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Anti-virus Applications and Attix5 Pro

Interference by malware and intrusion prevention

Contents
CONTENTS ............................................................................................................................................ 1
INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................... 2
SCENARIOS .......................................................................................................................................... 3
ANTIVIRUS INTERFERES WITH BACKUP CLIENT INSTALLATION ................................................................................... 3

1.
2.
3.
4.

Installation interference ................................................................................................................... 3


Backup Client database lock and corruption ....................................................................................... 4
Cache corruption ............................................................................................................................. 5
Antivirus interferes with file read and write operations ....................................................................... 6

FIREWALL / IPS PREVENTS TRANSMISSION TO STORAGE PLATFORM ............................................................................ 8

1.
2.

Backup Client cannot contact AccountServer ..................................................................................... 8


Backup Client cannot contact StorageServer ...................................................................................... 9

FIREWALL / IPS PREVENTS COMMUNICATION BETWEEN ATTIX5 PRO PROCESSES .......................................................... 11

1.
2.
3.
4.

System tray cannot open Backup Client GUI .................................................................................... 11


Backup Client GUI and Service cannot communicate ........................................................................ 12
Backup Service and Exchange agent service cannot communicate .................................................... 13
SP Console and Backup Client cannot communicate ......................................................................... 14

RECOMMENDED EXCLUSIONS BASED ON DEFAULTS FOR SE ............................................................ 15


INSTALLATION ............................................................................................................................................ 15
TCP PORTS................................................................................................................................................ 15
RECOMMENDED EXCLUSIONS BASED ON DEFAULTS FOR DL ........................................................... 16
INSTALLATION ............................................................................................................................................ 16
TCP PORTS................................................................................................................................................ 16

Introduction
On a modern operating system, it is likely that some form of threat management system is installed. While in the
past, only antivirus and port/application-based firewall solutions were common on hosts, intrusion prevention
systems (IPS) are increasingly becoming the norm. These can perform traffic and behaviour analysis, and block
suspicious activity.
To a threat management system, Attix5 Pros behaviour can appear suspicious. If not excluded from threat
management system monitoring, these applications can prevent Attix5 Pro from backing up successfully.
It is important to understand how Attix5 Pro can be disrupted by threat management systems, and what to look
for when troubleshooting. This guide demonstrates a number of scenarios in general terms.

Scenarios
Antivirus interferes with Backup Client installation
1. Installation interference
Symptom:
Backups will not run and sometimes a connection to the Storage Platform cannot be established.
Example error message:
Various Backup Client may halt indefinitely, e.g. Building Selection List.
Cause:
This scenario typically occurs when antivirus exclusions have not been applied to exclude the Attix5 Pro
installation folder (default location: C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client or Backup Client SE). The antivirus
scans the installation folder and incorrectly identifies the working files and folders, including those of the Java
installation, as potential virus threats. It often deletes or blocks access to these.

Solution:
Exclude the installation folder from antivirus scans. A Backup Client reinstall, and reconnect to the Backup
Account may be required to get the Backup Client back into a known good state.

2. Backup Client database lock and corruption


Symptom:
The Backup Client reports a database error when trying to run a backup, or reports that the database is locked.
Example Error Message:

In the Attix5 Pro GUI or backup log file: "file is encrypted or is not a database" or "Could not calculate
differences between new and previous backup sets:database is full".

In the Attix5 Pro GUI or backup log file: "Unable to recover from exception in backup process".

In the Attix5 Pro GUI or backupservice.log file: com.attix5.sqlite.SQLiteException: database is locked.

Cause:
Antivirus has either scanned and corrupted the Backup Client database (backuplist.db) or has a file handle on
the database, preventing the Backup Client from getting an exclusive lock.

Solution:
Exclude the database folder from antivirus scans. It may be necessary to delete the backuplist.db file and
reconnect to the Backup Account in order to get the last known good version of the Backup Client database.

3. Cache corruption
Symptom:
Files are flagged as trouble by either the Backup Client or Storage Platform and larger than expected data
transfers are occurring. Errors can also be seen during the adding/patching phase of a Staged Backup.
Example error message:

In the Backup Client log when patching Unable to patch file and Trouble file encountered and added
as full file.

In the Backup Client log when updating the cache Patching cache file failed, Could not apply patch to
file, Could not move backup file to cache reason: Trying to move a file to the cache that does not
exist and Flagged file for full backup.

During a Staged Backup in the adding/patching file stage, in the backupservice.log file: WARN
com.attix5.service.spcomms.StoragePlatformConnection File not found in toBackup.

Cause:
Files in the cache or ToBackup folders have been altered by the antivirus application which incorrectly handled
them as a threat. The cache file checksums either do not exist or no longer match the Backup Client database,
cannot be patched, and so must be resent in full. This can result in larger than expected data transfers.
Deletion of files in the ToBackup folder can cause the backup to fail.

Solution:
Exclude the cache and ToBackup folders from antivirus scans. This will prevent the files being altered and
prevent them being resent in full.

4. Antivirus interferes with file read and write operations


Symptom:
File reads fail or are
unusually slow. Some
files

within

VHDTemp

the
and

WindowsImageBackup
are shown as failing to
rename

in

the

backupservice.log files,
which

causes

the

System State to fail.


Example

error

message:
Backup Client log may
show Unable to read
file. Slow backups will
not show this error,
but the time taken to
process each file will
be noticeably slower
than normal.
The following may be
seen in the backupservice.log when System State rename failures are occurring:

Could not rename RenamedFolder

WBAdminPlugin - Could not delete


E:\WindowsImageBackup\SERVERNAME\SystemStateBackup\RenamedFolder\VHD-Hex-ID (e.g.
5106e16c-60d3-11de-ae0d-806e6f6e6963)

WBAdminPlugin - Could not rename


E:\WindowsImageBackup\SERVERNAME\SystemStateBackup\RenamedFolder to
E:\WindowsImageBackup\SERVERNAME\SystemStateBackup\Backup YYYY-MM-DD HHMMSS (e.g.
2013-28-02 093759)

Cause:
File reads and writes are being monitored by antivirus on-access scanning, which can cause read failure or slow
backup speeds. The failure to rename is caused by antivirus holding the file open during this process.

Solution:
Exclude the installation folder and Attix5 Pro Backup Client service (a5backup.exe or a5backup64.exe on 64-bit
machines) from antivirus scanning. Also ensure WindowsImageBackup and VHDTemp are excluded from
scanning.

5. Communication error during restore


Symptom: During the Receiving files process of the restore the client received a communications error
Example error message: Error: 14:17:11 Communications error: bad record MAC
Cause: Certain anitivirus/security applications intercept and sometimes modify the ssl packets leading to a "bad
mac record" error (eg Webroot secureAnywhere supplied by some online Banking sites).
Solution: Uninstall/Disable the anitivrus application. Alternatively, resuming the restore works in most cases.

Firewall / IPS prevents transmission to Storage Platform


1. Backup Client cannot contact AccountServer
Symptom:
The Backup Client will not authenticate against the AccountServer. The AccountServer can be contacted by the
Storage Platform Communication Test tool or telnet. The Backup Client reports a read I/O failure, and does not
proceed to send data to the StorageServer. Multiple retries may be seen.
Example error message:
In the Backup Client log when initiating a connection Cannot connect to Storage Platform: Connection refused:
connect or IOException connecting to Storage Platform: Connection timed out: connect.
Cause:
Traffic from the Backup Client to the AccountServer is intercepted and blocked or dropped by a firewall or IPS,
as it believes it to be suspicious.

Solution:
Ensure that traffic from the Attix5 Pro Backup Client service to the AccountServer is permitted in the firewall or
IPS rules.

2. Backup Client cannot contact StorageServer


Symptom:
The Backup Client does not send data to the StorageServer, or stops sending after a period of time. The Backup
Client reports a read I/O failure. Multiple retries may be seen. Backups do not complete. In some circumstances,
only small file selections will back up successfully.
Example error message:
In the Backup Client log when initiating a connection Could not create backup: Failed to initiate streaming
backup or IOException connecting to Storage Platform: Connection timed out: connect.
If a connection drops unexpectedly Backup transfer failed, sendBackup could not send backup file: Exception
in writer thread: Connection reset by peer: socket write error or sendBackup could not send backup index file:
Connection reset by peer: socket write error.
Cause:
Traffic from the Backup Client to the StorageServer is intercepted and blocked or dropped by a firewall or
intrusion prevention system, as it believes it to be suspicious. The drop may not happen immediately, but after a
period of time or volume of data.

Solution:

Ensure that traffic from the Attix5 Pro Backup Client Service to the AccountServer is permitted in the firewall or
IPS rules.

Note: There are other issues that produce the same or very similar symptoms to these. Speed and
duplex settings mismatch or errors can cause similar network traffic drops. Also, ISP-based traffic
shaping or throttling can prevent effective communication. These causes should not be ruled out
when investigating AccountServer and StorageServer communication issues.

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Firewall / IPS prevents communication between Attix5 Pro processes


1. System tray cannot open Backup Client GUI
Symptom:
When right clicking the system tray icon and clicking Open, it is reported that The Backup Service is not
running. On inspecting the Windows Services menu, the Backup Service is running. Restarting the system tray
application does not resolve the problem.
Example error message:
In a dialog box The Backup Service is not running.
Cause:
A host firewall / IPS is blocking communication between the system tray application and the Backup Service.
Believing the service is stopped, the system tray does not start the Backup Client GUI.

Solution:
Ensure that the system tray application (A5Loader.exe on Desktop and Laptop Edition, SERunner.exe on Server
Edition) and Backup Service (a5backup.exe, a5backup64 on 64-bit machines) are permitted in the firewall or IPS
rules.

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2. Backup Client GUI and Service cannot communicate


Symptom:
The Backup Client GUI does not load the backup selection, does not save settings when trying to close, or is
unresponsive. The Backup Service is running.

Note: This behaviour is similar to the Backup Service having stopped.

Example error message:


Might not display an error message. The GUI may fail to load the backup selection tree from the service. For
example:

Cause:
A host firewall / IPS is blocking communication between the Backup Client GUI and the Backup Client Service.

Solution:
Ensure that the Backup Client GUI (javaw.exe) and Backup Client Service are permitted in the firewall or IPS
rules.

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3. Backup Service and Exchange agent service cannot communicate


Symptom:
When running an Exchange SIR Plus backup or during configuration, a communication error is shown.
Example error message:
In the backup log file Could not communicate with the Exchange Agent: Error in call with Exchange Agent,
Connection refused: connect.
Cause:
A host firewall / IPS is blocking communication between the Backup Client Service and the Exchange Agent
Service (A5EA.exe) used by the SIR Plus plug-in.

Solution:
Ensure that the Exchange Agent Service and Backup Client Service are permitted in the firewall or IPS rules.

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4. SP Console and Backup Client cannot communicate


Symptom:
The Storage Platform Console cannot connect to the Remote Management of a Backup Client.
Example error message:
In a Storage Platform Console dialog box The operation has timed out.
Cause:
A host firewall / IPS is blocking communication between the Storage Platform Console and the Backup Client
Service.

Solution:
Ensure that access to the Remote Management port (default 9091) of the Backup Client Service is permitted in
the firewall or IPS rules.

Note: When connecting over a network, bear in mind that network-based firewalls and IPS systems
can also prevent Remote Management connections being established. Additionally, any Backup Clients
sitting behind Network Address Translation will require port forwarding to be configured.

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Recommended exclusions based on defaults for SE


Installation

C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client SE\ and all sub folders.

System State Folders for Windows 2008 (assuming C: is used by System State).

C:\VHDTemp\.

C:\WindowsImageBackup\.

If any working folders or plug-in dump locations are moved, ensure that these are also excluded.

Processes

C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client SE\a5backup.exe (or a5backup64.exe on 64 bit systems)

C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client SE\SERunner.exe

C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client SE\SplitVHD.exe and SplitVHDX.exe

Javaw.exe (Launched by SERunner.exe process)

TCP ports

9091 for Remote Management

8011 for Exchange Agent Service for SIR Plus

The other ports used by the Backup Client are randomly selected, but can be manually specified in the
a5backup.properties file:
o

service.rpc-server.localhost.port=port number 1-65535

service.rmi.port=port number 1-65535

service.port=port number 1-65535

The ports must be unique, and not clash with any existing services. Ensure the GUI is closed and that the service
is stopped when editing the file.

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Recommended exclusions based on defaults for DL


Installation
C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client\.
If any working folder locations are moved, ensure that these are also excluded.

Processes

C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client\a5backup.exe (or a5backup64.exe on 64 bit systems)

C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client\A5Loader.exe

Javaw.exe (Launched by A5Loader.exe process)

TCP ports

9091 for Remote Management

The other ports used by the Backup Client are randomly selected, but can be manually specified in the
a5backup.properties file:
o

service.rpc-server.localhost.port=port number 1-65535

service.rmi.port=port number 1-65535

service.port=port number 1-65535

The ports must be unique, and not clash with any existing services. Ensure the GUI is closed and service is
stopped when editing the file.

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Recommended exclusions based on defaults for ESE


Installation

C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client ESE\ and all sub folders.

C:\ProgramData\Attix5 Pro\ and sub-folders

Processes

C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client ESE\a5backup64.exe

C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client ESE\SERunner.exe

C:\Program Files\Attix5 Pro\Backup Client ESE\a5Loader.exe

Javaw.exe (Launched by SERunner.exe process)

TCP ports
The other ports used by the Backup Client are randomly selected, but can be manually specified in the
a5backup.properties file:
o

service.rpc-server.localhost.port=port number 1-65535

service.rmi.port=port number 1-65535

service.port=port number 1-65535

The ports must be unique, and not clash with any existing services. Ensure the GUI is closed and that the service
is stopped when editing the file.

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