Linux Firewalls: Attack Detection and Response with iptables, psad, and fwsnort

Linux Firewalls: Attack Detection and Response with iptables, psad, and fwsnort

Michael Rash

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 1593271417

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


System administrators need to stay ahead of new security vulnerabilities that leave their networks exposed every day. A firewall and an intrusion detection systems (IDS) are two important weapons in that fight, enabling you to proactively deny access and monitor network traffic for signs of an attack.

Linux Firewalls discusses the technical details of the iptables firewall and the Netfilter framework that are built into the Linux kernel, and it explains how they provide strong filtering, Network Address Translation (NAT), state tracking, and application layer inspection capabilities that rival many commercial tools. You'll learn how to deploy iptables as an IDS with psad and fwsnort and how to build a strong, passive authentication layer around iptables with fwknop.

Concrete examples illustrate concepts such as firewall log analysis and policies, passive network authentication and authorization, exploit packet traces, Snort ruleset emulation, and more with coverage of these topics:

  • Passive network authentication and OS fingerprinting
  • iptables log analysis and policies
  • Application layer attack detection with the iptables string match extension
  • Building an iptables ruleset that emulates a Snort ruleset
  • Port knocking vs. Single Packet Authorization (SPA)
  • Tools for visualizing iptables logs

    Perl and C code snippets offer practical examples that will help you to maximize your deployment of Linux firewalls. If you're responsible for keeping a network secure, you'll find Linux Firewalls invaluable in your attempt to understand attacks and use iptables-along with psad and fwsnort-to detect and even prevent compromises.

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    Technically, a purely application layer response to an application layer attack should only involve constructs that exist at the application layer. For example, if users are abusing an application, their accounts should simply be disabled, or if an attacker attempts an SQL injection attack via a CGI application executed by a webserver, the query should be discarded and an HTTP error code should be returned to the client. Such a response does not require manipulation of packet header information

    iptables or tcpwrappers to block offending IP addresses. If psad is configured to respond to attacks, then the recommended setting is to enable iptables blocking. The ENABLE_AUTO_IDS_REGEX and AUTO_BLOCK_REGEX variables allow the act of adding a blocking rule against an IP address to be tied to whether or not a logging prefix matches a particular regular expression. This is most useful for blocking IP addresses, but only after monitoring an attack that requires bidirectional communication through

    systems may lack available resources to deploy an additional userland process for intrusion detection (such as Snort). In the case of fwsnort, packet inspection takes place directly within the Linux kernel, and so this usually places a lightweight usage footprint on system resources—there is no need to copy data from kernel memory into a userland process (as is the case for a normal IPS3). On systems where it is inappropriate to deploy a dedicated IDS/IPS because of resource constraints, fwsnort

    may be more easily accessed by the webserver—local firewall rules may be more forgiving to webserver communications than to the attacker’s IP address (especially if the webserver is directly connected to an internal network). An attacker would typically abuse a CGI application that does not properly filter user input in order to perpetrate such a scan attempt. The signature is triggered whenever the string "nmap%20" is transferred across an established TCP connection (as shown in bold below):

    Snort rules options can be represented within iptables. Then we’ll discuss those Snort rule options for which there is no good iptables equivalent (such as the pcre and asn1 options). These options describe packet-matching requirements in the Snort rules language that cannot be expressed within iptables; the lack of such functionality is the reason fwsnort cannot achieve a 100 percent conversion rate. The iptables LOG target allows us to generate detailed logs of packet header information when

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