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9 Free Tools to Automate Your Incident Response Process

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This is a guest article by Gilad David Maayan from AgileSEO

With the rise of big data, organizations are collecting and storing more data than ever before. This data can provide valuable insights into customer needs and assist in creating innovative products. Unfortunately, this also makes data valuable to hackers, seeking to infiltrate systems and exfiltrate information. To prevent data breach or loss, you can take advantage of a variety of incident prevention and response tools.

In this article, you’ll learn what incident response is. You’ll also be introduced to nine open-source tools you can use to automate and streamline your incident response processes. Understanding what kinds of tools are available can help you make an informed choice when choosing tools for your systems.

What Is Incident Response?

Incident Response (IR) is a means of organizing and managing responses to cybersecurity incidents. Incidents are any attempted or successful attacks on your systems.

Incident response is typically performed by an incident response team composed of security professionals and other relevant staff. This team is often referred to as a Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) or a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). The team follows a set of guidelines and processes laid out in your incident response plan.

A typical incident response plan includes six phases:

  1. Preparation and evaluation
  2. Identification and analysis
  3. Containment and neutralization
  4. Eradication
  5. Recovery and restoration
  6. Retrospective and improvement

The first phase of incident response is arguably the most important. It involves inventorying your system vulnerabilities and implementing measures for the prevention and detection of incidents. These measures can include monitoring, implementation of access controls, behavior analysis, and incorporation of threat intelligence.

Ideally, you can use incident response processes and tools to prevent incidents from occurring. If you are unable to avert incidents, you should be able to mitigate attacks early on, lessening the damage done.

The following are popular, free, open-source tools you can use to automate or streamline your incident response process. These tools are actively supported and are in use by a variety of organizations, including Netflix, Google, and Mozilla. Several of these tools are also available with paid support if you want managed services or features.

1. Wazuh

Wazuh is a solution for compliance, integrity monitoring, threat detection, and incident response. It provides continuous monitoring across cloud and on-premise environments. You can use Wazuh in a Docker container or on Linux, Windows, and macOS systems.

Wazuh is designed as a Host-based Intrusion Detection System (HIDS) and System Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution. It works via a monitoring and response agent connected to a server that gathers intelligence and performs analyses. You can integrate it with a variety of threat intelligence sources.

Pros include:

  • Supports cloud monitoring in AWS and Azure
  • Includes compliance mapping
  • Integrates with Puppet, Ansible, and Chef for automation

Cons include:

  • Requires you to use Elastic Stack
  • Can be complicated to deploy

2. GRR Rapid Response

GRR Rapid Response is an open-source incident response framework you can use to perform live, remote forensic analyses. It enables threat hunting and easy export of data in a variety of formats. You can use GRR in a Docker container or on standard Linux systems.

GRR is composed of a client and a server. The client is deployed on your systems and waits for directions from the server. The server is an API endpoint and web-based GUI that enables you to schedule actions and use collected data. GRR includes features for cross-platform support, remote memory analysis, raw file system access, and monitoring of client memory, IO usage, and CPU.

Pros include:

  • Developed and maintained by Google
  • Scalable and flexible
  • Can be used with remote, distributed devices

Cons include:

  • Requires agents and dedicated server
  • Large deployments require time and development investment

3. Osquery

Osquery is a tool you can use for endpoint visibility. It enables you to quickly view and search a variety of information, including running processes, open network connections, hardware events, loaded kernel modules, and browser plugins. You can use Osquery on Windows, Linux, and macOS machines.

Osquery works by transferring your system information into a relational database. You can then query this database using SQL to easily filter and find status information and perform analyses. Osquery enables you to perform queries manually, schedule queries, or launch queries via API.

Pros include:

  • Relatively easy to use and customizable
  • Exposes difficult-to-access endpoint data
  • Recently turned over to The Linux Foundation to ensure continued support

Cons include:

  • Documentation on use and deployment is lacking
  • No commercial support available

4. MISP

MISP, formerly known as Malware Information Sharing Platform, is a threat intelligence platform. It enables you to collect, store, and share information about cybersecurity threats, indicators, and analyses. You can use MISP in a Docker container or on any standard Linux machine.

MISP provides functionality for inclusion with SIEMs, network intrusion detection systems, and the Linux Intrusion Detection System. It includes a database of incident indicators, an automatic correlation engine, and functionality for creating event graphs.

Pros include:

  • REST API you can use for automation and data sharing
  • Enables you to create database of both technical and non-technical information
  • Extensible through pre-built or custom-built python modules

Cons include:

  • You must host the platform and store data
  • You start with an empty database so it takes time to gain functionality

5. TheHive

TheHive is a scalable incident response platform that you can use for case and alert management. It enables multiple analysts to work simultaneously with real-time information. You can use TheHive in a Docker container or with Linux machines.

TheHive is designed as a companion for MISP and can integrate intelligence from email reports, SIEMs and computer telephony providers. It features dynamic dashboards for tracking metrics of cases, recording response progress, and automating response tasks. Using TheHive, you can tag, sort, and filter evidence for investigation, and export it for threat intelligence sharing.

Pros include:

  • Easy to use and intuitive interface
  • Flexible and customizable through templates or playbooks

Cons include:

  • No out-of-the-box integrations for alerting tools like SIEMs
  • Installation and maintenance can be time complicated

6. Zeek

Zeek, formerly known as Bro, is a framework for security monitoring and network traffic analysis. It enables you to extract network data for analysis and automate monitoring and detection tasks. You can use Zeek on Linux, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X systems.

Zeek relies on threat intelligence and behavior analysis, not signature-based detection. It includes features for application layer analysis, activity logging, and an API for extension through plugins. You can customize analyses via scripting, written in a Zeek specific language.

Pros include:

  • Well known and supported
  • Highly extensible and flexible
  • Can detect events by both signature and anomaly analysis

Cons include:

  • Can be complicated to set up and learn
  • Lacks a native GUI

7. The Mozilla Defense Platform (MozDef)

MozDef is a set of microservices that you can use in combination with Elasticsearch as a SIEM.

It is designed to automate interfacing with a range of security tools through API. You can use MozDef in a Docker container or directly on a CentOS 7 machine.

MozDef includes automation functionalities for incident handling, metrics, information sharing, and response workflows. It also includes features for real-time collaboration, scaling, and log management.

Pros include:

  • Works without agents
  • Scalable and flexible
  • Can integrate cloud-based data sources
  • Created and supported by Mozilla for improved trust

Cons include:

  • Only accepts logs in JSON format
  • Newly released and not yet widely adopted

8. OwlH

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OwlH is a scalable, network intrusion detection system. It enables you to capture traffic for alerting, protocol analysis, and anomaly detection. You can use OwlH with on-premise, cloud, hybrid, and virtual environments.

OwlH integrates with and enables you to manage and visualize data from Zeek, Suricata, Snort, and Moloch. It includes features for centralized rule and configuration management, centralized visualization, and compliance mapping.

Pros include:

  • Can use to monitor stand-alone systems or groups of devices
  • Includes a REST API for managing and configuring probes
  • You can create custom rulesets or import 3rd party rules

Cons include:

  • Requires installation and management of agent node and master

9. Apache Metron

Metron is a security analytics framework evolved from the Cisco OpenSOC Project. It enables you to ingest, process, and store threat data and intelligence feeds. You can use Metron with virtual machines, AWS instances, or in a Docker container.

Metron provides a data parsing framework, which you can extend through plugins. Besides a customizable dashboard, it contains features for alerting, evidence storage, and threat hunting.

Pros include:

  • Integrates with a variety of data sources, including Bro, Snort, and sourcefire
  • Has long development history

Cons include:

  • Requires working knowledge of Hadoop, Storm, Kafka, Zookeeper, and HBase

Conclusion

Successful incident response requires a range of tools. These tools should help you provide robust, timely responses while integrating with your existing systems and processes. When you can automate and centralize processes with tools that integrate well, you can create more efficient IR processes.

Hopefully, this article introduced you to some tools that you can incorporate into your IR processes and solutions. By incorporating some of the tools covered here, you can improve your tooling coverage. You can also craft a system customized to your needs.


Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.

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