» » OSSEC ‘Bug’ in 2.9.x – OpenSSH SSHD Log Decoding

OSSEC ‘Bug’ in 2.9.x – OpenSSH SSHD Log Decoding

I use Elasticsearch to get a visualization of OSSEC alerts across all of my personal Virtual Private Servers, and I noticed several invalid / failed ssh authentications to one of my VPS hosts that spanned a few hours. The attacker was running under the radar by trying a different username every ten or so minutes.

So I wrote a quick frequency rule in OSSEC to trigger an active response:

<rule id="100011" level="10" timeframe="3600" frequency="1">
  <if_matched_sid>5710</if_matched_sid>
  <same_source_ip />
  <description>Multiple ssh auths as non-existent user.</description>
  <group>authentication_failures,</group>
</rule>

The above will throw a level 10 alert if the same IP address attempts to login as an invalid user via ssh three or more times within a window of one hour.

Don’t ask about why the frequency value is interpreted by OSSEC as value+2. This is a documented behavior.

The problem is that when I tested the rule, it was not firing.

It turns out, the OSSEC decoder for ssh-invalid-user is invalid itself.

The stock decoder in 2.9.1 and 2.9.2 (latest as of right now) is:

<decoder name="ssh-invalid-user">
 <parent>sshd</parent>
 <prematch>^Invalid user|^Illegal user</prematch>
 <regex offset="after_prematch"> from (\S+)$</regex>
 <order>srcip</order>
</decoder>

A sample sshd log entry (OpenSSH sshd 7.4p1) I am trying to fire on is:

Oct 25 08:00:57 hostname sshd[1234]: Invalid user admin from 1.2.3.4 port 1234

The problem with this is rooted in how OSSEC constructs decoders. The initial regex (prematch) to classify the log entry under the ssh-invalid-user decoder matches “Invalid user”, but the ‘post-match’ regex fails because it starts to tokenize based on:

 admin from 1.2.3.4 port 1234

Note there is leading white space in the above disassociated string.

The post-match regex fails to tokenize the disassociated string because:

  1. The invalid username ‘admin’ does not match the “from (\S+)$” regex due to the fact it only expects a single leading whitespace prior to the ‘from’ string.
  2. The “from (\S+)$” regex is anchored to the end, and conflicts with the string ‘port’ as well as the actual numerical port string value.

To resolve this, the ssh-invalid-user needs to be corrected. The following is what I used:

<decoder name="ssh-invalid-user">
 <parent>sshd</parent>
 <prematch>^Invalid user|^Illegal user</prematch>
 <regex offset="after_prematch"> (\w+) from (\S+) port (\S+)$</regex>
 <order>user,srcip,srcport</order>
</decoder>

I expanded the “after_prematch” regex to match a format of <username> from <ip> port <port>, and also tokenized that post-match string to also obtain the (invalid) username and source port values, along with the IP address.

This resolved the issue as proven with ossec-logtest output:

# Output of third invalid user log entry

Oct 25 08:00:57 hostname sshd[1234]: Invalid user admin from 1.2.3.4 port 1234

**Phase 1: Completed pre-decoding.
       full event: 'Oct 25 08:00:57 hostname sshd[1234]: Invalid user admin from 1.2.3.4 port 1234'
       hostname: 'hostname'
       program_name: 'sshd'
       log: 'Invalid user admin from 1.2.3.4 port 1234'

**Phase 2: Completed decoding.
       decoder: 'sshd'
       dstuser: 'admin'
       srcip: '1.2.3.4'
       srcport: '1234'

**Phase 3: Completed filtering (rules).
       Rule id: '100011'
       Level: '10'
       Description: 'Multiple ssh auths as non-existent user.'
**Alert to be generated.

Note that this affected by instance of sshd (OpenSSH 7.4p1) and it is likely most sshd logs use a similar “Invalid user” log format. So if you use OSSEC, give the fixed decoder a try.

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