Blogs & Stories

SpiderLabs Blog

Attracting more than a half-million annual readers, this is the security community's go-to destination for technical breakdowns of the latest threats, critical vulnerability disclosures and cutting-edge research.

ModSecurity Console: Purpose and Deployment

If you have more then 1 ModSecurity installation, you have undoubtedly run into issues with consolidating, analyzing and responding to alert messages. Yes, you can always reconfigure Apache to send its access/error logs through Syslog onto a remote, central logging server however the data being forwarded is a very small subset of the entire transaction. It is only a warning message and not enough information to conduct proper incident response to determine if there was a false positive or if it was a legitimate attack. In order to determine this information, you need access to the ModSecurity Audit log files. Unfortunately, the original "Serial" format of the audit log was multi-line with all records held within one file. This made remote logging difficult. What was really needed was to have a mechanism to send logs onto a centralized logging host made specifically for processing ModSecurity Alert data. This is the purpose of the ModSecurity Console.

Although you can deploy the ModSecurity Console on the same host that is running ModSecurity, the recommended solution is to deploy the Console on a stand-alone server and then reconfigure your various ModSecurity hosts to send their logs across the network to the Console. This provides two benefits:

1) Management of the audit logs is centralized and thus makes analysis easier, and
2) If the web server were to be compromised, the audit logs would not be held locally where an attacker could delete them.

There are essentially 3 components that need to be configured and working correctly for this deployment to work:

1) The Console itself must be up and running and have profiles setup for each Sensor.
2) The ModSecurity configuration files on the individual installations must have the proper Audit logging directives configured, and
3) The modsec-auditlog-collector.pl script must be configured with the correct information.

The following steps will show you how to set these all up.

STEP 1: Install the Console software on the central log host
Follow the installation steps outlined in the README.txt file that comes with the software. Once you have installed the ModSecurity Console software on your logging host, you should then log into the web interface. Let's say that the Console host has an IP address of - You should then login by going to - You will then get a Basic Auth login popup box. Login with "admin" as username and "admin" as password.

STEP 2: Create sensor profiles
You need to create Sensor profiles on the ModSecurity console. The term Sensor simply means a remote installation of ModSecurity. The Sensor profile is created to uniquely identify the incoming audit logs from each other and to optionally implement password/IP access controls. Click on the "Sensors" link at the top of the Console page and then click on the "Add Sensor" button. Next, fill in the appropriately Sensor Details such as Sensor Name, IP Address, Sensor Password and then click on Submit. You need to remember this information when you are editing the modsec-auditlog-collector.pl script on each Sensor host. Let's say for this sensor, the IP Address is, Username is alpha1 and the Password is sensor1.

STEP 3: Reconfigure the Audit Directives on each Sensor to use Concurrent Logging
The next step is to update a few of the audit directives in the configuration file of the individual ModSecurity installs.

Edit these directives so they look like this -

SecAuditEngine RelevantOnly SecAuditLogRelevantStatus "^(?:5|4\d[^4])" SecAuditLogType Concurrent SecAuditLogParts ABCDEFGHZ SecAuditLogStorageDir /path/to/apache/logs/data/ SecAuditLog /path/to/apache/logs/audit.log

STEP 4: Test local concurrent logging
Once this is configured, you should restart Apache, send a few requests that will trigger a ModSecurity rule and then check the SecAuditLog file for the new, concurrent data. The format should look something similar to this - - - [15/Jul/2005:11:56:52 +0100] "POST /form.php HTTP/1.1" 403 3 "" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.7.8)  Gecko/20050511 Firefox/1.0.4" G3yTd38AAAEAAAM7BLwAAAAA "-" /20050715/20050715-1156/20050715- 115652-G3yTd38AAAEAAAM7BLwAAAAA 0 1031 md5:dc910f6d647d47b32ae6e47326f0ca42

The bolded section of the log entry is the location of the individual audit log file under the SecAuditLogStorageDir location. If you then looked at the following location - /path/to/apache/logs/data/20050715/20050715-1156/20050715-
115652-G3yTd38AAAEAAAM7BLwAAAAA - you would find the entire audit log record. Once you have confirmed that Concurrent logging is working correctly in local mode, the next step is to setup the modsec-auditlog-collector script with the correct information.

STEP 5: Update the modsec-auditlog-collector.pl script
You can download the modsec-auditlog-collector.pl code from within the web interface of the ModSecurity Console. Once you are logged in, click on the "About" link and then use "this Perl script" link. Once you download the script, you should upload it to your ModSecurity host and place it in the /path/to/apache/bin/ directory. You then need to do the following:

1) Chmod the script to make sure that it is executable by Root.
2) Verify that the path to Perl is correct in the script.
3) Edit the following lines within the script -

my $CONSOLE_URI = "/rpc/auditLogReceiver"; my $CONSOLE_HOST = ""; my $CONSOLE_PORT = "8886"; my $CONSOLE_USERNAME = "alpha1"; my $CONSOLE_PASSWORD = "sensor1";

It is important that you specify the correct IP address for your ModSecurity Console host and that you also specify the correct Sensor Username and Password that you created within the ModSecurity Console. If any of this information is not correct, the modsec-auditlog-collector.pl script will not successfully tranfer the audit log files. After updating the modsec-auditlog-collector.pl script, the next step is to update one of the ModSecurity audit directives again.

STEP 6: Update the SecAuditLog Directive
Edit the ModSecurity configuration file once again and edit the SecAuditLog directive like this -

SecAuditLog "|/path/to/apache/bin/modsec-auditlog-collector.pl \ /path/to/apache/logs/data/ /path/to/apache/logs/audit.log"

What this is doing is using the "|" piped log feature to send the audit log data directly to the modsec-auditlog-collector.pl script. It also has two arguments, the first one being the path to the directory location specified by SecAuditLogStorageDir and the original SecAuditLog file that holds the audit log meta-data. Once you have updated this this directive, you should then restart Apache.

STEP 7: Testing Remote Logging
The final step is to verify that the remote ModSecurity Sensor will now send its Concurrent audit log data to the central Console. In order to do this, you should send another request to the ModSecurity Sensor that will trigger one of the Core Rules. This will then result in an audit log being created, passed to the modsec-auditlog-collector.pl script and then sent across the network to the Console.

In the Console, you should see the remote audit log file show up under the "Alerts" page in the Console. You can then click on the alert file link for all of the details.

Hopefully, this information will assist ModSecurity users with deploying their ModSecurity Consoles.