Since we’ve accumulated a lot of resources around EventSentry that are updated frequently, we’ve decided to launch a GitHub page where anyone can access and download scripts, configuration templates, screen backgrounds and our brand-new PowerShell module that is still under development.
We currently have 4 repositories available:
Scripts: Collection of scripts that can either be used in conjunction with EventSentry to enhance its monitoring capabilities or used independently to enhance security and automate tasks.
Configuration: Configuration templates for Ransomware and general security as well as a recommended Sysmon template.
PowerShell Module: The recently launched EventSentry PowerShell module supports the automation of a small number of EventSentry configuration tasks, such as managing hosts and groups, adding maintenance schedules and more. Note that the PowerShell module only supports a small number of tasks at this point. Feel free to request additional cmdlets via support.
Screen Backgrounds: 6 different desktop backgrounds that you should immediately apply to the desktop of your EventSentry server.
Of course we encourage collaboration, especially in the scripts and configuration repositories. Please contact us if you have any questions.
This latest update to EventSentry improves your security posture with validation scripts, simplifies IT troubleshooting for both administrators and users, gives you visibility into installed browser extensions along with many other usability improvements in the web reports.
Proactively identifying (potentially) malicious behavior is the cornerstone of any security defense, and a key feature of log management / SIEM solutions. But many security violations are the direct consequence of incorrect or missing settings on endpoints.
Traditional log management solutions may show you when something is happening that shouldn’t be happening, yes. But wouldn’t it be better to assess key OS components and security settings on a regular basis, and identify known weaknesses?
Consider a motion-triggered camera that will let you know when somebody is snooping around your property at 3AM in the morning. That camera is extremely important, and the foundation of any serious property security system – without it, you wouldn’t even know what was going on!
But wouldn’t it be even better if somebody was inspecting your windows, fence and locks on a regular basis, to let you know if a door or window was unlocked, or an insecure lock was being used at one of the entrances? If your overall perimeter was more secure in the first place, there would be fewer potential intrusion attempts.
And that’s exactly what EventSentry’s 60+ validation scripts do. Our managed security & health checks continuously compare critical settings on your monitored hosts with our baseline, immediately indicating potential risks. These checks identify a wide variety of potential risks, such as:
A Windows server/workstation is not on the latest patch
Windows firewall is disabled
No A/V software installed
Insecure TLS protocols are enabled
Microsoft accounts aren’t blocked
EventSentry already includes a number of features that help detect security violations, rogue network devices, unauthorized software, suspicious network activity and more. But by utilizing the new validation scripts, you can fix many problems at the source – before they show symptoms.
The scripts are managed by NETIKUS.NET, updated regularly, and can be downloaded through the management console with a single click. Validation scripts are also tagged with keywords such as #server #compliance #stig-high-server to make sure that only relevant checks are assigned.
Which Browser Extensions are lurking in your network?
While web browser extensions can boost productivity and excite your end users, they also have inherent privacy and security risks. All major web browsers let users install as many extensions as they wish by default – without restrictions!
But do you actually know how many Firefox, Chrome or Edge extensions are installed on browsers across your IT infrastructure?
As an “extension” (no pun intended) of EventSentry’s software monitoring component, all browser extensions of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge (Chromium-based) are inventoried with support for:
Alerts (extensions are installed/updated/uninstalled)
With this information at the fingertips, an initial discovery can be performed, a baseline set and reports or alerts can be received on a regular basis showing new extensions being installed.
Troubleshoot, Document & Support End Users with “EventSentray”
Supporting your end users has probably never been more challenging, considering they’re distributed all across the place and not conveniently squeezed into an office building anymore.
With the tray app “EventSentray”, your end users can submit support tickets to many common ticketing systems via email or HTTP requests right from the tray with a customizable link. And the best part? Support tickets created by the app not only include pertinent system information (current CPU %, host name, uptime, …) but can also include a current screenshot.
But we didn’t just design the tray app to give end users a way to submit support tickets right from their desktop, but also to help sysadmins.
Let’s be honest, when we log on to a server then it’s often because something isn’t working the way it should. Wouldn’t it be nice if one had easy access to information like:
CPU, Memory, Disk Usage & Utilization
Top 3 apps consuming CPU and memory
IP address, host name and connection speed
Whether the host needs a reboot
Simply double-clicking the EventSentry icon and the System Information dialog will show all of the above information – and more. Hovering over the charts will reveal additional hardware information as well.
And for those working in teams with shared responsibilities, right-clicking the tray app also lets you add notes (including a screenshot) for the monitored host. Those notes are then visible in the web reports and ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page when you make significant changes to a server or workstation. Documentation is key!
Tracking Administrator Activity
Many compliance frameworks require that you track activity by Administrators (e.g. Domain Admins) on your network. ADMonitor users now have the ability to filter all compliance reports (e.g. Logon Activity, Process Activity) to only show activity from users with domain admin privileges.
Dashboard Import / Export
To make setting up dashboards easier and faster, EventSentry now ships with a number of dashboard templates that you can import. You can also export your own dashboards and import them on another EventSentry installation.
Webcam & Image Dashboard Tiles
The latest edition of the web reports includes a number of dashboard improvements, but the new image / webcam tile type definitely sticks out.
With the new “Image” tile you can point the web reports to a static image or stream to be displayed on any dashboard!
EventSentry v4.1 builds on v4.0 released earlier this year and offers a lot of exciting new & improved features that enhance a variety of different monitoring scenarios. In this release we improved:
Laptop / Mobile Monitoring
Expiring passwords can often be an issue in larger networks, especially for mobile users whose passwords expire while they are out of the office. The new “Password Reminder” feature in ADMonitor alleviates this issue by giving you the ability to automatically send out password expiration reminders to your users before the password expires. The only requirement is that the ‘mail’ attribute is set for your users, or that it’s possible to dynamically determine the end user’s email address from one or more of its AD properties (e.g. first name, last name).
We also added new ADMonitor-related tiles that provide an overview of recent AD changes.
Laptop / Mobile Monitoring
With an increasing number of employees working remotely, ensuring that laptops are properly monitored and secure should remain a priority for any company that manages laptops. Starting with v4.1, EventSentry detects the BitLocker status of any host, allowing you to run reports to identify all laptops that pose a security risk due to their hard drive not being encrypted.
We also improved operational monitoring by tracking the health of laptop batteries; EventSentry can now tell you how healthy a laptop battery is based on the current capacity and the charge cycle count.
Up until now performance data could “only” be retrieved from Windows performance counters and SNMP-based counters, but obtaining data from other sources like web pages or utilities was not supported. This limitation is a thing of the past as you can now use the output of any executable or script as a data source – with practically unlimited possibilities. For example, numerical data from system tools, web pages and log files can now be visualized and alerted upon – all with the same familiar interface. An example of this new functionality can be seen on our live demo, where we’re displaying air pollution stats from 4 major cities in the US along with the global PPM (courtesy of the EPA).
EventSentry’s NetFlow implementation already includes two important security-related features: The ability to detect port scans and identifying traffic going to / coming from potentially malicious IP addresses (with support for AbuseIPDb).
One potential short-coming with the malicious IP detection is that any of your public-facing IP addresses will – sooner or later – be contacted by a remote IP address deemed malicious. These alerts often result in unwanted and unnecessary noise, especially if the port / service that the remote IP address tried to contact is blocked anyways.
To make these alerts more actionable, NetFlow v4.1 keeps track of the amount of traffic sent/received from a malicious IP, resulting in intelligent notifications that are only triggered if the amount of traffic exceeds a (configurable) limit. This means that you will only get an alert if a meaningful amount of data (e.g. 1Mb) was transferred to or from a malicious IP – for example if a APT is active on your network. Once identified, you can either get an alert and/or take corrective action by blocking the offending IP address.
EventSentry’s architecture already supports MSP-style scenarios well: Granular permissions and multi-tenant support in the web reports allow for multiple clients, and remote agents running on a customer network can securely transmit all data encrypted over the Internet to the central EventSentry collector.
Starting with V4.1, both the heartbeat and network services components also integrate with the collector and can transmit all collected data from the customer’s network directly to the collector – instead of requiring a direct database connection.
Helping you keep your network as secure as Fort Knox and assisting you with your compliance requirements remains a top priority for EventSentry.
Do you know how many servers and workstations on your network require a reboot to finish installing Windows updates or software? EventSentry now detects pending reboots as part of its inventory functionality – simply schedule a report on this new flag and you’ll never forget to reboot critical systems again.
BitLocker detection mentioned earlier also helps you secure your mobile workforce by quickly identifying laptops that do not use full disk encryption.
To aid troubleshooting and forensic analysis we added a “Changes” view that shows all permanent changes that occurred on a selected host – for example services being added/removed, critical system files, software installations and more. This is available on the Host Inventory page as well as the IP Activity page.
For users who need to be compliant with CJIS we also added CJIS reports to list of compliance reports.
Besides a UI refresh and easier access to event log data, Syslog messages can now also be acknowledged – just like event log records.
Since accumulating too much data is a common issue for our users, we improved the Database Summary dashboard tile which actively monitors the database size and detects failed purge jobs.
The IP Activity page has been improved and now offers more actionable information about IP and host activity.
Finally, for those concerned about Java(c)’s licensing, EventSentry now utilizes the OpenJDK.
We hope you find this additions useful, as always please don’t hesitate to send us feedback. I also encourage you to check out our system32.eventsentry.com site which has a ton of information about Windows events and more. It’s under constant development and tells you how events are related, whether you should monitor them, which audit settings are associated with the event and much more.
Since Active Directory is the foundation of all Windows networks, monitoring Active Directory needs to be part of any comprehensive security strategy. Up to version 3.5, EventSentry utilized Windows auditing and the security event log to provide reports on:
User Account Changes
Computer Account Changes
While this functionality provides a good basis for monitoring the most relevant changes to Active Directory, we felt that a more comprehensive approach to monitoring Active Directory was needed – without the need to install & maintain yet another product!
ADMonitor is new (optional) component included in EventSentry that vastly improves Active Directory monitoring with these additional features:
Monitors changes to all objects (e.g. OUs) – not just users/groups/computers
Captures every attribute change made to an object, not just high level changes
Provides before & after values for all changes
Monitors Group Policy changes
User status reports (show idle users, users with non-expiring passwords, …)
Monitoring does not require auditing
We’re excited that we can now offer EventSentry ADMonitor to our users who are looking for a more in-depth Active Directory monitoring solution.
Active Directory is essentially a representation of the employees and their roles in your organization. But employees come and go, roles/responsibilities change, contractors get temporary access and so forth. But while adding users and additional access is usually reflected properly in Active Directory (otherwise IT would get a call because somebody presumably can’t do their job), removing access is often forgotten. As a result, users that should have been removed from AD a long time ago continue to exist. With ADMonitor it’s easy to identify orphaned user accounts (and many others) and keep your Active Directory lean and clean.
Since a significant development effort stands behind ADMonitor, it will be offered as an optional component that is licensed on a per-user basis. Pricing is very competitive with other solutions and we also offer bundle discounts to customers who already own or will purchase agent licenses; please request a quote here.
But enough theory, let’s look into the installation, configuration and reporting of ADMonitor.
Since ADMonitor is a component of EventSentry, it’s easily activated as part of the main EventSentry setup. Just like with other components of EventSentry (Heartbeat Monitor, Collector, …), users have the option to enable ADMonitor during the post installation setup procedure.
ADMonitor can be installed on any host that is part of the domain that needs to be monitored, it does not need to be installed on a domain controller.
Immediately following the initial installation, ADMonitor will initialize itself by creating an offline copy of all Active Directory objects. This process can take from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the number of objects in AD, connection speed to the domain controller as well as the overall performance of the host running ADMonitor.
The initial configuration of ADMonitor is simple and only requires you to pick a password for the ADMonitor service account. If you’re adding ADMonitor to an existing installation you may also need to select the appropriate EventSentry database action to which ADMonitor reports changes. Otherwise, ADMonitor is ready from the get go and will monitor all Active Directory changes.
ADMonitor provides three types of reports:
Group Policy Changes
Shows any change made to an AD objects. Reports can be filtered on the type of action performed (added, removed, modified), on the object type (user, group, organizationalUnit, …) and on the user who performed the action.
Note that the detailed changes to group policies are available in the “Group Policy Changes” report below. Of course you can expect the same type of summary view you’re already used to from most other EventSentry features and create reports like:
Show all changes to organizational units
Show all new objects created
Show all users that were changed
Group Policy Changes
When a group policy is changed, it is first indicated on the “Object Changes” report, since the versionNumber attribute of the AD object changes. The actual group policy settings themselves are available on the “Group Policy Changes” report however, since group policy settings are not stored in AD.
The screen shot below shows that the Default Domain Policy was changed, with the Specify traps for the public community setting being enabled.
The users report helps you identify potentially problematic user accounts such as idle users, users who haven’t change their passwords in years and others.
This report contains a list of all user objects in Active Directory including the following details:
Name, Full Name, SAM Account Name, Path, UPN
Administrative Account (yes/no)
Password Never Expires (yes/no)
Password Expired (yes/no)
Password must change (yes/no)
Locked Out (yes/no)
Password Last Set
Account Expiration Date
With ADMonitor you can now get detailed user stats with just a few clicks and quickly identify user accounts that need to be reviewed, changed or deleted. Of course you can also schedule all reports directly from the web reports and get daily/weekly AD status reports directly in your inbox, e.g.:
List of all Group Policy changes
List of all idle user accounts
List of all newly created users and/or groups
You can also create your own reports for just about anything that involves a change to an Active Directory object, for example all organizational units created in the last 24 hours.
ADMonitor also includes a number of stand-alone utilities that support advanced features such as filtering and email notifications that I will cover in a future post.
With ADMonitor, EventSentry users can now gain the additional visibility needed to fully audit all Active Directory & Group Policy changes. As a result, EventSentry users can more easily enhance compliance, security and accountability in their network without the need to install additional software – saving both time and money.
EventSentry v3.5 continues to increase visibility into networks with additional vantage points, making it easier for EventSentry users to reduce their attack surface as well as discover anomalies.
Process & Network Activity Tracking
One major focus of this release is process network activity, an important component in any monitoring strategy. Do you know which applications listen for incoming connections on your monitored machines – or when a new process suddenly starts accepting incoming traffic? Do you know which processes perform outgoing network connections, and to where? How much data are they transferring?
To help you (and possibly your overzealous auditors) answer these questions, EventSentry v3.5 takes the existing process tracking functionality to the next level by integrating with Sysmon and showing processes with active or listening network connections. With EventSentry deployed you can now see:
Complete Process Details (start & stop times, duration, caller, PID)
Process command line
All processes listening for incoming connections
All active processes
Network activity initiated by a process (Figure 1, requires Sysmon)
Correlation with EventSentry NetFlow (Figure 2, requires NetFlow component)
This means that you can easily see which network connections a host establishes if you have Sysmon installed, and can even correlate that information with the EventSentry NetFlow component with just a click (see below). This information is invaluable for forensics and troubleshooting alike.
But even without Sysmon, EventSentry can now show you every open TCP port on a monitored machine (optionally all active connections as well), making it easy to discover rogue services on a network – even if they are blocked by the firewall. Figure 3 below shows all active processes which are listening for incoming connections, grouped by host.
A new member in the compliance tracking features family is registry tracking. Similar to file access tracking, it normalizes all registry audit events on a monitored machine, making it much easier to report on the registry activity and changes. Configuring registry tracking to work with existing registry auditing is incredibly easy and can be enabled in 60 seconds if the proper audit settings are already in place. The screen shots below show a list of recent registry activity as well as the details of changes:
Users managing a large number of hosts will appreciate the new “Tags” feature which addresses a shortcoming with the existing flat group structure. Tags allow groups or hosts to be tagged with keywords (e.g. production, staging, development). The created tags can then be used in the web reports (e.g. Show me disk space from all hosts tagged with “development”) and for dynamic package assignments.
The file checksum monitoring component received a few enhancements to help reduce noise while also adding new functionality.
FIM can now verify the digital signature of executable files and optionally suppress alerts if a file is digitally signed – think Windows updates. This can reduce the number of alerts you get significantly and thus make the remaining alerts more meaningful. The digital signature status can also be displayed in the web reports as a new column.
FIM can also calculate the entropy (essentially a measure of randomness) of files with a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the maximum of a completely random file. This is useful for Ransomware detection, since encrypted (and compressed files as well) files have a higher entropy than regular files. Combined with a threshold filter this can detect when a large number of encrypted files are suddenly being processed in a given directory and thus indicate a Ransomware infection.
We also replaced the existing SHA-256 checksum algorithm with a faster version in 3.5 which should result in a lower CPU utilization on systems which need to calculate a large number of checksums.
Disk Space Monitoring
A common annoyance with disk space monitoring are large volumes where an otherwise useful limit of, say 5%, is just not useful. For example, 5% of a 2 Tb drive is still 100 Gb, and in most cases there is probably no reason to sound an alarm. Dynamic thresholds (a new feature) addresses this issue by automatically adjusting the limit based on the drive size. The result: Fewer alerts!
EventSentry will log an event to the application event log when dynamic thresholds are enabled AND the current settings warrant a change. An event will look something like this:
The percentage-based threshold on drive F:\ has been dynamically adjusted from 5 percent to 0.5 percent based on the total drive size of 999 GB. A low disk space alert will be triggered when the available space on this volume falls below 19 GB.
The software inventory page (detailed tab) will now show which hosts do NOT have a particular software installed when the search is restricted to a specific software product. Also related to processes, process tracking can now generate the checksum of all execute files, which can then be searched for at Malware databases like virustotal.com. If you utilize the maintenance mode feature in EventSentry then you can now see whether a host is in maintenance mode or not in the web reports. And last but not least, event logs can now be sent to a remote Syslog receiver via TLS.
Under the Hood
We always tweak and improve EventSentry to ensure it runs as efficiently as possible. In this release we replaced the SHA 256 algorithm with a more efficient version, resulting in less CPU usage by the agent when calculating SHA 256 checksums. As we gradually move to a full 64-bit monitoring suite, the Heartbeat Agent is the next component now also available as a 64-bit process so that all EventSentry services are now available in 64-bit. We plan on porting all executables over to 64-bit within the next 6-12 months. At that point you will not be able to run EventSentry on 32-bit platforms anymore; monitoring 32-bit hosts will of course still be supported for the foreseeable future.
To help with the stability of all EventSentry and simply troubleshooting, all server-side components will now automatically generate crash dumps if they encounters a problem. Finally, the management console includes additional context and ribbon buttons.