Scenario: The internet use policy at your organization doesn't block any websites. Your CEO prefers to treat employees like responsible adults. Nevertheless, you are concerned about employees accidentally accessing malicious websites that can damage your network. You want to monitor internet usage for traffic to new domains on the hypothesis that never-before-seen domains are the ones most likely to pose a threat. You are concerned about attacker-controlled domains that are hubs for command and control communications and for data exfiltration.
How Splunk software can help
You can use Splunk software to establish baselines and lookup tables of the domains typically accessed by your network users. You can then construct searches to compare daily usage against those baselines and alerts to notify you of anomalies.
What you need
To succeed in implementing this use case, you need the following dependencies, resources, and information.
The best person to implement this use case is a director of security operations or security analyst who is familiar with DNS data and proxy data. This person might come from your team, a Splunk partner, or Splunk onDemand Services.
Setting up searches and alerts using Splunk software to monitor for connections to new domains can take less than a half-hour.
The following technologies, data, and integrations are useful in successfully implementing this use case:
- Splunk Enterprise or Splunk Cloud
- Data sources onboarded
- DNS data
- Proxy data
How to use Splunk software for this use case
You can run many searches with Splunk software to monitor for connections to new domains. Depending on what information you have available, you might find it useful to identify some or all of the following:
- New domains accessed by network users
- Baseline of domains accessed by network users
- Typosquatting clicks on a network
- Algorithmically generated domain names
- DNS tunneling through randomized subdomains
- Uncommon top level domains
- DNS queries to randomized subdomains
- HTTP GET requests
The following procedures can also help you achieve the results you want with your data:
Other steps you can take
To maximize their benefit, the how-to articles linked in the previous section likely need to tie into existing processes at your organization or become new standard processes. These processes commonly impact success with this use case:
- Establishing internet usage policies
- Configuring firewalls
- Creating blocklists and allowlists
These additional Splunk resources might help you understand and implement this use case:
- Conf Talk: Real-time asset discovery and identity attribution using Splunk
- Blog: Detecting dynamic DNS domains in Splunk
- White paper: Operationalize machine learning to find malicious domains
How to assess your results
Measuring impact and benefit is critical to assessing the value of security operations. The following are example metrics that can be useful to monitor when implementing this use case:
- Malicious domains identified: The number of domains alerted on that posed a threat