File Analysis Framework

In the past, writing Zeek scripts with the intent of analyzing file content could be cumbersome because of the fact that the content would be presented in different ways, via events, at the script-layer depending on which network protocol was involved in the file transfer. Scripts written to analyze files over one protocol would have to be copied and modified to fit other protocols. The file analysis framework (FAF) instead provides a generalized presentation of file-related information. The information regarding the protocol involved in transporting a file over the network is still available, but it no longer has to dictate how one organizes their scripting logic to handle it. A goal of the FAF is to provide analysis specifically for files that is analogous to the analysis Zeek provides for network connections.

Supported Protocols

Zeek ships with file analysis for the following protocols: FTP, HTTP, IRC, Kerberos, MIME, RDP, SMTP, and SSL/TLS/DTLS. Protocol analyzers are regular Zeek plugins, so users are welcome to provide additional ones in separate Zeek packages.

File Lifecycle Events

The key events that may occur during the lifetime of a file are: file_new, file_over_new_connection, file_sniff, file_timeout, file_gap, and file_state_remove. Handling any of these events provides some information about the file such as which network connection and protocol are transporting the file, how many bytes have been transferred so far, and its MIME type.

Here’s a simple example:

 1event connection_state_remove(c: connection)
 2    {
 3    print "connection_state_remove";
 4    print c$uid;
 5    print c$id;
 6    for ( s in c$service )
 7        print s;
 8    }
10event file_state_remove(f: fa_file)
11    {
12    print "file_state_remove";
13    print f$id;
14    for ( cid in f$conns )
15        {
16        print f$conns[cid]$uid;
17        print cid;
18        }
19    print f$source;
20    }
$ zeek -r http/get.trace file_analysis_01.zeek
[orig_h=, orig_p=59856/tcp, resp_h=, resp_p=80/tcp]
[orig_h=, orig_p=59856/tcp, resp_h=, resp_p=80/tcp]

This doesn’t perform any interesting analysis yet, but does highlight the similarity between analysis of connections and files. Connections are identified by the usual 5-tuple or a convenient UID string while files are identified just by a string of the same format as the connection UID. So there’s unique ways to identify both files and connections and files hold references to a connection (or connections) that transported it.

File Type Identification

Zeek ships with its own library of content signatures to determine the type of a file, conveyed as MIME types in the file_sniff event. You can find those signatures in the Zeek distribution’s scripts/base/frameworks/files/magic/ directory. (Despite the name, Zeek does not rely on libmagic for content analysis.)

Adding Analysis

Zeek supports customized file analysis via file analyzers that users can attach to observed files. You can attach analyzers selectively to individual files, or register them for auto-attachment under certain conditions. Once attached, file analyzers start receiving the contents of files as Zeek parses them from ongoing network connections.

Zeek comes with the following built-in analyzers:

Like protocol parsers, file analyzers are regular Zeek plugins. Users are free to contribute additional ones via Zeek packages.

Per-file analyzer registration

To attach an analyzer to a specific file, call Files::add_analyzer with the analyzer’s component tag (such as Files::ANALYZER_MD5; consult the above analyzers for details). Some file analyzers support parameters that you can provide to this function via a Files::AnalyzerArgs record, while others introduce additional event types and tunable script-layer settings.

You can add multiple analyzers to a file, and add the same analyzer type multiple times, assuming you use varying Files::AnalyzerArgs parameterization. You may remove these selectively from files via calls to Files::remove_analyzer. You may also enable and disable file analyzers globally by calling Files::enable_analyzer and Files::disable_analyzer, respectively.

Generic analyzer registration

The framework provides mechanisms for automatically attaching analyzers to files. For example, the Files::register_for_mime_types function ensures that Zeek automatically attaches a given analyzer to all files of a given MIME type. For fully customized auto-attachment logic take a look at Files::register_analyzer_add_callback, and refer to base/frameworks/files/main.zeek for additional APIs and data structures.

Regardless of which file analyzers end up acting on a file, general information about the file (e.g. size, time of last data transferred, MIME type, etc.) is logged in files.log.

Protocol-specific state

Some protocol analyzers redefine the fa_file record to add additional state. For example, base/protocols/http/entities.zeek, which Zeek loads by default as part of the HTTP analyzer, makes the transaction’s HTTP::Info record available via f$http to provide HTTP context. As always, make sure to test the presence of optional fields via the a?$b record field operator before accessing them.


File hashing

The following script uses the MD5 file analyzer to calculate the hashes of plain text files:

event file_sniff(f: fa_file, meta: fa_metadata)
    if ( ! meta?$mime_type ) return;
    print "new file", f$id;
    if ( meta$mime_type == "text/plain" )
        Files::add_analyzer(f, Files::ANALYZER_MD5);

event file_hash(f: fa_file, kind: string, hash: string)
    print "file_hash", f$id, kind, hash;
$ zeek -r http/get.trace file_analysis_02.zeek
new file, FakNcS1Jfe01uljb3
file_hash, FakNcS1Jfe01uljb3, md5, 397168fd09991a0e712254df7bc639ac

File extraction

The following example sets up extraction of observed files to disk:

global idx: count = 0;

event file_new(f: fa_file)
    Files::add_analyzer(f, Files::ANALYZER_EXTRACT,
                        [$extract_filename=fmt("file-%04d", ++idx)]);

The file extraction analyzer now writes the content of each observed file to a separate file on disk. The output file name results from concatenating the FileExtract::prefix (normally ./extract_files/) and the enumerated file-NNNN strings.

In a production setting you’ll likely want to include additional information in the output, for example from state attached to the provided file record. The Zeek distribution ships with a starting point for such approaches: the policy/frameworks/files/extract-all-files.zeek script. For additional configurability, take a look at the file-extraction Zeek package.

Script-level content analysis

The FileDataEvent analyzer provides script-layer access to file content for customized analysis. Since observed files can be very large, Zeek cannot buffer these files and provide their entire content to the script layer once complete. Instead, the FileDataEvent analyzer reflects the incremental nature of file content as Zeek observes it, and supports two types of events to allow you to process it: user-provided stream events receive new file content as supplied by connection-oriented protocols, while chunk events receive observed data as provided by protocols that do not feature stream semantics.

The following example manually computes the SHA256 hash of each observed file by building up hash state and feeding streamed file content into the hash computation. When Zeek removes a file’s state (because it has fully observed it, or perhaps because its state is timing out), it prints the resulting hash to the console:

global hashstate: table[string] of opaque of sha256;

event file_stream(f: fa_file, data: string)
    if ( f$id !in hashstate )
        hashstate[f$id] = sha256_hash_init();

    sha256_hash_update(hashstate[f$id], data);

event file_new(f: fa_file)
    Files::add_analyzer(f, Files::ANALYZER_DATA_EVENT, [$stream_event=file_stream]);

event file_state_remove(f: fa_file)
    if ( f$id in hashstate )
        delete hashstate[f$id];

Be careful with this approach, as it can quickly prove expensive to route all file content through the script layer. Make sure to add the analyzer only for relevant files, and consider removing it via Files::remove_analyzer when you no longer require content analysis. For performance-critical applications a new file analyzer plugin could be a better approach.

Input Framework Integration

The FAF comes with a simple way to integrate with the Input Framework, so that Zeek can analyze files from external sources in the same way it analyzes files that it sees coming over traffic from a network interface it’s monitoring. It only requires a call to Input::add_analysis:

 1redef exit_only_after_terminate = T;
 3event file_new(f: fa_file)
 4    {
 5    print "new file", f$id;
 6    Files::add_analyzer(f, Files::ANALYZER_MD5);
 7    }
 9event file_state_remove(f: fa_file)
10    {
11    print "file_state_remove";
12    Input::remove(f$source);
13    terminate();
14    }
16event file_hash(f: fa_file, kind: string, hash: string)
17    {
18    print "file_hash", f$id, kind, hash;
19    }
21event zeek_init()
22    {
23    local source: string = "./myfile";
24    Input::add_analysis([$source=source, $name=source]);
25    }

Note that the “source” field of fa_file corresponds to the “name” field of Input::AnalysisDescription since that is what the input framework uses to uniquely identify an input stream.

Example output of the above script may be:

$ echo "Hello world" > myfile
$ zeek file_analysis_03.zeek
new file, FZedLu4Ajcvge02jA8
file_hash, FZedLu4Ajcvge02jA8, md5, f0ef7081e1539ac00ef5b761b4fb01b3

Nothing that special, but it at least verifies the MD5 file analyzer saw all the bytes of the input file and calculated the checksum correctly!