Ubuntu Patch Management with Tanium


I have more than a dozen Ubuntu servers that perform various jobs.  Some of these systems are considered “production” and keeping the installed packages up to date is extremely important.  For this article I want to discuss how I am upgrading the installed packages on these systems using the Apt-Get utility and the Tanium platform.

I have built a collection of content that was published on the Tanium Community website.  This solution includes multiple sensors, packages and other types of content called Ubuntu Package Management.

Download and Import Content

Visit https://community.tanium.com/repo/solution/192 and click the “Download” button after logging into the Tanium Community website.

Log into your development infrastructures Tanium Console, then browse to Authoring->Import Content, select the downloaded XML file to complete the import process.  It is safe to overwrite any existing sensors as the only one I am using that is not original content is the Operating System sensor.

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Dashboard Tour

Now we move onto actually using this content and keeping the packages on your Ubuntu systems updated.   On the “Home” tab of your Tanium Console, you’ll find a new dashboard link appear under the “Other Dashboards” block.

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A few saved questions will appear… the left pane shows all packages within your environment that have available updates.  The right pane will list all of the Ubuntu computers you have within your environment.

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Available Actions

There are currently two available packages/actions included with the solution pack.  The first is accessible by right clicking on one or more of your Ubuntu systems in the right pane and the default action is Reboot Ubuntu Machine.

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The second action is closely tied to the Ubuntu Available Patches sensor as it takes the selected result of that sensor to launch the action.  Thus in the left pane, right click on one of the packages and Upgrade Available Ubuntu Package.

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There are other handy actions you can take.  Right clicking on one of the computers, you can drill down into the Ubuntu Available Patches and a list of packages for that one system will appear…Then you can deploy or upgrade a single package from there.  Further right clicking on the computer provides you with the ability to Upgrade All Ubuntu Packages, if that is preferable.

Setting up Scheduled Actions

The Tanium Community site does not allow for the sharing of Saved Actions on purpose.  Thus these must be setup manually.  The first one I’d like to setup is to download the available package updates definitions on a daily basis.  Since most of my systems are online 24×7, having this action run at least once a day is perfect.  To accomplish this, ask the following Tanium question:

Get Is Ubuntu from all machines

It uses the Is Ubuntu sensor which returns one of two answers for your entire infrastructure… True or False.  Right click on the True and deploy the Update Ubuntu Package Definitions package.

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I would like this action to occur daily on all of my Ubuntu computers… thus I will be setting up a scheduled action.  I have decided to have the action run between 4am and 5am daily so when I start working and want to check my package status, I have the latest data.

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Please note that the Action Group is “Ubuntu”.  This is because I have setup an action group that only includes my Ubuntu systems that I’ve targeted with my “Ubuntu Computers” computer group.

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Conclusion

Using the Tanium platform to manage your enterprise is extremely easy.  With a little bit of work and understanding you can put together a solution to accomplish nearly anything you want.

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