Friday, 5 October 2012

The Carbon Black Test Drive

 Many of the readers of this blog have most likely heard of Carbon Black by now. Carbon Black describes its product as "the world’s first ‘surveillance camera’ for computers". Carbon Black highlights five key elements that it can monitor which are

1. A record of execution
2. A record of files system modifications
3. A record of registry modifications
4. A record of new outbound network connections
5. A copy of every unique binary executed

We're all aware that antivirus and signature based detection methods are no longer keeping up with the huge amount of samples produced every day. Carbon Black recently posted an article called Second AV Study Reveals Small Window For Catching New Malware which caught my eye. The article highlights that using multiple AV products provides better ability to detect a malicious sample which makes sense to me. The article highlights that running multiple AV on a workstation is obviously a nightmare so instead they developed a plugin which uploads binaries to VirusTotal to leverage multiple AV.

Based on the above I thought that it might be time to download the trial and better understand what this tool could do. Although there are some amazing articles written on Carbon Black, see links below, nothing is better than getting hands on with the tool. Signing up for the trial was quick and easy and before I knew it I had downloaded the CB server and installed. Upon logon I was presented with the following screen.

My test lab is fairly unsophisticated in its approach but it should be enough to get a solid understanding of what CB can do. The next step for me was to create the client package so that I could install this on my Win XP test machine. As you can see from the screenshot its very simple, you hit the 'generate' button and before you know it you have your client. I installed this on my machine and within minutes I started to see results within my console.

Carbon Black offers a number of plugins and some of which I've mentioned above. In particular I was most interested in the 'droppercheck', 'virustotal' and the 'autoruns' plugin. See the below screenshot.

Droppercheck was as simple to turn on as selecting the checkbox however the other plugins had a number of options to configure. Within minutes I had all the plugins that I wanted activated successfully.



Once the client was installed I thought the best way to test it was to start hitting sites listed on malware domain list and see that what samples I could download to my test workstation. After spending a few minutes hitting random URLs I managed to get a malicious binary to download to my test workstation.

Now that I had my malicious executable I was keen to understand what the virus total plugin had detected.  First I checked the summary of the virus total plugin. I could see some detections already

 I clicked on the infected binaries link and was presented with the following screen

Clicking on any of the links I could see the virus total results. I also checked the status of my virus total account and whether it listed the files that had been uploaded under API submissions and sure enough I had some results there also.

So from a virus perspective its safe to say that Carbon Black is providing a significant benefit to organisations. AV is far from perfect and its struggling to keep up with samples so to have the benefit of running your files against virus total automatically and having access to all of the autorun type registry keys I see as a huge advantage. Too often these days I see a huge amount of faith put in a tool that should automatically detect malicious activity based on signatures or patterns. I like that Carbon Black provides me with a means to access the information that is important to me or my employer. This also made me wonder what other information I could source from the tool. I knew that i'd run some SysInternal tools and I wondered what information I could find in regards to this.

I decided to look up *sysinternals* within the registry modifications search and the first three entries showed the MUI Cache entries for each of these tools.

As the links have highlighted below Carbon Black offers much more than just searching for malicious executables or an indication of persistance. Information that we typically wouldn't have access to until a forensic investigation is now available to us in the form of a easy and fast search option to confirm the state of our environment across our entire fleet.

I would be keen to understand the amount of bandwidth and storage to maintain this solution over long term for a large global organisation. I would consider that in comparison to SIEM type tools or full packet capture the footprint would be relatively small. Do any of you have some success stories in large environments?

Well I hope you gained something from this post. As always I'd be keen to hear anything from my readers in regards to their successes or issues with this tool.

Some other articles written on carbon black


  1. how did you get a free trial of carbon black? I am interested in trying it out.

    1. thanks for reading the post. I highly recommend you grab a trial of the product, if you register at the following location you'll get access to the trial software