Agentless hunting with Velociraptor

There has been a lot of interest lately in “Agentless hunting” especially using PowerShell. There are many reasons why Agentless hunting is appealing - there are already a ton of endpoint agents and yet another one may not be welcome. Somtimes we need to deploy endpoint agents as part of a DFIR engagement and we may not want to permanently install yet another agent on end points.

This blog post explores an agentless deployment scenario, where we do not want to install Velociraptor permanently on the end point, but rather push it to end points temporarily to collect specific artifacts. The advantage of this method is that there are no permanent changes to the end point, as nothing is actually installed. However, we do get the full power of Velociraptor to collect artifacts, hunt for evil and more…

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Alerting on event patterns

We have shown in earlier posts how Velociraptor uses VQL to define event queries that can detect specific conditions. These conditions can be used to create alerts and escalation actions.

One of the most useful types of alerts is detecting a pattern of activity. For example we can detect failed and successful login attempts seperately, but it is the specific pattern of events (say 5 failed login attempts followed by a successful one) that is interesting from a detection point of view.

This post illustrates how this kind of temporal correlation can be expressed in a VQL query. We then use it to create alerts for attack patterns commonly seen by intrusions.

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Velociraptor Performance

We are often asked how much resources does a Velociraptor deployment use? How should one spec a machine for a Velociraptor deployment? We have previously said that one of the reasons we developed Velociraptor was to improve on the performance of GRR which was not scalable for our use case.

We’ve been working with the team at Klein & Co. on several intrusions over the past several months, which are providing valuable opportunities to deploy and test Velociraptor in a range of real world investigation scenarios. Through this process, we’ve been able to extend Velociraptor’s functionality and prove its performance on real client networks.

I thought I would write a short blog post to show how Velociraptor performed on such a recent engagement. In this engagement we deployed Velociraptor on AWS and selectively pushed the client to around 600 machines running a mix of MacOS and Windows.

This post will hopefully give readers some idea of how scalable the tool is and the typical workloads we run with it.

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Velociraptor Python API

Velociraptor is very good at collecting artifacts from endpoints. However, in modern DFIR work, the actual collection is only the first step of a much more involved process. Typically we want to post process data using more advanced data mining tools (such as data stacking). Velociraptor usually is only a part of a wider solution which might include a SIEM and SOC integration.

In order to facilitate interoperability with other tools, Velociraptor now offers an external API. The API is offered via gRPC so it can be used in any language which gRPC supports (e.g. Java, C++, Python etc). In this blog post we illustrate the Python API but any language should work.

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Deploying Velociraptor with OAuth SSO

In the previous post we saw how to set up Velociraptor’s GUI over SSL. This is great, but we still need to create users and assign them passwords manually. The trouble with user account management is that we can not enforce 2 factor authentication, or any password policies or any of the usual enterprise requirements for user account management. It is also difficult for users to remember yet another password for a separate system, and so might make the password easily guessable.

Most enterprise systems require an SSO mechanism to manage user accounts and passwords. Manual user account management simply does not scale!

In this post we discuss how to enable Google’s SSO authentication for Velociraptor identity management.

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Configuring Velociraptor for SSL

We have previously seen how to deploy a new Velociraptor server. For a simple deployment we can have Velociraptor server and clients provisioned in minutes.

Usually we deploy a specific Velociraptor deployment on our DFIR engagements. We use cloud resources to provision the server and have the clients connect to this cloud VM. A proper secure deployment of Velociraptor will use SSL for securing both client communication and protecting the web GUI.

In the past provisioning an SSL enabled web application was complex and expensive - you had to create certificate signing requests, interact with a CA. Pay for the certificates, then configure the server. In particular you had to remember to renew the cert in 2 years or your website suddenly broke!

Those days are over with the emergence of Lets Encrypt! and autocert. These days applications can automatically provision their own certificates. Velociraptor can manage its own certificates, fully automatically - and then renew its certificates when the time comes with no user intervention required.

In this blog post we will see how to configure a new Velociraptor server in a cloud VM.

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Velociraptor Interactive Shell

One of the interesting new features in the latest release of Velociraptor is an interactive shell. One can interact with the end point over the standard Velociraptor communication mechanism - an encrypted and authenticated channel.

This feature is implemented by utilizing the Velociraptor event monitoring, server side VQL queries. This post explores how these components come together to deliver a responsive, interactive workflow.

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Server side VQL queries and Escalation Events

Previously we have seen how Velociraptor collects information from end points using Velociraptor artifacts. These artifacts encapsulate user created queries using the Velociraptor Query Language (VQL). The power of VQL is that it provides for a very flexible way of specifying exactly what should be collected from the client and how - without needing to modify client code or deploy new clients!

This is not the whole story though! It is also possible to run VQL queries on the server side! Similarly server side Velociraptor artifacts can be used to customize the operation of the server - without modifying any code or redeploying the server components.

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More on client event collection

Previously we have seen that Velociraptor can monitor client events using Event Artifacts. To recap, Event Artifacts are simply artifacts which contain event VQL queries. Velociraptor’s VQL queries do not have to terminate by themselves - instead VQL queries may run indefinitely, trickling results over time.

This post takes another look at event queries and demonstrates how these can be used to implement some interesting features.

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Velociraptor training at NZITF

We are very excited to run this full day training workshop at the New Zealand Internet Engineering Task Force (NZITF) conference.

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