How to Install OSSEC HIDS on Ubuntu 18.04 / 16.04 / Debian 9

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This guide will help you to  Install OSSEC HIDS on Ubuntu 18.04 / 16.04 / Debian 9. OSSEC is an open source host-based intrusion detection system (HIDS) that runs on Linux, OpenBSD, Solaris, FreeBSD, Windows, and other systems. OSSEC works in a server/client model. The OSSEC client performs log analysis, policy monitoring, file integrity checking, real-time alerting, rootkit detection and active response.

OSSEC has the aspects of HIDS (host-based intrusion detection), log monitoring and SIM/SIEM as a simple solution with Web UI management.

Step 1: Install OSSEC Dependencies

OSSEC requires PHP, gcc, libc and Apache Web Server. Install them by running the commands below:

sudo apt install -y wget unzip make gcc build-essential
sudo apt install -y php php-cli php-common libapache2-mod-php apache2-utils sendmail inotify-tools

Step 2:  Install OSSEC HIDS on Ubuntu 18.04 / 16.04 / Debian 9

Once the dependencies have been installed, the next installation is for OSSEC HIDS. The source code for OSSEC is available on Github.

Check for the latest release before downloading. As of this writing, the latest is 3.1.0

export VER="3.1.0"

Once downloaded, extract the file with the following command:

tar -xvzf $VER.tar.gz

This extraction will create a folder, change to this folder and run the install script.

cd ossec-hids-$VER
sudo sh

1.  Set language

(en/br/cn/de/el/es/fr/hu/it/jp/nl/pl/ru/sr/tr) [en]: en

2. Press to continue

OSSEC HIDS v3.1.0 Installation Script -
 You are about to start the installation process of the OSSEC HIDS.
 You must have a C compiler pre-installed in your system.
  - System: Linux deb9 4.9.0-8-amd64
  - User: root
  - Host: deb9

  -- Press ENTER to continue or Ctrl-C to abort. --

3. Choose local installation type

What kind of installation do you want (server, agent, local, hybrid or help)? local

With the local installation, you will be able to do everything the server does, except receiving remote messages from the agents or external syslog devices.

4. Choose where to install the OSSEC HIDS [/var/ossec], press enter to use /var/ossec

Installation will be made at  /var/ossec .

5. Configuring the OSSEC HIDS

  3.1- Do you want e-mail notification? (y/n) [y]: y
   - What's your e-mail address? [email protected]
   - What's your SMTP server ip/host? localhost

  3.2- Do you want to run the integrity check daemon? (y/n) [y]: y

   - Running syscheck (integrity check daemon).

  3.3- Do you want to run the rootkit detection engine? (y/n) [y]: y

   - Running rootcheck (rootkit detection).

  3.4- Active response allows you to execute a specific 
       command based on the events received. For example,
       you can block an IP address or disable access for
       a specific user.  
       More information at:
   - Do you want to enable active response? (y/n) [y]: y

     - Active response enabled.
   - By default, we can enable the host-deny and the 
     firewall-drop responses. The first one will add
     a host to the /etc/hosts.deny and the second one
     will block the host on iptables (if linux) or on
     ipfilter (if Solaris, FreeBSD or NetBSD).
   - They can be used to stop SSHD brute force scans, 
     portscans and some other forms of attacks. You can 
     also add them to block on snort events, for example.

   - Do you want to enable the firewall-drop response? (y/n) [y]: y

     - firewall-drop enabled (local) for levels >= 6

   - Default white list for the active response:

   - Do you want to add more IPs to the white list? (y/n)? [n]: 

  3.6- Setting the configuration to analyze the following logs:
    -- /var/log/messages
    -- /var/log/auth.log
    -- /var/log/syslog
    -- /var/log/
    -- /var/log/dpkg.log
    -- /var/log/apache2/error.log (apache log)
    -- /var/log/apache2/access.log (apache log)

 - If you want to monitor any other file, just change 
   the ossec.conf and add a new localfile entry.
   Any questions about the configuration can be answered
   by visiting us online at .
   --- Press ENTER to continue ---

Press Enter to start the installation

The init script for managing OSSEC HIDS is /var/ossec/bin/ossec-control

To start the service, use:

$ sudo /var/ossec/bin/ossec-control start
Starting OSSEC HIDS v3.1.0 (by Trend Micro Inc.)...
Started ossec-maild...
Started ossec-execd...
Started ossec-analysisd...
Started ossec-logcollector...
Started ossec-syscheckd...
Started ossec-monitord...

And stop it by running

sudo /var/ossec/bin/ossec-control stop

You can further configure OSSEC HIDS by editing the configuration file:

sudo vim /var/ossec/etc/ossec.conf

The rules are located under the directory/var/ossec/rules/. The rules for local system files are set on the file /var/ossec/rules/local_rules.xml

Check OSSEC Documentation for configuration options.

Don’t forget to restart OSSEC HIDS whenever you make a change

sudo /var/ossec/bin/ossec-control restart

Step 3: Install OSSEC Web UI

OSSEC HIDS has a simple web interface, but it needs to be installed.

git clone
sudo mv  ossec-wui /srv
cd /srv/ossec-wui
sudo ./

Set Dashboard admin username/password and web server username

trap: SIGHUP: bad trap
Setting up ossec ui...

Username: admin
New password: 
Re-type new password:
Adding password for user admin
Enter your web server user name (e.g. apache, www, nobody, www-data, ...)
You must restart your web server after this setup is done.

Setup completed successfully.

Create an Apache VirtualHost configuration file

sudo vim /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/ossec-wui.conf

Put the contents below into the file

     DocumentRoot /srv/ossec-wui/
     ServerAdmin [email protected]
        Options +FollowSymlinks
        AllowOverride All
        Require all granted

     ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/moodle-error.log
     CustomLog /var/log/apache2/moodle-access.log combined

Replace with your domain name, save the file and exit.

Enable the Apache rewrite module

sudo a2enmod rewrite
sudo systemctl restart apache2
$ sudo systemctl status apache2.service 
● apache2.service - The Apache HTTP Server
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/apache2.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since Fri 2018-11-23 09:05:56 UTC; 16s ago
  Process: 9504 ExecStop=/usr/sbin/apachectl stop (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
  Process: 9511 ExecStart=/usr/sbin/apachectl start (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
 Main PID: 9516 (apache2)
    Tasks: 6 (limit: 4915)
   CGroup: /system.slice/apache2.service
           ├─9516 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─9517 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─9518 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─9519 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─9520 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           └─9521 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start

Nov 23 09:05:56 deb9 systemd[1]: Starting The Apache HTTP Server...

Open in your web browser and authenticate to the dashboard.


On Login. you should get a page like below:


This marks the end of install OSSEC HIDS on Ubuntu 18.04 / 16.04 / Debian 9 article.


OSSEC Manual/Documentation


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