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A plugin to connect apps via ZeroMQ.

Project description

Threat Bus App Plugin for ZMQ Protocol

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A Threat Bus plugin that enables communication with any application that can communicate via [ZeroMQ].

Installation

pip install threatbus-zmq

Configuration

The plugin uses ZeroMQ to communicate with applications, like vast-threatbus. The plugin serves three ZeroMQ endpoints to connect with. One endpoint for managing subscriptions (and thus snapshot requests). The other two endpoints exist for pub-sub operations.

...
plugins:
  zmq:
    host: "127.0.0.1"
    manage: 13370
    pub: 13371
    sub: 13372
...

Initially, apps that want to connect with this plugin only need to know the manage endpoint. The plugin and the app negotiate all other internals for pub-sub message exchange at runtime. See the protocol definition below for details.

Management Protocol

Subscriptions and unsubscriptions are referred to as management. All management messages are JSON formatted and exchanged via the manage ZMQ endpoint that the plugin exposes.

The manage endpoint uses the ZeroMQ Request/Reply pattern for message exchange. That means, all messages get an immediate response from the server. With each JSON reply, the zmq Threat Bus plugin sends a status field that indicates the success of the requested operation.

Subscribe at the Plugin

To subscribe to Threat Bus via the zmq plugin, an app needs to send a JSON struct as follows to the manage endpoint of the plugin:

{
  "action": "subscribe",
  "topic": <TOPIC>,       # either 'threatbus/sighting' or 'threatbus/intel'
  "snapshot": <SNAPSHOT>  # number of days for a snapshot, 0 for no snapshot
}

In response, the app will either receive a success or error response.

  • Error response:

    {
      "status": "error"
    }
    
  • Success response:

    {
      "topic": <P2P_TOPIC>,
      "pub_port": 13371,
      "sub_port": 13372,
      "status": "success",
    }
    

    The pub_port and sub_port of the reply provide the port that an app should connect with to participate in the pub/sub message exchange. A connecting app can access these ports following the ZeroMQ Pub/Sub pattern. The plugin will publish messages on the pub_port and accept messages on the sub_port.

    The topic field of the response contains a unique topic for the client. That topic must be used to receive messages. The unique topic is a 32 characters wide random string and guarantees that other subscribers won't accidentally see traffic that should only be visible to the new client.

    For more details see below at Pub/Sub via ZeroMQ.

Unsubscribe from the Plugin

To unsubscribe, a connected app has to send a JSON struct to the manage endpoint of the plugin, as follows:

{
  "action": "unsubscribe",
  "topic": <P2P_TOPIC>       # the 32-characters random topic that the app got during subscription handshake
}

In response, the app will either receive a success or error response.

  • Error response:
    {
      "status": "error"
    }
    
  • Success response:
    {
      "status": "success"
    }
    

Heartbeats

The plugin supports synchronous heartbeats from subscribed apps. Both, Threat Bus and the connected apps benefit from heartbeats, they can mutually ensure that the connected party is still alive.

Subscribed apps can send heartbeat messages with the following JSON format to the manage endpoint of this plugin:

{
  "action": "heartbeat",
  "topic": <P2P_TOPIC>       # the 32-characters random topic that the app got during subscription handshake
}

As stated in the beginning of this section, the manage endpoint implements the ZeroMQ Request/Reply pattern. Threat Bus answers immediately to each heartbeat request with either a success or error response.

  • Error response:
    {
      "status": "error"
    }
    
  • Success response:
    {
      "status": "success"
    }
    

An error response indicates that either Threat Bus has internal errors or that it lost track of the app's subscription. Note: This only happens when Threat Bus is restarted. Apps can then use that information to re-subscribe.

If Threat Bus does not answer a heartbeat message, it is either down or not reachable (e.g., due to network issues). Plugins can use that information to try again later.

Pub/Sub via ZeroMQ

Once an app has subscribed to a certain Threat Bus topic using the manage endpoint of the zmq plugin, it gets a unique, random p2p_topic (see above). The p2p_topic differs from the subscribed Threat Bus topic. The zmq plugin uses only the p2p_topic to publish messages to subscribers. Messages are either STIX-2 Indicators and Sightings or are of the types specified in threatbus.data, i.e., SnapshotRequest, and SnapshotEnvelope.

ZeroMQ uses prefix matching for pub/sub connections. The zmq plugin leverages this feature to indicate the type of each sent message to the subscriber. Hence, an app can simply match the topic suffix to determine the message type.

For example, all STIX-2 Indicators will always be sent on the topic p2p_topic + "indicator", all messages of the type threatbus.data.SnapshotRequest on the topic p2p_topic + "snapshotrequest" and so forth.

Snapshots

Threat Bus' snapshot feature allows apps to request a snapshot during subscription. Threat Bus always forwards snapshot requests to all app plugins. The zmq plugin again forwards these SnapshotRequests to all connected apps. Apps, however, can decide if they want to implement this feature, i.e., whether they respond to SnapshotRequest messages or not.

SnapshotRequests are received like any other messages, via the p2p_topic. In case the app wants to provide this feature, it must handle message of this type (see above for an explanation of topic suffix matching).

Once the snapshot is handled, the app must use the SnapshotEnvelope message type to send back messages to the plugin.

License

Threat Bus comes with a 3-clause BSD license.

Project details


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