8.2. Global-Thresholds

Thresholds can be configured in the rules themselves, see Rule Thresholding. They are often set by rule writers based on their intel for creating a rule combined with a judgement on how often a rule will alert.

8.2.1. Threshold Config

Next to rule thresholding more thresholding can be configured on the sensor using the threshold.config. threshold/event_filter


threshold gen_id <gid>, sig_id <sid>, type <threshold|limit|both>, \
  track <by_src|by_dst>, count <N>, seconds <T> rate_filter

Rate filters allow changing of a rule action when a rule matches.


rate_filter: rate_filter gen_id <gid>, sig_id <sid>, track <tracker>, \
  count <c>, seconds <s>, new_action <action>, timeout <timeout>


rate_filter gen_id 1, sig_id 1000, track by_rule, count 100, seconds 60, \
  new_action alert, timeout 30 gen_id

Generator id. Normally 1, but if a rule uses the gid keyword to set another value it has to be matched in the gen_id. sig_id

Rule/signature id as set by the rule sid keyword. track

Where to track the rule matches. When using by_src/by_dst the tracking is done per IP-address. The Host table is used for storage. When using by_rule it’s done globally for the rule. count

Number of rule hits before the rate_filter is activated. seconds

Time period within which the count needs to be reached to activate the rate_filter new_action

New action that is applied to matching traffic when the rate_filter is in place.



Note: ‘sdrop’ and ‘log’ are supported by the parser but not implemented otherwise. timeout

Time in seconds during which the rate_filter will remain active. Example

Lets say we want to limit incoming connections to our SSH server. The rule 888 below simply alerts on SYN packets to the SSH port of our SSH server. If an IP-address triggers this more than 10 or more with a minute, the drop rate_filter is set with a timeout of 5 minutes.


alert tcp any any -> $MY_SSH_SERVER 22 (msg:"Connection to SSH server"; \
  flow:to_server; flags:S,12; sid:888;)

Rate filter:

rate_filter gen_id 1, sig_id 888, track by_src, count 10, seconds 60, \
  new_action drop, timeout 300 suppress

Suppressions can be used to suppress alerts for a rule or a host/network. Actions performed when a rule matches, such as setting a flowbit, are still performed.


suppress gen_id <gid>, sig_id <sid>
suppress gen_id <gid>, sig_id <sid>, track <by_src|by_dst>, ip <ip|subnet>


suppress gen_id 1, sig_id 2002087, track by_src, ip

This will make sure the signature 2002087 will never match for src host

Other possibilities/examples:

suppress gen_id 1, sig_id 2003614, track by_src, ip
suppress gen_id 1, sig_id 2003614, track by_src, ip [,,]
suppress gen_id 1, sig_id 2003614, track by_src, ip $HOME_NET

8.2.2. Global thresholds vs rule thresholds

Note: this section applies to 1.4+ In 1.3 and before mixing rule and global thresholds is not supported.

When a rule has a threshold/detection_filter set a rule can still be affected by the global threshold file.

The rule below will only fire if 10 or more emails are being delivered/sent from a host within 60 seconds.

alert tcp any any -> any 25 (msg:"ET POLICY Inbound Frequent Emails - Possible Spambot Inbound"; \
     flow:established; content:"mail from|3a|"; nocase;                                          \
     threshold: type threshold, track by_src, count 10, seconds 60;                              \
     reference:url,doc.emergingthreats.net/2002087; classtype:misc-activity; sid:2002087; rev:10;)

Next, we’ll see how global settings affect this rule. Suppress

Suppressions can be combined with rules with thresholds/detection_filters with no exceptions.

suppress gen_id 1, sig_id 2002087, track by_src, ip
suppress gen_id 0, sig_id 0, track by_src, ip
suppress gen_id 1, sig_id 0, track by_src, ip

Each of the rules above will make sure 2002087 doesn’t alert when the source of the emails is It will alert for all other hosts.

suppress gen_id 1, sig_id 2002087

This suppression will simply convert the rule to “noalert”, meaning it will never alert in any case. If the rule sets a flowbit, that will still happen. Threshold/event_filter

When applied to a specific signature, thresholds and event_filters (threshold from now on) will override the signature setting. This can be useful for when the default in a signature doesn’t suit your evironment.

threshold gen_id 1, sig_id 2002087, type both, track by_src, count 3, seconds 5
threshold gen_id 1, sig_id 2002087, type threshold, track by_src, count 10, seconds 60
threshold gen_id 1, sig_id 2002087, type limit, track by_src, count 1, seconds 15

Each of these will replace the threshold setting for 2002087 by the new threshold setting.

Note: overriding all gids or sids (by using gen_id 0 or sig_id 0) is not supported. Bug #425. Rate_filter