Architecture

The Wazuh architecture is based on agents, running on the monitored endpoints, that forward security data to a central server. Moreover, agentless devices (such as firewalls, switches, routers, access points, etc.) are supported and can actively submit log data via Syslog, SSH, or using their own API. The central server decodes and analyzes the incoming information, and passes the results along to an Elasticsearch cluster for indexing and storage.

An Elasticsearch cluster is a collection of one or more nodes that communicate with each other to perform read and write operations on indexes. Small Wazuh deployments, which do not require processing large amounts of data, can easily be handled by a single-node cluster. Multi-node clusters are recommended when there is a large number of monitored endpoints, when a large volume of data is anticipated, or when high availability is required.

For production environments it is recommended to deploy the Wazuh server and Elasticsearch to different hosts. In this scenario, Filebeat is used to securely forward Wazuh alerts and/or archived events to the Elasticsearch cluster (single-node or multi-node) using TLS encryption.

The diagram below represents a Wazuh deployment architecture. It shows the solution components and how the Wazuh servers and Elasticsearch can be configured as a cluster, providing load balancing and high-availability.

Wazuh deployment

Wazuh agent - Wazuh server communication

Wazuh agent continuously sends events to the Wazuh server for analysis and threat detection. In order to start shipping them, the agent establishes a connection with the server service for agents connection, which listens on port 1514 (this is configurable). The Wazuh server then decodes and rule-checks the received events, utilizing the analysis engine. Events that trip a rule are augmented with alert data such as rule id and rule name. Events can be spooled to one or both of the following files, depending on whether or not a rule is tripped:

  • The file /var/ossec/logs/archives/archives.json contains all events whether they tripped a rule or not.
  • The file /var/ossec/logs/alerts/alerts.json contains only events that tripped a rule with high enough priority (the threshold is configurable).

The Wazuh messages protocol uses AES encryption by default, with 128 bits per block and 256-bit keys (Blowfish encryption is also optional).

Note

Read the Benefits of using AES in Wazuh communications document for more information.

Wazuh server - Elastic Stack communication

Wazuh server uses Filebeat to send alert and event data to the Elasticsearch server, using TLS encryption. Filebeat reads the Wazuh server output data and sends it to Elasticsearch (by default listening on port 9200/TCP). Once the data is indexed by Elasticsearch, Kibana is used to mine and visualize the information.

The Wazuh web user interface runs inside Kibana, as a plugin. It queries the Wazuh RESTful API (by default listening on port 55000/TCP on the Wazuh server) in order to display configuration and status-related information of the Wazuh server and agents. It can also modify, through API calls, agents or server configuration settings when desired. This communication is encrypted with TLS and authenticated with username and password.

Required ports

For the communication of Wazuh components several services are used. Below is the list of default ports used by these services. Users can modify these port numbers when necessary.

Component Software Port Protocol Purpose
Wazuh server Wazuh manager 1514 UDP (default) Agents connection service
1514 TCP Agents connection service
1515 TCP Agents registration service
1516 TCP Wazuh cluster daemon
514 UDP (default) Wazuh syslog collector (disabled by default)
514 TCP Wazuh syslog collector (disabled by default)
Wazuh API 55000 TCP Wazuh RESTful API
Elastic Stack Elasticsearch 9200 TCP Elasticsearch RESTful API
9300-9400 TCP Elasticsearch cluster communication
Kibana 5601 TCP Kibana web interface

Archival data storage

Both alerts and non-alert events are stored in files on the Wazuh server, in addition to being sent to Elasticsearch. These files can be written in JSON format (.json) and/or in plain text format (.log - no decoded fields but more compact). These files are daily compressed and signed using MD5, SHA1, and SHA256 checksums. The directory and filename structure is as follows:

root@wazuh-manager:/var/ossec/logs/archives/2020/Jan# ls -l
total 176
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec 234350 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-01.json.gz
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec    350 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-01.json.sum
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec 176221 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-01.log.gz
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec    346 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-01.log.sum
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec 224320 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-02.json.gz
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec    350 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-02.json.sum
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec 151642 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-02.log.gz
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec    346 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-02.log.sum
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec 315251 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-03.json.gz
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec    350 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-03.json.sum
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec 156296 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-03.log.gz
-rw-r----- 1 ossec ossec    346 Jan  2 00:00 ossec-archive-03.log.sum

Rotation and backups of archive files are recommended according to the storage capacity of the Wazuh server. By using cron jobs, you could easily arrange to keep only a certain time window of archive files locally on the server (e.g., last year or last three months).

On the other hand, you may choose to dispense with storing archive files at all and simply rely on Elasticsearch for archive storage, especially if you are running periodic Elasticsearch snapshot backups and/or a multi-node Elasticsearch cluster with shard replicas for high availability. You could even use a cron job to move snapshotted indexes to a final data storage server, and sign them using MD5, SHA1, and SHA256 hashing algorithms.