This is the last of three posts about Elastic Stack.

By now, we should have a reasonably secure Elastic Stack. It is sadly empty, so we should feed it some logs.

Logstash is a log processor. It can be configured with inputs, filters, and outputs.

  • Inputs are commonly log files, or logs received over the network.

  • Filters are used to accept, drop and modify log events.

  • Outputs are used for storing the filtered logs.

Filebeat is a log shipper. It reads logs, and sends them to Logstash.

In this example, we’ll send log files with Filebeat to Logstash, configure some filters to parse them, and output parsed logs to Elasticsearch so we can view them in Kibana.

Install logstash

  • Install logstash.
[root@elastic ~]# yum -y install logstash
  • Start logstash.
[root@elastic ~]# systemctl status logstash.service
● logstash.service - logstash
   Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/logstash.service; disabled; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: inactive (dead)
[root@elastic ~]# systemctl start logstash.service
[root@elastic ~]# systemctl enable logstash.service
Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/ to /etc/systemd/system/logstash.service.
[root@elastic ~]# systemctl status logstash.service
● logstash.service - logstash
   Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/logstash.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (running) since Tue 2016-11-29 08:55:02 EST; 6s ago
 Main PID: 1793 (java)
   CGroup: /system.slice/logstash.service
           └─1793 /usr/bin/java -XX:+UseParNewGC -XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC -XX:CMSInitiatingOccupancyFraction=75 -XX:+UseCMSInitiatingO...

Nov 29 08:55:02 elastic.local systemd[1]: Started logstash.
Nov 29 08:55:02 elastic.local systemd[1]: Starting logstash...

Configure Logstash

Testing the logstash configuration can be done with:

[root@elastic ~]# /usr/share/logstash/bin/logstash -t --path.settings /etc/logstash/

Logstash will log to /var/log/logstash/logstash-plain.log by default. If are running logstash as root to test the configuration, you will need to ensure that the logstash user has write access to that log file.

Entropy starvation

Now, here’s a funny thing…

Logstash runs in a ruby interpreter inside the Java Virtual Machine. On some systems, CentOS 7 included, java libraries will read from the system entropy pool. On a virtual machine there will not be a large amount of random bytes available, so that can block startup of logstash until there is enough random bytes available.

If logstash is slow to start, where “slow” is “several minutes with no apparent activity or useful log messages”, you may benefit from installing an entropy gathering daemon like haveged.

[root@elastic ~]# yum install haveged
[root@elastic ~]# systemctl start haveged
[root@elastic ~]# systemctl enable haveged

Configuring Logstash

We need to configure an input, an output, and a filter for our audit log. You can split the configuration into multiple files, if you like. They are read in alphabetical order.

The input accepts logs from Filebeat. The output sends logs to Elasticsearch. The filters we need to write ourselves, or just cut-n-paste from the Internet.

The audit log arrives as a text line. It is a bit tricky to parse, requiring two passes through the “kv” filter. If you like, you can read more about it the format of the audit log in the Red Hat Security Guide

# /etc/logstash/conf.d/10-input.conf
input {
  beats {
    port => 5044

# /etc/logstash/conf.d/10-output.conf
output {
  elasticsearch { }

# /etc/logstash/conf.d/50-filter.audit.conf
filter {
  if [source] == "/var/log/audit/audit.log" {
    kv {
      target => "audit"
    kv {
      source => "[audit][msg]"
      target => "[audit][_msg]"
    grok {
      match        => { "[audit][msg]" => "audit\(%{NUMBER:_timestamp}:%{NUMBER:_id}\):" }
      remove_field => [ "[audit][msg]" ]
    mutate {
      rename => {
        "_id"           => "[audit][event_id]"
        "[audit][_msg]" => "[audit][msg]"
      split => {
        "[audit][msg][grantors]" => ","
    date {
      match        => [ "_timestamp", "UNIX" ]
      remove_field => [ "_timestamp" ]

To parse more logs, look at the Logstash documentation.


Filebeat is the log shipper running on a client host. In this case, we install it on the same host as the rest of the software stack, allowing access to our own logs.

Installing filebeat

[root@elastic ~]# yum -y install filebeat

Configuring filebeat

Initially, we will let filebeat follow the audit log.

- input_type: log
    - "/var/log/audit/audit.log"
  - "localhost:5044"

Start filebeat

[root@elastic ~]# systemctl start filebeat
[root@elastic ~]# systemctl enable filebeat

When you start Filebeat it will read the log file, and connect to Logstash. Logstash should log entries to its log file with reassuring messages like creating index and update_mapping as soon as it receives data.

Configure kibana

Go to the kibana web interface. Since logstash now has created some data, Kibana should be able to start. You should be redirected to a page titled “Configure an index pattern”. Just accept the defaults, and hit the Create button.

Configure an index pattern in Kibana

With the configured audit log parser, we should have data for searching.

Example Searches

Here, we have limited log activity to audit logs with the audit.msg.terminal value set to /dev/pts/2, this shows a login session:

Example search showing user activity

Here, we have limited log activity to audit logs with the audit.msg.exe value set to /usr/bin/sshd, and where any operation result (audit.msg.res) is failed. With the current logs, this shows failed root logins, and a nice detail withx the types of authentication methods which failed:

Example search showing failed root login


We now have parsed logs and configure up a searchable interface.

Kibana can do much more than just search. If you hit Visualize, you can create graphs and tables.

If you hit Dashboard, you can collect searches, graphs and tables on a single page to make dashboards.

The basic workflow is:

  • Look for interesting data, and save that search.

  • Make graphs, lists and tables based on that search, and save those visualizations.

  • Collect the search log table, the graphs and other visualizations, and save that dashboard.

  • Display the dashboard on a wall screen at your office.

Have fun!