Saturday, February 23, 2008

NT Security continue...

A final choice for directory objects is whether to audit only the current directory or to enable auditing for all of its subdirectories. This simplifies the administrators task when auditing is being configured. Caution is necessary, though. If you turn auditing on for the NT system directories and subdirectories, your event- logging activities will slow down the computer. Because all major executables are in these directories, this is unfortunate. Watching for Trojan Horses in system directories is reasonable goal for an IDS. Your only alternative is to be more granular in configuring auditing. For example, you could monitor everything except for read and execute events. This should catch most Trojan Horse attempts. However, if there is a file that only administrators should access, you might want to monitor any activity against that file. Be selective, or you quickly will notice sluggishness in your system's performance.

When you enable auditing for an object, the appropriate bits ate set in that object's SACL. This activity itself generates an event that shows up in the log. Therefore, if you have turned auditing on for an object, and later you see an event that turns auditing off for that object, something unpleasant might be going on in your system.

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Although not all NT IDS vendors choose to do so, a program can attach to the security event log and monitor events in real time. Today, Kane's Security Monitor and Centrax's eNTrax tools both periodically read the event log rather than process events in real time. An option to read the logs on an interval basis or to capture events in real time probably will be seen in future versions.

Not all events in the NT log contain sufficient data for IDSs to work. For example, remote logins do not identify the originating IP address or node name in the event record. An IDS vendor needs to gather this information from elsewhere in the system and correlate the information with the appropriate events—no trivial task. If the IDS is loaded as a service when the system boots, then process trees for login users can be constructed by monitoring the event log. Process and thread identifiers are associated with kernel data structures for sockets, pipes, and other communications data. Therefore, coalescing this information is possible and the IDS can use it to disconnect a remote user, who is hacking the system.

There also have been cases in which events that an IDS depended upon were no longer emitted after service packs were installed. Ripple effects of bug fixes are the leading suspects for this problem. You undoubtedly have been hit by this same type of problem when vendors of other products choose to deprecate an interface that you were relying upon for an in-house application.

Event Records

Information provided in the NT event log record includes header fields followed by an event specific description. Header fields are listed in Table 10.1. Table 10.2 shows the fields usually found in an event description.

Not all fields are always filled in for the record. For example, if a user's privileges are modified, in the Privileges field of the event record, you will find information describing what changed. Any time you see that someone has gained an administrator privilege, it's time to investigate and determine whether the change was legitimate. Object accesses are reported in the Accesses field of the description. Both fields can contain multiple lines of information when inspected through the Event Viewer on NT or through your IDSs browser.

Table 10.1 Header Fields for an Event Record

date time event ID

source of the record (security, application, system)

type of event

category (object access, system event, user event, and so on)

computer node name

user name

Table 10.2 Event Description Fields

object server name

object type (file or user, for example) object name

a handle ID

operation ID

process ID

primary User Name

primary domain

client user name

client domain

client login ID

information about any object accesses information about any privileges changed

Luckily, if you have an IDS for NT, you do not need to sit and watch events as they appear in the event log. Instead the IDS will summarize the information and display alerts when necessary. If you have the option of deciding which attacks to watch for, or if your IDS will notify you about select individual events, then you might want to think about what you should monitor to catch NT attacks. The next few sections give recommendations and describe well-known attacks against NT. The topics covered are not meant to be exhaustive. New NT hacks are posted regularly. See the NTbugtraq archives maintained by Russ Cooper at He also moderates the NTbugtraq mailing list.

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