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Tracing Policy

Documentation for the TracingPolicy custom resource

Tetragon’s TracingPolicy is a user-configurable Kubernetes custom resource (CR) that allows users to trace arbitrary events in the kernel and optionally define actions to take on a match. Policies consist of a hook point (kprobes, tracepoints, and uprobes are supported), and selectors for in-kernel filtering and specifying actions. For more details, see hook points page and the selectors page.

For the complete custom resource definition (CRD) refer to the YAML file cilium.io_tracingpolicies.yaml. One practical way to explore the CRD is to use kubectl explain against a Kubernetes API server on which it is installed, for example kubectl explain tracingpolicy.spec.kprobes provides field-specific documentation and details on kprobe spec.

Tracing Policies can be loaded and unloaded at runtime in Tetragon, or on startup using flags.

  • With Kubernetes, you can use kubectl to add and remove a TracingPolicy.
  • You can use tetra gRPC CLI to add and remove a TracingPolicy.
  • You can use the --tracing-policy and --tracing-policy-dir flags to statically add policies at startup time, see more in the daemon configuration page.

Hence, even though Tracing Policies are structured as a Kubernetes CR, they can also be used in non-Kubernetes environments using the last two loading methods.

1 - Example

Learn the basics of Tracing Policy via an example

To discover TracingPolicy, let’s understand via an example that will be explained, part by part, in this document:

apiVersion: cilium.io/v1alpha1
kind: TracingPolicy
metadata:
  name: "fd-install"
spec:
  kprobes:
  - call: "fd_install"
    syscall: false
    args:
    - index: 0
      type: "int"
    - index: 1
      type: "file"
    selectors:
    - matchArgs:
      - index: 1
        operator: "Equal"
        values:
        - "/tmp/tetragon"
      matchActions:
      - action: Sigkill

The policy checks for file descriptors being created, and sends a SIGKILL signal to any process that creates a file descriptor to a file named /tmp/tetragon. We discuss the policy in more detail next.

Required fields

apiVersion: cilium.io/v1alpha1
kind: TracingPolicy
metadata:
  name: "fd-install"

The first part follows a common pattern among all Cilium Policies or more widely Kubernetes object. It first declares the Kubernetes API used, then the kind of Kubernetes object it is in this API and an arbitrary name for the object that has to comply with Kubernetes naming convention.

Hook point

spec:
  kprobes:
  - call: "fd_install"
    syscall: false
    args:
    - index: 0
      type: "int"
    - index: 1
      type: "file"

The beginning of the specification describes the hook point to use. Here we are using a kprobe, hooking on the kernel function fd_install. That’s the kernel function that gets called when a new file descriptor is created. We indicate that it’s not a syscall, but a regular kernel function. We then specify the function arguments, so that Tetragon’s BPF code will extract and optionally perform filtering on them.

See the hook points page for further information on the various hook points available and arguments.

Selectors

    selectors:
    - matchArgs:
      - index: 1
        operator: "Equal"
        values:
        - "/tmp/tetragon"
      matchActions:
      - action: Sigkill

Selectors allow you to filter on the events to extract only a subset of the events based on different properties and optionally take an action.

In the example, we filter on the argument at index 1, passing a file struct to the function. Tetragon has the knowledge on how to apply the Equal operator over a Linux kernel file struct and match on the path of the file.

Then we add the Sigkill action, meaning, that any match of the selector should send a SIGKILL signal to the process that initiated the event.

Learn more about the various selectors in the dedicated selectors page.

Policy effect

First, let’s create the /tmp/tetragon file with some content:

echo eBPF! > /tmp/tetragon

You can save the policy in an example.yaml file, compile Tetragon locally, and start Tetragon:

sudo ./tetragon --bpf-lib bpf/objs --tracing-policy example.yaml

(See Quick Kubernetes Install and Quick Local Docker Install for other ways to start Tetragon.)

Once the Tetragon starts, you can monitor events using tetra, the tetragon CLI:

./tetra tetra getevents -o compact

Reading the /tmp/tetragon file with cat:

cat /tmp/tetragon

Results in the following events:

🚀 process  /usr/bin/cat /tmp/tetragon
📬 open     /usr/bin/cat /tmp/tetragon
💥 exit     /usr/bin/cat /tmp/tetragon SIGKILL

And the shell where the cat command was performed will return:

Killed

See more

For more examples of tracing policies, take a look at the examples/tracingpolicy folder in the Tetragon repository. Also read the following sections on hook points and selectors.

2 - Hook points

Hook points for Tracing Policies and arguments description

Tetragon can hook into the kernel using kprobes and tracepoints, as well as in user-space programs using uprobes. Users can configure these hook points using the correspodning sections of the TracingPolicy specification (.spec). These hook points include arguments and return values that can be specified using the args and returnArg fields as detailed in the following sections.

Kprobes

Kprobes enables you to dynamically hook into any kernel function and execute BPF code. Because kernel functions might change across versions, kprobes are highly tied to your kernel version and, thus, might not be portable across different kernels.

Conveniently, you can list all kernel symbols reading the /proc/kallsyms file. For example to search for the write syscall kernel function, you can execute sudo grep sys_write /proc/kallsyms, the output should be similar to this, minus the architecture specific prefixes.

ffffdeb14ea712e0 T __arm64_sys_writev
ffffdeb14ea73010 T ksys_write
ffffdeb14ea73140 T __arm64_sys_write
ffffdeb14eb5a460 t proc_sys_write
ffffdeb15092a700 d _eil_addr___arm64_sys_writev
ffffdeb15092a740 d _eil_addr___arm64_sys_write

You can see that the exact name of the symbol for the write syscall on our kernel version is __arm64_sys_write. Note that on x86_64, the prefix would be __x64_ instead of __arm64_.

In our example, we will explore a kprobe hooking into the fd_install kernel function. The fd_install kernel function is called each time a file descriptor is installed into the file descriptor table of a process, typically referenced within system calls like open or openat. Hooking fd_install has its benefits and limitations, which are out of the scope of this guide.

spec:
  kprobes:
  - call: "fd_install"
    syscall: false

Kprobes calls can be defined independently in different policies, or together in the same Policy. For example, we can define trace multiple kprobes under the same tracing policy:

spec:
  kprobes:
  - call: "sys_read"
    syscall: true
    # [...]
  - call: "sys_write"
    syscall: true
    # [...]

Tracepoints

Tracepoints are statically defined in the kernel and have the advantage of being stable across kernel versions and thus more portable than kprobes.

To see the list of tracepoints available on your kernel, you can list them using sudo ls /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/events, the output should be similar to this.

alarmtimer    ext4            iommu           page_pool     sock
avc           fib             ipi             pagemap       spi
block         fib6            irq             percpu        swiotlb
bpf_test_run  filelock        jbd2            power         sync_trace
bpf_trace     filemap         kmem            printk        syscalls
bridge        fs_dax          kvm             pwm           task
btrfs         ftrace          libata          qdisc         tcp
cfg80211      gpio            lock            ras           tegra_apb_dma
cgroup        hda             mctp            raw_syscalls  thermal
clk           hda_controller  mdio            rcu           thermal_power_allocator
cma           hda_intel       migrate         regmap        thermal_pressure
compaction    header_event    mmap            regulator     thp
cpuhp         header_page     mmap_lock       rpm           timer
cros_ec       huge_memory     mmc             rpmh          tlb
dev           hwmon           module          rseq          tls
devfreq       i2c             mptcp           rtc           udp
devlink       i2c_slave       napi            sched         vmscan
dma_fence     initcall        neigh           scmi          wbt
drm           interconnect    net             scsi          workqueue
emulation     io_uring        netlink         signal        writeback
enable        iocost          oom             skb           xdp
error_report  iomap           page_isolation  smbus         xhci-hcd

You can then choose the subsystem that you want to trace, and look the tracepoint you want to use and its format. For example, if we choose the netif_receive_skb tracepoints from the net subsystem, we can read its format with sudo cat /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/events/net/netif_receive_skb/format, the output should be similar to the following.

name: netif_receive_skb
ID: 1398
format:
        field:unsigned short common_type;       offset:0;       size:2; signed:0;
        field:unsigned char common_flags;       offset:2;       size:1; signed:0;
        field:unsigned char common_preempt_count;       offset:3;       size:1; signed:0;
        field:int common_pid;   offset:4;       size:4; signed:1;

        field:void * skbaddr;   offset:8;       size:8; signed:0;
        field:unsigned int len; offset:16;      size:4; signed:0;
        field:__data_loc char[] name;   offset:20;      size:4; signed:0;

print fmt: "dev=%s skbaddr=%px len=%u", __get_str(name), REC->skbaddr, REC->len

Similarly to kprobes, tracepoints can also hook into system calls. For more details, see the raw_syscalls and syscalls subysystems.

An example of tracepoints TracingPolicy could be the following, observing all syscalls and getting the syscall ID from the argument at index 4:

apiVersion: cilium.io/v1alpha1
kind: TracingPolicy
metadata:
  name: "raw-syscalls"
spec:
  tracepoints:
  - subsystem: "raw_syscalls"
    event: "sys_enter"
    args:
    - index: 4
      type: "int64"

Uprobes

Uprobes are similar to kprobes, but they allow you to dynamically hook into any user-space function and execute BPF code. Uprobes are also tied to the binary version of the user-space program, so they may not be portable across different versions or architectures.

To use uprobes, you need to specify the path to the executable or library file, and the symbol of the function you want to probe. You can use tools like objdump, nm, or readelf to find the symbol of a function in a binary file. For example, to find the readline symbol in /bin/bash using nm, you can run:

nm -D /bin/bash | grep readline

The output should look similar to this, with a few lines redacted:

[...]
000000000009f2b0 T pcomp_set_readline_variables
0000000000097e40 T posix_readline_initialize
00000000000d5690 T readline
00000000000d52f0 T readline_internal_char
00000000000d42d0 T readline_internal_setup
[...]

You can see in the nm output: first the symbol value, then the symbol type, for the readline symbol T meaning that this symbol is in the text (code) section of the binary, and finally the symbol name. This confirms that the readline symbol is present in the /bin/bash binary and might be a function name that we can hook with a uprobe.

You can define multiple uprobes in the same policy, or in different policies. You can also combine uprobes with kprobes and tracepoints to get a comprehensive view of the system behavior.

Here is an example of a policy that defines an uprobe for the readline function in the bash executable, and applies it to all processes that use the bash binary:

apiVersion: cilium.io/v1alpha1
kind: TracingPolicy
metadata:
  name: "example-uprobe"
spec:
  uprobes:
  - path: "/bin/bash"
    symbols:
    - "readline"

This example shows how to use uprobes to hook into the readline function running in all the bash shells.

Arguments

Kprobes, uprobes and tracepoints all share a needed arguments fields called args. It is a list of arguments to include in the trace output. Tetragon’s BPF code requires information about the types of arguments to properly read, print and filter on its arguments. This information needs to be provided by the user under the args section. For the available types, check the TracingPolicy CRD.

Following our example, here is the part that defines the arguments:

args:
- index: 0
  type: "int"
- index: 1
  type: "file"

Each argument can optionally include a ’label’ parameter, which will be included in the output. This can be used to annotate the arguments to help with understanding and processing the output. As an example, here is the same definition, with an appropriate label on the int argument:

args:
- index: 0
  type: "int"
  label: "FD"
- index: 1
  type: "file"

To properly read and hook onto the fd_install(unsigned int fd, struct file *file) function, the YAML snippet above tells the BPF code that the first argument is an int and the second argument is a file, which is the struct file of the kernel. In this way, the BPF code and its printer can properly collect and print the arguments.

These types are sorted by the index field, where you can specify the order. The indexing starts with 0. So, index: 0 means, this is going to be the first argument of the function, index: 1 means this is going to be the second argument of the function, etc.

Note that for some args types, char_buf and char_iovec, there are additional fields named returnCopy and sizeArgIndex available:

  • returnCopy indicates that the corresponding argument should be read later (when the kretprobe for the symbol is triggered) because it might not be populated when the kprobe is triggered at the entrance of the function. For example, a buffer supplied to read(2) won’t have content until kretprobe is triggered.
  • sizeArgIndex indicates the (1-based, see warning below) index of the arguments that represents the size of the char_buf or iovec. For example, for write(2), the third argument, size_t count is the number of char element that we can read from the const void *buf pointer from the second argument. Similarly, if we would like to capture the __x64_sys_writev(long, iovec *, vlen) syscall, then iovec has a size of vlen, which is going to be the third argument.

These flags can be combined, see the example below.

- call: "sys_write"
  syscall: true
  args:
  - index: 0
    type: "int"
  - index: 1
    type: "char_buf"
    returnCopy: true
    sizeArgIndex: 3
  - index: 2
    type: "size_t"

Note that you can specify which arguments you would like to print from a specific syscall. For example if you don’t care about the file descriptor, which is the first int argument with index: 0 and just want the char_buf, what is written, then you can leave this section out and just define:

args:
- index: 1
  type: "char_buf"
  returnCopy: true
  sizeArgIndex: 3
- index: 2
  type: "size_t"

This tells the printer to skip printing the int arg because it’s not useful.

For char_buf type up to the 4096 bytes are stored. Data with bigger size are cut and returned as truncated bytes.

You can specify maxData flag for char_buf type to read maximum possible data (currently 327360 bytes), like:

args:
- index: 1
  type: "char_buf"
  maxData: true
  sizeArgIndex: 3
- index: 2
  type: "size_t"

This field is only used for char_buff data. When this value is false (default), the bpf program will fetch at most 4096 bytes. In later kernels (>=5.4) tetragon supports fetching up to 327360 bytes if this flag is turned on.

The maxData flag does not work with returnCopy flag at the moment, so it’s usable only for syscalls/functions that do not require return probe to read the data.

Return values

A TracingPolicy spec can specify that the return value should be reported in the tracing output. To do this, the return parameter of the call needs to be set to true, and the returnArg parameter needs to be set to specify the type of the return argument. For example:

- call: "sk_alloc"
  syscall: false
  return: true
  args:
  - index: 1
    type: int
    label: "family"
  returnArg:
    type: sock

In this case, the sk_alloc hook is specified to return a value of type sock (a pointer to a struct sock). Whenever the sk_alloc hook is hit, not only will it report the family parameter in index 1, it will also report the socket that was created.

Return values for socket tracking

A unique feature of a sock being returned from a hook such as sk_alloc is that the socket it refers to can be tracked. Most networking hooks in the network stack are run in a context that is not that of the process that owns the socket for which the actions relate; this is because networking happens asynchronously and not entirely in-line with the process. The sk_alloc hook does, however, occur in the context of the process, such that the task, the PID, and the TGID are of the process that requested that the socket was created.

Specifying socket tracking tells Tetragon to store a mapping between the socket and the process’ PID and TGID; and to use that mapping when it sees the socket in a sock argument in another hook to replace the PID and TGID of the context with the process that actually owns the socket. This can be done by adding a returnArgAction to the call. Available actions are TrackSock and UntrackSock. See TrackSock and UntrackSock.

- call: "sk_alloc"
  syscall: false
  return: true
  args:
  - index: 1
    type: int
    label: "family"
  returnArg:
    type: sock
  returnArgAction: TrackSock

Socket tracking is only available on kernels >=5.3.

Lists

It’s possible to define list of functions and use it in the kprobe’s call field.

Following example traces all sys_dup[23] syscalls.

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "dups"
    type: "syscalls"
    values:
    - "sys_dup"
    - "sys_dup2"
    - "sys_dup3"
  kprobes:
  - call: "list:dups"

It is basically a shortcut for following policy:

spec:
  kprobes:
  - call: "sys_dup"
    syscall: true
  - call: "sys_dup2"
    syscall: true
  - call: "sys_dup3"
    syscall: true

As shown in subsequent examples, its main benefit is allowing a single definition for calls that have the same filters.

The list is defined under lists field with arbitrary values for name and values fields.

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "dups"
    type: "syscalls"
    values:
    - "sys_dup"
    - "sys_dup2"
    - "sys_dup3"
    ...

It’s possible to define multiple lists.

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "dups"
    type: "syscalls"
    values:
    - "sys_dup"
    - "sys_dup2"
    - "sys_dup3"
    name: "another"
    - "sys_open"
    - "sys_close"

Syscalls specified with sys_ prefix are translated to their 64 bit equivalent function names.

It’s possible to specify 32 bit syscall by using its full function name that includes specific architecture native prefix (like __ia32_ for x86):

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "dups"
    type: "syscalls"
    values:
    - "sys_dup"
    - "__ia32_sys_dup"
    name: "another"
    - "sys_open"
    - "sys_close"

Specific list can be referenced in kprobe’s call field with "list:NAME" value.

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "dups"
  ...

  kprobes:
  - call: "list:dups"

The kprobe definition creates a kprobe for each item in the list and shares the rest of the config specified for kprobe.

List can also specify type field that implies extra checks on the values (like for syscall type) or denote that the list is generated automatically (see below). User must specify syscall type for list with syscall functions. Also syscall functions can’t be mixed with regular functions in the list.

The additional selector configuration is shared with all functions in the list. In following example we create 3 kprobes that share the same pid filter.

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "dups"
    type: "syscalls"
    values:
    - "sys_dup"
    - "sys_dup2"
    - "sys_dup3"
  kprobes:
  - call: "list:dups"
    selectors:
    - matchPIDs:
      - operator: In
        followForks: true
        isNamespacePID: false
        values:
        - 12345

It’s possible to use argument filter together with the list.

It’s important to understand that the argument will be retrieved by using the specified argument type for all the functions in the list.

Following example adds argument filter for first argument on all functions in dups list to match value 9999.

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "dups"
    type: "syscalls"
    values:
    - "sys_dup"
    - "sys_dup2"
    - "sys_dup3"
  kprobes:
  - call: "list:dups"
    args:
    - index: 0
      type: int
    selectors:
    - matchArgs:
      - index: 0
        operator: "Equal"
        values:
        - 9999

There are two additional special types of generated lists.

The generated_syscalls type of list that generates list with all possible syscalls on the system.

Following example traces all syscalls for /usr/bin/kill binary.

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "all-syscalls"
    type: "generated_syscalls"
  kprobes:
  - call: "list:all-syscalls"
    selectors:
    - matchBinaries:
      - operator: "In"
        values:
        - "/usr/bin/kill"

The generated_ftrace type of list that generates functions from ftrace available_filter_functions file with specified filter. The filter is specified with pattern field and expects regular expression.

Following example traces all kernel ksys_* functions for /usr/bin/kill binary.

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "ksys"
    type: "generated_ftrace"
    pattern: "^ksys_*"
  kprobes:
  - call: "list:ksys"
    selectors:
    - matchBinaries:
      - operator: "In"
        values:
        - "/usr/bin/kill"

Note that if syscall list is used in selector with InMap operator, the argument type needs to be syscall64, like.

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "dups"
    type: "syscalls"
    values:
    - "sys_dup"
    - "__ia32_sys_dup"
  tracepoints:
  - subsystem: "raw_syscalls"
    event: "sys_enter"
    args:
    - index: 4
      type: "syscall64"
    selectors:
    - matchArgs:
      - index: 0
        operator: "InMap"
        values:
        - "list:dups"

3 - Options

Pass options to hook

It’s possible to pass options through spec file as an array of name and value pairs:

spec:
  options:
    - name: "option-1"
      value: "True"
    - name: "option-2"
      value: "10"

Options array is passed and processed by each hook used in the spec file that supports options. At the moment it’s availabe for kprobe hooks.

Kprobe options

disable-kprobe-multi

This option disables kprobe multi link interface for all the kprobes defined in the spec file. If enabled, all the defined kprobes will be atached through standard kprobe interface. It stays enabled for another spec file without this option.

It takes boolean as value, by default it’s false.

Example:

  options:
    - name: "disable-kprobe-multi"
      value: "1"

4 - Selectors

Perform in-kernel BPF filtering and actions on events

Selectors are a way to perform in-kernel BPF filtering on the events to export, or on the events on which to apply an action.

A TracingPolicy can contain from 0 to 5 selectors. A selector is composed of 1 or more filters. The available filters are the following:

Arguments filter

Arguments filters can be specified under the matchArgs field and provide filtering based on the value of the function’s argument.

In the next example, a selector is defined with a matchArgs filter that tells the BPF code to process only the function call for which the second argument, index equal to 1, concerns the file under the path /etc/passwd or /etc/shadow. It’s using the operator Equal to match against the value of the argument.

Note that conveniently, we can match against a path directly when the argument is of type file.

selectors:
- matchArgs:
  - index: 1
    operator: "Equal"
    values:
    - "/etc/passwd"
    - "/etc/shadow"

The available operators for matchArgs are:

  • Equal
  • NotEqual
  • Prefix
  • Postfix
  • Mask

Further examples

In the previous example, we used the operator Equal, but we can also use the Prefix operator and match against all files under /etc with:

selectors:
- matchArgs:
  - index: 1
    operator: "Prefix"
    values:
    - "/etc"

In this situation, an event will be created every time a process tries to access a file under /etc.

Although it makes less sense, you can also match over the first argument, to only detect events that will use the file descriptor 4, which is usually the first that come afters stdin, stdout and stderr in process. And combine that with the previous example.

- matchArgs:
  - index: 0
    operator: "Equal"
    values:
    - "3"
  - index: 1
    operator: "Prefix"
    values:
    - "/etc"

Return args filter

Arguments filters can be specified under the returnMatchArgs field and provide filtering based on the value of the function return value. It allows you to filter on the return value, thus success, error or value returned by a kernel call.

matchReturnArgs:
- operator: "NotEqual"
  values:
  - 0

The available operators for matchReturnArgs are:

  • Equal
  • NotEqual
  • Prefix
  • Postfix

A use case for this would be to detect the failed access to certain files, like /etc/shadow. Doing cat /etc/shadow will use a openat syscall that will returns -1 for a failed attempt with an unprivileged user.

PIDs filter

PIDs filters can be specified under the matchPIDs field and provide filtering based on the value of host pid of the process. For example, the following matchPIDs filter tells the BPF code that observe only hooks for which the host PID is equal to either pid1 or pid2 or pid3:

- matchPIDs:
  - operator: "In"
    followForks: true
    values:
    - "pid1"
    - "pid2"
    - "pid3"

The available operators for matchPIDs are:

  • In
  • NotIn

Further examples

Another example can be to collect all processes not associated with a container’s init PID, which is equal to 1. In this way, we are able to detect if there was a kubectl exec performed inside a container because processes created by kubectl exec are not children of PID 1.

- matchPIDs:
  - operator: NotIn
    followForks: false
    isNamespacePID: true
    values:
    - 1

Binaries filter

Binary filters can be specified under the matchBinaries field and provide filtering based on the value of a certain binary name. For example, the following matchBinaries selector tells the BPF code to process only system calls and kernel functions that are coming from cat or tail.

- matchBinaries:
  - operator: "In"
    values:
    - "/usr/bin/cat"
    - "/usr/bin/tail"

Currently, only the In operator type is supported and the values field has to be a map of strings. The default behaviour is followForks: true, so all the child processes are followed. The current limitation is 4 values.

Further examples

One example can be to monitor all the sys_write system calls which are coming from the /usr/sbin/sshd binary and its child processes and writing to stdin/stdout/stderr.

This is how we can monitor what was written to the console by different users during different ssh sessions. The matchBinaries selector in this case is the following:

- matchBinaries:
  - operator: "In"
    values:
    - "/usr/sbin/sshd"

while the whole kprobe call is the following:

- call: "sys_write"
  syscall: true
  args:
  - index: 0
    type: "int"
  - index: 1
    type: "char_buf"
    sizeArgIndex: 3
  - index: 2
    type: "size_t"
  selectors:
  # match to /sbin/sshd
  - matchBinaries:
    - operator: "In"
      values:
      - "/usr/sbin/sshd"
  # match to stdin/stdout/stderr
    matchArgs:
    - index: 0
      operator: "Equal"
      values:
      - "1"
      - "2"
      - "3"

Namespaces filter

Namespaces filters can be specified under the matchNamespaces field and provide filtering of calls based on Linux namespace. You can specify the namespace inode or use the special host_ns keyword, see the example and description for more information.

An example syntax is:

- matchNamespaces:
  - namespace: Pid
    operator: In
    values:
    - "4026531836"
    - "4026531835"

This will match if: [Pid namespace is 4026531836] OR [Pid namespace is 4026531835]

  • namespace can be: Uts, Ipc, Mnt, Pid, PidForChildren, Net, Cgroup, or User. Time and TimeForChildren are also available in Linux >= 5.6.
  • operator can be In or NotIn
  • values can be raw numeric values (i.e. obtained from lsns) or "host_ns" which will automatically be translated to the appropriate value.

Limitations

  1. We can have up to 4 values. These can be both numeric and host_ns inside a single namespace.
  2. We can have up to 4 namespace values under matchNamespaces in Linux kernel < 5.3. In Linux >= 5.3 we can have up to 10 values (i.e. the maximum number of namespaces that modern kernels provide).

Further examples

We can have multiple namespace filters:

selectors:
- matchNamespaces:
  - namespace: Pid
    operator: In
    values:
    - "4026531836"
    - "4026531835"
  - namespace: Mnt
    operator: In
    values:
    - "4026531833"
    - "4026531834"

This will match if: ([Pid namespace is 4026531836] OR [Pid namespace is 4026531835]) AND ([Mnt namespace is 4026531833] OR [Mnt namespace is 4026531834])

Use cases examples

Generate a kprobe event if /etc/shadow was opened by /bin/cat which either had host Net or Mnt namespace access

apiVersion: cilium.io/v1alpha1
kind: TracingPolicy
metadata:
  name: "example_ns_1"
spec:
  kprobes:
    - call: "fd_install"
      syscall: false
      args:
        - index: 0
          type: int
        - index: 1
          type: "file"
      selectors:
        - matchBinaries:
          - operator: "In"
            values:
            - "/bin/cat"
          matchArgs:
          - index: 1
            operator: "Equal"
            values:
            - "/etc/shadow"
          matchNamespaces:
          - namespace: Mnt
            operator: In
            values:
            - "host_ns"
        - matchBinaries:
          - operator: "In"
            values:
            - "/bin/cat"
          matchArgs:
          - index: 1
            operator: "Equal"
            values:
            - "/etc/shadow"
          matchNamespaces:
          - namespace: Net
            operator: In
            values:
            - "host_ns"

This example has 2 selectors. Note that each selector starts with -.

Selector 1:

        - matchBinaries:
          - operator: "In"
            values:
            - "/bin/cat"
          matchArgs:
          - index: 1
            operator: "Equal"
            values:
            - "/etc/shadow"
          matchNamespaces:
          - namespace: Mnt
            operator: In
            values:
            - "host_ns"

Selector 2:

        - matchBinaries:
          - operator: "In"
            values:
            - "/bin/cat"
          matchArgs:
          - index: 1
            operator: "Equal"
            values:
            - "/etc/shadow"
          matchNamespaces:
          - namespace: Net
            operator: In
            values:
            - "host_ns"

We have [Selector1 OR Selector2]. Inside each selector we have filters. Both selectors have 3 filters (i.e. matchBinaries, matchArgs, and matchNamespaces) with different arguments. Adding a - in the beginning of a filter will result in a new selector.

So the previous CRD will match if:

[binary == /bin/cat AND arg1 == /etc/shadow AND MntNs == host] OR [binary == /bin/cat AND arg1 == /etc/shadow AND NetNs is host]

We can modify the previous example as follows:

Generate a kprobe event if /etc/shadow was opened by /bin/cat which has host Net and Mnt namespace access

apiVersion: cilium.io/v1alpha1
kind: TracingPolicy
metadata:
  name: "example_ns_2"
spec:
  kprobes:
    - call: "fd_install"
      syscall: false
      args:
        - index: 0
          type: int
        - index: 1
          type: "file"
      selectors:
        - matchBinaries:
          - operator: "In"
            values:
            - "/bin/cat"
          matchArgs:
          - index: 1
            operator: "Equal"
            values:
            - "/etc/shadow"
          matchNamespaces:
          - namespace: Mnt
            operator: In
            values:
            - "host_ns"
          - namespace: Net
            operator: In
            values:
            - "host_ns"

Here we have a single selector. This CRD will match if:

[binary == /bin/cat AND arg1 == /etc/shadow AND (MntNs == host AND NetNs == host) ]

Capabilities filter

Capabilities filters can be specified under the matchCapabilities field and provide filtering of calls based on Linux capabilities in the specific sets.

An example syntax is:

- matchCapabilities:
  - type: Effective
    operator: In
    values:
    - "CAP_CHOWN"
    - "CAP_NET_RAW"

This will match if: [Effective capabilities contain CAP_CHOWN] OR [Effective capabilities contain CAP_NET_RAW]

  • type can be: Effective, Inheritable, or Permitted.
  • operator can be In or NotIn
  • values can be any supported capability. A list of all supported capabilities can be found in /usr/include/linux/capability.h.

Limitations

  1. There is no limit in the number of capabilities listed under values.
  2. Only one type field can be specified under matchCapabilities.

Namespace changes filter

Namespace changes filter can be specified under the matchNamespaceChanges field and provide filtering based on calls that are changing Linux namespaces. This filter can be useful to track execution of code in a new namespace or even container escapes that change their namespaces.

For instance, if an unprivileged process creates a new user namespace, it gains full privileges within that namespace. This grants the process the ability to perform some privileged operations within the context of this new namespace that would otherwise only be available to privileged root user. As a result, such filter is useful to track namespace creation, which can be abused by untrusted processes.

To keep track of the changes, when a process_exec happens, the namespaces of the process are recorded and these are compared with the current namespaces on the event with a matchNamespaceChanges filter.

matchNamespaceChanges:
- operator: In
  values:
  - "Mnt"

The unshare command, or executing in the host namespace using nsenter can be used to test this feature. See a demonstration example of this feature.

Capability changes filter

Capability changes filter can be specified under the matchCapabilityChanges field and provide filtering based on calls that are changing Linux capabilities.

To keep track of the changes, when a process_exec happens, the capabilities of the process are recorded and these are compared with the current capabilities on the event with a matchCapabilityChanges filter.

matchCapabilityChanges:
- type: Effective
  operator: In
  isNamespaceCapability: false
  values:
  - "CAP_SETUID"

See a demonstration example of this feature.

Actions filter

Actions filters are a list of actions that execute when an appropriate selector matches. They are defined under matchActions and currently, the following action types are supported:

Sigkill action

Sigkill action terminates synchronously the process that made the call that matches the appropriate selectors from the kernel. In the example below, every sys_write system call with a PID not equal to 1 or 0 attempting to write to /etc/passwd will be terminated. Indeed when using kubectl exec, a new process is spawned in the container PID namespace and is not a child of PID 1.

- call: "sys_write"
  syscall: true
  args:
  - index: 0
    type: "fd"
  - index: 1
    type: "char_buf"
    sizeArgIndex: 3
  - index: 2
    type: "size_t"
  selectors:
  - matchPIDs:
    - operator: NotIn
      followForks: true
      isNamespacePID: true
      values:
      - 0
      - 1
    matchArgs:
    - index: 0
      operator: "Prefix"
      values:
      - "/etc/passwd"
    matchActions:
    - action: Sigkill

Signal action

Signal action sends specified signal to current process. The signal number is specified with argSig value.

Following example is equivalent to the Sigkill action example above. The difference is to use the signal action with SIGKILL(9) signal.

- call: "sys_write"
  syscall: true
  args:
  - index: 0
    type: "fd"
  - index: 1
    type: "char_buf"
    sizeArgIndex: 3
  - index: 2
    type: "size_t"
  selectors:
  - matchPIDs:
    - operator: NotIn
      followForks: true
      isNamespacePID: true
      values:
      - 0
      - 1
    matchArgs:
    - index: 0
      operator: "Prefix"
      values:
      - "/etc/passwd"
    matchActions:
    - action: Signal
      argSig: 9

Override action

Override action allows to modify the return value of call. While Sigkill will terminate the entire process responsible for making the call, Override will run in place of the original kprobed function and return the value specified in the argError field. It’s then up to the code path or the user space process handling the returned value to whether stop or proceed with the execution.

For example, you can create a TracingPolicy that intercepts sys_symlinkat and will make it return -1 every time the first argument is equal to the string /etc/passwd:

kprobes:
- call: "sys_symlinkat"
  syscall: true
  args:
  - index: 0
    type: "string"
  - index: 1
    type: "int"
  - index: 2
    type: "string"
  selectors:
  - matchArgs:
    - index: 0
      operator: "Equal"
      values:
      - "/etc/passwd\0"
    matchActions:
    - action: Override
      argError: -1

FollowFD action

The FollowFD action allows to create a mapping using a BPF map between file descriptors numbers and filenames. It however needs to maintain a state correctly, see UnfollowFD and CopyFD related actions.

The fd_install kernel function is called each time a file descriptor must be installed into the file descriptor table of a process, typically referenced within system calls like open or openat. It is a good place for tracking file descriptor and filename matching.

Let’s take a look at the following example:

- call: "fd_install"
  syscall: false
  args:
  - index: 0
    type: int
  - index: 1
    type: "file"
  selectors:
  - matchPIDs:
      # [...]
    matchArgs:
      # [...]
    matchActions:
    - action: FollowFD
      argFd: 0
      argName: 1

This action uses the dedicated argFd and argName fields to get respectively the index of the file descriptor argument and the index of the name argument in the call.

UnfollowFD action

The UnfollowFD action takes a file descriptor from a system call and deletes the corresponding entry from the BPF map, where it was put under the FollowFD action.

Let’s take a look at the following example:

- call: "sys_close"
  syscall: true
  args:
  - index: 0
    type: "int"
  selectors:
  - matchPIDs:
    - operator: NotIn
      followForks: true
      isNamespacePID: true
      values:
      - 0
      - 1
    matchActions:
    - action: UnfollowFD
      argFd: 0

Similar to the FollowFD action, the index of the file descriptor is described under argFd:

matchActions:
- action: UnfollowFD
  argFd: 0

In this example, argFD is 0. So, the argument from the sys_close system call at index: 0 will be deleted from the BPF map whenever a sys_close is executed.

- index: 0
  type: "int"

CopyFD action

The CopyFD action is specific to duplication of file descriptor use cases. Similary to FollowFD, it takes an argFd and argName arguments. It can typically be used tracking the dup, dup2 or dup3 syscalls.

See the following example for illustration:

- call: "sys_dup2"
  syscall: true
  args:
  - index: 0
    type: "fd"
  - index: 1
    type: "int"
  selectors:
  - matchPIDs:
    # [...]
    matchActions:
    - action: CopyFD
      argFd: 0
      argName: 1
- call: "sys_dup3"
  syscall: true
  args:
  - index: 0
    type: "fd"
  - index: 1
    type: "int"
  - index: 2
    type: "int"
  selectors:
  - matchPIDs:
    # [...]
    matchActions:
    - action: CopyFD
      argFd: 0
      argName: 1

GetUrl action

The GetUrl action can be used to perform a remote interaction such as triggering Thinkst canaries or any system that can be triggered via an URL request. It uses the argUrl field to specify the URL to request using GET method.

matchActions:
- action: GetUrl
  argUrl: http://ebpf.io

DnsLookup action

The DnsLookup action can be used to perform a remote interaction such as triggering Thinkst canaries or any system that can be triggered via an DNS entry request. It uses the argFqdn field to specify the domain to lookup.

matchActions:
- action: DnsLookup
  argFqdn: ebpf.io

Post action

The Post action allows an event to be transmitted to the agent, from kernelspace to userspace. By default, all TracingPolicy hook will create an event with the Post action except in those situations:

  • a NoPost action was specified in a matchActions;
  • a rate-limiting parameter is in place, see details below.

This action allows you to specify parameters for the Post action.

Rate limiting

Post takes the rateLimit parameter with a time value. This value defaults to seconds, but post-fixing ’m’ or ‘h’ will cause the value to be interpreted in minutes or hours. When this parameter is specified for an action, that action will check if the same action has fired, for the same thread, within the time window, with the same inspected arguments. (Only the first 40 bytes of each inspected argument is used in the matching. Only supported on kernels v5.3 onwards.)

For example, you can specify a selector to only generate an event every 5 minutes with adding the following action and its paramater:

matchActions:
- action: Post
  rateLimit: 5m

By default, the rate limiting is applied per thread, meaning that only repeated actions by the same thread will be rate limited. This can be expanded to all threads for a process by specifying a rateLimitScope with value “process”; or can be expanded to all processes by specifying the same with the value “global”.

Stack traces

Post takes the stackTrace parameter, when turned to true (by default to false) it enables dump of the kernel stack trace to the hook point in kprobes events. For example, the following kprobe hook can be used to retrieve the kernel stack to kfree_skb_reason, the function called in the kernel to drop kernel socket buffers.

kprobes:
  - call: kfree_skb_reason
    selectors:
    - matchActions:
      - action: Post
        stackTrace: true

Once loaded, events created from this policy will contain a new stack_trace field on the process_kprobe event with an output similar to:

{
  "address": "18446670264256120896",
  "offset": "272",
  "symbol": "skb_release_head_state"
},
{
  "address": "18446670264257081512",
  "offset": "88",
  "symbol": "ip_protocol_deliver_rcu"
},
{
  "address": "18446670264257082152",
  "offset": "88",
  "symbol": "ip_local_deliver_finish"
},
[...]

The “address” is the kernel function address, “offset” is the offset into the native instruction for the function and “symbol” is the function symbol name.

This output can be enhanced in a more human friendly using the tetra getevents -o compact command. Indeed, by default, it will print the stack trace along the compact output of the event similarly to this:

❓ syscall  /usr/bin/curl kfree_skb_reason
   0xffffbcdee5bf4840: skb_release_head_state+0x110
   0xffffbcdee5be3678: __sys_connect_file+0x88
   0xffffbcdee5be376c: __sys_connect+0xbc
   0xffffbcdee5be37bc: __arm64_sys_connect+0x28
   0xffffbcdee4dfcd68: invoke_syscall+0x78
   0xffffbcdee4dfcf70: el0_svc_common.constprop.0+0x180
   0xffffbcdee4dfcfa4: do_el0_svc+0x30
   0xffffbcdee5e861e8: el0_svc+0x48
   0xffffbcdee5e881b4: el0t_64_sync_handler+0xa4
   0xffffbcdee4de1e38: el0t_64_sync+0x1a4

The printing format is "0x%x: %s+0x%x", address, symbol, offset.

NoPost action

The NoPost action can be used to suppress the event to be generated, but at the same time all its defined actions are performed.

It’s useful when you are not interested in the event itself, just in the action being performed.

Following example override openat syscall for “/etc/passwd” file but does not generate any event about that.

- call: "sys_openat"
  return: true
  syscall: true
  args:
  - index: 0
    type: int
  - index: 1
    type: "string"
  - index: 2
    type: "int"
  returnArg:
    type: "int"
  selectors:
  - matchPIDs:
    matchArgs:
    - index: 1
      operator: "Equal"
      values:
      - "/etc/passwd"
    matchActions:
    - action: Override
      argError: -2
    - action: NoPost

TrackSock action

The TrackSock action allows to create a mapping using a BPF map between sockets and processes. It however needs to maintain a state correctly, see UntrackSock related action. TrackSock works similarly to FollowFD, specifying the argument with the sock type using argSock instead of specifying the FD argument with argFd.

It is however more likely that socket tracking will be performed on the return value of sk_alloc as described above.

Socket tracking is only available on kernel >=5.3.

UntrackSock action

The UntrackSock action takes a struct sock pointer from a function call and deletes the corresponding entry from the BPF map, where it was put under the TrackSock action.

Let’s take a look at the following example:

- call: "__sk_free"
  syscall: false
  args:
    - index: 0
      type: sock
  selectors:
    - matchActions:
      - action: UntrackSock
        argSock: 0

Similar to the TrackSock action, the index of the sock is described under argSock:

- matchActions:
  - action: UntrackSock
    argSock: 0

In this example, argSock is 0. So, the argument from the __sk_free function call at index: 0 will be deleted from the BPF map whenever a __sk_free is executed.

- index: 0
  type: "sock"

Socket tracking is only available on kernel >=5.3.

Notify Killer action

The NotifyKiller action notifies the killer program to kill or override a syscall.

It’s meant to be used on systems with kernel that lacks multi kprobe feature, that allows to attach many kprobes quickly). To workaround that the killer sensor uses the raw syscall tracepoint and attaches simple program to syscalls that we need to kill or override.

The specs needs to have killer program definition, that instructs tetragon to load the killer program and attach it to specified syscalls.

spec:
  killers:
  - calls:
    - "list:dups"

The syscalls expects list of syscalls or list:XXX pointer to list.

Note that currently only single killer definition is allowed.

The NotifyKiller action takes 2 arguments.

matchActions:
- action: "NotifyKiller"
  argError: -1
  argSig: 9

If specified the argError will be passed to bpf_override_return helper to override the syscall return value. If specified the argSig will be passed to bpf_send_signal helper to override the syscall return value.

The following is spec for killing /usr/bin/bash program whenever it calls sys_dup or sys_dup2 syscalls.

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "dups"
    type: "syscalls"
    values:
    - "sys_dup"
    - "sys_dup2"
  killers:
  - calls:
    - "list:dups"
  tracepoints:
  - subsystem: "raw_syscalls"
    event: "sys_enter"
    args:
    - index: 4
      type: "syscall64"
    selectors:
    - matchArgs:
      - index: 0
        operator: "InMap"
        values:
        - "list:dups"
      matchBinaries:
      - operator: "In"
        values:
        - "/usr/bin/bash"
      matchActions:
      - action: "NotifyKiller"
        argSig: 9

Note as mentioned above the NotifyKiller with killer program is meant to be used only on kernel versions with no support for fast attach of multiple kprobes (kprobe_multi link).

With kprobe_multi link support the above example can be easily replaced with:

spec:
  lists:
  - name: "syscalls"
    type: "syscalls"
    values:
    - "sys_dup"
    - "sys_dup2"
  kprobes:
  - call: "list:syscalls"
    selectors:
    - matchBinaries:
      - operator: "In"
        values:
        - "/usr/bin/bash"
      matchActions:
      - action: "Sigkill"

Selector Semantics

The selector semantics of the CiliumTracingPolicy follows the standard Kubernetes semantics and the principles that are used by Cilium to create a unified policy definition.

To explain deeper the structure and the logic behind it, let’s consider first the following example:

selectors:
 - matchPIDs:
   - operator: In
     followForks: true
     values:
     - pid1
     - pid2
     - pid3
  matchArgs:
  - index: 0
    operator: "Equal"
    values:
    - fdString1

In the YAML above matchPIDs and matchArgs are logically AND together giving the expression:

(pid in {pid1, pid2, pid3} AND arg0=fdstring1)

Multiple values

When multiple values are given, we apply the OR operation between them. In case of having multiple values under the matchPIDs selector, if any value matches with the given pid from pid1, pid2 or pid3 then we accept the event:

pid==pid1 OR pid==pid2 OR pid==pid3

As an example, we can filter for sys_read() syscalls that were not part of the container initialization and the main pod process and tried to read from the /etc/passwd file by using:

selectors:
 - matchPIDs:
   - operator: NotIn
     followForks: true
     values:
     - 0
     - 1
  matchArgs:
  - index: 0
    operator: "Equal"
    values:
    - "/etc/passwd"

Similarly, we can use multiple values under the matchArgs selector:

(pid in {pid1, pid2, pid3} AND arg0={fdstring1, fdstring2})

If any value matches with fdstring1 or fdstring2, specifically (string==fdstring1 OR string==fdstring2) then we accept the event.

For example, we can monitor sys_read() syscalls accessing both the /etc/passwd or the /etc/shadow files:

selectors:
 - matchPIDs:
   - operator: NotIn
     followForks: true
     values:
     - 0
     - 1
  matchArgs:
  - index: 0
    operator: "Equal"
    values:
    - "/etc/passwd"
    - "/etc/shadow"

Multiple operators

When multiple operators are supported under matchPIDs or matchArgs, they are logically AND together. In case if we have multiple operators under matchPIDs:

selectors:
  - matchPIDs:
    - operator: In
      followForks: true
      values:
      - pid1
    - operator: NotIn
      followForks: true
      values:
      - pid2

then we would build the following expression on the BPF side:

(pid == 0[following forks]) && (pid != 1[following forks])

In case of having multiple matchArgs:

selectors:
 - matchPIDs:
   - operator: In
     followForks: true
     values:
     - pid1
     - pid2
     - pid3
  matchArgs:
  - index: 0
    operator: "Equal"
    values:
    - 1
  - index: 2
    operator: "lt"
    values:
    - 500

Then we would build the following expression on the BPF side

(pid in {pid1, pid2, pid3} AND arg0=1 AND arg2 < 500)

Operator types

There are different types supported for each operator. In case of matchArgs:

  • Equal
  • NotEqual
  • Prefix
  • Postfix
  • Mask
  • GreaterThan (aka GT)
  • LessThan (aka LT)
  • SPort - Source Port
  • NotSPort - Not Source Port
  • SPortPriv - Source Port is Privileged (0-1023)
  • NotSPortPriv - Source Port is Not Privileged (Not 0-1023)
  • DPort - Destination Port
  • NotDPort - Not Destination Port
  • DPortPriv - Destination Port is Privileged (0-1023)
  • NotDPortPriv - Destination Port is Not Privileged (Not 0-1023)
  • SAddr - Source Address, can be IPv4/6 address or IPv4/6 CIDR (for ex 1.2.3.4/24 or 2a1:56::1/128)
  • NotSAddr - Not Source Address
  • DAddr - Destination Address
  • NotDAddr - Not Destination Address
  • Protocol
  • Family
  • State

The operator types Equal and NotEqual are used to test whether the certain argument of a system call is equal to the defined value in the CR.

For example, the following YAML snippet matches if the argument at index 0 is equal to /etc/passwd:

      matchArgs:
      - index: 0
        operator: "Equal"
        values:
        - "/etc/passwd"

Both Equal and NotEqual are set operations. This means if multiple values are specified, they are ORd together in case of Equal, and ANDd together in case of NotEqual.

For example, in case of Equal the following YAML snippet matches if the argument at index 0 is in the set of {arg0, arg1, arg2}.

matchArgs:
- index: 0
  operator: "Equal"
  values:
  - "arg0"
  - "arg1"
  - "arg2"

The above would be executed in the kernel as

arg == arg0 OR arg == arg1 OR arg == arg2

In case of NotEqual the following YAML snippet matches if the argument at index 0 is not in the set of {arg0, arg1}.

matchArgs:
- index: 0
  operator: "NotEqual"
  values:
  - "arg0"
  - "arg1"

The above would be executed in the kernel as

arg != arg0 AND arg != arg1

The operator type Mask performs and bitwise operation on the argument value and defined values. The argument type needs to be one of the value types.

For example in following YAML snippet we match second argument for bits 1 and 9 (0x200 value). We could use single value 0x201 as well.

matchArgs:
- index: 2
  operator: "Mask"
  values:
  - 1
  - 0x200

The above would be executed in the kernel as

arg & 1 OR arg & 0x200

The value can be specified as hexadecimal (with 0x prefix) octal (with 0 prefix) or decimal value (no prefix).

The operator Prefix checks if the certain argument starts with the defined value, while the operator Postfix compares if the argument matches to the defined value as trailing.

The operators relating to ports, addresses and protocol are used with sock or skb types. Port operators can accept a range of ports specified as min:max as well as lists of individual ports. Address operators can accept IPv4/6 CIDR ranges as well as lists of individual addresses.

The Protocol operator can accept integer values to match against, or the equivalent IPPROTO_ enumeration. For example, UDP can be specified as either IPPROTO_UDP or 17; TCP can be specified as either IPPROTO_TCP or 6.

The Family operator can accept integer values to match against or the equivalent AF_ enumeration. For example, IPv4 can be specified as either AF_INET or 2; IPv6 can be specified as either AF_INET6 or 10.

The State operator can accept integer values to match against or the equivalent TCP_ enumeration. For example, an established socket can be matched with TCP_ESTABLISHED or 1; a closed socket with TCP_CLOSE or 7.

In case of matchPIDs:

  • In
  • NotIn

The operator types In and NotIn are used to test whether the pid of a system call is found in the provided values list in the CR. Both In and NotIn are set operations, which means if multiple values are specified they are ORd together in case of In and ANDd together in case of NotIn.

For example, in case of In the following YAML snippet matches if the pid of a certain system call is being part of the list of {0, 1}:

- matchPIDs:
  - operator: In
    followForks: true
    isNamespacePID: true
    values:
    - 0
    - 1

The above would be executed in the kernel as

pid == 0 OR pid == 1

In case of NotIn the following YAML snippet matches if the pid of a certain system call is not being part of the list of {0, 1}:

- matchPIDs:
  - operator: NotIn
    followForks: true
    isNamespacePID: true
    values:
    - 0
    - 1

The above would be executed in the kernel as

pid != 0 AND pid != 1

In case of matchBinaries:

  • In

The In operator type is used to test whether a binary name of a system call is found in the provided values list. For example, the following YAML snippet matches if the binary name of a certain system call is being part of the list of {binary0, binary1, binary2}:

- matchBinaries:
  - operator: "In"
    values:
    - "binary0"
    - "binary1"
    - "binary2"

Multiple selectors

When multiple selectors are configured they are logically ORd together.

selectors:
 - matchPIDs:
   - operator: In
     followForks: true
     values:
     - pid1
     - pid2
     - pid3
  matchArgs:
  - index: 0
    operator: "Equal"
    values:
    - 1
  - index: 2
    operator: "lt"
    values:
    -  500
 - matchPIDs:
   - operator: In
     followForks: true
     values:
     - pid1
     - pid2
     - pid3
  matchArgs:
  - index: 0
    operator: "Equal"
    values:
    - 2

The above would be executed in kernel as:

(pid in {pid1, pid2, pid3} AND arg0=1 AND arg2 < 500) OR
(pid in {pid1, pid2, pid3} AND arg0=2)

Limitations

Those limitations might be outdated, see issue #709.

Because BPF must be bounded we have to place limits on how many selectors can exist.

  • Max Selectors 8.
  • Max PID values per selector 4
  • Max MatchArgs per selector 5 (one per index)
  • Max MatchArg Values per MatchArgs 1 (limiting initial implementation can bump to 16 or so)

Return Actions filter

Return actions filters are a list of actions that execute when an return selector matches. They are defined under matchReturnActions and currently support all the Actions filter action types.

5 - K8s namespace and pod label filtering

Tetragon in-kernel filtering based on Kubernetes namespaces and pod label filters

Motivation

Tetragon is configured via TracingPolicies. Broadly speaking, TracingPolicies define what situations Tetragon should react to and how. The what can be, for example, specific system calls with specific argument values. The how defines what action the Tetragon agent should perform when the specified situation occurs. The most common action is generating an event, but there are others (e.g., returning an error without executing a function, or killing the corresponding process).

Here we discuss how to apply tracing policies only on a subset of pods running on the system via two mechanisms: namespaced policies, and pod-label filters. Tetragon implements both mechanisms in-kernel via eBPF. This is important for both observability and enforcement use-cases. For observability, copying only the relevant events from kernel- to user-space reduces overhead. For enforcement, performing the enforcement action in the kernel avoids the race-condition of doing it in user-space. For example, let us consider the case where we want to block an application from performing a system call. Performing the filtering in-kernel means that the application will never finish executing the system call, which is not possible if enforcement happens in user-space (after the fact).

To ensure that namespaced tracing policies are always correctly applied, Tetragon needs to perform actions before containers start executing. Tetragon supports this via OCI runtime hooks. If such hooks are not added, Tetragon will apply policies in a best-effort manner using information from the k8s API server.

Namespace filtering

For namespace filtering we use TracingPolicyNamespaced which has the same contents as a TracingPolicy, but it is defined in a specific namespace and it is only applied to pods of that namespace.

Pod label filters

For pod label filters, we use the PodSelector field of tracing policies to select the pods that the policy is applied to.

Demo

Setup

For this demo, we use containerd and configure appropriate run-time hooks using minikube.

First, let us start minikube, build and load images, and install Tetragon and OCI hooks:

minikube start --container-runtime=containerd
./contrib/rthooks/minikube-containerd-install-hook.sh
make image image-operator
minikube image load --daemon=true cilium/tetragon:latest cilium/tetragon-operator:latest
minikube ssh -- sudo mount bpffs -t bpf /sys/fs/bpf
helm install --namespace kube-system \
	--set tetragonOperator.image.override=cilium/tetragon-operator:latest \
	--set tetragon.image.override=cilium/tetragon:latest  \
	--set tetragon.enablePolicyFilter="true" \
	--set tetragon.grpc.address="unix:///var/run/cilium/tetragon/tetragon.sock" \
	tetragon ./install/kubernetes/tetragon

Once the tetragon pod is up and running, we can get its name.

tetragon_pod=$(kubectl -n kube-system get pods -l app.kubernetes.io/name=tetragon -o custom-columns=NAME:.metadata.name --no-headers)

Next, we check the tetragon-operator logs and tetragon agent logs to ensure that everything is in order.

First, we check if the operator installed the TracingPolicyNamespaced CRD.

kubectl -n kube-system logs -c tetragon-operator $tetragon_pod

The expected output is:

level=info msg="Tetragon Operator: " subsys=tetragon-operator
level=info msg="CRD (CustomResourceDefinition) is installed and up-to-date" name=TracingPolicy/v1alpha1 subsys=k8s
level=info msg="Creating CRD (CustomResourceDefinition)..." name=TracingPolicyNamespaced/v1alpha1 subsys=k8s
level=info msg="CRD (CustomResourceDefinition) is installed and up-to-date" name=TracingPolicyNamespaced/v1alpha1 subsys=k8s
level=info msg="Initialization complete" subsys=tetragon-operator

Next, we check that policyfilter (the low level mechanism that implements the desired functionality) is indeed enabled.

kubectl -n kube-system logs -c tetragon $tetragon_pod

The output should include:

level=info msg="Enabling policy filtering"

Namespaced policies

For illustration purposes, we will use the lseek system call with an invalid argument. Specifically a file descriptor (the first argument) of -1. Normally, this operation would return a “Bad file descriptor error”.

Let us start a pod in the default namespace:

kubectl -n default run test --image=python -it --rm --restart=Never  -- python

Above command will result in the following python shell:

If you don't see a command prompt, try pressing enter.
>>>

There is no policy installed so attempting to do the lseek operation will just return an error. So using the python shell we can execute an lseek and see the returned error.

>>> import os
>>> os.lseek(-1,0,0)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
OSError: [Errno 9] Bad file descriptor
>>>

In another terminal, we install a policy in the default namespace:

cat << EOF | kubectl apply -n default -f -
apiVersion: cilium.io/v1alpha1
kind: TracingPolicyNamespaced
metadata:
  name: "lseek-namespaced"
spec:
  kprobes:
  - call: "sys_lseek"
    syscall: true
    args:
    - index: 0
      type: "int"
    selectors:
    - matchArgs:
      - index: 0
        operator: "Equal"
        values:
        - "-1"
      matchActions:
      - action: Sigkill
EOF

The above tracing policy will kill the process that performs an lseek system call with a file descriptor of -1. Note that we use a SigKill action only for illustration purposes because it’s easier to observe its effects.

Then, attempting the lseek operation on the previous terminal, will result in the process getting killed:

>>> os.lseek(-1, 0, 0)
pod "test" deleted
pod default/test terminated (Error)

The same is true for a newly started container:

kubectl -n default run test --image=python -it --rm --restart=Never  -- python
If you don't see a command prompt, try pressing enter.
>>> import os
>>> os.lseek(-1, 0, 0)
pod "test" deleted
pod default/test terminated (Error)

Doing the same on another namespace:

kubectl create namespace test
kubectl -n test run test --image=python -it --rm --restart=Never  -- python

Will not kill the process and result in an error:

If you don't see a command prompt, try pressing enter.
>>> import os
>>> os.lseek(-1, 0, 0)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
OSError: [Errno 9] Bad file descriptor

Pod label filters

Let’s install a tracing policy with a pod label filter.

cat << EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: cilium.io/v1alpha1
kind: TracingPolicy
metadata:
  name: "lseek-podfilter"
spec:
  podSelector:
    matchLabels:
      app: "lseek-test"
  kprobes:
  - call: "sys_lseek"
    syscall: true
    args:
    - index: 0
      type: "int"
    selectors:
    - matchArgs:
      - index: 0
        operator: "Equal"
        values:
        - "-1"
      matchActions:
      - action: Sigkill
EOF

Pods without the label will not be affected:

kubectl run test  --image=python -it --rm --restart=Never  -- python
If you don't see a command prompt, try pressing enter.
>>> import os
>>> os.lseek(-1, 0, 0)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  OSError: [Errno 9] Bad file descriptor
  >>>

But pods with the label will:

kubectl run test --labels "app=lseek-test" --image=python -it --rm --restart=Never  -- python
If you don't see a command prompt, try pressing enter.
>>> import os
>>> os.lseek(-1, 0, 0)
pod "test" deleted
pod default/test terminated (Error)