A Kernel of Truth: Intrusion Detection and Attestation with eBPF presented at DevSecCon 2019

by Matt Carroll,

Summary : Infrastructure Security Engineer at Yelp"Attestation is hard" is something you might hear from security researchers tracking nation states and APTs, but it's actually pretty true for most network-connected systems!Modern deployment methodologies mean that disparate teams create workloads for shared worker-hosts (ranging from Jenkins to Kubernetes and all the other orchestrators and CI tools in-between), meaning that at any given moment your hosts could be running any one of a number of services, connecting to who-knows-what on the internet.So when your network-based intrusion detection system (IDS) opaquely declares that one of these machines has made an "anomalous" network connection, how do you even determine if it's business as usual? Sure you can log on to the host to try and figure it out, but (in case you hadn't noticed) computers are pretty fast these days, and once the connection is closed it might as well not have happened... Assuming it wasn't actually a reverse shell...At Yelp we turned to the Linux kernel to tell us whodunit! Utilizing the Linux kernel's eBPF subsystem - an in-kernel VM with syscall hooking capabilities - we're able to aggregate metadata about the calling process tree for any internet-bound TCP connection by filtering IPs and ports in-kernel and enriching with process tree information in userland. The result is "pidtree-bcc": a supplementary IDS. Now whenever there's an alert for a suspicious connection, we just search for it in our SIEM (spoiler alert: it's nearly always an engineer doing something "innovative")! And the cherry on top? It's stupid fast with negligible overhead, creating a much higher signal-to-noise ratio than the kernels firehose-like audit subsystems.This talk will look at how you can tune the signal-to-noise ratio of your IDS by making it reflect your business logic and common usage patterns, get more work done by reducing MTTR for false positives, use eBPF and the kernel to do all the hard work for you, accidentally load test your new IDS by not filtering all RFC-1918 addresses, and abuse Docker to get to production ASAP!As well as looking at some of the technologies that the kernel puts at your disposal, this talk will also tell pidtree-bcc's road from hackathon project to production system and how focus on demonstrating business value early on allowed the organization to give us buy-in to build and deploy a brand new project from scratch.