Frameworks information gathering tool


Written by Mubassir patel


nector home


NECTOR is an open source successor to the HECTOR project, both of which have been sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts & Sciences.

The purpose of NECTOR is to increase security awareness among institutions by demonstrating potential security vulnerabilities. NECTOR is a powerful and expandable framework used in the collection, analysis, and sharing of security intelligence information.

NECTOR takes advantage of the functionality and stability of the Django framework, and incorporates a SQLite database backend with a minimalistic frontend. The project is being developed without the use of JavaScript.

NECTOR’s intuitive web-based frontend allows for easy data analysis, scan configuration, incident reporting, and more.

Getting Started

Setting up a Virtual Environment (Recommended)

Create a virtualenv to work in, and activate it.

$ virtualenv venv-nector
$ source venv-nector/bin/activate

Downloading Dependencies

Install pip dependencies.

$ pip install -r requirements.txt

Install nmap.


$ dnf install nmap


$ apt-get install nmap


$ yum install nmap

Mac OS X:

Trying the Demo (Optional)

If you want to try out the demo of NECTOR before making a full commitment, run:

$ make demo

Then, open a browser and go to

If you like what you see, delete the sample data and database and move on to the next step.

$ rm db.sqlite3 events.csv vulnlist.csv hosts.xml malware.csv openports.xml


To start using NECTOR, run:

$ make

Then, open a browser and go to

You will be shown a page containing your installation progress.

You can now complete the installation right from the browser!

Working with the Server and Virtual Environment

When you’re done with the virtualenv, run:

$ deactivate

Any time you wish to use it again, run:

$ source venv-nector/bin/activate

When you’re done with NECTOR, use CTRL + C to terminate the process.

Any time you wish to run NECTOR again, use the command:

$ python runserver

Advanced Setup

Choosing a Database (Optional) ((SQLite is default))

NECTOR is configured to work with three types of RDBMSs easily: SQLite3MySQL, and PostgreSQL.

SQLite3 is light-weight, server-less, and requires practically no configuration. However, a SQLite3 database stores its information in a single binary file, and imposes limits on its users when querying a large amount of data.

MySQL is a popular, large-scale database server that’s easy to setup, and features lots of third-party support, expansive functionality for its users, and reads / writes data very quickly. Although, some functionalities get handled a bit less-reliably with MySQL than other RDBMSs, and MySQL does not adhere to SQL compliancy rules.

PostgreSQL is much more server-friendly, featuring high concurrency and the ability to deal with large datasets. Though, it does need to be set up and configured, which may pose as a nuisance toward someone wanting to use NECTOR out of the box. It features tons of bells and whistles, gearing it toward advanced RDBMS users.

Ideally, if you intend on hosting NECTOR on a public-facing server, MySQL or PostgreSQL should be your choice. Otherwise, if you’re working locally or only dealing with a small amount of traffic, SQLite3 will work great.

If you’re still unsure which RDMBS you should use, checkout this DigitalOcean article.

Setting up a SQLite3 Database (Option A)
  1. No manual setup required for a SQLite3 database.
Setting up a MySQL Database (Option B)
  1. Install necessary components.
    $ sudo dnf install mysql mysql-server MySQL-python
  2. Start MySQL on boot. (Optional)
    $ chkconfig --levels 235 mysqld on
  3. Start MySQL process.
    $ service mysqld start
  4. Get MySQL dependency through pip.
    $ pip install mysql-python
  5. Create a database and a database user.
    $ mysql -u root -p
    $ CREATE USER [email protected] IDENTIFIED BY 'password123';
    $ GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON nector.* TO [email protected];
    $ exit
  6. Modify project settings to use your database.
    $ vi nector/

    Find the ‘DATABASE’ section and replace it with:

        'default': {
            'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.mysql',
            'NAME': 'nector',
            'USER': 'myuser',
            'PASSWORD': 'password123',
            'HOST': 'localhost',
            'PORT': '3306',
            'ATOMIC_REQUESTS': True,

    Make sure you change the NAME, USER, PASSWORD, and PORT sections to fit your needs!

Setting up a PostgreSQL Database (Option C)
  1. Install necessary components.
    $ sudo dnf install postgresql postgresql-contrib postgresql-devel postgresql-server
  2. Get PostgreSQL dependency through pip.
    $ pip install psycopg2
  3. Create a database and a database user.
    $ sudo su - postgres
    $ psql
    $ CREATE DATABASE nector;
    $ CREATE USER myuser WITH PASSWORD 'password123';
    $ ALTER ROLE myuser SET client_encoding TO 'utf8';
    $ ALTER ROLE myuser SET default_transaction_isolation TO 'read committed';
    $ ALTER ROLE myuser SET timezone TO 'EST';
    $ \q
    $ exit
  4. Modify project settings to use your database.
    $ vi nector/

    Find the ‘DATABASE’ section and replace it with:

        'default': {
            'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.postgresql_psycopg2',
            'NAME': 'nector',
            'USER': 'myuser',
            'PASSWORD': 'password123',
            'HOST': 'localhost',
            'PORT': '',
            'ATOMIC_REQUESTS': True,

    Make sure you change the USER and PASSWORD sections to fit your needs!

Using Your Secret Key

Note: We should automate this when the user runs the makefile.

Traverse into the nector/ subdirectory and open in a text editor.

$ vi nector/

Find the line


and replace it with your own Django secret key.

Click here to obtain a Secret Key.

Initializing the Database

Django uses migrations to keep track of changes to the database’s tables.

First, create new migrations based on the Django models of your project.

$ python makemigrations

Next, apply the migrations to your database (this will create a database if one does not already exist). Doing this will fill your database with the tables you need for the project.

$ python migrate

Creating Your Data Manually

Getting Hosts with Nmap

Create a file subnets.txt and fill it with your subnets.

$ vi subnets.txt

Use nmap to run a scan on all the hosts in those subnets. Save this scan as hosts.xml

$ nmap -sL -iL subnets.txt -oN hosts.xml
Getting Vulnerabilities with Nessus

Go into Nessus.

Under the Analysis dropdown, select Vulnerabilities.

From the new dropdown box in the top left corner, select Vulnerability List.

In the top right corner, click on the Options dropdown, and select Export as CSV.

Make sure only ‘Plugin ID’, ‘Plugin Name’, ‘Severity’, ‘IP Address’, and ‘DNS Name’ are selected.

Click submit, and save this file as vulnlist.csv in your NECTOR root directory.

Getting Events


Getting Ports

If you haven’t already, create a file subnets.txt and fill it with your subnets.

$ vi subnets.txt

Use nmap to run a popular-ports scan on all the hosts in your subnets.

Save this scan as openports.xml

$ nmap -Pn -sV --version-light -vv -T5 -p17,19,21,22,23,25,53,80,123,137,139,153,161,443,445,548,636,1194,1337,1900,3306,3389,4380,4444,4672,5353,5900,6000,6881,8000,8080,9050,31337 -iL subnets.txt --open -oX openports.xml 2>&1 > /dev/null

This scan may take some time to complete.

Filling in the Gaps

If you were unable to perform any of the above four steps, keep reading. Otherwise, you should skip this step.

Copy the sample data you need from sample-data/ into this project’s root folder.

$ cp sample-data/MISSING-FILE .

Note that you will have to remove the sample- prefix from each file.

Missing Hosts:

$ cp sample-data/sample-hosts.xml hosts.xml

Missing Ports:

$ cp sample-data/sample-openports.xml openports.xml

Missing Vulnerabilities:

$ cp sample-data/sample-vulnlist.csv vulnlist.csv

Missing Events:

$ cp sample-data/sample-events.csv events.csv

Edit the file(s) to use your data.

Do not mess up the formatting!

Populating the Database

In order to use your data, you will have to import it into the database.

$ python

Running NECTOR

Start the server.

$ python runserver

Open a browser and go to

Deactivating the Virtual Environment

If you set up a Virtual Environment, run $ deactivate once you’re done working on NECTOR.


TODO: Add more to this section.

What’s the difference between Events, Alerts, and Incidents?

  • An event is an observed change to the normal behavior of a system, environment, process, workflow or person. Examples: router ACLs were updated, firewall policy was pushed.
  • An alert is a notification that a particular event (or series of events) has occurred, which is sent to responsible parties for the purpose of spawning action. Examples: the events above sent to on-call personnel.
  • An incident is a human-caused, malicious event that leads to (or may lead to) a significant disruption of business. Examples: attacker posts company credentials online, attacker steals customer credit card database, worm spreading through network.*

About the author

Mubassir patel

Mubassir is a founder and developer of this site. He is a computer science engineer. He has a very deep interest in ethical hacking, penetration testing, website development and including all technology topic.

Leave a Comment