Suricata Intrusion Detection System: Part Three


Interface settings in Suricata.

In the previous article, we covered some additional Suricata configuration details, including downloading rules and setting up your first Suricata interface. In this article, we will continue to configure that interface.

Since we already covered the “WAN Settings” tab, we’ll move on to the “WAN Categories” tab. The first heading covers automatic flowbit resolution. Flowbits are a powerful tool that were first implemented in Snort. Many times, you need to look at more than just one packet to know whether an event is occurring. Flowbits give you the ability to do this. With flowbits, you can set a flag that another rule can check and take into consideration. In other words, if condition 1 is met, we can set a flag. If the flag is set and condition 2 is met, then we can take further action (for example, generate an alert).

The first option is the “Resolve Flowbits” check box. If this is checked, Suricata will examine the enabled rules in your chosen rule categories for checked flowbits. Any other rules that set these dependent flowbits will be automatically enabled (even if they were not otherwise enabled) and added to the list of the files in the interface rules directory. By pressing the “View” button, you can view the auto-enabled rules required to satisfy the flowbit dependencies.

The next heading is “Selecting the rulesets Suricata will load at startup”. Here you can select individual rulesets from the rules you have already downloaded. For example, the ET Open Rules have individual rulesets for ActiveX, protecting against DNS hacks, protecting against denial of service (DoS) attacks, and other threats. There are check boxes next to each individual ruleset, and at the top there are buttons to “Select All”, “Unselect All” and “Save” (to save changes and auto-resolve flowbit rules). There is also a “Save” button at the bottom of the page.

Enabling and Disabling Rules

The next tab is “WAN Rules”. Here you can see things on a more granular level, as you can actually view, enable and disable individual rules, as well as enable and disable all rules in an individual category. At the top of the page, there is an “Available Rule Categories” dropdown box that allows you to select rule categories to view. Next to each individual rule, there is a red check mark on the left side of the row; you can click on this to enable/disable the rule. At the top of the list, there are buttons to disable and enable all rules in the current category, as well as buttons to remove all enable/disable changes in the current category or all categories. There is also an option to view the full file contents for the current category. Finally, above the list of rules is an “Apply” button to apply any changes made.

The next tab is “WAN Flow/Stream”. The first heading is “Host-Specific Defrag and Stream Settings”. Here, you can set different defrag and stream settings for different hosts. By pressing the “plus” button on the right side, you can add new settings; you can also press the “edit” button (the lowercase e) to edit existing settings. The “Policy Name” and “Bind-To IP Address” alias can be edited for everything except the default engine (the “Bind-To IP Address” defines the IP list for this configuration). The “Target Policy” dropdown box allows you to choose an OS target policy appropriate for the protected hosts. The default is BSD, but there are many choices, including IRIX, Linux, MacOS, and variants of Windows. The “Save” button at the bottom allows you to save a configuration, while the “Cancel” button discards the changes.

The next section deals with IP fragmentation. The Internet Protocol (IP) implements datagram fragmentation, breaking it into smaller pieces, so that packet may be formed that can pass through a link with a smaller maximum transmission unit (MTU) than the original datagram size. These settings allow you to control such fragmentation, with settings such as the maximum memory to be used for fragmentation and the maximum number of fragments. Below this is “Flow Manager” settings, which allows you to control parameters for the flow engine. “Flow Timeout Settings” covers timeouts for TCP connections, UDP connections, and ICMP connections. Finally, “Stream Engine Settings” covers parameters for the stream engine, such as the maximum memory to be used be the stream engine and the maximum concurrent stream engine sessions.

In the next article, we will continue our look at Suricata interface settings.

External Links:

The official Suricata web site

Suricata Intrusion Detection System: Part One


The global settings tab in Suricata.

Suricata is an open source-based intrusion detection system (IDS). There are several advantages to running Suricata. [1] It is multi-threaded, so you can run one instance and it will balance the load processing across every processor. [2] The most common protocols are automatically recognized by Suricata as the stream starts, allowing rule writers to write a rule to the protocol, not to the port expected. [3] Suricata can identify thousands of file types on your network, and you can tag files for extraction so the file will be written to disk with a metadata file describing the capture situation and flow. Another advantage of Suricata is that it is compatible with Snort rules, so while it is an alternative to Snort, you can still use Snort updates. Suricata has been available as a pfSense package since March 2014; you must be running pfSense 2.1 or later to install the Suricata pfSense package.

Suricata Installation and Configuration

Suricata can easily be downloaded, compiled and installed under FreeBSD (the underlying OS for pfSense). The installation instructions can be found at the official Suricata website for FreeBSD 8 and later. Fortunately, if you are running pfSense 2.1 or later, you can just install Suricata from the package menu and configure it from the GUI. In this case, just navigate to System -> Packages, scroll down to Suricata in the package listing, and press the “plus” button on the right side of the row. On the next screen, press “Confirm” to confirm installation. It will take several minutes for the package installer to download, install and configure Suricata.

Once the package installer is done, there will be a new option on the “Services” menu called “Suricata”. You can now navigate to Services -> Suricata and begin configuration. The first step is to configure global settings, which you can do by clicking on the “Global Settings” tab. The first part of the page configures which rules you want to download. The first setting is “Install Emerging Threats rules“, which allows you to install ETOpen and ETPro. ETOpen is an open source set of Snort rules, while ETPro for Snort offers daily updates and extensive coverage of current malware threats. ETPro offers more extensive coverage of threats, but costs $500 a year. The “Install Snort VRT rules” check box allows you to install either Snort VRT free registered user or paid subscriber rules. The next option is “Install Snort Community rules“. Checking this check box will install the Snort Community Ruleset – a GPLv2 VRT-certified ruleset that is distributed free of charge without any VRT License restrictions. [If you are a Snort VRT paid subscriber, the community ruleset is already built into the Snort VRT rules, so you don’t need to install this.]

Next is the “Rules Update Settings” section. In the “Update Interval” dropdown box, you can select the interval for rule updates. Choosing NEVER disables auto-updates. The options range from 6 hours to 28 days, as well as never for no updates. Below that is the “Update Start Time” edit box, where you can enter the rule update start time in 24-hour format (the default is 00:30). Finally, the “Live Rule Swap on Update” check box, if checked, enables a “live swap” reload of the rules after downloading an update instead of a hard restart. [If you encounter problems with live reloads, you should probably uncheck this option.]

The final section on the “Global Settings” tab is “General Settings“. The “Remove Blocked Hosts Interval” dropdown box allows you to select the amount of time you would like hosts to be blocked (values run from 15 minutes to 28 days; never is also an option). The “Log to System Log” check box enables copying of Suricata mesages to the firewall system log. The “Keep Suricata Settings After Disinstall” checkbox, if checked will not remove any changed settings during package deinstallation. Press the “Save” button at the bottom of the page to save settings.

In the next article, we will continue our look at Suricata settings.

External Links:

The official Suricata web site

© 2013 David Zientara. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy