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InfoQ Homepage News NCC Group Dissect Aims to Scale Incident Response to Thousands of Systems

NCC Group Dissect Aims to Scale Incident Response to Thousands of Systems


Developed at Fox-IT, part of NCC Group, Dissect is a recently open-sourced toolset that aims to enable incident response on thousands of systems at a time by analyzing large volumes of forensic data at high speed, says Fox-IT.

Dissect comprises various parsers and file formats implementations that power its target-query and target-shell tools, providing access to forensic artifacts, such as Runkeys, Prefetch files, Windows Event Logs, etc. Using Dissect you can, for example, build an incident timeline based on event logs, identify anomalies in services, perform incident response, and more.

Before being open-sourced, Dissect has been used for over 10 years at Fox-IT for a number of large organizations. This explains its focus on analyzing complex IT infrastructures:

Incident response increasingly involves large, complex and hybrid IT infrastructures that must be carefully examined for so-called Indicators of Compromise (IOCs). At the same time, victims of an attack need to find out as quickly as possible what exactly happened and what actions should be taken in response.

At its core, Dissect is built on top of several abstractions, including containers, volumes, filesystems, and OSes. This layered architecture, where each layer can operate independently from the others, provides the foundations for analysis plugins, which include OS-specific plugins such as Windows event logs or Linux bash, as well as more generic ones, like browser history or filesystem timelining.

An important detail is that, by default, we only target the “known locations” of artifacts. That means that we don’t try to parse every file on a disk, but instead only look for data in the known or configured locations.

Dissect's main benefits, according to Fox-IT, are speed, which makes it possible to reduce data acquisition that previously required two weeks down to an hour, and flexibility, which makes it almost data format and OS-agnostic. Dissect aims indeed to simplify the task of accessing a container, extracting files, and use a specific tool to parse them for forensic evidence by providing a unique tool covering all of these usages.

Dissect workhorse is the already mentioned target-query tool, which makes it possible to retrieve information from a target, including basic attributes like its hostname, OS, users, as well as more in-depth information like file caches, registry, shellbags, runkeys, USB devices, and more. If you prefer a more interactive approach, you can use target-shell which is able to launch a shell running on your target to quickly browse an image or access some Python API provides by Dissect.

Dissect can be installed running pip install dissect or run using Docker. If you want to have some data to play around with, you can use NIST Hacking case images.

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