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Manual Chapter: Integrating ASM with Database Security Products
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Integrating ASM with Database Security Products

Overview: Integrating ASM with database security products

You can deploy Application Security Manager™ (ASM) with database security products, such as IBM® InfoSphere® Guardium® to increase security visibility, receive alerts about suspicious activity, and prevent attacks. When integrated with database security, ASM™ provides information about each HTTP request and database query to the database security product's logging and reporting system. This allows the database security system to correlate the web transaction with the database query to make a security assessment of the transaction.

Before you can integrate ASM with a database security product, the database security server itself must have been configured, and be accessible from ASM. On the BIG-IP ®system, you specify the host name or IP address of the database security server. Then, you enable database security integration for one or more security policies that are set up to protect web application resources.

When using database security, Application Security Manager monitors web application traffic and sends information about the users, the requests, and the reporting events to the database security server. The following figure shows an example of how ASM can integrate with the IBM InfoSphere Guardium Database Activity Monitoring Appliance.

Integrating ASM with external database security example

Integrating ASM with external database security example

The security policy can get user names from requests using login pages configured from within ASM, or the policy can retrieve the user names from Access Policy Manager® (APM). This implementation describes how to integrate with an external database security server using login pages.

When using login pages for the application, you define the URLs, parameters, and validation criteria required for users to log in to the application. User and session information is included in the system logs so you can track a particular session or user. The system can log activity, or block a user or session if either generates too many violations.

Task Summary

Creating a security policy automatically

Before you can create a security policy, you must perform the minimal system configuration tasks including defining a VLAN, a self IP address, and other tasks required according to the needs of your networking environment.
Application Security Manager™ can automatically create a security policy that is tailored to secure your web application.
  1. On the Main tab, click Security > Application Security > Security Policies .
    The Active Policies screen opens.
  2. Click the Create button.
    The Deployment wizard opens to the Select Local Traffic Deployment Scenario screen.
  3. For the Local Traffic Deployment Scenario setting, specify a virtual server to use for the security policy.
    • To secure an existing virtual server that has no security policy associated with it, select Existing Virtual Server and click Next.
    • To create a new virtual server and pool with basic configuration settings, select New Virtual Server and click Next.
    • To create an active but unused security policy, select Do not associate with Virtual Server and click Next. No traffic will go through this security policy until you associate it with a virtual server. The Policy Builder cannot begin automatically creating a policy until traffic is going to ASM through the virtual server.
    The virtual server represents the web application you want to protect.
    The Configure Local Traffic Settings screen opens if you are adding a virtual server. Otherwise, the Select Deployment Scenario screen opens.
  4. If adding a virtual server, configure the new or existing virtual server, and click Next.
    • If creating a new virtual server, specify the protocol, name, virtual server destination address and port, and pool member IP address and port.
    • If using an existing virtual server, it must have an HTTP profile and cannot be associated with a local traffic policy.
    • If you selected Do not associate with Virtual Server, you will have to manually associate the security policy with a virtual server at a later time. On the policy properties screen, you need to specify a name for the security policy.
    The name of the virtual server becomes the name of the security policy.
    The Select Deployment Scenario screen opens.
  5. For Deployment Scenario, select Create a policy automatically and click Next.
    The Configure Security Policy Properties screen opens.
  6. If not associating a virtual server, in the Security Policy Name field, type a name for the policy.
  7. From the Application Language list, select the language encoding of the application, or select Auto detect and let the system detect the language.
    Important: You cannot change this setting after you have created the security policy.
  8. If the application is not case-sensitive, clear the Security Policy is case sensitive check box. Otherwise, leave it selected.
    Important: You cannot change this setting after you have created the security policy.
  9. If you do not want the security policy to distinguish between HTTP and HTTPS URLs, clear the Differentiate between HTTP and HTTPS URLs check box. Otherwise, leave it selected.
  10. Click Next.
    The Configure Attack Signatures screen opens.
  11. To configure attack signatures, move the systems used by your web application from the Available Systems list into the Assigned Systems list.
    The system adds the attack signatures needed to protect the selected systems.
  12. For the Signature Staging setting, verify that the default option Enabled is selected.
    Note: Because the Real Traffic Policy Builder® begins building the security policy in Blocking mode, you can keep signature staging enabled so you can check whether legitimate traffic is being stopped to reduce the chance of false positives.
    New and updated attack signatures remain in staging for 7 days, and are recorded but not enforced (according to the learn, alarm, and block flags in the attack signatures configuration) during that time.
  13. Click Next.
    The Configure Automatic Policy Building screen opens.
  14. For Policy Type, select an option to determine the security features to include in the policy.
    Option Description
    Fundamental Creates a security policy enforcing HTTP protocol compliance, evasion techniques, explicit file types (including length checks), explicit parameters in selective mode at the global level, attack signatures, the violation Request Length Exceeds Defined Buffer Size, host names, header lengths, cookie lengths, the violation Failed to Convert Character, and learn explicit redirection domains.
    Enhanced Creates a security policy with all the elements of the Fundamental policy type; also checks for explicit URLs in selective mode plus meta characters, explicit parameter length checks in selective mode at the global level, methods, explicit cookies, and content profiles.
    Comprehensive Creates a security policy with all the elements of the Enhanced policy type; also checks for explicit URLs and meta characters, explicit parameters and lengths at the URL level, parameter meta characters, and dynamic parameters.
    A bulleted list on the screen describes which security features are included in each type.
  15. For Rules, move the slider to set the Policy Builder learning speed.
    Option Description
    Fast Use if your application supports a small number of requests from a small number of sessions; for example, useful for web sites with less traffic. However, choosing this option may present a greater chance of adding false entities to the security policy.
    Medium Use if your application supports a medium number of requests, or if you are not sure about the amount of traffic on the application web site. This is the default setting.
    Slow Use if your application supports a large number of requests from many sessions; for example, useful for web sites with lots of traffic. This option creates the most accurate security policy, but takes Policy Builder longer to collect the statistics.
    Based on the option you select, the system sets greater or lesser values for the number of different user sessions, different IP addresses, and length of time before it adds to the security policy and enforces the elements.
  16. For Trusted IP Addresses, select which IP addresses to consider safe:
    Option Description
    All Specifies that the policy trusts all IP addresses. For example, if the traffic is in a corporate lab or preproduction environment where all of the traffic is trusted, the policy is created faster when you select this option.
    Address List Specifies networks to consider safe. Fill in the IP Address and Netmask fields, then click Add. This option is typically used in a production environment where traffic could come from untrusted sources. The IP Address can be either an IPv4 or an IPv6 address.
    If you leave the trusted IP address list empty, the system treats all traffic as untrusted. In general, it takes more untrusted traffic, from different IP addresses, over a longer period of time to build a security policy.
  17. If you want the security policy to automatically detect JSON and XML protocols, select the JSON/XML payload detection check box.
    If requests contain legitimate XML or JSON data, the Policy Builder creates content profiles in the security policy according to the data it detects.
  18. If you want to display a response page when an AJAX request does not adhere to the security policy, select the AJAX blocking response behavior check box.
  19. Click Next.
    The Security Policy Configuration Summary opens where you can review the settings to be sure they are correct.
  20. Click Finish to create the security policy.
    The Automatic Policy Building Status screen opens where you can view the current state of the security policy.
ASM™ creates the virtual server with an HTTP profile, and on the Security tab, Application Security Policy is enabled and associated with the security policy you created. A local traffic policy is also created and by default sends all traffic for the virtual server to ASM. The Policy Builder automatically begins examining the traffic to the web application and building the security policy (unless you did not associate a virtual server). The system sets the enforcement mode of the security policy to Blocking, but it does not block requests until the Policy Builder processes sufficient traffic, adds elements to the security policy, and enforces the elements.
Tip: This is a good point at which to test that you can access the application being protected by the security policy and check that traffic is being processed by the BIG-IP® system.

Creating login pages

In your security policy, you can create a login page to specify a login URL that presents a site that users must pass through to gain access to the web application. The login URL commonly leads to the login page of the web application.
  1. On the Main tab, click Security > Application Security > Sessions and Logins .
    The Login Pages List screen opens.
  2. In the Current edited policy list near the top of the screen, verify that the edited security policy is the one you want to work on.
  3. Click Create.
    The New Login Page screen opens.
  4. For the Login URL setting, specify a URL that users must pass through to get to the application.
    1. From the list, select the type of URL: Explicit or Wildcard.
    2. Select either HTTP or HTTPS based on the type of traffic the web application accepts.
    3. Type an explicit URL or wildcard expression in the field.
      When you click in the field, the system lists URLs that it has seen, and you can select a URL from the list. Or, you can type explicit URLs in the format /login, and wildcard URLs without the slash, such as *.php.
  5. From the Authentication Type list, select the method the web server uses to authenticate the login URL's credentials with a web user.
    Option Description
    None The web server does not authenticate users trying to access the web application through the login URL. This is the default setting.
    HTML Form The web application uses a form to collect and authenticate user credentials. If using this option, you also need to type the user name and password parameters written in the code of the HTML form.
    HTTP Basic Authentication The user name and password are transmitted in Base64 and stored on the server in plain text.
    HTTP Digest Authentication The web server performs the authentication; user names and passwords are not transmitted over the network, nor are they stored in plain text.
    NTLM Microsoft LAN Manager authentication (also called Integrated Windows Authentication) does not transmit credentials in plain text, but requires a continuous TCP connection between the server and client.
  6. In the Access Validation area, define at least one validation criteria for the login page response.
    If you define more than one validation criteria, the response must meet all the criteria before the system allows the user to access the application login URL.
    Note: The system checks the access validation criteria on the response of the login URL only if the response has one of the following content-types: text/html, text/xml, application/sgml, application/xml, application/html, application/xhtml, application/x-asp, and application/x-aspx.
  7. Click Create to add the login page to the security policy.
    The new login page is added to the login pages list.
  8. Add as many login pages as needed for your web application.
  9. In the editing context area, click Apply Policy to put the changes into effect.
The security policy now has one or more login pages associated with it.
You can now configure how the login pages are enforced, including the authentication URLs, logout URLs, and whether or not the login pages have time limits.

Enforcing login pages

Login enforcement settings prevent forceful browsing attacks where attackers gain access to restricted parts of the web application by supplying a URL directly. You can use login enforcement to force users to pass through one URL (known as the login URL) before being allowed to display a different URL (known as the target URL) where they can access restricted pages and resources. Login enforcement settings specify how the security policy enforces login pages including the expiration time, authenticated URLs, and logout URLs. You can also use authenticated URLs to enforce idle time-outs on applications that are missing this functionality.
  1. On the Main tab, click Security > Application Security > Sessions and Logins > Login Enforcement .
    The Login Enforcement screen opens.
  2. If you want the login URL to be valid for a limited time, set Expiration Time to Enabled, and type a value, in seconds.
  3. For the Authenticated URLs setting, specify the target URLs that users can access only by way of the login URL:
    1. In the Authenticated URLs field, type the target URL name in the format /private.php (wildcards are allowed).
    2. Click Add to add the URL to the list of authenticated URLs.
    3. Repeat to add as many authenticated URLs as needed.
  4. Optionally, use the Logout URLs setting to specify the URLs used to log out of the web application:
    1. In the Logout URLs field, type the URL in the format /logout.html (explicit URLs only).
    2. Click Add.
    3. Repeat to add as many logout URLs as needed.
  5. Click Save to save your settings.
  6. To put the security policy changes into effect immediately, click Apply Policy.
If you specify authenticated URLs and a user tries to bypass them, the system issues the Login URL bypassed violation. If a user session is idle and exceeds the expiration time, the system now issues the Login URL expired violation, and the user can no longer reach the authenticated URLs. For both login violations, if the enforcement mode is blocking, the system now sends the Login Page Response to the client (see Application Security > Blocking > Response Pages ).

Configuring a database security server

To integrate Application Security Manager™ (ASM) with a third-party database security product, you need to configure the database security server on ASM™. You can configure one database security server per system.
  1. On the Main tab, click Security > Options > Application Security > Integrated Services > Database Security .
    The Database Security screen opens.
  2. Specify the database security server by typing either its Server Host Name or its Server IP Address.
    Only one of the two fields is required.
    Note: If using SSL to establish a secured session between the BIG-IP ®system and the database security server, type the IP address of a virtual server configured for the secure connection. The virtual server uses any open IP address for the destination, the IBM Guardium port (16016, by default) for the service port, serverssl or a customized profile for the SSL Profile (Server) setting, and specifies a default pool (containing one member, the database security server, using its IP address and service port, typically, 16016).
  3. For Server Port Number, type the port number of the database server.
    The default value is 16016, the port used by IBM® InfoSphere® Guardium.®
  4. If you want the system to wait for an ACK response from the database security server before sending the request to the application server, from the Request Hold Timeout list, select Enabled and type the number of milliseconds to wait for the response.
    The default value is 5 milliseconds.
    When this setting is enabled, the system forwards the request to the application server as soon as the database security server sends an ACK, or when the timeout has passed. If you leave this setting disabled, the system forwards the request to the application server immediately.
  5. Click Save.
    The system saves the configuration settings.
The Application Security Manager is now configured to connect to the database security server.
For ASM to forward request data to the database security server, you next need to enable database security integration in one or more security policies.

Enabling database security integration in a security policy

Before you can enable database security integration, you need to have created a security policy to protect your web application. For the policy to retrieve the user names of those making requests, you need to create login pages in Application Security Manager™ (ASM).
You enable database security integration in a security policy so that Application Security Manager (ASM™) forwards request information to a third-party database server.
  1. On the Main tab, click Security > Application Security > Integrated Services > Database Security .
    The Database Security screen opens.
  2. In the Current edited policy list near the top of the screen, verify that the edited security policy is the one you want to work on.
  3. Select the Database Security Integration check box.
  4. For User Source, select Use Login Pages to have the system use an ASM login page to determine the user source.
    If there is no login page configured in the security policy, click the login pages link to open a popup screen where you can add one.
  5. Click Save.
    The system saves the configuration settings.
The Application Security Manager connects to the database security server and can forward request data about traffic to it.

Implementation result

You have set up a BIG-IP® system to use Application Security Manager™ (ASM) to secure application traffic and use login pages to check user credentials.

Client traffic is routed to the virtual server for the web application. ASM™ analyzes the request and checks for security violations. ASM also verifies user credentials on the login page and sends the database security server a request notification. When ASM receives an acknowledgment from the database security server or the request hold timeout is over, ASM forwards traffic that meets the security policy requirements to the application.

The database security server includes the application and user information provided by ASM, so it can be viewed in logs and reports on that system. The database security server can perform a more in-depth security assessment of the web request.

If you want to review reports and event logs that associate the user name with the session information on the BIG-IP system, you can set up session tracking (by enabling session awareness). When session awareness is enabled, you can see the user names on the Event Logs: Application: Requests screen in the General Details section of specific requests. In addition, the Reporting: Application: Charts screen displays the users who sent the illegal requests.

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