There’s a Thunderstorm Coming

We are proud to announce a groundbreaking new scan mode named “Thunderstorm” that we’ve integrated into preview builds of the upcoming THOR version 10.6.

This mode of operation turns THOR into a RESTful web service that is able to process thousands of samples per minute sent from any device within the network.

Think of it as your ultra-fast on-premise scan service, wich is bundled with more than 13,000 hand-crafted YARA rules focusing on persistent threats and forensic artefacts.

Collect files and submit them for analysis from any operating system and any hardware platform. The possibilities are limitless.

With this blog post, we’d like to highlight some of these new possibilities.

Thunder rolls, lightning strikes & the hammer flies across the sky.
God of the weather,
chariot of the storm,
master of rain & torrents.
Son of the strength
of Mother Earth,
I ask you to grant me that strength for myself.

Norse Poem

What is THOR Thunderstorm?

A RESTful web service that receives samples and returns a scan result. It is feature-rich and very fast.

Use Cases

Use Case 1 – Remote File Collection

During forensic investigations, automated file collection (ESI) from one or multiple remote systems can be combined with THOR Thunderstorm to improve the forensic anylsis.

Alerts and warnings produced by THOR Thunderstorm highlight interesting elements in file data, registry hives, eventlog files and more.

Use Case 2 – ICS Networks

ICS networks are mission critical, requiring immediate and high-availability. The installation of an endpoint agent or running a portable scanner is often out of question.

With THOR Thunderstorm, you just have to collect and submit the files.

Use Case 3 – Out of Reach Devices

Since file collection is a lot easier than endpoint scanning, all you need is way to export the remote system’s files or directly send them to THOR Thunderstorm.

Imagine that you can collect and submit files from network devices, telephone systems or embedded devices.

Use Case 4 – Out of Reach Operating Systems

File collection scripts for many old or usually unsupported operating systems allow you to upload samples for analysis.

Select files based on size, age or type and schedule frequent upload tasks to analyze only new or modified files. 

Use Case 5 – S3 Bucket Scanning

We’ve been working with our partner Adolus to showcase a tuned version of AirBnb’s BinaryAlert in which the standard YARA analyzer has been replaced by THOR Thunderstorm.

By using it in a container that scales with the demand, you can process millions of files in a few minutes.

Flexibility

Most operating system provide tools to walk the file system and submit files via HTTP. The following examples are intentionally short and compact to inspire you with their simplicity. Think of all devices that you could analyze this way. No agent, no portable scanner, just simple file submission via HTTP.

Windows 10 Batch

This example shows a simple batch file that walks recursively over a given folder an submits all files. You could extend it to the whole disk and reduce the submission to certain file extensions (e.g. exe, bat, ps1, js).

Linux Web Server

This examples shows how easy it is to get all files in a web server root checked by THOR Thunderstorm just by using bash, find and curl.

 

Thunderstorm Components

The following slide lists the different components that can be used with THOR Thunderstorm. We provide a server installer script, collectors, a Python API client and update scripts. 

In addition to the Thunderstorm server we provide a set of simple sample collection tools called Thunderstorm Collectors, a Python-based API library with command line client and a set of helper scripts

Thunderstorm Collectors

The Thunderstorm Collector repository contains a Go based collector, precompiled for many different operating systems and architectures as well as collectors scripts (Batch, Bash, PowerShell).

We have pre-build collectors for Windows, Linux, macOS, AIX, Solaris on x86, x64, Arm, PowerPC, MIPS, RISC-V, Plan9, S390x (IBM Z) architectures.

These collectors allow you select files based on age, size and type for submission to a Thunderstorm server.

It is easy to set up a task like: 

“Select all files that have been created or modified within the last 24 hours and submit them to Thunderstorm for analysis. Run this task daily.”

Low CPU and RAM Usage

A collection task requires 0.75-2% of the CPU and 20MB memory. 

Any OS, Any Arch

Our collectors run on any operating system and processor architecture

High Speed

It allows ultra fast collection runs. (Our tests: Win 10, collect last 3 days, any type, full disk = 3 minutes run)

Thunderstorm API Client

We provide a Python module and Python based API client that supports multi-threaded submission to the THOR Thunderstorm service.

Modes of Operation

Service Mode

The service can be started in two scan modes:

  • Pure YARA
  • Full-Featured

Pure YARA

In the pure YARA mode (–pure-yara) THOR Thunderstorm only applies the 13,000 internal and all custom YARA rules to the submitted samples. It’s leightweight and super fast.

Full-Featured

The full-featured mode is the default. In this mode Thunderstorm also parses and analyses Windows Eventlogs (EVTX), registry hives, memory dumps, Windows error reports (WER) and more. It’s not just a YARA scan, but a full forensic processing.

More Features

Completely On Premise

THOR Thunderstorm can be installed on any internal system and runs as a service within your network

Sample Storage

Store suspicious or all transmitted samples with a reference to the source system to facilitate the deeper analysis

Forensic Modules

THOR Thunderstorm supports the analysis of different file types that get collected for forensic analysis purposes (e.g. EVTX files, Registry Hives)

Custom Signatures and IOCs

Add you own YARA signatures, Sigma rules, hash and filename IOCs and apply them to incoming samples

SIEM Integration

THOR Thunderstorm offers many ways to output information (Text, JSON, Syslog), which makes it easy to integrate the findings into your favorite SIEM system

Web GUI and API Documentation

The API documentation is embedded into the web service itself. You can even send requests right from the browser to test it live.

The Web GUI contains important information about the service like the signature set version, uptime, number of processed and queued samples and much more. 

It contains some graphs that help you to assess the actual server load and processing speed. 

It also contains links to the API documentation, the Python API library and the Thunderstorm Collectors for your convenience. 

 

On The Roadmap

The following tasks are on our roadmap for THOR Thunderstorm

  • Collector service that uses file system notifications to submit new files in real-time
  • Cortex Analyzer
  • ICAP Support (allows interfacing with Web Proxies)
  • File format support: PCAP, MFT
  • Recursive extraction of nested archives
  • Docker setup guide

Getting Started

Please use the “GET STARTED” button in the upper right corner or this link to request more information.

The release slide deck contains more detailed information on some of the mentioned aspects.

 

THOR v10.6 TechPreview

We are proud do announce the version 10.6 of THOR, which is the first one that gets released as a TechPreview. We’ve discussed the split-up into THOR and THOR TechPreview in a previous post.  

The following post describes the most important new feature of the THOR v10.6 TechPreview version.

THOR Thunderstorm

THOR 10.6 is the first version that support a new mode of operation – a RESTful web API service named THOR Thunderstorm. THOR Thunderstorm is able to receive thousands of samples per minute via web requests, scans them and returns a scan result. 

We’ve outlined many use cases and features of THOR Thunderstorm in a separate blog post

THOR Thunderstorm requires a separate license named “service license” to run. 

 

Multi-Threaded Scanning

Especially the customers with a lab license should be happy to hear that we’ve implemented multi-threaded scanning. 

From now on, THOR can use multiple threads to process elements (files, registry keys, events in eventlog etc.). 

This can boost the scan speed on mounted images significantly. Our tests on a 16 Core system showed a scan speed improvement of 1400%. 

Reworked Quick Scan

Quick scan (–quick) is used when fast scan results are crucial. It usually takes less than 25 minutes to complete. This is achieved by skipping elements in the scan. Quick in versions previous to 10.6 do the following: they skip the Eventlog scan and scan only a set of 40+ highly relevant folders on disk. 

The new quick scan doesn’t skip whole modules or directories anymore. For all previously skipped elements the new quick scan evaluates if they have been modified or created within the last 72 hours and scans only these elements. 

This way the new quick scan is much more intense but should  be only slightly slower. 

Other Changes

  • We’ve changed the ambigious “–fsonly” flag to “–lab” to indicate the best settings for scanning in a forensic lab (the old flag is still usable but hidden in the usage description)
  • Virtual drive name mapping (used in lab scans to map the actual mount point to the original one)
  • Minor changes to some log lines (extended field values) 

Getting Started

Customers can download the THOR TechPreview version 10.6 in the Downloads section of the customer portal or use thor-util in it’s newest version to download that version with the flag “–techpreview”. ASGARD version 2.5.3 also supports scan runs with THOR TechPreview. 

Introduction THOR TechPreview

Since its early days, THOR has always been focused on stability and detection rate. With the early module and feature set, we never had to make a compromise. 

However, during the last 1-2 years, we had to make some decisions on the integration of new features and their default state in favor of stability. These decisions include e.g. the process dump feature, the PE-Sieve integration and Sigma scanning. 

Detection and stability have become two competing goals. We do not want to make these hard decisions anymore and leave them to you. You decide, based on your use case, if you want to use the version with newest features and detection capabilities or the one with a maximum of stability. 

With THOR version 10.6 we introduce a version named THOR TechPreview, which includes the newest features, refactored modules and new modes of operation. 

THOR TechPreview is a special THOR version that contains the newest modules and great detection features, which have not yet been tested on thousands of systems.

Florian Roth

Head of Research

The first release of THOR TechPreview will be version 10.6.
The standard version of THOR remains version 10.5 until the refactored and new features of the TechPreview have been proved to be stable. The expected release cycles of new version of THOR Tech Preview will be once a month, while new minor versions of THOR will be released only twice a year. Both versions receive bugfix updates and use the same signature set. 

ASGARD and THOR TechPreview

The current ASGARD Management Centers continue to use the standard THOR versions. The next minor release ASGARD 2.6, which is planned for October 2020, includes the option to use the TechPreview variant.  

Recommended Use Cases

The TechPreview version is recommended for all use cases in which detection capabilities have higher priority than stability. We would e.g. always recommend the TechPreview for image scans in a forensics labs.

Internal Testing

THOR TechPreview is not an untested version. It still goes through our internal testing on almost a hundred different test systems in 4 different test configurations.

Getting Started

Customers can download the new THOR TechPreview version from the download section in the customer portal once it gets released. Thor-Util version 1.11+ also supports the TechPreview download. We’ve planned the release for September 8.

Sigma Scanning with THOR

Our compromise assessment scanner THOR is able to apply Sigma rules during the local Eventlog analysis. This can help any customer that has no central SIEM system or performs a live forensic analysis on a system group that does not report to central monitoring. 

By running THOR on these systems with activated Sigma feature, THOR becomes a kind of a distributed and portable SIEM.

Since the Sigma scan module isn’t active by default, we thought it a good idea to explain how to activate an use it in the best possible way. 

Open Source Rule Set

By default THOR uses the open-source Sigma rule set with more than 500+ rules provided by the Sigma project on their Github page

Since our head of research is also one of the project maintainers, it was reasonable to combine the detection capabilities of Sigma with THOR’s scanning functionality on the endpoint. 

We comply with Sigma’s DRL (Detection Rule License) by including the rule authors in the event data produced by these rules.  

Custom Sigma Rules

You can easily add you own Sigma rules by placing them in the “./custom-signatures/sigma” sub folder.

THOR’s Sigma Config

The THOR default configuration for Sigma can be found in the Sigma repository. 

This configuration shows you, which Windows Eventlogs and Linux/Unix log files get analyzed by the Sigma module in THOR.

 

Sigma Scanning

To activate the Sigma module simply use the “–sigma” flag (or “sigma: True” in a YML config file).

You can start a THOR scan that analyzes the local Eventlog and activates the Sigma feature with:

thor64.exe -a Eventlog --sigma

To run a Sigma scan on a single Eventlog e.g. Sysmon’s log, use the “-n” flag.

thor64.exe -a Eventlog --sigma -n "Microsoft-Windows-Sysmon/Operational"

To include the Sigma feature in a standard THOR scan and check only the last 3 days of the Windows Eventlogs to reduce the scan duration, use:

thor64.exe --sigma -lookback 3

Sigma Matches

Once a Sigma rule matches on a log entry, you’ll see it listed in one of the REASON’s that lead to the classification of an event. 

The following example shows the detection of a China Chopper (Caidao) ASP web shell. That web shell has been detected by multiple Sigma rules. 

  1. Webshell Detection With Command Line Keywords 
  2. Shells Spawned by Web Servers
  3. Whoami Execution

Getting Started

Since this feature isn’t available in THOR Lite, please contact us via the “Get Started” button in the upper right corner and get a free trial voucher. Most customers that use THOR with Sigma choose one of our THOR license packs, especially the SOC Toolkit Pack, which was geared to the needs of today’s SOC teams. 

New VALHALLA Web Features

The newest update of our popular YARA rule feed named VALHALLA adds new features to its web interface.

The most awaited new feature is a keyword search that allows you to query the database for certain keywords, rule names, reports, MITRE ATT&CK ids or tags.

The result page shows you if VALHALLA already has related rules in its database. 

 

Keyword Search

The search results show all rules in our database related to the search keyword.

You can see the rule name, description, the rule date, a reference URL and a set of links.

The new search function helps you to determine if VALHALLA and THOR already contain rules for a given report or threat. 

New Links

We have integrated new links that lead you to:

  1. the reference listed in the rule (report, source)
  2. a Virustotal lookup for that rule / sample
  3. a detailed info page for that specific rule

Rule Info Pages

The rule info page contains all the details to a certain rule. These include all metadata values liks score, tags, reference links, required YARA version and modules, the rule date and the average AV detection ratio.

Two additional tables include all antivirus verdicts for samples on which that rule has matched and a list of all observed samples with links to Virustotal. 

 

Community Rule Info

We’ve also added notes on the 2400+ rules that are available as open source in the signature-base repository on github, e.g. try SUSP_LNK_Big_Link_File.

Category Counts

A new table on the start page informs users about the rules per subscribable category. 

Also note that queries of any type to Valhalla are rate limited. Too many requests in a relatively short time frame will lead to complete blocks as well as a high amount of requests over a longe time period and other suspicious activity. Customers can get their source IP addresses whitelisted on request. 

The new version will be deployed in the coming days.

End-of-Life ASGARD v1 and Master ASGARD v1

Nextron announces the end-of-sale and end-of-life dates for the ASGARD version 1 and Master ASGARD version 1. The last day to order the affected product(s) is May 31, 2020. Customers with active service contracts will continue to receive support as shown until June 30, 2021.

End of Life Announcement Date The date the document that announces the end-of-sale and end-of-life of a product is distributed to the general public. 22.05.2020
End of Sale Date The product is no longer for sale after this date. 31.05.2020
End of Software Maintenance The last date that Nextron may release any final software maintenance releases or bug fixes. After this date, Nextron will no longer develop, repair, maintain, or test the product software. 31.05.2021
Last Date of Support The last date to receive applicable service and support for the product as entitled by active service contracts or by warranty terms and conditions. After this date, all support services for the product are unavailable, and the product becomes obsolete. 31.06.2021

New VALHALLA Features That You Might Have Missed

Rule Info Pages

The new rule info pages allow you to get more information on a certain rule. You can find all the meta data, as well as past rule matches and previous antivirus verdicts.

A second tab contains statistics. 

You can also report false positives that you’ve encountered with that rule using the button in the tab bar. 

Note that the rule info lookups in the web GUI are rate limited. If you query rule infos too often, you get blocked.

The rule info pages can be access using this URL scheme: 

https://valhalla.nextron-systems.com/info/rule/RULE_NAME

For example:

https://valhalla.nextron-systems.com/info/rule/HKTL_Empire_ShellCodeRDI_Dec19_1

 

Rule Info & Hash Info

The rule info and hash info API endpoints are available for customers with valid API key only.

The API is not rate limited.

Customers can find information on how to use these end points here.

 

Automated Tagging

The automated tagging has been extended to included MITRE ATT&CK threat actor group IDs. 

Status Includes Version

The status endpoint now includes a version number.

The version number is an integer value generated from the last update timestamp using a format string “%Y%m%d%H”. This way it is not just a version number that you can compare with you local last change (e.g. “>=”) but also an implicit timestamp.

You can access that endpoint via POST request (/api/v1/status) or Python API’s “get_status()” function.

 

You can find more information on Valhalla on our web page.

THOR 8 and SPARK End-of-Support

With this blog post we would like to inform you that our End-of-Life (EOL) products THOR 8 and SPARK will reach their End-if-Service-Life (EoSL) on 31th of October 2020.

From this day onwards, product and signature updates will not be available anymore.

Please consider upgrading to THOR 10, which is available for all relevant platforms and architectures.