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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.

Retrieving Browser History using Tanium

There are many awesome solution packs available for use on the Tanium platform.  One of those solution packs is called Browser History.  It takes advantage of an awesome little utility from NirSoft called, not surprisingly, BrowserHistoryView.  It was written to read the history data of 4 different Web browsers like IE, Chrome, FF, and Safari.

One of the talented engineers over at Tanium wrapped that utility up in content for use on the Tanium platform.  I will go over the basics of setting up and using that content in this article.

Importing Content

Everything with Tanium typically starts by importing content and the Browser History solution pack is no different.  Ask your TAM or contact support@tanium.com if you do not have the BrowserHistory.xml solution pack file.

Once you have that xml file, log into your console and browse to the Authoring tab and click the Import button, browse to the xml file and hit ok.


Modify Distribution Package

Since this solution pack requires a 3rd party utility, you must acquire this utility by visiting the 3rd party vendors website.  Browse to the very bottom and download the 32bit version.

Now that you have the utility we need to modify the “Distribute Browser History Viewer” (https://community.tanium.com/repo/package/16) package.   Click the “Add Local Files…” button and find the downloaded BrowsingHistoryView.exe and add it to the package.


Edit:  It is entirely possible you are using a Tanium deployment that still has a self-signed SSL certificate.  This would prevent you from adding local files in this manner.  To work around that you have two options, the first is install a trusted certificate on the server which goes well beyond what this article is intended for.  The second is a lot easier but requires you to copy the file to the server.  We’ll explore that option here…

Place the BrowsingHistoryView.exe file into the following directory on the server.  I am calling out the default installation path, but your’s may vary if you changed it during install.

C:\Program Files\Tanium\Tanium Server\Apache24\htdocs\file

Any file within that directory is accessible via the following URL:


Then you can add a URL like the following screenshot:


Distribute Package via Scheduled Action

To follow my personal best-practice of distributing software with a Has-Sensor and a Distribute-Package, I have put together a “Has Browser History Utility” sensor (https://community.tanium.com/repo/sensor/789) that is downloadable directly from the community site.  It is a basic sensor that simply checks the install folder and tells you whether or not the utility exists.  You can then schedule the “Distribute Browser History Viewer” package to all endpoints that report “No”.

Download and import the Has_Browser_History_Utility.xml by going to Authoring and clicking the “Import” button.  Then ask the following Tanium Question:

Get Has Browser History Utility[BrowserHistory] from machines where Operating System contains Win 

The answers you get back should be either Yes or No.  If you have never distributed the package before, likely you will receive all No answers.

Note: Unlike other articles, I have qualified the above Tanium Question by limiting endpoints answering the question to my Windows computers.  I am using the Operating System sensor which is provided via the Initial Content solution pack..  This is to ease the work required on non-windows endpoints, but also since this particular utility only relates to Windows computers there is no need to involve my non-windows systems.


I want to ensure the utility is there when I need it (when I ask for browser history), so I am going to reissue the action every hour.  Only computers that report “No” will launch this scheduled action, thus once 100% of my computers receive the utility, it won’t run unless a brand new windows computer comes online.


Retrieving Browser History

Now that we have this solution all setup it’s time to use it.    The purpose of this solution is to retrieve the web browsing history of computers within my environment.

Legal Notice:  This is very sensitive data and you must use caution when asking for something you might not be authorized to receive.  Pay particular attention to privacy laws in your country and the policies setup for your organization.

Ask the following Tanium-Question to retrieve browsing history data:

Get Computer Name and Browser History from machines where Operating System contains Win


I’ve redacted the personal information for my personal “organization”, however  it does show you enough to know how the Browsing History Solution Pack works.

Tanium Client Deployment Tool

I have recently stood up a half-dozen virtual servers in a new home lab I am building to compliment my home office.  This means I want to get the Tanium Client installed onto these endpoints.  Rather than do it manually, I’m choosing to use the Tanium Client Deployment Tool and install them remotely from my windows workstation.  At the time of this writing v5.0.0.6 was the latest and has a few essential features required for installing the agent onto my new non-windows systems.

Installing the Tool

Installation of the Client Deployment Tool is relatively straightforward.  Launch the installer and click “Install”.  Assuming the default installation directory is acceptable.




Initial Tool Setup

Once you launch the tool there are a few things that need to happen.  The first is the tool itself will prompt you to download the very latest agents for the various OS platform Tanium supports.  Allow that to happen…



Next we will need to point the tool at our server infrastructure in two ways… First by pointing the utility at our tanium.pub file.  This file can be found in the Tanium Server root folder on the server.  Second we’ll need to specify the hostname or IP address of the server we will be pointing endpoints at.  This second value could be the hostname or IP address of a zone server or even an alias that functions differently inside and outside your network.  Lastly if you chose to use a port number other than the default 17472, you’ll need to specify that now.

Install the Agent

For this article we will deploy the Tanium Agent to one of my new Ubuntu 14.04 LTS virtual servers.  My user account on that box has sudo permissions and that is required in order to install new software.


Next we will specify a single endpoint to deploy too.  To do that we change the lower-left tabs to “Computer List” and type in the hostname of the targeted endpoint.  Then change the very bottom left dropdown to “Linux_Mac_Only” to avoid unnecessary timeouts by trying a windows connection and hit the “Analyze” button.


If all works well our tool will report back “Client not installed”.  Select that row and click “Install”. 


All done… The client deployment was successful.  To validate, we can simply log into the Tanium Console and check Administration->System Status to see our new endpoint listed and reporting in.


In Conclusion

The Client Deployment Tool is a great utility for getting the Tanium Agent installed on your endpoints fast.

Recovering License Keys with Tanium

Lately I’ve been exploring the content that is posted in the Tanium Community Repository and found an interesting content pack called License Key Recovery.  For the purposes of this article I will assume you already have a Tanium server setup and have a half dozen or more windows clients reporting into this infrastructure.  In my case I’m using a personal lab deployment Tanium Server v6.2.314.3258 that has various Windows, Mac and Linux endpoints located all around the state of Arkansas.

Acquire and Import the Content Pack

You’ll need the content pack XML which is available from your assigned TAM, if you don’t have one reach out to Tanium Support, I bet they’ll get you the help you need.  After you have the file browse to Authoring and push the “Import Content…” button on the far right.  The import preview window should look something like this:


Update and Distribute Package

This content pack uses an 3rd party utility that is licensed separately from Tanium and can be downloaded/purchased from recover-keys.com, you’ll need the enterprise version which includes the command line executable.  After acquiring the software, find the file named RecoverKeysCmd.exe.   The Recover Keys product also uses SQLite which must also be downloaded separately from SQLite.org.  (Find the section called Precompiled Binaries for Windows and download the sqlite-dll-win32-x86…)

Edit the “Distribute Recover Keys Utility” package under Authoring->Packages and filter by package name.  Remove both the exe and dll from the Files list and add the newly acquired files by clicking “Add Local Files…” button.


Deploying the Utility

Included in the content pack is a saved action which automatically attempts to distribute the above package every two hours.  However, if you can’t wait that long and want to distribute it immediately, ask the following Tanium question:

Get Has Recover Keys Tool from all machines

Right click on the “No” answer and deploy the “Distribute Recover Keys Utility” for one time distribution… to all endpoints.  Any endpoint not currently online will receive the package command via the scheduled action within the content pack.


Retrieving License Keys

Everything is now prepared for the very fast and easy question you really want to know…

Get License Keys from all machines


In Conclusion…

Utilizing Tanium to take advantage of a 3rd party utility is extremely easy.   Break open the content by editing the packages or sensors and you will see exactly how simple it was to distribute and retrieve the results of the Recover Keys Utility.

CRITs use of MongoDB and starting automatically on Ubuntu

I recently was playing around with CRITs and followed their installation instructions closely (VERY HARD).  They could use some better install scripts to make things smoothly, but what do you expect from a community project.

Anyways, I see in their documentation when it gets to the MongoDB section how to start it at the command line.  Getting past that worked well… but i’m wanting to setup a production style instance which requires the database to start automatically on startup.  Apache (which runs the CRITs UI starts automaticaly by default) but their instance of MongoDB does not.  So i submitted a ticket… which quickly got squashed as “not their problem”.  While I agree this is not their problem, they do want people to use their product, right?  A few bits of documentation on here’s a link to starting MongoDB automatically would have been helpful.  Well… I submit this as that link…

Create /etc/init.d/mongodb with the following info:


# Provides:          mongodb
# Required-Start:    $remote_fs $syslog
# Required-Stop:     $remote_fs $syslog
# Default-Start:     2 3 4 5
# Default-Stop:      0 1 6
# Short-Description: MongoDB

# Change the next 3 lines to suit where you install your script and what you want to call it

# Add any command line options for your daemon here
DAEMON_OPTS="--fork --logpath /var/log/mongodb.log --logappend --nohttpinterface"

# This next line determines what user the script runs as.
# Root generally not recommended but necessary if you are using the Raspberry Pi GPIO from Python.

# The process ID of the script when it runs is stored here:

. /lib/lsb/init-functions

do_start () {
    log_daemon_msg "Starting system $DAEMON_NAME daemon"
    echo 0 > /proc/sys/vm/zone_reclaim_mode
    start-stop-daemon --start --background --pidfile $PIDFILE --make-pidfile --user $DAEMON_USER --chuid $DAEMON_USER --startas $DAEMON -- $DAEMON_OPTS
    log_end_msg $?
do_stop () {
    log_daemon_msg "Stopping system $DAEMON_NAME daemon"
    start-stop-daemon --stop --pidfile $PIDFILE --retry 10
    log_end_msg $?

case "$1" in



        status_of_proc "$DAEMON_NAME" "$DAEMON" && exit 0 || exit $?
        echo "Usage: /etc/init.d/$DAEMON_NAME {start|stop|restart|status}"
        exit 1

exit 0

Change /etc/init.d/mongodb to executable:

sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/mongodb

and configure it for startup:

sudo update-rc.d mongodb defaults

Now your MongoDB instance that is spoken to in the CRITs documentation will start automatically on boot.

Dynamic DNS and Cloudflare

I am extremely happy with the services from cloudflare, and with my minions project I wanted an easy way to know where they all were. So I did my research and finally narrowed down a way to use ddclient to update cloudflare.

Installing DDClient to function with CloudFlare on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

1. Create a domain entry on CloudFlare.com for your fqdn… mycomputer.example.com or whatever you want.domain.com

2. install perl and required modules…

apt-get install perl libjson-any-perl libio-socket-ssl-perl

3. download the latest ddclient files from the official project: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ddclient/
at the time of this writing…

wget http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/ddclient/ddclient/ddclient-3.8.2/ddclient-3.8.2.tar.gz

4. Untar ddclient files…

tar -xzf ddclient-3.8.2.tar.gz
cd ddclient-3.8.2

5. Download patch file from http://blog.peter-r.co.uk/cloudflare-ddclient-patch.html
at time of this writing…

wget http://blog.peter-r.co.uk/uploads/ddclient-3.8.0-cloudflare-22-6-2014.patch

6. perform patch…

patch < ddclient-3.8.0-cloudflare-22-6-2014.patch

7. Manually install…

mkdir /etc/ddclient
mkdir /var/cache/ddclient
cp ddclient /usr/sbin/
cp sample-etc_ddclient.conf /etc/ddclient/ddclient.conf
cp sample-etc_rc.d_init.d_ddclient.ubuntu /etc/init.d/ddclient

8. Edit configuration and make it look like this: (make special note of where I put commas)

vi /etc/ddclient/ddclient.conf



9. start the service…

service ddclient start

then to see what happened… logs are pushed into the syslog file… so tail that.

tail /var/log/syslog

10. To ensure ddclient runs at startup… do the following:

sudo update-rc.d -f ddclient remove
sudo update-rc.d ddclient defaults

It took a bit of research and troubleshooting to get this to work consistently… but hope this helps someone. Let me know if you have any questions.

Creating OpenVPN Server and Setting up OpenVPN Clients

I recently setup a remote office that houses my huge Virtual Host machine and wanted private/encrypted access to that network from where ever I am.  Thus I turned to OpenVPN as a solution after a little bit of research (see this BestVPN Article).  This article covers the basics of setting up an OpenVPN server on a Ubuntu server sitting behind a NAT firewall. 

Let’s start on the Ubuntu Server…
Enter root first…

$ sudo su

Setup OpenVPN Server

Starting with a Ubuntu computer you’d like to make the OpenVPN Server… Install OpenVPN and Easy-RSA

$ apt-get install openvpn easy-rsa -y


The first thing to know about OpenVPN is we’ll be setting things up to use certificates.  It is the most secure method and requires you to manually distribute the client certificates and configuration files.  The method you choose determines the security.  Most secure is to hand deliver the certs on an encrypted thumb drive.

Certificate Authority

To setup your own Certificate Authority (CA) and generating certificates and keys for an OpenVPN server and multiple clients first copy the easy-rsa directory to /etc/openvpn.

$ mkdir /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa
$ cp -rf /usr/share/easy-rsa/* /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/
$ vi /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/vars

And, change the values that matches with your country, state, city, mail id etc.

export KEY_COUNTRY=”CountryCode”
export KEY_PROVINCE=”MyStateOrProvince”
export KEY_CITY=”MyCity”
export KEY_ORG=”Organization Name”
export KEY_EMAIL=”vpn@example.com”
export KEY_CN=MyVPN
export KEY_OU=MyVPN

Enter the following to generate the master Certificate Authority (CA) certificate and key:

$ cd /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/
$ cp openssl-1.0.0.cnf openssl.cnf
$ source vars
$ ./clean-all

Run the following command to generate CA certificate and CA key:

$ ./build-ca

Server Certificates

Next, we will generate a certificate and private key for the server:

$ ./build-key-server server

Client Certificates

Each client will need a certificate to authenticate itself to the server. To create the certificate, enter the following in a terminal while being user root:

$ ./build-key client

Generate Diffie Hellman Parameter

This is a unique key used for our VPN Server, Enter the following command to generate DH parameter.

$ ./build-dh
Go to the directory /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/keys/ and enter the following command to transfer the above files to /etc/openvpn/ directory.

$ cd /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/keys/
$ cp dh1024.pem ca.crt server.crt server.key /etc/openvpn/

Client Configuration File

We need to copy and edit the client configuration file.
$ cp /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/sample-config-files/client.conf /etc/openvpn/client.ovpn

Edit file client.ovpn,
$ vi /home/client.ovpn

Set the VPN server host name/IP address:

remote [public ip or hostname of your vpn server] 1194

Distributing Client Certificates

You must copy all client certificates and keys to the remote VPN clients in order to authenticate to the VPN server. In our case, we have generated certificates and keys to only one client, so we have to copy the following files to the VPN client.


You have to copy the above files to your VPN clients securely. Copy the keys with caution. If anyone gets ahold of your keys, they can easily intrude and get full access to your virtual private network.

Configuring VPN Server

Copy the file server.conf.gz file to /etc/openvpn/ directory.
$ cp /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/sample-config-files/server.conf.gz /etc/openvpn/

Extract the file using the following command:
$ gzip -d /etc/openvpn/server.conf.gz

Edit file server.conf,
$ vi /etc/openvpn/server.conf

Find and uncomment the following lines to route client systems traffic through OpenVPN server.

push “redirect-gateway def1 bypass-dhcp”

Also, Uncomment and change the DNS servers to reflect your own DNS values. Here I am using Google public DNS servers.

push “dhcp-option DNS”
push “dhcp-option DNS”

Uncomment the following lines:

user nobody
group nogroup

Save and close the file.

IP forwarding and routing Configuration

Edit sysctl.conf file,
$ vi /etc/sysctl.conf

Find the following line and set value “1” to enable IP forwarding.

# Controls IP packet forwarding
net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1

Run the following command to apply the sysctl changes.
$ sysctl -p

Enter the following command to enable IP forwarding:
$ echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward

Start OpenVPN Server

Finally, start openvpn service and make it to start automatically on every reboot using the following commands:
$ service openvpn start

Verify if VPN interface(tun0) is created using ifconfig command:
$ ifconfig

Network Router Configuration

We need to do two things on your router and how you do them greatly depends on your router.  I’m assuming you have a hardware router hooked up to your DSL, Cable or other type of internet connection and you’re setting up a Ubuntu VPN server on the internal network and want to access other computers on that internal network once your remote clients have authenticated into the VPN tunnel.

1. Your VPN server should have an internal static IP address… We need to tell your router to route all traffic to your VPN server so when your VPN clients connect they can communicate with your internal network.

2. Open external port 1194 tcp and udp and point it at your VPN server’s internal static IP address.


Now we have the files needed to put on your clients, your server is all setup, and your router is configured correctly… it’s time to look at setting up clients.  I created a client certificate for each of my three workstations… each running a different OS:  Mac OS X, Ubuntu 14.04, and Windows 7.  I want to validate and connect into my VPN remote network from all three systems… but configuring their client is slightly different on each.  Below I go into details on setting each one up.

Ubuntu Client

I’ll assume you are using this system as a Ubuntu workstation/laptop and have a graphical interface… thus want to use Network Manager to connect in.  First we’ll need to install two items:
$ sudo apt-get install openvpn network-manager-openvpn

System Settings->Network->+ (hit pluse in bottom left)
Choose VPN interface and hit Create
Select OpenVPN from the type list and hit Create
Specify the Gateway (public ip or domain name of your vpn server)
Point the User Certificate at the client.crt file
Point the CA Certificate at the ca.crt file
Point the Private Key at the client.key file.

Save that and you’re done.  You should now connect into your VPN and run a few ping and other tests. 

Mac Client

My primary laptop is a Mac, so let’s go there next.  Here you’ll need to install a VPN client application called TunnelBlick.  https://www.tunnelblick.net/

Once you’ve installed the application, you need to dbl-click on your client.ovpn file.  The ovpn file type has been associated with Tunnelblick when it was installed and will open up the file allowing you to add that connection ot your available list.  Once done, simply connect into the VPN and run your tests.

Windows Client

Visit http://sourceforge.net/projects/securepoint and download the windows OpenVPN client.
Launch the Securepoint SSL VPN client, dbl click the tray icon when it appears, and select New. 
Enter Name of your VPN Connection and hit Next
Enter the Public IP or Domain Name of your VPN server, the port you configured (default is 1194) and I prefer TCP connections due to reliability reasons… then hit Next
Point the User Certificate at the client.crt file
Point the CA Certificate at the ca.crt file
Point the Private Key at the client.key file.
Hit Next
Under Advanced Settings
– check the “Comp-LZO” checkbox
– uncheck the “Auth user/pass” checkbox
– leave all others at their Defaults
hit Next
Lastly hit Finish


All done… let me know if you have any questions below.