Tag Archives: MD5

Using Splunk to watch for new binaries

The method presented below can be used to track any log attribute in Splunk; this example demonstrates watching MD5 hashes of executed files and loaded modules.

I’ve enabled Process Auditing via the Group Policy Editor and configured WLS to provide MD5 hashes.


I also enabled the “ModuleMonitor” in WLS which tracks loaded modules by process


and configured it to provide MD5 hashes for these as well.


Now that we are receiving hashes for all executed files and loaded modules, let’s start tracking them in Splunk.

First we’ll need to create a lookup table, there are a few ways to do this, a quick way is simply:

| outputlookup md5tracker.csv

This will create an empty csv file named “md5tracker.csv”.


Next, we need to search for and add the desired data to the csv file. I like to preserve some of the metadata that WLS reports with each record for later use – avoid re-searching, etc.

index=windows MD5=* | dedup MD5 | lookup md5tracker.csv MD5 as MD5 OUTPUT FirstSeen as LookupFirstSeen | where NOT LookupFirstSeen LIKE “%” | eval FirstSeen=_time  | table FirstSeen, MD5, BaseFileName, CompanyName, FileDescription, FileVersion, InternalName, Language, Signed, Length | inputlookup md5tracker.csv append=t | dedup MD5 | outputlookup md5tracker.csv

OK, let’s break this down:

Find the desired records: index=windows MD5=*

Remove duplicates: dedup MD5

Lookup the MD5s in our lookup table, returning the date first seen: lookup md5tracker.csv MD5 as MD5 OUTPUT FirstSeen as LookupFirstSeen

Remove records that already exist (field will be non-null): where NOT LookupFirstSeen LIKE “%”

Preserve the time stamp as desired output field: eval FirstSeen=_time

Format the desired fields into a table: table FirstSeen, MD5, BaseFileName, CompanyName, FileDescription, FileVersion, InternalName, Language, Signed, Length

Bring all the old data in and append it: inputlookup md5tracker.csv append=t

Remove duplicates (just in case): dedup MD5

Write out the new + old data: outputlookup md5tracker.csv

After the first run, you should have the results from your chosen time period now stored in md5tracker.csv


You’ll want to save this search


and schedule it to run every x minutes for the last x minutes; I schedule mine for every 15 minutes.


Once this is complete you’ll now have a search that keeps your lookup table up-to-date. Now what?

What you do next depends on how closely you feel this needs monitored. I run a second search every x minutes that alerts on all new entries in the last x minutes (based on the FirstSeen) field.

| inputlookup md5tracker.csv | where now()-FirstSeen < 2200 | table FirstSeen, MD5, BaseFileName, CompanyName, FileDescription, FileVersion, InternalName, Language, Signed, Length

This simply take the entire table and selects all entries in the last 2200 seconds (2200 / 60 = 36.6 minutes) and formats the results into a table. I scheduled it to run every 35 minutes with some overlap time (hence 2200 instead of 2100).


I also like to take an export of the hashes every so often and check them against Team Cymru’s malware hash registry – https://hash.cymru.com/

| inputlookup md5tracker.csv | table MD5

Export the results from Splunk, open the file in a spreadsheet, and copy/paste them into Team Cymru’s lookup for a quick analysis. An enterprising person might also create a custom Splunk command that uses their DNS lookup service (https://www.team-cymru.org/Services/MHR/#dns) and puts the results into the lookup table itself…

I currently have 23,537 executable hashes and 131,885 module (dll, etc) hashes, and see a few new ones at most search intervals during normal business hours. After the initial gathering, the periodic alerts are easy to quickly review, and you’ll know everything that is running on your Windows hosts.


What is WLS?

The Windows Logging Service (WLS) is a Windows service that forwards your event logs, along with user defined contextual data, to your log server.

Each process execution log is augmented with:

  • Creator process name
  • Command line parameters

and optionally:

  • Any file metadata (attributes, MAC times, version, size, etc)
  • Digital signature flag
  • Entropy
  • Environmental variables (per process)
  • Hashes (MD5, RIPEMD160, SHA1, SHA256, SHA384, SHA512)
  • Zone

WLS can also log the following information to your log server:

  • Certificates
  • Devices
  • Drives
  • File system changes – including file metadata
  • Listening and connected ports, with associated process information
  • Loaded modules – including file metadata
  • Mutexes, semaphores, and other Windows objects
  • Named pipes
  • Optical media used
  • Performance counters
  • Registry changes
  • WMI information

I’ll cover the details of each of these features and configuration examples in upcoming posts, as well as provide example Splunk searches I use for day-to-day operations.

If you’d like more information on WLS, send me a note via the contact form. WLS is currently available to US entities, but does require a signed license agreement.