Enterprise Visibility with Splunk. The Building Blocks for Incident Detection.
Visibility into unique organizational machine data is a core capability for cybersecurity teams and provides the foundation to building incident detection capabilities. The collection of a unique data source into a centralized platform, often referred to as log aggregation, allows cybersecurity teams to build detection signatures and facilitates security information and event management (SIEM) capabilities.
The diagram below illustrates this process.
A cybersecurity team needs to:
- Identify data sources critical to visibility objectives.
- Configure the systems to send data sources to a centralized log aggregation platform.
- Use predefined correlation rules or create unique detection signatures to identify malicious activity.
- Consume alerts into incident response workflows.
Another way to evaluate the need for visibility following this model is to identify how your organization would be the requirements in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. Specifically, the DETECT (DE) function includes the following requirements:
- Anomalies and Events (DE.AE): Anomalous activity is detected and the potential impact of events is understood.
- Security Continuous Monitoring (DE.CM): The information system and assets are monitored to identify cybersecurity events and verify the effectiveness of protective measures.
- Detection Processes (DE.DP): Detection processes and procedures are maintained and tested to ensure awareness of anomalous events.
Similar objectives would be identified in other regulatory requirements that may be more pertinent to an organization’s business sector, however, a cybersecurity team can evaluate the NIST Cybersecurity Framework requirements and associated controls as a baseline to understand how to meet the objectives.
While there are multiple vendors that can support the visibility objectives and requirements outlined above, Splunk offers a free trail of its software that can be used to evaluate the value of the capability.
Splunk Hands-On Lab.
With any testing, having a dedicated lab environment that can be quickly created, easily managed, and destroyed once finished is critical to completing the learning objectives.
If you do not have a lab environment, DigitalOcean provides an environment that meets these objectives: Disclaimer! this is an affiliate link: https://m.do.co/c/5c28b1b39512
If you have a lab environment skip ahead to Installing Splunk Enterprise.
Create the Splunk Project
Create a new project called splunk-lab as a Class project / Education purposes.
When the Splunk project is created, click on the Get Started with a Droplet.
Choose an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS x64 image.
In a lab scenario, Splunk can be memory intensive based on overall usage. While the minimum plan for most virtual private server providers will be likely be sufficient, in this guide, a 2 GB / 1 CPU system was provisioned.
Select the datacenter region most applicable to your geo graphic location.
For the lab, select Password for remote access and enter a password. In a product deployment, additional remote access security controls would likely be implemented.
Enter splunk-lab as the hostname and create the instance.
Once finalized, the IP address of the instance will be shown.
On macOS open the terminal app and ssh as root to the IP address. On Windows, utilities like putty can be leveraged to connect to the IP address.
Installing Splunk Enterprise
With any application, it’s important to review the documentation. Splunk’s docs can be found here:
Documentation - Splunk Documentation
Splunk, Splunk>, Turn Data Into Doing, Data-to-Everything and D2E are trademarks or registered trademarks of Splunk…
Create an Account and Download Splunk
Splunk is a commercially licensed product and would need to be purchased if deployed in an organization. Splunk does offer free trials of its products. To evaluate Splunk, create an account and click the Free Splunk button.
For the lab, select Splunk Enterprise and download a free 60-day trial.
Select the Linux package and click the .deb download option. At the time of this post, Splunk Enterprise was on version 8.0.6.
Review the license agreement and start the download.
Click the Download via Command Line (wget) and copy the entire command.
Install Splunk Enterprise
With the wget command copied, open the splunk-lab terminal session, paste the command, and press return to download the install package.
To verify the install packaged downloaded successfully click the Download MD5 to verify your bits from your Splunk account and then compare the hash by running the md5sum command against the downloaded install package.
Run the dpkg command with the “-i” flag to install the Splunk Enterprise package.
dpkg -i splunk-8.0.6–linux-2.6-amd64.deb
By default, Splunk Enterprise installs into /opt/splunk. The Splunk application resides in the bin directory.
To start Splunk Enterprise issue a splunk start command.
Review and agree with the license.
During the initial install process, a username and password are required. These credentials will be required to access the administration panel.
Once the install process is completed, Splunk Enterprise will be accessible via HTTP on port 8000. This lab does not cover setting up a unique domain or SSL certificate with Splunk and can be found in the docs. These are steps that should be taken in a production deployment.
Open a web browser and type in the IP address of the splunk-lab instance via port 8000. Enter the credentials from the previous steps.
The Splunk Enterprise environment is now accessible.
Unique data sources can now be setup to forward machine data to Splunk Enterprise and detection signatures can be created to provide cybersecurity teams with insights to malicious activity.
Cybersecurity leaders and analysts should be familiar with log aggregation and SIEM capabilities and the value of having enterprise visibility. In subsequent posts, onboarding of unique data sources, detection signature creation strategies, and capability maturity will be covered.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Any feedback is always appreciated.