SOF-ELK® is a “big data analytics” platform focused on the typical needs of computer forensic investigators/analysts and information security operations personnel. The platform is a customized build of the open source Elastic stack, consisting of the Elasticsearch storage and search engine, Logstash ingest and enrichment system, Kibana dashboard frontend, and Elastic Beats log shipper (specifically filebeat). With a significant amount of customization and ongoing development, SOF-ELK® users can avoid the typically long and involved setup process the Elastic stack requires. Instead, they can simply download the pre-built and ready-to-use SOF-ELK® virtual appliance that consumes various source data types (numerous log types as well as NetFlow), parsing out the most critical data and visualizing it on several stock dashboards. Advanced users can build visualizations the suit their own investigative or operational requirements, optionally contributing those back to the primary code repository.

By Philip Hagen

The SOF-ELK® platform was initially developed for SANS course FOR572: Advanced Network Forensics and Analysis, and is now used in several other SANS courses, with additional course integrations being considered. Most importantly, the platform is also distributed as a free and open source resource for the community at large, without a specific course requirement or tie-in required to use it.

SOF-ELK is a free resource for the digital forensic and broader information security communities at large — a ready-to-use appliance that teams can use without having to invest the many hours into deploying, configuring, and maintaining an Elastic Stack instance.