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Tracking Red Hat/CentOS Authentication Scan Results

by Cesar Navas
June 13, 2019

To ensure the most complete information about the security posture of assets, organizations should use scans that make use of credentials. Scans that use credentials and successfully authenticate on a system (and run with Local Security Checks enabled) return a much more comprehensive set of data about the system. This Assurance Report Card (ARC) provides the ability to report and analyze authenticated scan results for Red Hat and CentOS systems.

When managing a large enterprise, problems often arise when verifying the validity of a vulnerability scan. Ensuring the Operating System is correctly identified so that the relevant checks can be run and that the system is properly authenticated can be challenging. For example, some hosts may have invalid credentials, valid credentials but insufficient privileges, or connectivity issues. Through the use of Dynamic Assets, Tenable.sc is able to group devices together for a comparative analysis.  Using the ARC, Tenable.sc provides advanced analysis capabilities to facilitate and easily distribute this functionality to organizations.   

This ARC presents a series of policy statements which together can be used to troubleshoot, fix, and verify authenticated scan results. The policy statements are grouped so that the analyst can focus on issues related to OS Detection, Authentication Errors, and Authentication Success. The first 5 policy statements relate to Operating System detection and OS detection confidence level. The first policy statement reports on systems that are scanned by Nessus that are running SSH servers. The next policy statement helps identify systems running SSH where identifying the Operating System was not possible. Examine these systems so that these systems can be properly identified and then authenticated. The next two policy statements indicate the OS detection confidence level of systems running SSH where the Operating System was identified. The fifth policy shows those systems that were identified as CentOS or Red Hat.

The next 3 policy statements help isolate various types of authentication-related issues on CentOS or Red Hat systems. The first two of these policy statements helps identify CentOS or Red Hat systems with authentication issues. The next policy statement provides analysts with a clear view of systems with successful credentials that may still have authentication problems.

Finally, the last policy statement shows those systems identified as CentOS or Red Hat with successful authentication, with local checks enabled, and without authentication errors.

This ARC is available in the Tenable.sc feed, a comprehensive collection of dashboards, reports, Assurance Report Cards, and assets. The ARC can be easily located in the Tenable.sc feed under the Compliance category. The ARC requirements are as follows:

  • Tenable.sc 5.8.2
  • Nessus 8.2.2

This ARC provides the organization with clear and simplified method to identify Red Hat and CentOS systems for analysis.  By first Discovering the systems running SSH Servers from the scanned devices, the ARC can then assess the operating systems of the targets to ensure the devices are running Red Hat or CentOS.  Then, the data is Analyzed for proper authentication, which facilitates the Fix and Measuring steps to the Cyber Exposure Lifecycle.  Tenable.sc is the On-Prem solution for understanding a comprehensive picture of the network, while keeping the data under the organization’s control. Built on leading Nessus technology, Tenable.sc discovers unknown assets and vulnerabilities, and monitors unexpected network changes before they turn into breaches.

ARC Policy Statements

1. Number of systems scanned found to be running SSH: This policy statement displays a ratio number of the systems running SSH compared to the total number of systems scanned. Compliance for this policy statement is Any matching the policy.

2. OS Detection - Linux: Systems running SSH where OS Linux detection was not successful: This policy identifies systems that were scanned and found to be running a SSH server, but for some reason the Operating System was not discovered. Systems that match this policy should be investigated for misconfiguration, valid login credentials, or for proper identification as a CentOS or Red Hat computer. Compliance for the policy is No matching systems.

3. OS Detection - Linux: Less than 6% of Systems running SSH where OS LInux detection confidence level was less than 95: This policy identifies systems that were scanned and found to have a SSH server, however, to a degree, Nessus was not confident of the operating systems. The matching systems are most likely running a version of Linux, but the version could be new or the authentication could have been invalid. Systems matched by this policy should be investigated for misconfiguration, valid login credentials, or for proper identification as a CentOS or Red Hat computer. Compliance for the policy is less than 6% matching systems, which allows for new systems that are found to be on the network.

4. OS Detection - Linux: Greater than 94% of Systems running SSH where OS Linux detection confidence level was greater than 94.: This policy identifies systems that were scanned and found to be running a SSH server. Nessus is confident of the identified operating system. The matching systems are running a version of Linux. Compliance for the policy is greater than 94% matching systems.

5. OS Detection - CentOS/Red Hat: Systems with Operating System identified as CentOS or Red Hat: This policy statement displays a ratio number of the systems identified as CentOS or Red Hat compared to the total number of systems scanned.  Compliance for this policy is Any matching the policy.

6. Authentication Errors: Systems identified as CentOS or Red Hat with No authentication attempts recorded: This policy identifies systems where no authentication was attempted. This could mean no suitable protocol was presented to Nessus, no credentials were available for the operating system, or another issue is present. These systems should be investigated and special attention should be paid to how the operating system was detected and what condition exists that prevents proper authentication attempts. Compliance for the policy is No matching systems.

7. Authentication Errors: Systems identified as CentOS or Red Hat and Authentication Failures: This policy identifies systems where the operating system is correctly identified as CentOS or Red Hat, however, the credentials provided with the scan failed to allow Nessus to login correctly. Invalid credentials, incompatible protocol settings, or other similar problems could cause this issue. The vulnerability data collected on this system should be considered incomplete. This policy statement displays a ratio number of the systems so identified compared to the total number of CentOS or Red Hat systems. Compliance for the policy is No matching systems.

8. Authentication Success: Systems identified as CentOS or Red Hat with Local Checks disabled: This policy provides a list of systems that have been successfully authenticated, however, local checks were not enabled. While these systems should be considered successfully authenticated, there could be missing vulnerability data. System administrators should investigate these systems for misconfiguration. This policy statement displays a ratio number of the systems so identified compared to the total number of CentOS or Red Hat systems with Local Checks enabled. Compliance for the policy is No matching systems.

9. Authentication Success: Less than 6% of Systems identified as CentOS or Red Hat with Local Checks Enabled & Errors: This policy provides a list of systems that have been successfully authenticated, however, there were recorded problems related to permissions or access to any number of resources. While these systems should be considered successfully authenticated, there could be missing vulnerability data. System administrators should investigate these systems for misconfiguration or possible insufficient privileges for the scan account. This policy statement displays a ratio number of the systems so identified compared to the total number of CentOS or Red Hat systems with Local Checks enabled. Compliance for the policy is less than 6% matching systems, which allows for new systems that are found to be on the network.

10. Authentication Success: Greater than 94% Systems identified as CentOS or Red Hat with Successful Authentication, Local Checks, and without Errors: This policy identifies the majority of CentOS or Red Hat systems on the network. Analysts can rely on the vulnerability data collected for these targets. Nessus was able to login and collect missing patches, compliance settings, and many other risk indicators based on the applied scan policies. Compliance for the policy is greater than 94% matching systems.

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