Break-In Analyzer – Quickly analyze auth.log, secure, utmp & wtmp logs for possible SSH break-in attempts

Recently, I encountered incident where several hosts been infected by < █████████ >. So, to investigate this incident, we received bunch of logs to be analyze; mostly Linux related logs.

I’ve been thinking.. What if the host has been successfully brute-forced? How can we identify it?

In Linux, there are several logs that we can refer that contains authentication logs for both successful or failed logins, and authentication processes. Location & names of the logs varies; depending on system type. For Debian/Ubuntu, the logs located at /var/log/auth.log. For Redhat/CentOS, the logs located at /var/log/secure.

There are 2 more logs that we can refer;
/var/log/utmp: current login state by user.
/var/log/wtmp: record of each user login/logout.

So, what if we write a script to quickly go thru those mentioned logs & identify the culprits? Probably we can find out if our host has been successfully brute-forced.

Introducing.. Break-In AnalyzerA script that analyze the log files /var/log/auth.log (for Debian based systems), /var/log/secure (for RHEL based systems), utmp/wtmp for possible SSH break-in attempts. –

Here are some screenshot of the script in action:

Analyzing auth.log
Analyzing secure logs
Dumping & Analyzing wtmp files

The output result will be written into text file; stored into folder named output. Inside the folder will contains file named:

So, you must been wondering; how can I validate these IPs? whether they are harmless or not? Well, to do that, we can use AbuseIPDB to quickly see each of IP reputation; either they’re clean or has been reported due to malicious activity.

In this example, I’m using AbuseIPDB Bulk Checker from – This tool can perform bulk checking of IPs towards AbuseIPDB website. *Just a side notes: it require API key from AbuseIPDb. You can get it for free by registering on the website. Its limited to 1000 request/IPs per day.

So, I’m checking 203 IPs that we got from Break-In Analyzer script output (after removing duplicated using Excels) on AbuseIPDB if there is any records for those IPs. After the check completed, the result shows something like this:

AbuseIPDB Bulk Checker result

If you filter out by abuseConfidenceScore (removing score 0), you’ll see there are 3 IPs that having kinda high confidence score. The higher the score, the more chances the IP marked as malicious – meaning that the IP has been reported multiple times related to malicious activities.

Next, we cross check with our Break-In Analyzer outputs to see where did these IPs located on the logs. Or you can cross check directly with your logs. To do that, run command as below:

$ grep --perl-regexp "" --color=always --only-matching --recursive * | sort | uniq --count | sort --numeric --reverse

This command is basically searching where the IP “” located/contains inside the log. If you run the command, you’ll see output as below:

Now we know that the IP “” is contains inside wtmp dump log:
– node2/output/wtmpdump_output.txt
– node1/output/wtmpdump_output.txt

and also inside tools output:
– node2/output/output_node2.txt
– node1/output/output_node1.txt

If we go search inside the wtmp dump log for that IP ““, we found that the IP has been accessing the system since Feb 2016… hmm.. 🤦

cat node2/output/wtmpdump_output.txt | grep --color=always

This may indicate that the attacker has been leveraging the host for very long time.

Next step is probably to search what the IP or the account “portaladmin-ts” is doing inside the host.

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