Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Perl module upload to CPAN

I've uploaded another module to my directory on CPAN...this one is called File::ReadEvt. This is another module that reads a binary file type from a Windows system without using the MS API. You'd use this module if you were performing analysis on a Linux system, or any other system that has Perl installed, or if the tools that use the MS API (ie, EventViewer, psloglist, etc.) report that the .evt file is corrupted in some way.

Another great use includes online parsing systems, where you'd upload a file to a web server, which would parse/analyze the file and display the results in a web page. Or you can use this module with a database that provides some sort of hints or descriptions of various event types, so that the information you read is easier to understand.

No, this module doesn't support parsing the Event Log message files (DLLs) for how the strings should be inserted into the message (ie, %1 %2 %3 etc.). Sorry, but this module does provide the information from the events that would let YOU do that.

Here's the output from a run of the evtstats.pl example script I included in the archive:

C:\Perl>evtstats.pl c:\testing\appevent.evt
Max Size of the Event Log file = 327680 bytes
Actual Size of the Event Log file = 524288 bytes
Total number of event records (header info) = 1138
Total number of event records (actual count) = 1086
Total number of event records (rec_nums) = 1086
Total number of event records (sources) = 1086
Total number of event records (types) = 1086
Total number of event records (IDs) = 1086

This script also collects information in Perl hashes that you can use for statistical analysis. Examples include numbers of each record number, source, event type, and event ID.

There's another example script (lsevt3.pl) that parses through the Event Log file and sends the event record information to STDOUT (redirect this to a file).

A brief word on the format of the Event Log file...

A "normal" Event Log file (such as those found in the system32\config directory) begins with a 48 byte header. The first DWORD (ie, 4 bytes) of the header (and the last, as well) contains the size of the header...in a hex editor, you'll see "30 00 00 00". The second DWORD is the magic number, or "4C 66 4C 65" (ie, "LeLf")...this being the "magic number" as it should be unique to the file. The header also contains information about where certain events are located, such as the oldest one, and the next one to be written, as well as the maximum size of the file and the retention time.

Once you've read the header, you're ready to start reading the event records. To read the records, all you have to do is parse through the file a DWORD at a time, and locate the magic number...then, back up a DWORD, get the total size of the record, and begin parsing. The event record header is 56 bytes in size and anything beyond that is where the data associated with the event is located within the .evt file.

Now, event records are not (I repeat NOT) contiguous. There can be gaps...huge ones. I've seen DrWatson entries that are over 100K in size. Once you finish reading the header or a particular record, it could be a while within the file before you come upon a full event record. I took a look at an example Event Log file the other day, and there was a partial DrWatson entry right after the header, and the first event record was located about 25K into the file.

This module is right there along with File::MSWord (parses an MSWord document without using the MS API), and File::ReadPE (parses the headers of a PE file...great for analysis or educational purposes).

If you don't see the module in the directory when you click on the link above, give it a bit...I just uploaded it and I don't know how long it takes CPAN to process submitted modules.

If you have any questions about the use of any of these modules, feel free to contact me. If you're contacting me about problems with a particular Event Log file, be prepared to send me the file...


Anonymous said...

Nice PMs! Thanks. However, was ReadEVT.zip supposed to include the ReadEVT PM? Or the ReadPE PM?
Again, thanks.

H. Carvey said...

Ooops! Good catch. I've scheduled the first version for deletion...CPAN reports that it will do that on Sun, 5 Mar, so check back next week.

Sorry about that!