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I finally decided to put the Xcode project and associated source for pkviz up for free download and license it under GPL v3.

I’ve created a google code page for it HERE.

You can grab a stand alone zip of the source/project HERE.

(I’ve never used SVN before, so what’s up at the google code page might periodically be fubared, so you might want to start with the zip)

Feel free to download, comment, and please -contribute-. This was my first Objective-C app and first Xcode project, so if it’s a mess…well…deal or help? :)

Just remember the google code page if you want to post some updates or questions.

I’ve also made some haphazard notes to help people understand the code:

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The aquireData class handles reading the tcpdump text file. It uses Core Data to store the data. If I had to do it over, I wouldn’t have used Core Data…but it is what it is.  You can find the data model by double-clicking pkviz_DataModel under the Models folder in the project in Xcode.

pkGraphView is a subclass of NSView that I use to handle the layers, which are done in Core Animation (easy enough to understand). The view has a delegate function (drawLayer) which I handle in the layerDelegate class to deal with drawing the paths for each layer.

Everything else is handled by transformData – it’s pretty much my controller.

Rough flow:

the Load button tells aquireData to parse tcpdump and store in a core data context

The launch button kicks off transform data, which pulls in the data from the core data context, sticks it into an array, launches a thread to pop out individual packets, and then tells the view when it’s read to display another packet.  Everything else stops, starts, adjusts the current packet referenced, or aids this animation loop process.

The main array of packets in transformData is bytepakposSet.  It is an array of packet arrays. packet arrays contain arrays of bytes with 2 values in them: bytevalue, and byteposition

so, if you wanted to access the third packet in bytepakposSet and see what the byte value of the first byte stored is, you’d do:

[[[[bytepakposSet objectAtIndex:2] objectAtIndex:0] objectAtIndex:0] intValue];

if you wanted to get the byte value and position returned in an array:

[[bytepakposSet objectAtIndex:2] objectAtIndex:0]

Core Data doesnt return objects in order, so you dont know ahead of time what order the bytes are in the packet, youll have to sort them by position in packet first. You can find position:

[[[[bytepakposSet objectAtIndex:2] objectAtIndex:0] objectAtIndex:1] intValue];

In a bit of fun and interesting timing it turns out I’ll be going to flocon in New Orleans this January.

Since I’ve spent the past 2-3 years doing business risk and security architecture, national sector level strategy, policy, etc….but now find myself getting into the technical details of building a CERT (ICS-CERT, specifically)…it’s suddenly time to get more up to speed on flows and how people are using them these days (Especially since I’d previously spent most of my time with firewalls and IDS data and not netflow / SiLK stuff).

My work on and release of pkviz this past weekend has helped a bit to get me re-focused on data analysis and playing with correlation tools and methodologies, but I’m still finding it odd going back to my earlier technology-centric security role  – which I’d thought I’d given up.  My head space has to be completely different than it was and I have to work around what some have called my fatalistic belief that technical security measures and analysis are doomed to fail in the face of our complete lack of interest in doing business risk architectures.

What scares me a little, though, is when I’ve been talking to people and doing research lately, it seems the state of the art of IDS, Flows, SEMS, SIEMS, network data analysis, etc. hasn’t changed all that much in the past few years. More vendors have sold more products, but they still do the same (questionable) things it seems. What gives? Am I off base?

Still, I’m pretty excited to get back into this type of thing and about the con. Who’s going to be there?

Whew. I can relax.

For the past 2-3 months, I’ve been working on my first real Objective-C project (my iphone app is still going, it just took a back seat to this): An application that will read tcpdump output and animate the packets over time using their inherent byte / packet structure

And now…it’s up and in beta-ish quality. (Meaning it works, though some error checking and minor features arent quite where I want them.)

You can download it here for free: http://sintixerr.wordpress.com/pkviz-packet-visualizer-and-animator/

See it in motion here:

This project was important to me and has been a long time coming. I’ve wanted to write a packet visualizer since I first started working with data viz 5 or so years ago at NetSec and was using Advizor. That tool cost thousands of dollars per seat, didnt really animate (at least the way I needed), and only parsed CSV or databases. The free tools – like GnuPlot, just weren’t up to the task at all.

I also wanted something that could plot out data in interesting, pretty ways for some art projects I have in mind.

So, I originally started this time around on a quest to write a short python parser for tcpdump ascii hex output to put into <some generic viz tool> just to get started…but somehow I ended up writing a full-fledged visualizer (my first GUI project ever, I might add!). The learning process was a blast – I feel like I’m a much better coder for it – and I’ll be able to extend/expand on this to use for other art and security projects that are on my plate or are coming up.

I’m pretty excited about it. To see this finished through after years of whining to myself about it, procrastinating, and genuinely not having enough time, is pretty awesome. I’ve even already created a couple of cool shots that I’m happy to call “art” (granted, there is some photoshop processing here, but they’re both true to their originals!):

Anyway, Mac Users, check out the tool and let me know what you think!

About Me

Jack Whitsitt

Jack Whitsitt

National Cyber Security. Risk. Multi-Dimensional Rainbows. Maker of conceptual lenses. Artist. Facilitator. Educator. Past/Future Vagabond. Drinks Unicorn Tears.

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