My name is Christopher De Jesus and im currently in my 5th year in college and 4th year as computer science major. My main interest this past year has been cybersecurity and I've been participating in conferences, competitions and classes throughout the last semester and the current one trying to specialize in it.

Contact info:

Research Goals

My main goal during this research is to learn how to make an auditory in a network using tools that would help me detect any anomaly. With this I can enhance my knowledge in the cybersecurity branch.


WEEK 1: (25 - 29: Reading about Bro Network, documentations, requirements and scripting.

WEEK 2: Began downloading packages in Hulk, but didnt have permissions for installing Bro inside Hulk, so I'll just wait till I find a sudoer. Found the sudoer (Bianca) but apparently the server (HULK) is making it too difficult to install all the requirements and libraries it needs to download Bro. I'll try a different approach next week.

WEEK 3: After talking to Humberto we concluded it would be best to be connected directly in an ethernet cable to the Science DMZ and just install Bro in my Mac. It worked after many downloads and a few hours of installation. Finished the first tutorial which consisted of 7 challenges to learn how to use the bro language. It was pretty basic, using strings, split(), replace(), etc.

WEEK 4: At the end of week 3 Humberto told me to start working in an SSH detection first. I discovered on Tuesday that Bro Network had some tools already made for SSH detection. I spent all week trying to make it work with my network, learning how to use the events on the Bro language. Still working on it, hopefully for week 5 I will have results of SSH detection or maybe even more.

WEEK 5: After discovering the scripts that I needed for start network monitoring, I found some tutorials on how to start doing this but with virtual environments. Part of the tutorial mentioned to install Vagrant, which goes hand-by-hand with VirtualBox. With these environments of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 64-bit we will start testing the scripts inside them. It was pretty easy to understand, pretty basic commands on how to set up an environment, how to destroy one, etc. At the beginning of the week, I was pretty lost because I have a very weak knowledge of networking and setting up an ssh-detection script was starting to get difficult. That's why I changed my approach to ask Google for help on how to start setting clusters on Broconctrol, learning the synxtax for this shell, etc.

I've been working on the weekend trying to set up a cluster of environments. This site: helped configure and set up 1 main and 2 slaves to start working on Brocntrl form there. Already installed bro inside the main cluster and it was a success, for now. Now I'm actually trying to connect the main with the slaves. My lack of knowledge on networking has been a setback but I took this weekend to work on this because during the week I want to have everything on point to start the monitoring of these 2 slaves that I have put to work retrieving network traffic.

WEEK 6: I never managed to cluster the Vagrant environment of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 64-bit. After a week of trying, what I managed to do was to set up a cluster that practically is his own master and slave. That means, that it will monitor itself and it worked! After 5 weeks of trying to get output, I finally managed to get logs of what is happening in the network. It is setup for every hour to create a log that would be manageable by the scripts. This means that, I can finally start programming, or at least analising how to send these logs by parameter with these scripts and start getting results that can be graphed. Next week will be mostly of reading how to script for bro.

WEEK 7: During spring break, most of the work was directed to the making of a script that brute-forces SSH. I finally finished the script and it works. It's a very slow process, since the SSH connection has a delay. The script was made in Python with the use of sockets and paramiko, the most important libraries for networking and SSH connections. It uses a dictionary attack, in which after 12-13 tries, it will try the right password.

WEEK 8: In this week there wasnt much of an advance, it was mostly based on reading about TCPDump, because there's 2 ways of analizing the output. One of them is reading a .pcap file that it's created after using TCPDump. The other way of analizing would be using Brocntrl in which it would start checking for any anomaly and the scripts necessary would create an output. In this case of SSH-bruteforce, an ssh.log should be created every time something in the SSH connection happens. Using this command inside Vagrant "sudo /nsm/bro/bin/bro -r ssh.pcap /nsm/bro/share/bro/policy/protocols/ssh/detect-bruteforcing.bro" should be enough to start detecting SSH-bruteforce but for now, it's not creating an ssh.log after activating the script. There's still much to read about why TCPDump is not detecting ssh connections in the private IP, which is the one that is being scanned by itself.

Week 9 - 10 These past 2 weeks were mostly trying to attack different approaches to finally get to detect the brute-force of the ssh-script made in Python using paramiko. One of the first approaches was to attack the IP from the inside and from the outside. Inside my own machine, I installed Bro network and also paramiko for Python to get to use the libraries for the attack.

The first test was 2 hours, from 7:44 - 9:44pm, from inside the same IP. The SSH-bruteforce script created by Bro was used and the outputs were not SSH related. This means, that it did not detected brute-force when there was clearly an attack of 200 tries. The first problem that came to my mind was that if it was the same IP, maybe Bro Network was written to detect foreign IP. After a quick analyze in their scripts, I did not find a single line that could tell me if this was the case. Still thinking this could be the reason, I went for the second approach, attack from my main computer the Vagrant Machine( This was my second week of approaches. Did not check the time for this one. So we can assume it was during 1:30-2:00 hours of attacking. This time, there was no output at all. It was mostly empty logs with probably 12 packets sent.

In the end, the 2 approaches failed, but they triggered another one that went outside of what we actually wanted to try. Using TCPDump we used this command:

                      sudo tcpdump -i lo -w mycap.pcap

I managed to simply monitor the local host and create a .pcap which can be processed by bro and apply the detect-bruteforcing.bro inside the SSH protocols that it gives. After it has been monitoring for a time, I noticed that everything that was being done using the network inside the vagrant machine, was an output for the TCPDump. This is when I started the attacking script and used that .pcap using this command:

sudo /nsm/bro/bin/bro -Cr mycap.pcap/nsm/bro/share/bro/policy/protocols/ssh/detect-bruteforcing.bro

After this, finally got the ssh.log that we wanted. In this file, there was evidence of brute-force of ssh with a lot of information available of the attack. It even gives us information of how the ssh is doing it, by giving us that it uses Paramiko for the connection. Useful information that can be used for restricting these types of connections that use Paramiko or simply, ban the IP for good. Something that the administrator can handle.

Week 1 2nd Semester

I started research about how to use these logs that were found when using the SSH-bruteforce script, and I've been trying to work out with the script inside the same folder, geo-data.bro, which gives the SSH logs various information based on location. I found this very interesting, since a way of understanding these types of attacks best is to actually extract data from their trace, the IP. I would like to use this information to actually make some type of visualization in which it tries to follow where the most attacks are occurring and how to analyze this data. The first steps of analizing were a failure, because when geo-data.bro was used, it gave null spaces where the location information should be appearing. I have 2 theories on why it doesnt work. The first one is that since it's the same local ip trying to ssh, it does not get location information, in which if this is the case, I need to make my Vagrant a live host, or live bait. My second theory is that the script hides something or does something we still do not understand but plan to do. Probably next week, we will try and attack the first theory, which if it comes out true, we will get a lot of data from attacks all over the world, hopefully.

Week 2 2nd semester

After talking with Humberto and telling him of what I've been trying, it was the first theory. I was on the same IP, therefore it does not send packets with location. After trying for an hour or two in the lab of SSH attacking, Humberto told me the network in the UPR blocks this types of information from the packets. Understanding about packets has been essential and I've been reading online about how packets are made and what information should be in them, other than the main information that it wants to send. I've taken another interesting approach. I talked to a friend who is very interested in creating his own type of blog/website, so a very interesting development has occurred. I've open an Amazon Web Services running Ubuntu and bought a domain (which will remain anonymous for security reasons), so I will run bro inside this server and have it monitor the traffic, and test out the SSH-Detection script with the Geo Location.