Snort setup in pFsense details

Posted: November 10th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: FreeBSD, pfSense, Snort | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Snort is an open source intrusion detection system that is available as a package on pFsense. What this means is a lot of aspects from rules to system tuning can be easily configure via the pFsense GUI.

What is Snort does? Once you have defined the networks (eg your local LAN, WAN); Snort will scan the segments the network packets with rules that you have given it. Once the packets rules are met eg I get “ET SHELLCODE Possible Backslash Escaped UTF-8 0c0c Heap Spray” while using git, Snort will put out an alert in the logs and (optionally) blocks the ip address from further compromise.

What Snort doesn’t do? It is not a firewall. The rules I mentioned here are separate from the firewall. Snort in this case works in conjunction with pFsense. You can seperately install it on OpenWRT etc or have Snort installed seperately on another computer / bridge.

While the setup is straight forward via pFsense, There are a few gotchas I would like to point out, so people would avoid:

  1. Make sure your Snort computer has enough horsepower. I know a lot of readers on this blog is from openwrt world. I won’t recommend running snort with anything slower than a second generation Core processor. I said this because I ran it via pfSense on a Thinkpad T410, which has a first generation Core and it overheated and shutdown at 85C. Memory doesn’t matter (4Gb should be more than enough) but CPU horsepower does. The second generation stabilizes around 47C at ambient network connection but have been cranked up to 60-70C, when the whole family are at use.
  2. For the first little while, be prepared to check the Alerts and Blocked lists. The canned rules save you but they will also give you false alarms, so you have to be prepared to spend time (at least initially) to monitor things. When sites you used to be able to access stopped working, check the Alerts log. Snort might have blocked the site. eg Snort would block and report “ET CNC Feodo Tracker Reported CnC Server TCP group 13”. It turns out that is the site for one of the Ad-list repositories. So some care must be spent to monitor the traffic at least initially.
  3. Pick only the rules you need when you are sure. Under Categories section for each interface, you can pick and choose which rules you want Snort to investigate for each packet. If you are using a Linux machine with Chrome only, you can disable the ie rules and so on.
  4. Adding and / suppressing ip address and rules takes a few seconds, so be patient.

Useful References:
pFsense forum has a great section on IDS.
They also have a “crowd fueled” Suppress list which is extremely handly for new comers to get rid of most common false positives.

pfSense & Snort

Posted: June 21st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: FreeBSD, pfSense, Snort | No Comments »

pFsense has an option to have Snort installed via the package manager. Snort tells you what kind of attack is coming, it can be a bit of information overload. However pfSense’s Snort GUI is quite intuitive and you can pick and choose what kind of rules interest you.

To setup Snort, I discover that pfSense’s default size for /tmp and /var directories are too small for Snort’s various rule sources. So what happens is while you are downloading the Snort rules, it will fail (Snort tar.gz can be over 32MB).

To fix that is really simple:

Go to: System -> Advanced -> Miscellaneous and change the /tmp and /var settings, for me, I have set it to 64MB, the default is 32MB. Click “Save” It will restart. Now try, downloading the Snort rules, it will work great!

Simple! ๐Ÿ™‚

Realtek RTL8111 ExpressCard works well with FreeBSD / pfSense

Posted: May 4th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Expresscard NIC, FreeBSD, pfSense, Realtek 8111 | No Comments »

With the price of older Intel Core iseries laptops plummeting to ~$100 levels. I have decided to abandon OpenWRT and move to pfSense. I am not too comfortable with OpenWRT’s update mechanism, which requires a wholesale reflash every time for major updates. Not to mention due to different SoCs’ inconsistencies when a new model comes out there are weird tweaks you need to make. I think pfSense is more flexible in the software sense (built in FreeRADIUS, Cert management and Captive Portal are handy for guest wifi), of course it requires more robust hardware. Downside is Thinkpad’s Centrino network adaptor card does not support HostAP mode due to power requirements, so I guess the old router is still good for something ๐Ÿ˜‰

The obvious problem with laptops is most of them only come with a single Ethernet NIC. I am using a Thinkpad T420 as a test bed, so I found a Realtek RTL8111 ExpressCARD to be the second NIC. It wasn’t listed on any FreeBSD compatibility lists, but I would like to report that a generic one works just fine. I find the Thinkpad’s card slot not seating the card properly, it slip the card in and out few times to get seated, once that’s done it works great.