000026704 - Information regarding changes to RSA NetWitness NextGen appliances by customers

Document created by RSA Customer Support Employee on Aug 10, 2016Last modified by RSA Customer Support Employee on Apr 21, 2017
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Article Number000026704
Applies ToRSA Product Set: NetWitness
RSA Product/Service Type: NextGen
IssueInformation regarding changes to RSA NetWitness appliances by customers.
Resolution

This document provides information and guidance for those occasions when an organization's policy dictates the addition or modification of software on a NetWitness Appliance.



Examples:
An organizational policy stipulates that a security checklist (i.e. a "STIG") must be run on a NetWitness appliance and discovered issues must be exempted or corrected to meet security requirements.


  • An organizational policy stipulates that anti-virus software must be installed on a NetWitness Appliance
  • An organizational policy stipulates that a host-based firewall must be installed on a NetWitness Appliance
  • An organizational policy stipulates that regular, approved operating system patches must be installed on a NetWitness Appliance
  • An organizational policy stipulates that a NetWitness appliance must be joined to an Active Directory domain

 


Windows Appliances:


The NetWitness appliances running Windows Server run a hardened install of Windows.  This install includes the minimum required number of optional components and services required for operation of the appliance.  This is done for two reasons:


  • Performance: a lightweight system runs faster
  • Security: a limited number of services reduces the attack surface

For this reason it is recommended no 3rd-party software be installed on a NetWitness Windows appliance as it can make the appliance unstable, reduce performance or even make the appliance unusable.  Such failures are usually rectified with a complete software rebuild of the appliance.  It is recommended that no changes to the operating system or installed packages be made unless specifically directed to do so by NetWitness Support.


NetWitness Windows appliances have already been hardened but if you must run a security checklist against a NetWitness Windows appliance, backup the device first and carefully document and test each change as you make it so that you can easily back out the setting in the event it causes the appliance to malfunction or cease to operate.


Security policy may dictate the usage of Anti-Virus software.  This software is by nature very I/O intensive.  For this reason anti-virus software may need to be "tuned" with such changes as turning off any real-time scanning or at a minimum exempting NetWitness program and data folders which may contain hundreds of thousands of files.  Failure to properly tune or adjust anti-virus software may degrade performance to the point where the device is effectively unusable.


 Security policy may dictate the usage of HIDS or host-based firewall software.  This software can interoperate with NetWitness software provided it is configured properly.  It is important to note that any additional layer of network filtering will impact network performance.  Failure to exempt processes and operations from an active HIDS or open the appropriate ports and services on a host-based firewall can render the Windows appliance unusable or at a minimum impact performance.


Security policy may dictate that the Windows appliance be patched according to a regular schedule.  It is important to note that any optional packages should not be applied unless they are intended to address a specific failure.  It is also important to note that any major patches like service packs should not be installed without guidance from NetWitness Support.  Windows provides you with the ability to "back out" a patch as well as recording what patches were installed on what dates.  If a Windows appliance fails following a patch and reboot, the first troubleshooting step should be to roll back any changes made by patching the appliance.


Security policy may dictate that any Windows devices are joined to the organization's Active Directory domain.  Generally speaking, the act of simply joining the Windows appliance to a domain should not impact the functionality, stability or performance of the system. However, in most organizations, domain membership brings with it various centrally managed policies, which can have wide-ranging impacts on the functionality of core Windows and also 3rd party components. It is strongly recommended that if a Windows appliance must be joined to a domain, it should be placed in a dedicated OU and carefully tested to make sure that any policy settings enforced by the domain do not adversely affect the system. If issues are encountered, enabled policies should be disabled one-by-one until the offending policy is identified and removed from the policy set applied to the OU containing the Windows appliance.


 


A Note About STIGs and Informer


Many customers secure their computers with STIGs (Security Technical Implementation Guides).  These are freely-available security checklists published by the DoD.  One setting in particular will affect an Informer.


Setting the local "IUSR_Hostname" account to expire.  Windows Servers running the IIS Webserver use a local service account that is normally set to never expire.  STIGs may require that all accounts (local or otherwise) expire in line with the password policy of the server or domain (if attached to a domain).  If this setting is made, when the local IIS service account expires, functionality of the Informer website will be impacted immediately.  As an administrator of an Informer you may need to request a waiver to exempt the "IUSR_Hostname" account from this setting in order to keep Informer working properly.



 


GNU/Linux Appliances:


The NetWitness appliances running GNU/Linux run a very limited subset of the full GNU/Linux set of offerings.  This subset includes the minimum required number of packages required for operation of the appliance.  This is done for two reasons:


  • Performance: a lightweight system runs faster
  • Security: a limited number of services reduces the attack surface

For this reason, any changes to packages or the kernel will be released as part of a NetWitness software update.  Updating a Linux appliance outside of the normal NetWitness service release schedule can render an NetWitness appliance unstable, reduce performance or even make the appliance unusable.  Such failures are usually rectified with a complete software rebuild of the appliance.  It is recommended that no changes to the operating system or installed packages be made unless specifically directed to do so by NetWitness support.


 NetWitness GNU/Linux appliances have already been hardened but if you must run a security checklist against a NetWitness GNU/Linux appliance, backup the device first and carefully document and test each change as you make it so that you can easily back out the setting in the event it causes the appliance to malfunction or cease to operate.


 


Appendix: Excerpt from the NetWitness MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT SERVICES TERMS AND CONDITIONS


  EXCLUSIONS AND LIMITATIONS. NetWitness shall have no obligation to support:
(a) Altered, damaged or modified Software, Computer Equipment or Appliances;
(b) Software , Computer Equipment or Appliances that is not the current release or the most recent
previous release;
(c) Errors or other software or hardware problems caused by Licensee?s negligence, changes made by
any party (other than NetWitness), hardware malfunction, and/or other causes beyond the reasonable control of
NetWitness; or
(d) Software, Computer Equipment or Appliances installed in an operating or hardware environment
not supported or recommended by NetWitness.

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