How Falco Uses Plugins

Last modified December 15, 2022
Plugins for Falco libraries/Falco daemon

Falco loads plugins based on configuration in falco.yaml. Currently, if a plugin with event sourcing capability is loaded then the only events processed are from that plugin; syscall events are disabled. There are other restrictions on loaded plugins (see below).

Loading plugins in Falco

The new plugins property in falco.yaml will define the set of plugins that Falco can load, and a new load_plugins property will control which plugins are actually loaded when Falco starts.

Here's an example:

plugins:
  - name: cloudtrail
    library_path: libcloudtrail.so
    init_config: ""
    open_params: ""
  - name: json
    library_path: libjson.so
    init_config: ""

# Optional
load_plugins: [cloudtrail, json]

The mechanics of loading a plugin are implemented in the libraries and leverage the dynamic library functionality of the operating system (dlopen/dlsym in unix, LoadLibrary/GetProcAddress in Windows). The plugin loading code also ensures that:

  • The plugin is valid, i.e. that it exports the set of expected symbols
  • The plugin has an API version number that is compatible with the plugin framework.
  • That only one plugin with event sourcing capability is loaded at a time for a given event source
  • If a mix of plugins for both event sourcing and field extraction are loaded for a given event source, that the exported fields have unique names that don't overlap across plugins

Event Sources and Falco Rules

Falco rules already have the notion of a source, using the source property in YAML rules objects. There is primarily one kind of event source: syscall. The source property in Falco rules maps a given rule to the event source on which the rule runs.

For example, given a plugin providing events with source aws_cloudtrail, and a Falco rule with source property aws_cloudtrail, the rule will be evaluated for any events returned by the AWS CloudTrail plugin.

Similarly, a plugin with field extraction capability that includes aws_cloudtrail in its set of event sources will have the opportunity to extract information from CloudTrail events. As a result, fields exported by the plugin can be put in a rule's condition, exception, or output properties when the rule has a source aws_cloudtrail.

Falco compiles rules/macros/lists selectively based on the set of loaded plugins (specifically, their event sources), instead of unconditionally as Falco is started. This is especially important for macros, which do not contain a source property, but might contain fields that are only implemented by a given plugin.

Plugin Versions and Falco Rules

To allow rules files to document the plugin versions they are compatible with, rules files can have a new top-level field required_plugin_versions. The field is optional, and if not provided no plugin compatibility checks will be performed. The syntax of required_plugin_versions is the following:

- required_plugin_versions:
  - name: <plugin_name>
    version: x.y.z
  ...

Below required_plugin_versions is a list of objects, where each object has name and version properties. If a plugin is loaded, and if an entry in required_plugin_versions has a matching name, then the loaded plugin version must be semver compatible with the version property.

Falco can load multiple rules files, and each file may contain its own required_plugin_versions property. In this case, name+version pairs across all files will be merged, and in the case of duplicate names all provided versions must be compatible.

Plugin Developer's Guide

If you are interested in authoring your own plugin, or modifying an existing plugin to add new functionality, we've written a developer's guide that documents the full plugin APIs and walks through two existing plugins to show how the API is used.


Last modified December 15, 2022: added section docs/plugins/usage (818acec)