Controlling Rules

Disable default rules or use tags to load Falco Rules selectively

Disable Default Rules

Even though Falco provides a quite powerful default ruleset, you sometimes need to disable some of these default rules since they do not work properly in your environment. Luckily Falco offers you multiple possibilities to do so.

Via Falco Configuration or Parameters

Since Falco 0.38.0, you can control which rules are loaded by adding relevant entries to the rules section of the falco.yaml configuration file or by passing appropriate command line parameters. In the rules section you can add any number of enable or disable entries:

- enable:
    rule: <wildcard pattern>
- disable:
    rule: <wildcard pattern>
- enable:
    tag: <tag>
- disable:
    tag: <tag>

All the entries are treated as commands and evaluated in order, thus controlling the enabled status of the loaded rules. For instance, in order to only enable the rules called Netcat Remote Code Execution in Container and Delete or rename shell history you can supply the following configuration:

  - disable:
      rule: "*"
  - enable:
      rule: Netcat Remote Code Execution in Container
  - enable:
      rule: Delete or rename shell history

The above instructs Falco to first disable all rules (regardless of their enabled status in the files or any override), then enable the Netcat rule and finally enable the deletion rule.

Alternatively, this configuration can be supplied on the Falco command line by using the -o option.

falco -o "rules[].enable.tag=network" -o "rules[].enable.rule=Directory traversal monitored file" -o "rules[].enable.rule=k8s_*" -o "rules[].disable.rule=k8s_noisy_rule"

In the above example, all the rules tagged network are enabled, the Directory traversal monitored file will also be enabled alongside any rule matching the pattern k8s_*, and then the rule k8s_noisy_rule will be disabled; all of this happens regardless of any enabled status specified in the rules files. If both yaml configuration and -o options are specified, the CLI options are applied last.

These parameters can also be specified as Helm chart value (extraArgs) if you are deploying Falco via the official Helm chart.

It is also possible to enable or disable specific rules and tags via the -D, -T and -t command line options, but those are deprecated and will be removed in Falco 0.39.0:

-D <substring>      Disable any rules with names having the substring <substring>. 
                    Can be specified multiple times.

-T <tag>            Disable any rules with a tag=<tag>.
                    Can be specified multiple times.
                    Can not be specified with -t.

-t <tag>            Only run those rules with a tag=<tag>. 
                    Can be specified multiple times.
                    Can not be specified with -T/-D.

Via existing Macros

Most of the default rules offer some kind of user_* macros which are already part of the rule conditions. These user_* macros are usually set to (never_true) or (always_true) which basically enables or disables the regarding rule. Now if you want to disable a default rule (e.g. Read sensitive file trusted after startup), you just have to override the rule's user_* macro (user_known_read_sensitive_files_activities in this case) inside your custom Falco configuration.

Example for your custom Falco configuration (note the (always_true) condition):

- macro: user_known_read_sensitive_files_activities
  condition: (always_true)

Please note again that the order of the specified configuration file matters! The last defined macro with the same name wins.

Via Custom Rule Definition

The enabled attribute used as an override is deprecated and it will be removed in Falco 1.0.0. Use the override.enabled attribute instead. Please note that the enabled key is only deprecated when used as an override! So a rule like this is perfectly legit:

- rule: legit_rule
  desc: legit rule description
  condition: evt.type=open
  output: command=%proc.cmdline
  priority: INFO
  enabled: false

Last but not the least, you can just disable a rule that is enabled by default using the enabled: false rule property. This is especially useful for rules which do not provide a user_* macro in the default condition.

Ensure that the custom configuration file loads after the default configuration file. You can configure the right order using multiple -r parameters, directly inside the falco configuration file falco.yaml through rules_file. If you are using the official Helm chart, then configure the order with the falco.rulesFile value.

For example to disable the User mgmt binaries default rule in /etc/falco/falco_rules.yaml define a custom rule in /etc/falco/rules.d/custom-rules.yaml:

- rule: User mgmt binaries
  enabled: false

At the same time, disabled rules can be re-enabled by using the enabled: true rule property. For instance, the Change thread namespace rule in /etc/falco/falco_rules.yaml that is disabled by default, can be manually enabled with:

- rule: Change thread namespace
  enabled: true

Rule Tags

As of 0.6.0, rules have an optional set of tags that are used to categorize the ruleset into groups of related rules. Here's an example:

- rule: File Open by Privileged Container
  desc: Any open by a privileged container. Exceptions are made for known trusted images.
  condition: (open_read or open_write) and container and container.privileged=true and not trusted_containers
  output: File opened for read/write by privileged container ( command=%proc.cmdline
  priority: WARNING
  tags: [container, cis]

In this case, the rule "File Open by Privileged Container" has been given the tags "container" and "cis". If the tags key is not present for a given rule or the list is empty, a rule has no tags.

Here's how you can use tags:

  • You can use the -T <tag> argument to disable rules having a given tag. -T can be specified multiple times. For example, to skip all rules with the "filesystem" and "cis" tags you would run falco with falco -T filesystem -T cis .... -T can not be specified with -t.
  • You can use the -t <tag> argument to only run those rules having a given tag. -t can be specified multiple times. For example, to only run those rules with the "filesystem" and "cis" tags, you would run falco with falco -t filesystem -t cis .... -t can not be specified with -T or -D <pattern> (disable rules by rule name regex).

Tags for Current Falco Ruleset

We've also gone through the default ruleset and tagged all the rules with an initial set of tags. Here are the tags we've used:

filesystemThe rule relates to reading/writing files
software_mgmtThe rule relates to any software/package management tool like rpm, dpkg, etc.
processThe rule relates to starting a new process or changing the state of a current process
databaseThe rule relates to databases
hostThe rule only works outside of containers
shellThe rule specifically relates to starting shells
containerThe rule only works inside containers
cisThe rule is related to the CIS Docker benchmark
usersThe rule relates to management of users or changing the identity of a running process
networkThe rule relates to network activity

Rules can have multiple tags if they relate to multiple of the above. Every rule in the falco ruleset currently has at least one tag.