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Introducing 411: A new open source framework for handling alerting main image

Introducing 411: A new open source framework for handling alerting


Back in 2014, Etsy started using the ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash & Kibana) stack. We’ve previously written about how we use saved searches as a reactive security mechanism. When we made the transition to ELK, we noticed there was no way to automatically schedule searches and be notified on the results. Today, we’re introducing our open source solution to this problem: 411.


411 is a query scheduler: it executes saved Elasticsearch queries against your cluster, formats the results, and sends them to you as an alert. Our motivation behind creating 411 was to enable us to easily create customizable alerts to enhance our ability to react to important security events.

As a part of that customizability, 411 gives you lots of options for applying filters to the results that are returned from a search. This includes things like removing duplicate alerts, throttling the number of alerts, as well as the ability to forward the alerts on to other systems like JIRA or a webhook. 411 also provides a robust way to handle responding to multiple alerts as well as an audit log to help keep track of changes to searches and alerts.


In addition to the default search functionality to utilize ELK, we’re also including some additional searches types out the box. HTTP is a lightweight Nagios alternative that you can use to alert on service outages, while Graphite allows you to query a Graphite server and alert when thresholds are exceeded (more information on Etsy’s graphite setup can be found here).

We aimed to make the code as modular as possible to make it easy to extend. We hope that you find the examples we’ve provided to be useful and informative for others to develop their own extended functionality for 411. If you do create new extensions for 411, we more than welcome reviewing your pull request to integrate new functionality into 411!

Etsy’s commitment to Open Source means we use the same version of 411 as what’s available on Github, so you can expect regular project updates. We’ve heard a lot of different ideas regarding different functionality/search types people would like to see based off our talk at Defcon, so we’d appreciate your feedback regarding how you plan on using 411 and features you’d like to see!   This post was written as a collaboration between Ken Lee and Kai Zhong. You can follow Ken on Twitter at @kennysan and you can follow Kai on Twitter at @sixhundredns.