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Tracing Event Filtering

sudo ./dist/tracee --help filter
sudo ./dist/tracee --filter xxx

Tracee output might become too hard to consume when tracing all the events from a system. Luckily, Tracee has a powerful mechanism to accurately filter just the information that is relevant to the user, the --filter flag.

With --filter command line flag you define expressions that tells tracee what you are interested in based on event metadata filtering capabilities. Only events that match given criteria will be traced.


You can filter events by most of the visible fields from Tracee events.

Initial Example

All the examples bellow this item can be executed with the following tracee prefix command:

sudo ./dist/tracee \
    --output json \
    --filter comm=bash \
    --filter follow
    --output option:parse-arguments \
    <rest of filters>

This will allow you to test the filtering rules by executing a new process in any running shell and might serve as a good indicative if your filter works as expected.

Filters and Operators

  1. Event (Operators: =, != and "follow". Prefix/Suffix: *)

    1) --filter event=openat
    2) --filter event=execve,open
    3) --filter event='open*'
    4) --filter event!='open*,dup*'
    5) --filter follow


    The "follow" operator will make tracee follow all newly created child processes of the parents being filtered.

  2. Event Arguments (Operators: =, !=. Prefix/Suffix: *)

    1) --filter event=openat --filter openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow
    2) --filter event=openat --filter openat.args.pathname='/tmp*'
    3) --filter event=openat --filter openat.args.pathname!=/tmp/1,/bin/ls


    Multiple values are ORed if used with = operator
    But ANDed if used with any other operator.

  3. Event Return Code (Operators: =, !=, <, >)

    1) --filter event=openat --filter openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow --filter 'openat.retval>0'
    2) --filter event=openat --filter openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow --filter 'openat.retval<0'


    Try cat /etc/shadow as a regular use and filter for retval<0.

  4. Event Context (Operators: vary by field)

    1) --filter openat.context.container --filter openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow
    2) --filter event=openat --filter openat.context.container --filter openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow


    The following is a list of available context fields:
    1) "timestamp"
    2) "processorId"
    3) "p", "pid", "processId"
    4) "tid", "threadId"
    5) "ppid", "parentProcessId"
    6) "hostTid", "hostThreadId"
    7) "hostPid", "hostParentProcessId"
    8) "uid", "userId"
    9) "mntns", "mountNamespace"
    10) "pidns", "pidNamespace"
    11) "processName", "comm"
    12) "hostName"
    13) "cgroupId"
    14) "host" (inversion of "container")
    15) "container"
    16) "containerId"
    17) "containerImage"
    18) "containerName"
    19) "podName"
    20) "podNamespace"
    21) "podUid"
    22) "syscall"


    Open a container and try cat /etc/shadow.

  5. Event Sets (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --filter set=fs
    2) --filter set=lsm_hooks,network_events


    Selects a set of events to tracee according to pre-defined sets which can be listed by using list command line argument.

  6. Container (Operators: =, != and "new". Boolean)

    1) --filter container # all container events
    2) --filter '!container' # events from the host only
    3) --filter container=new # containers created after tracee-ebf execution
    4) --filter container=3f93da58be3c --filter event=openat
    5) --filter container=new --filter event=openat --filter openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow


    The new flag allows to filter newly created containers only.

  7. Command (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --filter comm=cat,vim,ping
    2) --filter comm!=ping


    Do not use given command prefix for these examples as they're filtering by command name as well.

  8. Binary Path (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --filter binary=/usr/bin/ls
    2) --filter binary=host:/usr/bin/ls
    3) --filter binary=4026532448:/usr/bin/ls


    1. Mount namespace id or the special "host:" prefix can be used for finer filtering
    2. Given path must be absolute; i.e starts with "/"
    3. Symbolic link paths are not supported
  9. PID (Operators: =, !=, <, > and "new")

    1) --filter pid=new # newly created events (after tracee execution)
    2) --filter pid=510,1709 # # pids 510 and 1709
    3) --filter 'pid>0' --filter pid 'pid<1000'
    4) --filter pid=2578238 --filter event=openat --filter openat.pathname=/etc/shadow --filter follow


    This filter can be used to filter a specific process or thread: 1. Providing a tgid (aka pid) will filter all threads of the process. 2. Providing a tid (where tid != tgid) will only filter the specific thread.

  10. Process Tree

    1) --filter tree=476165 # events descending from process 476165
    2) --filter tree!=5023 # events that do not descend from process 5023
  11. UID (Operators: =, !=, <, >)

    1) --filter uid=0
    2) --filter 'uid>0'
    3) --filter 'uid>0' --filter uid!=1000 # do not filter root and uid=1000
  12. UTS Namespace (hostnames) (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --filter uts!=ab356bc4dd554 
  13. PID Namespace (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --filter pidns!=4026531836
  14. MOUNT Namespace (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --filter mntns=4026531840