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Integrating Velociraptor into Tenzir Pipelines

· 4 min read
Christoph Lobmeyer
Matthias Vallentin

The new velociraptor operator allows you to run Velociraptor Query Language (VQL) expressions against a Velociraptor server and process the results in a Tenzir pipeline. You can also subscribe to matching artifacts in hunt flows over a large fleet of assets, making endpoint telemetry collection and processing a breeze.

Velociraptor is a powerful digital forensics and incident response (DFIR) tool for managing and interrogating endpoints. Not only does it support ad-hoc extraction of forensic artifacts, but also continuous event monitoring to get alerted when suspicious things happen, such as the installation of new scheduled tasks on a Windows machine.

We have been asked to make it possible to process the data collected at endpoints in a Tenzir pipeline, so that you can store it cost-effectively, filter it, reshape it, and route it to your destination of choice. The velociraptor operator honors this request. Thanks to Velociraptor's gRPC API and Python library that ship with the Protobuf definition, the implementation in C++ was straight-forward.


The velociraptor operator is a source that emits events. We implemented two ways to interact with a Velociraptor server:

  1. Send a VQL query to a server and process the response.

  2. Use the --subscribe <artifact> option to hook into a continuous feed of artifacts that match the <artifact> regular expression. Whenever a client responds to a hunt that contains this artifact, the response will be forwarded to the pipeline and emit the artifact payload in the response field HuntResults.


Here's how you execute a VQL query and store the result at a Tenzir node:

velociraptor --query "select * from pslist()"
| import

Storing it via import is just one of many options. For ad-hoc investigations, you often just want to analyze the result, for which a variety of transformations come in handy. For example:

velociraptor --query "select * from pslist()"
| select Name, Pid, PPid, CommandLine
| where Name == "remotemanagement"

Artifact Subscription

If you use Velociraptor to perform interactive investigations in DFIR cases, you probably hunt for forensic artifacts (like dropped files or specific entries in the Windows registry) on assets connected to your Velociraptor server. For enrichment or to correlate the results with other security related data, you might want to post-process results of Velociraptor hunts.

With this feature Tenzir can subscribe to results of hunts, containing Velociraptor artifacts of your choice like the ones shipped with Velociraptor. Every time a client reports back on an artifact that matches the given Regex (like Windows or Windows.Sys.StartupItems) Tenzir will ingest the result of the underlying query into the pipeline.

velociraptor --subscribe Windows.Sys.StartupItems | import

There are many examples of anomalies to search for, like malware families persisting in Windows RunKeys. You can find some inspirations in the procedure examples of MITRE ATT&CK Sub-Technique T1547.001.

The implementation of this feature—specifically the underlying VQL query—is inspired by the built-in capability of Velociraptor to upload results of hunts (the flows) to an elastic server utilizing the Elastic.Flows.Upload artifact.


The velociraptor pipeline operator acts as client and it establishes a connection to a Velociraptor server via gRPC. All Velociraptor client-to-server communication is mutually authenticated and encrypted via TLS certificates. This means you must provide a client-side certificate, which you can generate as follows. (Velociraptor ships as a static binary that we refer to as velociraptor-binary here.)

  1. Create a server configuration server.yaml:

    velociraptor-binary config generate > server.yaml
  2. Create an API client:

    velociraptor-binary -c server.yaml config api_client --name tenzir client.yaml

    Copy the generated client.yaml to your Tenzir plugin configuration directory as velociraptor.yaml so that the operator can find it:

    cp client.yaml /etc/tenzir/plugin/velociraptor.yaml
  3. Run the frontend with the server configuration:

    velociraptor-binary -c server.yaml frontend

Now you are ready to run VQL queries!


Big thanks to Christoph Lobmeyer who contributed the intricate expression that is behind the --subscribe <artifact> option and wrote parts of this blog post. 🙏