EGI CSIRT:Security challenges

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Security challenges: what is it about ?

The goals of the security drills are:

  • to investigate whether sufficient information is available to be able conduct an audit trace as part of an incident response, and to ensure that appropriate communications channels are available.
  • to assess the incident response capabilities of the involved security teams.
  • to evaluate the efficiency of the various incident response operations aiming at containment.
  • trigger and improve the collaboration of the full incident response chain, involving security teams from the RCs, NGIs, EGI, VOs and CAs.

FedCloud-SSC Scenario: Vulnerable VM / Stolen Credentials

A common problem in the Cloud Environment is that users may choose insecure (default) configuration for services they install or introduce other vulnerabilities which then get exploited by automated attacks constantly targeting all systems connected to the internet.

Scenario: Stolen Credentials

A common problem in distributed environments is that user credentials get compromised resulting in an illicit usage of the resources.

This might happen in course of brute force attacks on weak passwords, lost/stolen hardware, phishing, or as a result of an earlier incident, where this data got harvested by the attacker. In addition, we rather often see in the Cloud environment, that users may choose insecure (default) configuration for services they install or introduce other vulnerabilities which then get exploited by automated attacks constantly targeting all systems connected to the internet.

Stolen or bruteforced (ssh) credentials in distributed environments carry the additional risk that these incidents can spread out out rapidly affecting multiple resource centres in multiple countries. Therefore proper access management is crucial in incident response. In EGI access to the resources is usually controlled based on x509 certificates.

x509 access management can happen on different levels, each action has a certain delay until it takes effect and a certain scope.

  • Resource Center / Service level, immediately, bans the user at the RC/Service
  • Suspend DN at VOMS, up to 1 week, already issued voms-proxies remain valid, no new proxies will be issued. Scope VO wide, certificate could also be used within other VOs.
  • CA revokes certificate, takes effect when the new CRLs are loaded to the services, up to 48 hours, globally. Certificate will not be accepted at an service.
  • The FedCloud user management may not be fully integrated in the central suspension and therefore requires some manual intervention of the RC admins to make sure that the DN in question can not access the interfaces to start/stop/delete VMs.

Since suspending at RC resp. service level is immediately effective it is crucial, that the RC security teams as well as the VO security teams managing the access to their resources are trained to suspend a reported malicious certififcate DN on all of there systems, stop all running processes related to that DN, and to trace back a IP/VM to the controlling DN.

At the same time the state of the VM in question should be preserved for later investigations and further access to it suspended.

Security challenges: what is expected from sites ?

What is important to bear in mind ?

The sites contacted for a challenge are asked to follow the normal security incident response procedure, and react as if the incident was real, with the two following exceptions:

      1. No sanctions must be applied against the Virtual
         Organization (VO) that was used to submit the job / start the VM.
         In case of of 

      2. All "multi-destination" alerts must be addressed to
         the e-mail list which has been designated for the test:


         DO NOT use:

         for Security Service Challenges. Instead, insert the
         originally intended "multi-destination" address(es) in
         the body of your message.

Information to be gathered at the sites

For an initial response and first directions answers to the following questions might be useful.

- Are there any other suspicious connections open? If so to which IPs

- Is network monitoring data (e.g. netflows) available?
- Does the process belong to a batch job or an interactive login?

- From where was the login/job submission done?

- In case it is a Grid-Job, the following questions are important:
   -To which VO is the user/certificate affiliated?

   - Which grid-certificates (DN) are involved in this test-incident?
   # Example: DN-1: CN=John Doe, O=<SomeInstitute>,O=<Something>, ..."

- Since when were the jobs running?
# Example: YYYY:MM:DD hh:mm

- Trace back the job to the originating UI or WMS.

The sites should provide the security teams asap with this information at latest within one working day. The time needed to pass this information to EGI-CSIRT by replying to the alarm mail will be measured and evaluated. Replying to the alarm mail will automatically use the above sketched RTIR system.

What is the normal security incident response procedure?

This exercise will also test the current Incident Response Procedure, and here in particular step 5, which covers the aspects of incident response in a cloud environment.

Please try to follow this procedure where possible, and note/report any problems with it

           In case of doubt please contact: ssc-fedcloud(at)

More informations about EGI security procedures ( flowchart, formal document, forensic howto ... ) can be found here :

Please also visit our Forensic Howto wiki pages. If you want to contribute, just send your input to egi-csirt-team(at)

Evaluation - Report generation

We distinguish between

1) Measurable per site operations (with target times):

  1. initial feedback: 4h
  2. found malicious job/processes/stop them: 4h
  3. ban problematic certificate: 8h
  4. contain the malicious binary and sent it to the incident-coordinator: 24h

These will be measured by the ssc-monitor and the points the sites get are calculated according to the formula stated on the wiki page. Times are relative to the alarm to the site, we try to make sure that the alarms will be send during office-hours (09:00 - 18:00, local time). The target times might change, will be in the final version on the wiki page.

2) Collaborative investigations: Since we want to achieve cross site communication, and possibly collaboration on the "malware" forensics the evaluation schema has changed accordingly. I..e Network forensics are needed, but we don't measure this, since due to the overall SSC set-up, most of this information should already be available to the "more western" sites relative to the initially alarmed sites.

ban/unban of the pilot-job-submitter DN is based on local policies. It will not be measured, but a statement on the decision, whether to ban/unban the pilot-job-submitter or not, is expected.

Security challenge: how is it operated ?

Participating sites

# Format GOC-Name PANDA-Name NGI-NAME VO)
Taiwan-LCG2             ANALY_TAIWAN    APAC atlas
Australia-ATLAS         ANALY_AUSTRALIA APAC atlas
CA-SCINET-T2            ANALY_SCINET    ROC-CA atlas
TRIUMF-LCG2             ANALY_TRIUMF    ROC-CA atlas
CERN-PROD               ANALY_CERN  CERN atlas
CYFRONET-LCG2           ANALY_CYF   PL  atlas
praguelcg2              ANALY_FZU   CZ  atlas
DESY-HH                 ANALY_DESY-HH   DE atlas
FZK-LCG2                ANALY_FZK   DE atlas
GoeGrid                 ANALY_GOEGRID   DE atlas
HEPHY-UIBK              ANALY_HEPHY-UIBK    DE atlas
TUDresden-ZIH           ANALY_DRESDEN   DE atlas
UAM-LCG2                ANALY_UAM   SPAIN   atlas
pic                     ANALY_PIC   SPAIN   atlas
IFAE                    ANALY_IFAE  SPAIN   atlas
IFIC-LCG2               ANALY_IFIC  SPAIN   atlas
csTCDie                 ANALY_CSTCDIE IE atlas
IL-TAU-HEP              ANALY_IL-TAU-HEP IL atlas
INFN-ROMA1              ANALY_INFN-ROMA1    Italy atlas
INFN-T1                 ANALY_INFN-T1   Italy atlas
SARA-MATRIX             ANALY_SARA  NL atlas
LIP-Coimbra             ANALY_LIP-Coimbra P atlas
LIP-Lisbon              ANALY_LIP-Lisbon    P atlas
ITEP                    ANALY_ITEP RU atlas
JINR-LCG2               ANALY_JINR  RU atlas
RRC-KI                  ANALY_RRC-KI    RU atlas
RU-Protvino-IHEP        ANALY_IHEP  RU atlas
ru-PNPI                 ANALY_PNPI  RU atlas
ARC-SITE-SI    SI   atlas
ARC-SITE-CH       CH  atlas
ARC-SITE-liu-SE    SE atlas
ARC-SITE-umu-SE SE  atlas
IN2P3-LPSC              ANALY_LPSC  F   atlas


A framework has been developped to automate the operation of EGI security challenges.

The release of may 2011 contains: the panda framework for job submission, a prototype of the new EGI-CSIRT ticketing system based on RTIR.

The test malware is not intrusive, it does not try to get elevated priviledges.

More informations about the framework are given at security drills framework.

Post processing, clean up

As part of the incident handling, Grid authorizations may have been withdrawn from the DN that was used to submit the job. When the incident response procedure is complete, the test operator will explicitly request restoration of any such authorizations to their original state.


When the challenge has been completed on a representative number of Sites, the test operator will ask for de-briefing input from the participating Sites. Material submitted will be used to edit a report. The report will be circulated to the contributors for comments before being presented to the EGI-CSIRT.

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