Python Transform Server using TRX + Apache2

Modified on: Thu, 5 Oct, 2023 at 7:10 PM

This article will walk you through setting up a Python Transform using Apache2 and our Maltego-TRX library hosted on Github

The Maltego-TRX library is the official Maltego Python library used for developing local and TDS Transforms.

Maltego-TRX 1.3.2 supports both Python2.7 & Python3

The files used for this article can be found in the Apache demo folder of the Maltego-TRX Github project.

Provisioning the host

We will be using an Ubuntu 18.04 host machine for our Transform server. 

We will need to install the following dependencies.

Install System Dependencies

apt-get update
apt-get install apache2 libapache2-mod-wsgi python-pip -y

Install Python Dependencies

pip install maltego-trx

Start a new project

We will need to create a project folder to hold our Transform code. In this example, we will use the project folder "/var/www/TRX/".

We can create a new project folder, with the recommended project structure using the following commands:

cd /var/www/
maltego-trx start TRX

This will create the project folder "/var/www/TRX" with the recommended folder structure.

The user that runs the production server will be www-data. We will need to make www-data the owner of our project folder. We can do this using the following command:

chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/TRX/

We can then enter our project folder and run the commands needed to start the server:

cd TRX

Configure Apache2

We will need to add a configuration file for Apache2 to run on our Transform server.

We are looking to run the WSGI server from "/var/www/TRX/" on port "8080".

In order to do this, we will need an apache config file called "TRX.conf" which contains the following.

Create TRX.conf file in the directory "/etc/apache2/sites-available".

<VirtualHost *:8080>
    WSGIDaemonProcess TRX user=www-data group=www-data threads=25 python-path=/var/www/TRX/
    WSGIScriptAlias / /var/www/TRX/

    <Directory /var/www/TRX>
        WSGIProcessGroup TRX
        WSGIApplicationGroup %{GLOBAL}
        Order deny,allow
        Allow from all

Ensure that the python-path points your project folder.

Start the apache2 server if it is not already started.

service apache2 start

After adding the TRX config file, activate it using the following command:

a2ensite TRX.conf
#To activate the new configuration, you need to run:
service apache2 reload

We will also need to configure Apache2 to listen on port 8080, to do this we need to add the line "Listen 8080" to the file "/etc/apache2/ports.conf". 

One way of doing this is to run the following command to append the line to the end of the file:

echo "Listen 8080" >> /etc/apache2/ports.conf
service apache2 reload

Start the Server

 Development Server 

If we are developing and debugging new Transforms, then it is better to use a lightweight Transform server that restarts every time the code is changed.

Remember to stop the apache service first to free up port 8080:

systemctl stop apache2.service

To run the development server, run the following command:

python runserver

The server should start up and print out the available Transforms and their names:

=== Maltego Transform Server: v1.3.1 ===

= Transform Server URLs =
/run/dnstoip/: DNSToIP
/run/greetperson/: GreetPerson

= Local Transform Names =
dnstoip: DNSToIP
greetperson: GreetPerson

The default project setup contains the DNSToIP and GreetPerson Transforms which we can see are listed above.

To test that the server is running correctly, we can navigate to http://<server_host>:<port> in our browser, and we should receive the following response:

You have reached a Maltego Transform Server.

 Production Server 

Once you are finished developing and testing your transforms, it is better to run a more robust setup using Apache.

First, make sure the development server is no longer running (Ctrl + C).

Then restart apache using the command:

service apache2 restart

Again, we can check that the server is running by opening http://<server_host>:<port> in our browser.

To list all available Transforms you can use this command:

cd /var/www/TRX/
python list

Then you should see a similar output:

= Transform Server URLs =
/run/dnstoip/: DNSToIP
/run/greetperson/: GreetPerson

= Local Transform Names =
dnstoip: DNSToIP
greetperson: GreetPerson

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