Beeswarm - Week 3

Ah a lot to talk about this time! BeeSwarm's coming along very well indeed. There's much improved security, with respect to the communications between the BeeKeeper (the Web-UI) and the Hive/Feeder. Hive is the actual Honeypot, while the Feeder is a collection of clients which will attract traffic to the Honeypot.

The major part in the third week was to shift the web server to HTTPS. This is important because the data about the captured attacks will likely be sent over the same interface as the Honeypot, so there's always a chance that someone might be sniffing the traffic. Sending JSON data over plain HTTP would definitely be a dead give-away.

Basically, securing the web API consisted of the following major steps:

  • Changing the server, so that it uses SSL
  • Updating the clients so they communicate over SSL too
  • Since it's important to validate the data, it was also necessary to implement session support in the server/clients.

SSL Server

Prior to working on this, Beekeeper ran on gevent.wsgi.WSGIServer. This particular implementation doesn't support SSL. Initially, the plan was to use Gunicorn. However, I felt that such performance was not necessary here, since in all probability the Web-UI will be used by only a few people at a time. That's why we decided to keep things simple and use gevent.pywsgi.WSGIServer. Both use the same API, which meant that I had to make very few changes in the code itself. One major change was that I had to create a self-signed cert for the BeeKeeper. This created some difficulties. Since version 1.0.x, OpenSSL generates private keys using different headers than the previous version. Unfortunately, the pyOpenSSL wrapper doesn't yet support the functionality to convert between different PrivateKey formats. This means that the certificate has to be generated externally, before running the Beekeeper. It can be done this way:

$ openssl genrsa -des3 -out beekeeper.key 2048
$ openssl req -new -key beekeeper.key -out beekeeper.csr
$ openssl x509 -req -days 3650 -in beekeeper.csr -signkey beekeeper.key -out beekeeper.crt
$ openssl rsa -in beekeeper.key -out beekeeper.key

The interesting step is the last step, which is the one where the passphrase is removed from the key. This is the step that cannot be done in pyOpenSSL.

Anyway, the server finally did get going, and I next had to modify the clients so they worked over SSL.

SSL Clients

The python-requests library, which we're using in BeeSwarm has great SSL support, so I didn't think there would be a lot of problems with it. All I really had to do was store the certificate in the config file for the client (which would be a Hive or Feeder) and pass verify=True as an argument while making the request. I was wrong :) Actually, the problem didn't lie in the library, I just didn't understand the documentation well enough.

After creating the self-signed cert and key, my server worked well with the browser (I used Firefox/Chrome), however, it kept failing with EOF errors. At the same time, the client failed with an "unknown CA" error. The server was failing because the client refused to accept the certificate. Quite frankly, I had no idea how to get past this problem. It was then that my mentor (@johnnykv) pointed out that the cert was to be passed to the verify parameter, instead of just passing a Bool. After that, it was pretty smooth sailing, and the client and it worked like a charm :)


Another major functionality that was implemented in week 3 was a Login mechanism for the Hive/Feeders. The idea was that each client must login to the Beekeeper before transmitting any data. This means that the data should only be accepted from trusted sources.

This part was not very hard to implement actually. it was done by adding a new User into the database every time a new Hive/Feeder was created. The user ID would be the same as the UUID used for the Hive/Feeder, while the password was another, randomly generated UUID. This time, I had to use requests.Session which would handle the cookies and other session business.

I had originally planned to merge the posts for weeks 3 & 4, but since this has become so long, I guess I'll have to split it anyway. Expect another long post tomorrow!