Suricata 3.0 is out!

suri-400x400Today, almost 2 years after the release of Suricata 2.0, we released 3.0! This new version of Suricata improves performance, scalability, accuracy and general robustness. Next to this, it brings a lot of new features.

New features are too numerous to mention here, but I’d like to highlight a few:

  • netmap support: finally a high speed capture method for our FreeBSD friends, IDS and IPS
  • multi-tenancy: single instance, multiple detection configs
  • JSON stats: making it much easier to graph the stats in ELK, etc
  • Much improved Lua support: many more fields/protocols available, output scripts

Check the full list here in the announcement:

New release model

As explained here, this is the first release of the new release model where we’ll be trying for 3 ‘major’ releases a year. We originally hoped for a month of release candidate cycles, but due to some issues found and the holidays + travel on my end it turned into 2 months.

My goal is to optimize our testing and planning to reduce this further, as this release cycle process is effectively an implicit ‘freeze’. Take a look at the number of open pull requests to see what I mean. For the next cycle I’ll also make the freeze explicit, and announce it.

Looking forward

While doing a release is great, my mind is already busy with the next steps. We have a bunch of things coming that are exciting to me.

Performance: my detection engine rewrite work has been tested by many already, and reports are quite positive. I’ve heard reports up to 25% increase, which is a great bonus considering the work was started to clean up this messy code.

ICS/SCADA: Jason Ish is finalizing a DNP3 parser that is very full featured, with detection, logging and lua support. Other protocols are also being developed.

Documentation: we’re in the process of moving our user docs from the wiki to sphinx. This means we’ll have versioned docs, nice pdf exports, etc. It’s already 180 pages!

Plus lots of other things. Keep an eye out on our mailing lists, bug tracker or IRC channel.

New Suricata release model

suri-400x400As the team is back from a very successful week in Barcelona, I’d like to take a moment on what we discussed and decided on with regards to development.

One thing no one was happy with is how the release schedules are working. Releases were meant to reasonably frequent, but the time between major releases was growing longer and longer. The 2.0 branch for example, is closing in on 2 years as the stable branch. The result is that many people are missing out on many of the improvements we’ve been doing. Currently many people using Suricata actually use a beta version, of even our git master, in production!

What we’re going to try is time based releases. Pretty much releases will be more like snapshots of the development branch. We think this can work as our dev branch is more and more stable due to our extensive QA setup.

Of course, we’ll have to make sure we’re not going to merge super intrusive changes just before a release. We’ll likely get into some pattern of merge windows and (feature) freezes, but how this will exactly play out is something we’ll figure out as we go.

We’re going to try to shoot for 3 of such releases per year.

In our redmine ticket tracker, I’ve also created a new pseudo-version ‘Soon’. Things we think should be addressed for the next release, will be added there. But we’ll retarget the tickets when they are actually implemented.

Since it’s already almost 2 years since we’ve done 2.0, we think the next release warrants a larger jump in the versioning. So we’re going to call it 3.0. The first release candidate will likely be released this week hopefully followed by a stable in December.

Suricata has been added to Debian Backports

Thanks to the hard work of Arturo Borrero Gonzalez, Suricata has just been added to the openlogo-100Debian ‘backports’ repository. This allows users of Debian stable to run up to date versions of Suricata.

The ‘Backports’ repository makes the Suricata and libhtp packages from Debian Testing available to ‘stable’ users. As ‘testing’ is currently in a freeze, it may take a bit of time before 2.0.5 and libhtp 0.5.16 appear.

Anyway, here is how to use it.


First add backports repo to your sources:

# echo "deb wheezy-backports main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/backports.list
# apt-get update

As explained here, this will not affect your normal packages.

To prove this, check:

# apt-get install suricata -s
Conf libhtp1 (0.2.6-2 Debian:7.7/stable [amd64])
Conf suricata (1.2.1-2 Debian:7.7/stable [amd64])

Not what we want, as that is still the old version.

To install Suricata from backports, we need to specify the repo:

# apt-get install -t wheezy-backports suricata -s
Conf libhtp1 (0.5.15-1~bpo70+1 Debian Backports:/wheezy-backports [amd64])
Conf suricata (2.0.4-1~bpo70+1 Debian Backports:/wheezy-backports [amd64])

Let’s do it!

# apt-get install -t wheezy-backports suricata
Setting up suricata (2.0.4-1~bpo70+1) ...
[FAIL] suricata disabled, please adjust the configuration to your needs ... failed!
[FAIL] and then set RUN to 'yes' in /etc/default/suricata to enable it. ... failed!

Suricata 2.0.4 is now installed, but it’s not yet running.
To see what features have been compiled in, run:

# suricata --build-info
This is Suricata version 2.0.4 RELEASE

Suricata Configuration:
  AF_PACKET support:                       yes
  PF_RING support:                         no
  NFQueue support:                         yes
  NFLOG support:                           no
  IPFW support:                            no
  DAG enabled:                             no
  Napatech enabled:                        no
  Unix socket enabled:                     yes
  Detection enabled:                       yes

  libnss support:                          yes
  libnspr support:                         yes
  libjansson support:                      yes
  Prelude support:                         yes
  PCRE jit:                                yes
  LUA support:                             yes
  libluajit:                               yes
  libgeoip:                                no
  Non-bundled htp:                         yes
  Old barnyard2 support:                   no
  CUDA enabled:                            no

  Suricatasc install:                      yes

It has Luajit enabled, libjansson for the JSON output, NFQ and AF_PACKET IPS modes, NSS for MD5 checksums and unix sockets. Quite a good feature set.


To get it running, we need a few more steps:

Edit /etc/default/suricata:

1. Change RUN=no to RUN=yes
2. Change LISTENMODE to “af-packet”:

Now lets start it.

# service suricata start
Starting suricata in IDS (af-packet) mode... done.

And confirm that it’s running.

# ps aux|grep suricata
root     20295  1.8  4.1 200212 42544 ?        Ssl  00:50   0:00 /usr/bin/suricata -c /etc/suricata/suricata-debian.yaml --pidfile /var/run/ --af-packet -D

Check if we’re seeing traffic:

# tail /var/log/suricata/stats.log -f|grep capture
capture.kernel_packets    | RxAFPeth01                | 406
capture.kernel_drops      | RxAFPeth01                | 0
capture.kernel_packets    | RxAFPeth11                | 0
capture.kernel_drops      | RxAFPeth11                | 0
capture.kernel_packets    | RxAFPeth01                | 411
capture.kernel_drops      | RxAFPeth01                | 0
capture.kernel_packets    | RxAFPeth11                | 0
capture.kernel_drops      | RxAFPeth11                | 0
capture.kernel_packets    | RxAFPeth01                | 417
capture.kernel_drops      | RxAFPeth01                | 0
capture.kernel_packets    | RxAFPeth11                | 0
capture.kernel_drops      | RxAFPeth11                | 0
capture.kernel_packets    | RxAFPeth01                | 587
capture.kernel_drops      | RxAFPeth01                | 0
capture.kernel_packets    | RxAFPeth11                | 0
capture.kernel_drops      | RxAFPeth11                | 0
capture.kernel_packets    | RxAFPeth01                | 593
capture.kernel_drops      | RxAFPeth01                | 0
capture.kernel_packets    | RxAFPeth11                | 0
capture.kernel_drops      | RxAFPeth11                | 0


As the init script starts Suricata in daemon mode, we need to enable logging to file:

Edit /etc/suricata/suricata-debian.yaml and go to the “logging:” section, there change the “file” portion to look like:

  - file:
      enabled: yes
      filename: /var/log/suricata/suricata.log

Note: in the YAML indentation matters, so make sure it’s exactly right.


Oinkmaster is automatically installed, so lets use that:

First create the rules directory:

mkdir /etc/suricata/rules/

Open /etc/oinkmaster.conf in your editor and add:

url =

Then run:

# oinkmaster -C /etc/oinkmaster.conf -o /etc/suricata/rules
Loading /etc/oinkmaster.conf
Downloading file from done.

Edit /etc/suricata/suricata-debian.yaml and change “default-rule-path” to:

default-rule-path: /etc/suricata/rules

Finally, restart to load the new rules:

# service suricata restart


Now that Suricata is running with rules, lets see if it works:

# wget
--2015-01-08 01:21:30--
Resolving (

This should trigger a specific rule:

# tail /var/log/suricata/fast.log 
01/08/2015-01:21:30.870346  [**] [1:2100498:7] GPL ATTACK_RESPONSE id check returned root [**] [Classification: Potentially Bad Traffic] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->

Success! 🙂


Thanks to Arturo Borrero Gonzalez for taking on this work for us. Also many thanks for Pierre Chifflier for maintaining the Suricata and libhtp packages in Debian.

Profiling Suricata with JEMALLOC

JEMALLOC is a memory allocation library:

It offers many interesting things for a tool like Suricata. Ken Steele of EZchip (formerly Tilera) made me aware of it. In Ken’s testing it helps performance.


tar xvfj jemalloc-3.6.0.tar.bz2
cd jemalloc-3.6.0
./configure --prefix=/opt/jemalloc/
sudo make install

Then use it by preloading it:

LD_PRELOAD=/opt/jemalloc/lib/ ./src/suricata -c suricata.yaml -l tmp/ -r ~/sync/pcap/sandnet.pcap -S emerging-all.rules -v

I haven’t benchmarked this, but if you’re running a high performance setup it may certainly be worth a shot.


The library comes with many interesting profiling and debugging features.

make clean
./configure --prefix=/opt/jemalloc-prof/ --enable-prof
sudo make install

Start Suricata like this:

LD_PRELOAD=/opt/jemalloc-prof/lib/ ./src/suricata -c suricata.yaml -l tmp/ -r ~/sync/pcap/sandnet.pcap -S emerging-all.rules -v

Now we don’t see any change as we need to tell jemalloc what we want.

Exit stats

Dumps a lot of stats to the screen.

MALLOC_CONF=stats_print:true LD_PRELOAD=/opt/jemalloc-prof/lib/ ./src/suricata -c suricata.yaml -l tmp/ -r ~/sync/pcap/sandnet.pcap -S emerging-all.rules -v

Memory leak checks

MALLOC_CONF=prof_leak:true,lg_prof_sample:0 LD_PRELOAD=/opt/jemalloc-prof/lib/ ./src/suricata -c suricata.yaml -l tmp/ -r ~/sync/pcap/sandnet.pcap -S emerging-all.rules -v
[... suricata output ...]
<jemalloc>: Leak summary: 2011400 bytes, 4523 objects, 645 contexts
<jemalloc>: Run pprof on "jeprof.22760.0.f.heap" for leak detail

Then use the pprof tool that comes with jemalloc to inspect the dumped stats.

$ /opt/jemalloc-prof/bin/pprof --show_bytes ./src/suricata jeprof.22760.0.f.heap
Using local file ./src/suricata.
Using local file jeprof.22760.0.f.heap.
Welcome to pprof!  For help, type 'help'.
(pprof) top
Total: 2011400 B
1050112  52.2%  52.2%  1050112  52.2% PacketGetFromAlloc
600064  29.8%  82.0%   600064  29.8% SCProfilePacketStart
103936   5.2%  87.2%   103936   5.2% SCACCreateDeltaTable
65536   3.3%  90.5%    66192   3.3% pcap_fopen_offline
35520   1.8%  92.2%    35520   1.8% ConfNodeNew
26688   1.3%  93.6%    26688   1.3% __GI___strdup
20480   1.0%  94.6%    20480   1.0% MemBufferCreateNew
20480   1.0%  95.6%    20480   1.0% _TmSlotSetFuncAppend
14304   0.7%  96.3%    14304   0.7% pcre_compile2
14064   0.7%  97.0%    25736   1.3% SCPerfRegisterQualifiedCounter

So it seems we don’t properly clean up our packet pools yet.

Create a PDF of this info:

$ /opt/jemalloc-prof/bin/pprof --show_bytes --pdf ./src/suricata jeprof.22760.0.f.heap > jemalloc.pdf

Dumping stats during runtime

Dump stats after every 16MiB of allocations (lg_prof_interval:24, means every 2^24 bytes, so 16MiB)

I’ve done this in a separate directory since it dumps many files.

$ mkdir jemalloc-profile
$ cd jemalloc-profile/
$ MALLOC_CONF="prof:true,prof_prefix:victor.out,lg_prof_interval:24" LD_PRELOAD=/opt/jemalloc-prof/lib/ ../src/suricata -c ../suricata.yaml -l ../tmp/ -r ~/sync/pcap/sandnet.pcap -S ../emerging-all.rules -v

Then you should see new *.heap files appear, many during startup. But after some time it should slow down.

You can then visualize the diff between two dumps:

$ /opt/jemalloc-prof/bin/pprof --show_bytes --pdf ../src/suricata --base victor.out.24159.150.i150.heap victor.out.24159.200.i200.heap > jemalloc.pdf

This creates a PDF of the 200th dump taking the 150th dump as a baseline. As we dump every ~16MiB, this covers about 50 * 16 = 800MiB worth of allocations.

Further reading

Many thanks to Ken Steele for pointing me to the lib and providing me with some good examples.

Suricata Training Tour

After a lot of preparations, it’s finally going to happen: official Suricata trainings!

In the next couple of months I’ll be doing at least 3 sessions: a home match (Amsterdam), a workshop in Luxembourg and a session at DeepSec. Next to this, we’re planning various US based sessions on the East coast and West coast.

I’m really looking forward to doing these sessions. Other than the official content, there will be plenty of room for questions and discussions.

Hope to see you soon! 🙂

Suricata 2.0 and beyond

Today I finally released Suricata 2.0. The 2.0 branch opened in December 2012. In the little over a year that it’s development lasted, we have closed 183 tickets. We made 1174 commits, with the following stats:

582 files changed, 94782 insertions(+), 63243 deletions(-)

So, a significant update! In total, 17 different people made commits. I’m really happy with how much code and features were contributed. When starting Suricata this was what I really hoped for, and it seems to be working!


The feature I’m most excited about is ‘Eve’. It’s the nickname of a new logging output module ‘Extendible Event Format’. It’s an all JSON event stream that is very easy to parse using 3rd party tools. The heavy lifting has been done by Tom Decanio. Combined with Logstash, Elasticsearch and Kibana, this allows for really easy graphical dashboard creation. This is a nice addition to the existing tools which are generally more alert centered.

kibana300 kibana300map kibana-suri

Splunk support is easy as well, as Eric Leblond has shown:


Looking forward

While doing releases is important and somewhat nice too, the developer in me is always glad when they are over. Leading up to a release there is a slow down of development, when most time is spent on fixing release critical bugs and doing some polishing. This slow down is a necessary evil, but I’m glad when we can start merging bigger changes again.

In the short term, I shooting for a fairly quick 2.0.1 release. There are some known issues that will be addressed in that.

More interestingly from a development perspective is the opening of the 2.1 branch. I’ll likely open that in a few weeks. There are a number of features in progress for 2.1. I’m working on speeding up pcap recording, which is currently quite inefficient. More interestingly, Lua output scripting. A preview of this work is available here  with some example scripts here.

Others are working on nice things as well: improving protocol support for detection and logging, nflog and netmap support, taxii/stix integration, extending our TLS support and more.

I’m hoping the 2.1 cycle will be shorter than the last, but we’ll see how it goes 🙂

Suricata Development Update

SuricataWith the holidays approaching and the 1.4.7 and 2.0beta2 releases out, I thought it was a good moment for some reflection on how development is going.

I feel things are going very well. It’s great to work with a group that approaches this project from different angles. OISF has budget have people work on overall features, quality and support. Next to that, our consortium supporters help develop the project: Tilera’s Ken Steele is working on the Tile hardware support, doing lots optimizations. Many of which benefit performance and overall quality for the whole project. Tom Decanio of Npulse is doing great work on the output side, unifying the outputs to be machine readable. Jason Ish of Emulex/Endace is helping out the configuration API, defrag, etc. Others, both from the larger community and our consortium, are helping as well.


At our last meetup in Luxembourg, we’ve spend quite a bit of time discussing how we can improve the quality of Suricata. Since then, we’ve been working hard to add better and more regression and quality testing.

We’ve been using a Buildbot setup for some time now, where on a number of platforms we do basic build testing. First, this was done only against the git master(s). Eric has then created a new method using a script call prscript. It’s purpose is to push a git branch to our buildbot _before_ it’s even considered for inclusion.

Recently, with cooperation of Emerging Threats, we’ve been extending this setup to include a large set of rule+pcap matches that are checked against each commit. This too is part of the pre-include QA process.

There are many more plans to extend this setup further. I’ve set up a private buildbot instance to serve as a staging area. Things we’ll be adding soon:
– valgrind testing
– DrMemory testing
– clang/scan-build
– cppcheck

Ideally, each of those tools would report 0 issues, but thats hard in practice. Sometimes there are false positives. Most tools support some form of suppression, so one of the tasks is to create those.

We’ve spend some time updating our documents regarding contributing to our code base. Please take a moment to a general contribution page, aimed at devs new to the project.

Next to this, this document describes quality requirements for our code, commits and pull requests.

Suricata 2.0

Our roadmap shows a late January 2.0 final release. It might slip a little bit, as we have a few larger changes to make:
– a logging API rewrite is in progress
“united” output, an all JSON log method written by Tom Decanio of Npulse [5]
app-layer API cleanup and update that Anoop is working on [6]

Wrapping up, I think 2013 was a very good year for Suricata. 2014 will hopefully be even better. We will be announcing some new support soon, are improving our training curicullum and will just be working hard to make Suricata better.

But first, the holidays. Cheers!