My TOP 5 Security (and techie) talks from Splunk .conf 2015

indexIf you are into Security and didn’t have an opportunity to attend the Splunk conference in Las Vegas this year (maybe you’re busy playing Blackjack instead?), here’s what you can not miss.

The list is not sorted in any particular order and, whenever possible, entries include presenters’ Twitter handles as well as takeaways or comments that might help you choose where to start.

  1. Security Operations Use Cases at Bechtel (recording / slides)
    That’s the coolest customer talk from the ones I could watch. The presenters (@ltawfall / @rj_chap) discussed some interesting use cases and provided a lot of input for those willing to make Splunk their nerve center for security.
  2. Finding Advanced Attacks and Malware with Only 6 Windows EventIDs (recording / slides)
    This presentation is a must for those willing to monitor Windows events either via native or 3rd party endpoint solutions. @HackerHurricane really knows his stuff, which is not a surprise for someone calling himself a Malware Archaeologist.
  3. Hunting the Known Unknowns (with DNS) (recording / slides)
    If you are looking for concrete security use case ideas to build based on DNS data, that’s a gold. Don’t forget to provide feedback to Ryan Kovar and Steve Brant, I’m sure they will like it.
  4. Building a Cyber Security Program with Splunk App for Enterprise Security (recording / slides)
    Enterprise Security (ES) app relies heavily on accelerated data models, so besides interesting tips on how to leverage ES, Jeff Campbell provides ways to optimize your setup, showing what goes under the hood.
  5. Build A Sample App to Streamline Security Operations – And Put It to Use Immediately (recording)
    This talk was delivered by Splunkers @dimitrimckay and @daveherrald. They presented an example on how to build custom content on top of ES to enhance the context around an asset, which is packed to an app available at GitHub.

Now, in case you are not into Security but also enjoy watching hardcore, techie talks, here’s my TOP 5 list:

  1. Optimizing Splunk Knowledge Objects – A Tale of Unintended Consequences (recording / slides)
    Martin gives an a-w-e-s-o-m-e presentation on Knowledge Objects, unraveling what happens under the hood when using tags and eventtypes. Want to provide him feedback? Martin is often found at IRC, join #splunk and say ‘Hi’!
  2. Machine Learning and Analytics in Splunk (recording / slides)
    If you are into ML and the likes of R programming, the app presented here will definitely catch your attention. Just have a quick look on the slides to see what I mean. A lot of use cases for Security here as well.
  3. Beyond the Lookup Glass: Stepping Beyond Basic Lookups (recording)
    Wanna know about the challenges with CSV Lookups and KV store in big deployments? Stop here. Kudos to Duane Waddle and @georgestarcher!
  4. Splunk Search Pro Tips (recording / slides)
    Just do the following: browse the video recording and skip to around 30′ (magic!). Now, try not watching the entire presentation and thank Dan Aiello.
  5. Building Your App on an Accelerated Data Model (recording / slides)
    In this presentation, the creator of the ubberAgent@HelgeKlein – describes how to make the most of data models in great detail.

Still eager for more security related Splunk .conf stuff? Simply pick one below (recordings only).

For all presentations (recordings and slides), please visit the conference website.

Splunk > Self-Learning Path & The Community Factor

Splunk is gaining tremendous traction in the market due to its ability to harness the value of machine data. The idea here is to highlight a few reasons for such success: free-access and community driven approaches.

Being familiar with the ways in which knowledge can be freely attained is a great advantage. Coupled with your curiosity, pretty much nothing more is needed to become an independent learner these days.

Below you will find the main references I’ve been using to learn Splunk and get up to speed with this great technology.

Splunk Platform: Free, Easy Access

Splunk provides free access to its flagship product, Splunk Enterprise. Users evaluating the product can also get a free, perpetual license. That means no initial costs for installing and evaluating most of its primary capabilities.

For developers, there is also a developer license which enables up to 10GB a day for data indexing.

TLDR? Just hit Play!

Besides the excellent Just Ask campaign, the following short videos help showing Splunk’s benefits:

Are you looking for more technical stuff, easy to follow and digest? Below is a YouTube playlist with demo-like lessons available from Splunk’s channel:

Besides, if you are an Infosec pro, don’t forget to check the current Security related apps at the portal. Aside from that, below you will find a few videos that might trigger inspiration for further research and ideas:

Q&A Forum, IRC and Wiki

The Splunk Answers forum is really an important knowledge base, and here’s why:

  • The discussions are around questions and answers, so entries tend to be clear and narrowed to a specific topic, often times matching an issue you are currently facing;
  • Not only Splunk team members provide answers. It’s common to get responses from partners and, of course, the whole Splunk community, including end-users;
  • Script/Code as well as images are allowed for easier understanding of a question or an answer. Top contributors are also awarded with points and badges to promote users interaction;
  • There is a sort of rating to answers, so users can also rely on that for choosing where to start.

I was also surprised when I joined the IRC channel as several Splunk staff members (PS, Devel, Support) take part in the discussions there. Sometimes the answer not found via documentation, or a bug report might well be the subject of a quick chat.

Besides that, there is, of course, a Splunk Wiki! As it applies to other examples listed here, it’s also community driven so anyone is able to add and edit content.

Documentation Portal

Splunk provides a well organized documentation portal, which serves as a quick reference guide (e.g., search commands) and also enables you to learn about more advanced topics such as Distributed Deployment, or the Common Information Model Add-on Manual.

Also, there are some dedicated tutorials available such as the Search Tutorial. I am listing below some doc bookmarks that I am constantly querying on:

It’s worth noting most areas from the documentation portal are provided with a Comments section, from which the answer for your issue might be found, so always keep an eye on that.

UPDATE 9-Mar-15: Also, don’t forget to bookmark Splexicon, a documentation reference that defines technical terms that are specific to Splunk. Definitions include links to related information from the Splunk documentation.

Cheatsheets

For those Splunk Ninjas pros out there who love having those neat docs around, there are some cool versions available for Splunk as well. Some of them are listed below:

The Community Factor: BIG Win!

The community engagement is a huge win in respect to knowledge sharing and as a business strength. Simply setting up a web forum doesn’t enable community integration. In my opinion, here are some of the great initiatives Splunk has been carrying out to accomplish that:

Missing something? Just let me know so I can add them here as well.