Manual Chapter : Integrating ASM with Database Security Products

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  • 17.0.0
Manual Chapter

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.

Creating a simple security policy

Before you can create a security policy, you must perform the minimal system configuration tasks required according to the needs of your networking environment.
You can use Application Security Manager to create a robust, yet simple, security policy that is tailored to protect your web application. This is the easiest way to create a security policy.
  1. On the Main tab, click
    Application Security
    Security Policies
    Policies List
    The Policies List screen opens.
  2. Click
    Create New Policy
    You only see this button when no policy is selected.
  3. In the
    Policy Name
    field, type a name for the policy.
  4. Leave
    Policy Type
    , set to
  5. For
    Policy Template
    , select
  6. For
    Virtual Server
    , click
    Configure new virtual server
    to specify where to direct application requests.
    1. For
      What type of protocol does your application use?
      , select
      , or both.
    2. In the
      Virtual Server Name
      field, type a unique name.
    3. In the
      HTTP/HTTPS Virtual Server Destination
      field, type the address in IPv4 (
      ) or IPv6 (
      ) format, and specify the service port.
      If you want multiple IP addresses to be directed here, use the
    4. In the
      HTTP/HTTPS Pool Member
      setting, specify the addresses of the back-end application servers.
    5. If you have chosen HTTPS protocol, in the
      SSL Profile (Client)
      field, select clientssl to enable the
      HTTP/2 Profile (Client)
    6. If you have chose HTTPS protocol, in the
      SSL Profile (Server)
      field, select serverssl to enable the
      HTTP/2 Profile (Server)
    7. From the
      Logging Profile
      list, select a profile such as
      Log illegal requests
      to determine which events are logged on the system.
  7. In the upper right corner, click
    You can use default values for the Advanced settings but it's a good idea to take a look at them.
    • If you selected
      for the
      Policy Template
      Learning Mode
      is set to
      Enforcement Mode
      is set to
      If you need to change these values, set application language to a value other than
      Auto detect
    • If you know the
      Application Language
      , select it or use
      Unicode (utf-8)
    • To add specific protections (enforcing additional attack signatures) to the policy, for
      Server Technologies
      , select the technologies that apply to the back-end application servers.
    • You can configure trusted IP addresses that you want the security policy to consider safe.
  8. Click
    Create Policy
    to create the security policy.
ASM creates a security policy that immediately starts protecting your application. The enforcement mode of the security policy is set to Blocking. Traffic that is considered to be an attack such as traffic that is not compliant with HTTP protocol, has malformed payloads, uses evasion techniques, performs web scraping, contains sensitive information or illegal values is blocked. Other potential violations are reported but not blocked.
The system examines the traffic to the web application making suggestions for more specifically building the security policy. The Policy Builder selectively learns new entities like file types, parameters, and cookies used in requests to the application. When ASM processes sufficient traffic, it automatically adds the entities to the security policy, and enforces them.
The system applies a basic set of attack signatures to the security policy and puts them in staging (by default, for 7 days). If you specified server technologies, additional attack signatures are included. ASM reports common attacks discovered by comparison to the signatures but does not block these attacks until the staging period is over and they are enforced. That gives you a chance to be sure that these are actual attacks and not legitimate requests.
This is a good point at which send some traffic to test that you can access the application being protected by the security policy and check that traffic is being processed correctly by the BIG-IP system. Send the traffic to the virtual server destination address.

Creating login pages manually

Before you can create a login page manually, you need to be familiar with the login URL or URLs the application the security policy is protecting.
In your security policy, you can create a login page manually 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.
You can also have the system create login pages automatically by selecting
Detect login pages
on the Learning and Blocking Settings screen.
  1. On the Main tab, click
    Application Security
    Sessions and Logins
    The Login Pages List screen opens.
  2. In the
    Current edited security policy
    list near the top of the screen, verify that the security policy shown is the one you want to work on.
  3. Click
    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:
    2. Select either
      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
      , and wildcard URLs without the slash, such as
      Wildcard syntax is based on shell-style wildcard characters. This table lists the wildcard characters that you can use so that the entity name can match multiple objects.
      Wildcard Character
      All characters
      Any single character.
      Exactly one of the characters listed.
      Any character not listed.
      Exactly one character in the range.
      Any character not in the range.
      Note that wildcards do not match regular expressions.
  5. From the
    Authentication Type
    list, select the method the web server uses to authenticate the login URL's credentials with a web user.
    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.
    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.
    JSON/AJAX Request
    The web server uses JSON and AJAX requests to authenticate users trying to access the web application through the login URL. For this option, you also need to type the name of the JSON element containing the user name and password.
  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.
    The system checks the access validation criteria on the response according to the content-type of the login URL. Supported content-types are text/*, application/x-javascript, application/sgml, application/xml, application/x-asp, application/x-aspx, application/xhtml+xml, application/json, application/x-shockwave-flash. You can use the internal parameter
    to add supported content-types.
  7. Click
    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. They are included in the Login Pages List.
You can use the login pages you created for login enforcement, brute force protection, or session awareness.

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 indicates how the security policy implements login pages including an optional expiration time, a list of URLs that require authentication to get to, and a list of URLs used to log out of the application. You can also use authenticated URLs to enforce idle time-outs on applications that are missing this functionality.
  1. On the Main tab, click
    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
    , and type a value, in seconds (1-99999) that indicates how long the session will last.
    If enabled, the login session ends after the number of seconds has passed.
  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 (Wildcards supported)
      field, type the target URL name in the format
      (wildcards are allowed).
    2. Click
      to add the URL to the list of authenticated URLs.
    3. Repeat to add as many authenticated URLs as needed.
  4. Click
    to save your settings.
  5. To put the security policy changes into effect immediately, click
    Apply Policy
If you specify authenticated URLs and a user tries to access them, bypassing the login URL (specified in a Login Page), the system issues the
Login URL bypassed
violation. If a user session is idle and exceeds the expiration time, the system issues the
Login URL expired
violation, logs the user out, and as a result, 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
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
    Application Security
    Integrated Services
    Database Security
    The Database Security Configuration screen opens.
  2. In the
    Server Host Name/IP Address
    field, type the host name or IP address of the database security server.
    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,
    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
    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
    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 ASM forwards request information to a third-party database server.
  1. On the Main tab, click
    Application Security
    Integrated Services
    Database Security
    The Database Security screen opens.
  2. In the
    Current edited security policy
    list near the top of the screen, verify that the security policy shown is the one you want to work on.
  3. If you haven't configured your database security server, click the link in the message and do that now.
  4. Select the
    Database Security Integration
    check box.
  5. 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.
  6. Click
    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.