13. Setting up IPS/inline for Linux

13.1. Setting up IPS with Netfilter

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to work with Suricata in layer3 inline mode using iptables.

First, start by compiling Suricata with NFQ support. For instructions see Ubuntu Installation. For more information about NFQ and iptables, see NFQ.

To check if you have NFQ enabled in your Suricata build, enter the following command:

suricata --build-info

and make sure that NFQ is listed in the output.

To run Suricata with the NFQ mode, you have to make use of the -q option. This option tells Suricata which queue numbers it should use.

sudo suricata -c /etc/suricata/suricata.yaml -q 0

13.1.1. Iptables configuration

First of all, it is important to know which traffic you would like to send to Suricata. There are two choices:

  1. Traffic that passes your computer
  2. Traffic that is generated by your computer.
_images/IPtables.png _images/iptables1.png

If Suricata is running on a gateway and is meant to protect the computers behind that gateway you are dealing with the first scenario: forward_ing .

If Suricata has to protect the computer it is running on, you are dealing with the second scenario: host (see drawing 2).

These two ways of using Suricata can also be combined.

The easiest rule in case of the gateway-scenario to send traffic to Suricata is:

sudo iptables -I FORWARD -j NFQUEUE

In this case, all forwarded traffic goes to Suricata.

In case of the host situation, these are the two most simple iptables rules;

sudo iptables -I INPUT -j NFQUEUE
sudo iptables -I OUTPUT -j NFQUEUE

It is possible to set a queue number. If you do not, the queue number will be 0 by default.

Imagine you want Suricata to check for example just TCP traffic, or all incoming traffic on port 80, or all traffic on destination-port 80, you can do so like this:

sudo iptables -I INPUT -p tcp  -j NFQUEUE
sudo iptables -I OUTPUT -p tcp -j NFQUEUE

In this case, Suricata checks just TCP traffic.

sudo iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --sport 80  -j NFQUEUE
sudo iptables -I OUTPUT -p tcp --dport 80 -j NFQUEUE

In this example, Suricata checks all input and output on port 80.

_images/iptables2.png _images/IPtables3.png

To see if you have set your iptables rules correct make sure Suricata is running and enter:

sudo iptables -vnL

In the example you can see if packets are being logged.

_images/iptables_vnL.png

This description of the use of iptables is the way to use it with IPv4. To use it with IPv6 all previous mentioned commands have to start with ip6tables. It is also possible to let Suricata check both kinds of traffic.

There is also a way to use iptables with multiple networks (and interface cards). Example:

_images/iptables4.png
sudo iptables -I FORWARD -i eth0 -o eth1 -j NFQUEUE
sudo iptables -I FORWARD -i eth1 -o eth0 -j NFQUEUE

The options -i (input) -o (output) can be combined with all previous mentioned options.

If you would stop Suricata and use internet, the traffic will not come through. To make internet work correctly, first delete all iptables rules.

To erase all iptables rules, enter:

sudo iptables -F

13.1.2. NFtables configuration

The NFtables configuration is straight forward and allows mixing firewall rules with IPS. The concept is to create a dedicated chain for the IPS that will be evaluated after the firewalling rule. If your main table is named filter it can be created like so:

nft> add chain filter IPS { type filter hook forward priority 10;}

To send all forwarded packets to Suricata one can use

nft> add rule filter IPS queue

To only do it for packets exchanged between eth0 and eth1

nft> add rule filter IPS iif eth0 oif eth1 queue
nft> add rule filter IPS iif eth1 oif eth0 queue

13.1.3. NFQUEUE advanced options

The NFQUEUE mechanism supports some interesting options. The nftables configuration will be shown there but the features are also available in iptables.

The full syntax of the queuing mechanism is as follows:

nft add rule filter IPS queue num 3-5 options fanout,bypass

This rule sends matching packets to 3 load-balanced queues starting at 3 and ending at 5. To get the packets in Suricata with this setup, you need to specify multiple queues on command line:

suricata -q 3 -q 4 -q 5

fanout and bypass are the two available options:

  • fanout: When used together with load balancing, this will use the CPU ID instead of connection hash as an index to map packets to the queues. The idea is that you can improve performance if there’s one queue per CPU. This requires total with a number of queues superior to 1 to be specified.
  • bypass: By default, if no userspace program is listening on an Netfilter queue, then all packets that are to be queued are dropped. When this option is used, the queue rule behaves like ACCEPT if there is no program listening, and the packet will move on to the next table.

The bypass option can be used to avoid downtime of link when Suricata is not running but this also means that the blocking feature will not be present.

13.2. Setting up IPS at Layer 2

13.2.1. AF_PACKET IPS mode

AF_PACKET capture method is supporting a IPS/Tap mode. In this mode, you just need the interfaces to be up. Suricata will take care of copying the packets from one interface to the other. No iptables or nftables configuration is necessary.

You need to dedicate two network interfaces for this mode. The configuration is made via configuration variable available in the description of an AF_PACKET interface.

For example, the following configuration will create a Suricata acting as IPS between interface eth0 and eth1:

af-packet:
  - interface: eth0
    threads: 1
    defrag: no
    cluster-type: cluster_flow
    cluster-id: 98
    copy-mode: ips
    copy-iface: eth1
    buffer-size: 64535
    use-mmap: yes
  - interface: eth1
    threads: 1
    cluster-id: 97
    defrag: no
    cluster-type: cluster_flow
    copy-mode: ips
    copy-iface: eth0
    buffer-size: 64535
    use-mmap: yes

This is a basic af-packet configuration using two interfaces. Interface eth0 will copy all received packets to eth1 because of the copy-* configuration variable

copy-mode: ips
copy-iface: eth1

The configuration on eth1 is symmetric

copy-mode: ips
copy-iface: eth0

There are some important points to consider when setting up this mode:

  • The implementation of this mode is dependent of the zero copy mode of AF_PACKET. Thus you need to set use-mmap to yes on both interface.
  • MTU on both interfaces have to be equal: the copy from one interface to the other is direct and packets bigger then the MTU will be dropped by kernel.
  • Set different values of cluster-id on both interfaces to avoid conflict.
  • Any network card offloading creating bigger then physical layer datagram (like GRO, LRO, TSO) will result in dropped packets as the transmit path can not handle them.
  • Set stream.inline to auto or yes so Suricata switches to blocking mode.

The copy-mode variable can take the following values:

  • ips: the drop keyword is honored and matching packets are dropped.
  • tap: no drop occurs, Suricata acts as a bridge

Some specific care must be taken to scale the capture method on multiple threads. As we can’t use defrag that will generate too big frames, the in kernel load balancing will not be correct: the IP-only fragment will not reach the same thread as the full featured packet of the same flow because the port information will not be present.

A solution is to use eBPF load balancing to get an IP pair load balancing without fragmentation. The AF_PACKET IPS Configuration using multiple threads and eBPF load balancing looks like the following:

af-packet:
  - interface: eth0
    threads: 16
    defrag: no
    cluster-type: cluster_ebpf
    ebpf-lb-file: /usr/libexec/suricata/ebpf/lb.bpf
    cluster-id: 98
    copy-mode: ips
    copy-iface: eth1
    buffer-size: 64535
    use-mmap: yes
  - interface: eth1
    threads: 16
    cluster-id: 97
    defrag: no
    cluster-type: cluster_ebpf
    ebpf-lb-file: /usr/libexec/suricata/ebpf/lb.bpf
    copy-mode: ips
    copy-iface: eth0
    buffer-size: 64535
    use-mmap: yes

The eBPF file /usr/libexec/suricata/ebpf/lb.bpf may not be present on disk. See eBPF and XDP for more information.

13.2.2. DPDK IPS mode

In the same way as you would configure AF_PACKET IPS mode, you can configure the DPDK capture module. Prior to starting with IPS (inline) setup, it is recommended to go over Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) manual page to understand the setup essentials.

DPDK IPS mode, similarly to AF-Packet, uses two interfaces. Packets received on the first network interface (0000:3b:00.1) are transmitted by the second network interface (0000:3b:00.0) and similarly, packets received on the second interface (0000:3b:00.0) are transmitted by the first interface (0000:3b:00.1). Packets are not altered in any way in this mode.

The following configuration snippet configures Suricata DPDK IPS mode between two NICs:

dpdk:
  eal-params:
    proc-type: primary

  interfaces:
  - interface: 0000:3b:00.1
    threads: 4
    promisc: true
    multicast: true
    checksum-checks: true
    checksum-checks-offload: true
    mempool-size: 262143
    mempool-cache-size: 511
    rx-descriptors: 4096
    tx-descriptors: 4096
    copy-mode: ips
    copy-iface: 0000:3b:00.0
    mtu: 3000

  - interface: 0000:3b:00.0
    threads: 4
    promisc: true
    multicast: true
    checksum-checks: true
    checksum-checks-offload: true
    mempool-size: 262143
    mempool-cache-size: 511
    rx-descriptors: 4096
    tx-descriptors: 4096
    copy-mode: ips
    copy-iface: 0000:3b:00.1
    mtu: 3000

The previous DPDK configuration snippet outlines several things to consider:

  • copy-mode - see Section AF_PACKET IPS mode for more details.
  • copy-iface - see Section AF_PACKET IPS mode for more details.
  • threads - all interface entries must have their thread count configured and paired/connected interfaces must be configured with the same amount of threads.
  • mtu - MTU must be the same on both paired interfaces.

DPDK capture module also requires having CPU affinity set in the configuration file. For the best performance, every Suricata worker should be pinned to a separate CPU core that is not shared with any other Suricata thread (e.g. management threads). The following snippet shows a possible Threading configuration set-up for DPDK IPS mode.

threading:
  set-cpu-affinity: yes
  cpu-affinity:
    - management-cpu-set:
        cpu: [ 0 ]
    - worker-cpu-set:
        cpu: [ 2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16 ]

13.2.3. Netmap IPS mode

Using Netmap to support IPS requires setting up pairs of interfaces; packets are received on one interface within the pair, inspected by Suricata, and transmitted on the other paired interface. You can use native or host stack mode; host stack mode is used when the interface name contains the ^ character, e.g, enp6s0f0^. host stack mode does not require multiple physical network interfaces.

13.2.3.1. Netmap Host Stack Mode

Netmap’s host stack mode allows packets that flow through Suricata to be used with other host OS applications, e.g., a firewall or similar. Additionally, host stack mode allows traffic to be received and transmitted on one network interface card.

With host stack mode, Netmap establishes a pair of host stack mode rings (one each for RX and TX). Packets pass through the host operating system network protocol stack. Ingress network packets flow from the network interface card to the network protocol stack and then into the host stack mode rings. Outbound packets flow from the host stack mode rings to the network protocol stack and finally, to the network interface card. Suricata receives packets from the host stack mode rings and, in IPS mode, places packets to be transmitted into the host stack mode rings. Packets transmitted by Suricata into the host stack mode rings are available for other host OS applications.

Paired network interfaces are specified in the netmap configuration section. For example, the following configuration will create a Suricata acting as IPS between interface enp6s0f0 and enp6s0f1

netmap:
  - interface: enp6s0f0
    threads: auto
    copy-mode: ips
    copy-iface: enp6s0f1

  - interface: enp6s0f1
    threads: auto
    copy-mode: ips
    copy-iface: enp6s0f0

You can specify the threads value; the default value of auto will create a thread for each queue supported by the NIC; restrict the thread count by specifying a value, e.g., threads: 1

This is a basic netmap configuration using two interfaces. Suricata will copy packets between interfaces enp6s0f0 and en60sf1 because of the copy-* configuration variable in interface’s enp6s0f0 configuration

copy-mode: ips
copy-iface: enp6s0f1

The configuration on enp6s0f1 is symmetric

copy-mode: ips
copy-iface: enp6s0f0

The host stack mode feature of Netmap can be used. host stack mode doesn’t require a second network interface.

This example demonstrates host stack mode with a single physical network interface enp6s0f01

- interface: enp60s0f0
  copy-mode: ips
  copy-iface: enp6s0f0^

The configuration on enp6s0f0^ is symmetric

- interface: enp60s0f0^
  copy-mode: ips
  copy-iface: enp6s0f0

Suricata will use zero-copy mode when the runmode is workers.

There are some important points to consider when setting up this mode:

  • Any network card offloading creating bigger then physical layer datagram (like GRO, LRO, TSO) will result in dropped packets as the transmit path can not handle them.
  • Set stream.inline to auto or yes so Suricata switches to blocking mode. The default value is auto.

The copy-mode variable can take the following values:

  • ips: the drop keyword is honored and matching packets are dropped.
  • tap: no drop occurs, Suricata acts as a bridge