Active response allows Wazuh to run commands on an agent in response to certain triggers. In this use case, we simulate an SSH Brute Force attack and configure an active response to block the IP address of the attacker.
First of all, we need to know when to execute the response. We can use one of the following options:
Rule ID: The response will be executed on any event with the defined ID.
Rule group: The response will be executed on any event in the defined group.
Level: The response will be executed on any event with this level or higher.
In this use case, we want to prevent
SSH brute force attacks so when the rule
5712 - SSHD brute force trying to get access to the system is triggered, it will execute the proper active response to block the IP address of the attacker.
We know when the active response will be executed, now we have to define what it will do. You can create your own script to block an IP, or any other action, but Wazuh comes with a set of common scripts used in active response. These scripts are in
/var/ossec/active-response/bin/. We are going to use the
firewall-drop script that works with common Linux/Unix operating systems and it allows blocking of a malicious IP address using the local firewall.
Define the command in the
ossec.conf of your Wazuh manager:
<command> <name>firewall-drop</name> <executable>firewall-drop</executable> <timeout_allowed>yes</timeout_allowed> </command>
Set the command name and the path of the script to execute. It’s also possible to set a defined timeout to unblock the IP address.
Configure Wazuh to run the active response. The main fields are:
command: The command previously defined (firewall-drop).
location: Where the command should be executed. We want to execute the command on the agent that reported the event. So, we use local.
rules_id: The command is executed if the rule 5712 is fired.
timeout: Block the IP address for 1800 seconds on the firewall (iptables, ipfilter, etc).
Define the active response in the
ossec.conf of your Wazuh manager:
<active-response> <command>firewall-drop</command> <location>local</location> <rules_id>5712</rules_id> <timeout>1800</timeout> </active-response>
Restart the Wazuh manager to apply changes.
We are going to simulate an SSH attack, the attack will be executed from 10.0.0.6 to our agent running on 10.0.0.5. First, we check if there is connectivity between the attacker and the agent:
[ec2-user@ip-10-0-0-6 ~]$ ping 10.0.0.5 PING 10.0.0.5 (10.0.0.5) 56(84) bytes of data. 64 bytes from 10.0.0.5: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.602 ms 64 bytes from 10.0.0.5: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.774 ms
Now, we attempt to connect to the agent by SSH several times using an invalid user:
$ ssh 10.0.0.5 Permission denied (publickey). $ ssh 10.0.0.5 Permission denied (publickey). $ ssh 10.0.0.5 Permission denied (publickey). $ ssh 10.0.0.5 Permission denied (publickey). $ ssh 10.0.0.5 Permission denied (publickey). $ ssh 10.0.0.5 Permission denied (publickey). $ ssh 10.0.0.5 Permission denied (publickey). $ ssh 10.0.0.5 Permission denied (publickey).
After 8 attempts, we can see in the manager how the rule is fired:
If we try to ping the agent from the attacker, we see that it’s not possible:
[ec2-user@ip-10-0-0-6 ~]$ ping 10.0.0.5 PING 10.0.0.5 (10.0.0.5) 56(84) bytes of data. ^C --- 10.0.0.5 ping statistics --- 12 packets transmitted, 0 received, 100% packet loss, time 11000ms
Active response has blocked the IP address so it is working properly.
Every agent has a log file at
/var/ossec/logs/active-responses.log where the active response activities are registered. By default, this file is being monitored.
<ossec_config> <localfile> <log_format>syslog</log_format> <location>/var/ossec/logs/active-responses.log</location> </localfile> </ossec_config>
When the active response is triggered we can see the corresponding alert:
This is possible because rule 651 is defined in
ossec_rules.xml. If you create your own script, you must add the proper rule.
We can also set a list of IP addresses that should never be blocked by the active response. In global section of
ossec.conf in the Manager, use the field
white_list. It allows IP address or netblock.
<ossec_config> <global> <jsonout_output>yes</jsonout_output> <email_notification>no</email_notification> <logall>yes</logall> <white_list>10.0.0.6</white_list> </global>
We set up a blocking time of 30 minutes for our active response, but in case you need to increase this blocking time for repeated offenders you can add the following configuration in the
ossec.conf of each agent:
<active-response> <repeated_offenders>60,120,180</repeated_offenders> </active-response>
The first time that the active response is triggered, it will block the IP address for 30 minutes, the second time for 60 minutes, the third time for 120 minutes, and finally the fourth time for 180 minutes.
Thanks to active response you can perform actions responding to several scenarios and restricting malicious activities and blocking attacks. Be aware any automated response has an implicit risk, so define your responses carefully.