossec/etc/ossec.conf) file as a syslog file:



So far, so good – now to make the OSSEC manager correctly decode and parse the log events.

First, I replaced the whole wordpress_rules.xml file with the one provided by the OSSEC fork. I found the updated wordpress_rules.xml file on, and from there by navigating the source tree (source → ossec-hids/etc/rules/). The exact file location in the repository could change with future versions and commits, so there’s not much of a point in providing an exact URL. Apart from a signature ID collision (two signatures had sid 9507) this updated file was an improvement over the wordpress_rules.xml that came with OSSEC 2.8.3. The file is too large to inline here.

The final piece of the puzzle was to provide a useful decoder. I’ve added the following to the manager‘s /var/ossec/rules/local_decoder.xml:

<decoder name="wordpressaudit">
 <prematch offset="after_parent">WordPressAudit </prematch>
 <regex offset="after_prematch">^\S+ \S+ : (\w+): (\S+); </regex>
 <order>action, srcip</order>


And bingo, it works. Failed WordPress logins, along with some other weird activities – and normal as well, if you so wish – will now be identified by OSSEC and you can set the severity levels accordingly. Here’s an example of the OSSEC alert log’s detection of a failed login (formatted for readability):

** Alert 1454537692.8654637: mail - syslog,wordpress,authentication_failed,
2016 Feb 03 23:14:52 (>/var/log/wp/site/audit.log
Rule: 9501 (level 7) -> 'WordPress authentication failed.'
Src IP:
2016-02-03 22:14:51 WordPressAudit : Error:; User authentication failed: EvilUser


and even

** Alert 1454541645.146379: mail - syslog,wordpress,syscheck,
2016 Feb 04 00:20:45 (>/var/log/wp/site/audit.log
Rule: 9508 (level 7) -> 'WordPress post updated.'
2016-02-03 23:20:44 WordPressAudit : Notice:
  bjorn,; Post was updated; identifier: 4096; name: Some Article Name


Written by bjorn on February 3rd, 2016

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