The RSA NetWitness Platform 11.4 release provides new features and enhancements for every role in the Security Operation Center. The RSA NetWitness Platform 11.4 release delivers expanded platform-wide detection and analyst usability improvements to make it easier for analysts to find and respond to threats that target their enterprise, with improvements to Investigate functionality, expanded nodal visualization of incidents in Respond, and new distributed analyst user interfaces that can be deployed across multiple geographic locations to reduce latency.
The following sections are a complete list and description of enhancements to specific capabilities:
- Investigation - SIEM and Network Traffic Analysis
- NetWitness User and Entity Behavior Analytics
- Incident Response
- Health and Wellness (BETA)
- Endpoint Investigation
- Endpoint Configuration
- Broker, Concentrator, Decoder and Log Decoder Services
- Event Stream Analysis (ESA)
- Log Collection
- Administration and Configuration
- Upgrade Improvements
Streamlined Workflow to Analyze Events
The default workflow for analysts interacting with events is optimized to limit the need to transition from one view to another. By combining capabilities (highlights spelled out further in this document) that were previously in two distinct workflows, referred to as Event Analysis and Events, the analyst now has a single workflow for analyzing events. By default, the previous workflow is not in the Investigate menu, but an administrator can re-enable it if they desire a transitional period for existing analysts. For more information, see How NetWitness Investigate Works.
Text Search Filter in a Query
Analysts create filters and submit queries to limit the set of events being viewed. Usually this requires knowledge of meta keys; however, a text filter is useful when you have some idea of what you are looking for, but are not sure where to look (which meta key). The text filter initiates a case-insensitive search against all the data for meta keys that are indexed by value. As an example, if you are interested in looking for a file name, click in the query bar, type the complete text string, and click Text Filter. The text filter initiates a search against all the data in the index, within the services and time range being investigated, and returns exact matches to the text string.
The figure below illustrates the multiple ways for an analyst to search for a value. The use of a text filter requires no knowledge of the meta keys. Use of meta entities requires limited knowledge of several high level meta keys, while using a specific meta key associated to the value requires further knowledge of the available indices. For more information, see "Add a Text Filter to Find a Value Anywhere in the Data Set" in Filter Results in the Events View.
Auto-Suggestion of Meta Values While Constructing a Query
When constructing a query in the Events view query bar, knowing a meta value or the format of that meta value is not always intuitive. When analysts are typing a query, auto-suggestion of values helps them construct queries relevant to the data in their environment without requiring prior knowledge of the data. For more information, see "Build a Query in Guided Mode" in Filter Results in the Events View.
Query Profiles in the Events View
Analysts working in Investigate can refine results using column groups and filters in the query bar. When analysts find a column group or filter useful, they can save it as a query profile for reuse. To get started, beginning analysts can apply the built-in query profiles for common types of investigation. As they gain experience, analysts can create, edit, delete, and save custom query profiles. Both built-in profiles and custom profiles are globally available to all analysts. For more information, see Use Query Profiles to Encapsulate Common Areas for Investigation.
Custom Column Groups in the Events View
When analysts investigate and examine thousands of events, they can use and manage built-in or custom column groups to provide the desired results layout for specific investigation scenarios. Analysts can also manually select columns that identify patterns for certain types of investigation. Saving that set of columns as a custom column group makes it available for reuse. Custom column groups are available globally and editable by every analyst. For more information, see Use Columns and Column Groups in the Events List.
Sort Results in the Events List
Analysts viewing events in the Events view can sort events by selecting a sortable column and the direction of sorting. One use case is this: having retrieved a set of events that are sorted by default on collection time (meta key = time), analysts can sort by another column, for example, source IP address (meta key = ip.src) to determine which events had similar connections in the time range queried. For more information, see Use Columns and Column Groups in the Events List.
Use Recent Queries to Help with Query Construction in the Events View
As an aid to efficiency in constructing queries, analysts have access to recent queries in the Events view query bar. While typing a filter in the query bar, analysts see suggestions from a list of previous queries that may help to complete the construction of the query. The list is filtered as the analyst types to show the most relevant recent queries that include the typed text. Selecting a recent query adds it as a filter in the query bar, where the analyst can edit it if necessary. For more information, see "Insert a Filter Based on a Recent Query" in Filter Results in the Events View.
Find and Highlight Text in the Events List
When the result of a query provides too much data, analysts can find and highlight information without using filters to further limit the query and losing context of the surrounding events. Analysts can find and highlight characters in the Events list, and use keyboard strokes to move through the highlighted characters. For more information, see "Find a Text String in the Events Panel" in Analyze Events in the Events View.
Shorthand Notations, Numerical Ranges, and Parentheses While Constructing Complex Queries in Guided Mode
Auto-completion of filters in the query bar is enhanced to support shorthand such as numerical ranges (tcp.dstport=80-85), a query with multiple OR [ || ] operators using commas (src.port=0-1023, 1024-1050, 65535), and an IPv4 or IPv6 subnet (10.0.0.0/8) as a value. The use of mapped aliases (service = ‘http’) in place of their numerical values (service=80) is also supported. In previous versions, analysts had to enter this type of shorthand in Free-Form mode, without auto-completion, to help create valid, complex filters.
In addition, analysts can easily type or paste queries that contain parentheses, enclose several filters in parentheses, and delete parentheses while leaving the enclosed expressions in place. Parentheses are automatically balanced when you create and edit filters. For more information, see "The Version 11.4 Query Builder" in Filter Results in the Events View.
Download PCAPs, Metadata, and Logs in the Events View
Analysts can extract any subset of the Events list data and save it as evidence or for further investigations. Analysts can download the raw data (logs, packets) of any single event or multiple events. For more information, see Download Data in the Events View.
Event Meta Panel Layout
Analysts reviewing the metadata associated with results in the Events view can change the order of the metadata listed to find what they are looking for more easily. The layout of the list of metadata has been changed to be more intuitive, and metadata can optionally be grouped by the sequence in which they were generated or alphabetically. For more information, see "View Associated Metadata for an Event" in Analyze Events in the Events View.
Query Auto-Complete Indicates Meta Key Index Level
During the creation of a query, analysts are given further details on how metadata is defined in the indices so they know what types of queries can and cannot be executed. As part of the auto-completion menu in Guided Mode, indicators on the meta keys depict at what level the meta keys are indexed. For more information, see "Visual Feedback in Guided Mode" in Filter Results in the Events View.
Create and Edit Incidents from Investigate
When investigating in the Events view, analysts can add events from their query results to a new or existing incident. By adding up to 1000 events at a time this improved workflow keeps an analyst from traversing between Respond and Investigate to add evidence to an incident. For more information, see Add Events to an Incident in the Events View.
Advanced Analytics Using Network Data
UEBA supports network models that use network (packet) data to detect potential malicious traffic masked within a legitimate HTTPS session. Organizations can detect various network abnormalities such as abnormal outbound traffic volume sent to a specific port, domain, organization or SSL Subject.
A new TLS data source that supports two new entities, JA3 and SSL Subject, are introduced to detect anomalies that are classified into an alert type, that is data exfiltration or phishing.
Filtering Entities to Investigate
The UEBA user interface is enhanced for a better analyst experience for investigating user or network entities. Multiple filtering options for user or network entities enable analysts to narrow down their investigation.
Trending Data Support
On the dashboard, the analyst can now view the top trending data of entities. Trending data represents the increase in a user or network entity score in the last day or the last week.
Quick Sorting Options
New filters sort the Top Alerts data based on the entity type and the duration of data you want to view are introduced. For example, you can select, All Entities, Users, JA3 and SSL and view the data for the Last 24 Hours, Last 7 Days, Last Month or Last 3 Months.
Improved Pivoting Option from UEBA to Events
Multiple pivoting options are introduced for an analyst to investigate threats in detail by viewing raw events. Analysts are presented with the events that contributed to the indicator to make investigation easy. As an example, if you are interested in investigating a user, click on the name under the USER NAME column.
The details of the selected user is displayed in the Investigate > EVENTS view.
Nodal Graph Improvements
Nodal graph improvements in this release make it easier for an analyst to get an initial understanding of an incident with minimal effort.
The nodal graph now provides the following benefits to an analyst when responding to an incident:
- The nodal graph helps determine scope, commonalities, and outliers in a given dataset, which can be useful context for an analyst.
- In many cases, the initial nodal graph layout presents valuable insight without any interaction from the analyst.
- In cases where the initial layout does not give enough clarity or when an analyst wants to view things differently, a few nodal mouse-drag position adjustments along with the new nodal forces can provide a much faster method of exposing insightful relationships and clusters. Previously, an analyst could adjust the nodes manually to create a more readable structure, but that was very time consuming.
The following behaviors and characteristics are now part of the graph:
Entities of similar types tend to cluster together visually. Previously, all nodes were laid out evenly on the Nodal Graph panel regardless of entity type, relationship, or size.
Attributes and actions are better differentiated. Arrows that represent attributes ("as", "is named", "belongs to", and "has file") tend to be shorter than those representing actions ("call" and "communicates with").
- "Leaf nodes,” which are nodes that only have a single relationship to a single entity, have a stronger force between them, which tends to keep these nodes closer together. Previously, the equal forces resulted in many crossed relationships making it hard to tell which nodes had relationships with each other.
Disjointed graphs, such as clusters of entities and relationships that do not have connections with one another, are forced apart. Previously, disjointed graphs would bundle together making it seem like there were interactions among all nodes.
Dragged nodes are pinned in place. Double-click a node to unpin it and allow the forces to apply again to the node.
Alert Search Improvements
The Alerts List view (Respond > Alerts) displays a list of all alerts received by the Respond Server database in NetWitness Platform. Filtering by alert name is now improved. For example, if you want to use the filter to search for alerts generated by certain rules, instead of scrolling through a very long list of alert names to make your selections, you can now just start typing each alert name and select it. The alert names that you select are now the only names visible in the Filter panel, which makes it easier to see the alert names being filtered and to remove alert names.
Incident Search Improvements
Incidents List view (Respond > Incidents) filter improvements enable analysts to save time when searching for an incident. Analysts no longer have to type the "INC-" prefix when searching for an incident. To locate an incident, they can just type the incident number, such as "1050," instead of "INC-1050."
Improvements to Respond Email Notifications
Incident response email notifications now provide more relevant information to the users receiving the emails. After receiving an email notification, it is no longer necessary to log in to NetWitness Platform to determine if an incident was updated or created and who made the changes. Incident response email notifications are now more informative:
- You can differentiate easily between email notifications for created and updated incidents.
- You can see the Incident ID and Incident Name in the subject lines of email notifications for incident creation and updates.
- The body of the email notifications for incident creation and updates identify the user who created or updated the incident and shows the incident assignee.
Export and Import Incident Rules
You can now export and import incident rules from the Incident Rules view (Configure > Incident Rules). Exporting incident rules enables you to share incident rules with other NetWitness Servers on the same release version. The exported incident rules file is a ZIP file that contains two JSON files: one file contains the incident rules and the other file contains the incident rule schema. If necessary, advanced users can edit the incident rules in the exported ZIP file.
You cannot export Advanced incident rules; the export function only allows incident rules created using Rule Builder.
For more information, see the NetWitness Respond Configuration Guide.
Enable or Disable Multiple Incident Rules at the Same Time
To quickly enable or disable incident rules, SOC managers and analysts can now multi-select incident rules from the Incident Rules view (Configure > Incident Rules). Previously, you could only enable incident rules one at a time from within the incident rule details.
Access to Incidents Can Be Restricted
By default, all users with Respond view access can see all incidents, alerts, and tasks. If incident access is restricted, restricted users can only see their own incidents and the alerts and tasks associated with those incidents. Incident access restrictions are configured in the Admin > Security > Settings tab.
For more information on the specific restrictions this feature implements, see “Restrict Access to Incidents” in Step 2. Assign Respond View Permissions.
The Health and Wellness (BETA) feature is an advanced, robust, and a simplified solution for hosts and services monitoring, such as performance or resource utilization. Health and Wellness provides great visualizations and allows you to easily alert or notify anomalies on critical hosts and services in a large NetWitness deployment. For 11.4, you can only deploy Health and Wellness Search (BETA) on a dedicated, virtual host.
The following are the key benefits of Health and Wellness (BETA):
- Dashboards with interactive visualization.
- Easy-to-create customized content (visualization, alerts, dashboards, and so on).
- Alerts on your data and customize alert conditions.
Presentation of large volumes of metrics is simplified on the Kibana user interface (UI) which enables administrators to easily create dynamic Health and Wellness visualizations in real-time.
Built-in content, such as dashboards and interactive visualization, are available to quickly set up monitoring. For more information, see Monitor Health and Wellness Beta Using Kibana. Deployment instructions are in Health and Wellness (BETA for Standalone Virtual Host Only).
Please direct any Health and Wellness Beta feedback to email@example.com.
Isolate Infected Hosts from Network
Analysts can perform advanced investigation on a potentially suspicious host and control the spread of an attack by isolating the host from the network. Analysts can safely investigate the malware behavior on the host while the threat may still be active. In the isolated state, all events are reported to the Endpoint Server, retaining full visibility into activities on the host. For more information, see Isolating Hosts from Network.
Advanced Forensic Investigation
If a host is suspicious, analysts can download the Master File Table (MFT) from a suspicious host for advanced forensic investigations, such as searching for files that are created during an attack time frame and searching for files based on the file name pattern, without logging in to the host. Analysts can also download suspicious files within MFTs for further analysis.
For forensic investigation of suspicious processes on a host, the analyst can download the process or system dump. For more information, see Performing Host Forensics.
Usability Enhancements for Process Analysis
For an easier and more intuitive analyst workflow, the process viewer is enhanced to provide more context, such as associated events, hosts on which the process is present, and risk details. Analysts can view risk score, event type (network, file, or registry), process execution details, and file properties for each node.
To reduce the clutter, analysts can narrow down the child processes by event type and select the required processes for further analysis. For more information, see Investigating a Process.
Usability Enhancements for Host Aggregation
For easier and more intuitive analyst workflow, host aggregation for files is enhanced so the analyst can sort or filter on the On Hosts column and view the number of hosts on which the file is present. If a file is present on fewer hosts, it may need further investigation.
The Active On Column is renamed to On Hosts in Host views and the Files view.
For more information, see Investigating Files.
Support of Additional REST APIs
To enhance Security Orchestration Automation and Response capabilities and to integrate NetWitness Endpoint with third-party applications, new APIs are introduced to request system dump download, process dump download, and for network isolation. For more information, see the API User Guide for RSA NetWitness Platform.
Filters in Host Details
With the extensive list of files that have no filtering options, analysis results in a cumbersome user interface and takes more time than required. For faster file analysis, analysts can narrow down files within the host details using filters, such as file or process name, file status, reputation, signature, and risk score. For more information, see Investigating Hosts.
Support for Automatic File Download
Files are automatically downloaded for analysts to perform deeper analysis and identify any suspicious files. The automatic download is based on the configuration in the policy where you can limit the number of the files by allowing only the files matching criteria to be downloaded. By default, only a single copy of the file (unsigned) and files lesser than 1 MB are downloaded. For more information, see Create Groups and Policies.
Endpoint Agent Log File Collection
The agent now supports collection of File Logs (from event sources that use File Collection as a collection protocol), with Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) capabilities and Windows Log Collection. This is the recommended way for collecting logs from the supported event source types, allowing centralized management. Switching to this collection method from SFTP is a simple, straightforward process, described in Replace Windows SFTP Agents. The SFTP Agent is still supported, but it will be deprecated in the future.
For a list of currently supported event source types, see Supported File Log Event Source Types.
Support for New Operating System Versions in Endpoint Agent
In addition to the operating system versions supported in 11.3, the agent now supports the following operating systems:
- macOS 10.15 Catalina
- CentOS 8.x
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.x
- Windows 10 version 1909
For more information, see the NetWitness Endpoint Agent Installation Guide.
Berkeley Packet Filters (BPF) Supported for 10G Environments
You can now use Berkeley Packet Filters that are already implemented on Decoders in 10G environments for better control over which packets and logs are processed specifically for high-speed packet capture. For more information, see (Optional) Configure System-Level (BPF) Packet Filtering and Configure 10G Capability.
IPv4 Index CIDR Range Optimization
Core Database indexes for IPv4 data types automatically index CIDR Ranges for the common /8, /16, and /24 subnet sizes. Query operations that search for these types of CIDR ranges are now significantly faster.
Gain Visibility into HTTP/2 Sessions
You can search for metadata items derived from headers in the HTTP/2 stream to gain visibility into HTTP/2 sessions. For more information, see HTTP Parsers.
Added the Ability to Remove Sensitive Meta Keys from all Alert Output for Data Privacy
For data privacy reasons, you can now remove some sensitive meta keys from all alert output globally, regardless of the data source. In the ESA Correlation service, you can add sensitive meta keys to the global-private-fields parameter, which removes them from the output of all alerts. For more information, see Remove Sensitive Meta Keys Globally from All Alerts for Data Privacy.
Esper Version Upgraded from Version 7.1.0 to 8.2.0
In NetWitness Platform version 11.4, ESA Correlation supports Esper version 8.2.0.
Export of Syslog RFC-5424 Logs Imported from the NetWitness Platform User Interface
The transport format, RFC-5424, is retained when saving the raw logs.
Because it is retained, you can replay these logs with the original source and collection context, allowing the NetWitness Platform to accurately reflect a log's true origin.
Log Stats Performance Improvements
The number of event source stats transmitted from a Log Decoder will drop as NetWitness prunes idle event sources in 11.4. Entries for these idle event sources will still appear in the Event Source Management tab, but will not affect storage nor access for logs.
Single Sign-On Authentication
For Admins to streamline authentication for NetWitness Platform, Single Sign-On is supported. NetWitness Platform supports Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) as an Identity Provider (IDP) and uses SAML 2.0 as the protocol for single sign-on. For more information, see Configure Single Sign-On.
With SSO, NetWitness users will not be asked every time to log in every time if they are successfully authenticated the first-time.
Configure Menu Improvements
Configure menu item adjustments benefit analysts and other RSA NetWitness Platform users:
- Respond Notifications is renamed to Incident Notifications because it only pertains to incident notifications.
- Live Content and Subscriptions are next to each other because subscriptions only refer to content that comes through Live.
Previous Configure sub-menu item order:
Live Content | Incident Rules | Respond Notifications | ESA Rules | Subscriptions | Custom Feeds | Log Parser Rules
New Configure sub-menu item order:
Live Content | Subscriptions | Incident Rules | Incident Notifications | ESA Rules | Custom Feeds | Log Parser Rules
Multiple NW-Server Support for Distributed Analyst User Interface (UI)
You can now deploy multiple NetWitness Platform UI instances for analyst purposes. These Analyst UI instances can be deployed to span across multiple Geographic locations. The feature helps reduce latency and improve performance as compared to accessing all functionality from the Primary UI on the NW Server Host.
You are able to provision and orchestrate an Analyst UI instance or host in the same manner as the other NetWitness component hosts.
Features and Limitations
Each Analyst UI host:
- Can be deployed to specific organizational groups. For example: the Americas, EMEA, APAC, Tier 1 Analysts, Tier 3 Analysts.
- If Analyst UI hosts are deployed regionally, you have the capability of querying those regional brokers directly (less latency), rather than having to route through the Primary UI.
- Helps distribute load off the Primary UI.
- Has its own Reporting Engine (RE).
- If it becomes unavailable for any planned or unplanned reason, it will not affect the Primary UI or any other Analyst UI instances.
- Provides the same pre-query filter verification, Data Privacy protection, and RBAC functionality as the Primary UI.
- Points back to the primary NW Server for authentication and configuration.
- Does not have access to any administrative functions. All administration functions take place on the Primary UI.
- Does not allow you to create or manage Content (that is, ESA rules, app rules, feeds). All Content creation and management takes place on the Primary UI.
Capability to Provide Silent NetWitness Installation
Administrators may need to automate installation of NetWitness so that they can quickly deploy environments. Now they can use the -silent command with the installation nwsetup-tui script to run the script without getting prompted for input. This enables them to automate the installation of a host by supplying responses to the scripts' prompts through the command line.
New Retention Optimized Log Hybrid Option
In 11.4, RSA has introduced a new Log Hybrid option (for the Series 6E Hybrid only) which optimizes retention by:
- Enabling compression for raw logs and meta.
- Enabling Decoder indexing, which eliminates the need for meta cache volume so it can be allocated for usable capacity.
- Consolidating multiple RAID groupings into a single RAID 6 configuration.
You can provision and orchestrate the Retention Optimized Log Hybrid in the same manner as the other NetWitness Hybrid hosts.
Capability to Deploy the NW Server on Series 6 Analytics Hardware (Formerly ESA Physical Host)
You now have the option to deploy the NW Server host on Series 6 Analytics hardware. The Series 6 Analytics Hardware has more memory and storage capacity than the standard Core appliance on which NW Server has typically been deployed. This results in better overall responsiveness and larger retention capacity for Report Engine.
Install Endpoint Server on Existing Log Decoder Host
You can install an Endpoint Server on an existing Log Decoder host in 11.4. For more information, see “Install an Endpoint Service Category on an Existing Log Decoder” under "Post Installation Tasks" in the Physical Host Installation: Post Installation TasksPhysical Host Installation: Post Installation TasksPhysical Host or Virtual Host Installation Guides.
Respond Service Normalization Scripts are Automatically Backed Up before being Refreshed After an Upgrade
Manual backups are no longer required for Respond service normalization script customizations. Respond normalization scripts are automatically backed up to the /var/lib/netwitness/respond-server/scripts.bak-<timestamp> directory, where <timestamp> is the time that the backup completed:
To prevent overwriting future customizations, custom normalization script files are available in NetWitness Platform 11.4 and later releases. If you have any customizations in the normalization files, you now add them to the normalization files with the “custom” prefix (custom_normalize_<alert type>.js):