Install and Setup Suricata on CentOS 8

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In this tutorial, you will learn how to install and setup Suricata on CentOS 8. Suricata is a free and open source network threat detection engine. It can function as an intrusion detection (IDS) engine, inline intrusion prevention system (IPS), network security monitoring (NSM) as well as offline pcap processing tool. It works by inspecting network traffic using rules and signature as well as Lua scripting support for detection of complex threats.

With its ability to write its logs in YAML and JSON formats, Suricata can be integrated with other tools such as SIEMs, Splunk, Logstash/Elasticsearch, Kibana for further logs processing and visualization.

Suricata offers quite a number of features. Read about them on All Suricata features page.

Installing Suricata on CentOS 8

System Requirements

Well, Suricata is multi-threaded, hence, if you have enough cores, you can avail as enough as possible. Also, allocate enough RAM.

In this demo, we have allocated 2 vCPUs and 4GB RAM to our Suricata server.

Install Suricata on CentOS 8

There are various ways in which you can install Suricata on CentOS 8;

Install Suricata on CentOS 8 from Source

Run system update

Update your system package by running the command below

dnf update
Install Required Build tools and Dependencies

There are a number of package dependencies and build tools required for a successful build and install of Suricata on CentOS 8 from the source.

dnf config-manager --set-enabled PowerTools
dnf install diffutils file-devel gcc jansson-devel make nss-devel libyaml-devel libcap-ng-devel libpcap-devel pcre-devel python3 python3-pyyaml rust-toolset zlib-devel curl wget tar lua lua-devel lz4-devel
Download Suricata Source Code

Download the latest stable release Suricata source code from Suricata downloads page. As of this writing, Suricata 5.0.3 is the latest stable release version.

wget -P /tmp
Extract Suricata Source Code

Once the download is complete, extract the source code;

cd /tmp
tar xzf suricata-5.0.3.tar.gz
Build and Install Suricata on CentOS 8

Navigate to the source directory and build and install Suricata on CentOS 8.

cd suricata-5.0.3

Run the configure script to adapt Suricata to the system and verify that all required dependencies are in place.

./configure --sysconfdir=/etc --localstatedir=/var --prefix=/usr/ --enable-lua --enable-geopip 

The command installs Suricata into /usr/bin/suricata, have the config in /etc/suricata and use /var/log/suricata as log directory.

For more build options, refer to ./configure --help.

Compile and install Suricata rules and configurations.

make install-full
22/7/2020 -- 21:14:44 - <Info> -- Backing up current rules.
22/7/2020 -- 21:14:44 - <Info> -- Writing rules to /var/lib/suricata/rules/suricata.rules: total: 27530; enabled: 20677; added: 27530; removed 0; modified: 0
22/7/2020 -- 21:14:44 - <Info> -- Skipping test, disabled by configuration.
22/7/2020 -- 21:14:44 - <Info> -- Done.

You can now start suricata by running as root something like:
  /usr/bin/suricata -c /etc/suricata/suricata.yaml -i eth0

If a library like is not found, you can run suricata with:
  LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/lib /usr/bin/suricata -c /etc/suricata/suricata.yaml -i eth0

The Emerging Threats Open rules are now installed. Rules can be
updated and managed with the suricata-update tool.

For more information please see:

make[1]: Leaving directory '/tmp/suricata-5.0.3'

Suricata is now installed from sources on CentOS 8.

Install Suricata on CentOS 8 from EPEL Repos

For a seamless installation of Suricata on CentOS 8, using EPEL repos to install it is a sure bet.

Install EPEL Repos on CentOS 8
dnf install epel-release
Install Suricata from EPEL Repos CentOS 8
dnf info suricata
Available Packages
Name         : suricata
Version      : 5.0.3
Release      : 1.el8
Architecture : x86_64
Size         : 2.3 M
Source       : suricata-5.0.3-1.el8.src.rpm
Repository   : epel
Summary      : Intrusion Detection System
URL          :
License      : GPLv2

As you can see, the EPEL repos provides the latest stable release version of Suricata.

You can then install it by executing the command;

dnf install suricata

Suricata Rules

Suricata utilizes various rule sets/signatures to detect and alert on matching threats. Rules are also known as Signatures.  Emerging ThreatsEmerging Threats Pro and source fire’s VRT are the most commonly used rules.

In most cases, you can find the rules files under /etc/suricata/rules/. This is when you install Suricata from repos.

ls -1 /etc/suricata/rules/


Emergency Threat rules are usually stored as /var/lib/suricata/rules/suricata.rules.

The suricata.rules file usually contains all the rules defined on the rules file located under the /etc/suricata/rules/.

To install and update Emergency Threat rules, use the suricata-update command.


This downloads and installs suricata.rules.

A rule/signature consists of the following sections:

  • The action, that determines what happens when the signature matches.
  • The header, defining the protocol, IP addresses, ports and direction of the rule.
  • The rule options, defining the specifics of the rule.
alert ip any any -> any any (msg:"SURICATA Applayer Mismatch protocol both directions"; flow:established; app-layer-event:applayer_mismatch_protocol_both_directions; flowint:applayer.anomaly.count,+,1; classtype:protocol-command-decode; sid:2260000; rev:1;)

Read more on introduction to Suricata rules.

Suricata Basic Setup

/etc/suricata/suricata.yaml is the default Suricata configuration file.

The configuration file contains a lot of configurable options. However, for our basic setup, we will only focus on the network interface on which Suricata is listening on and the IP address attached to that interface.

To find the interface and the IP address, run the command below;

ip --brief add
lo               UNKNOWN ::1/128 
enp0s3           UP    
enp0s8           UP    fe80::12c8:9a8a:6d1:deaf/64

In our case, our interface is enp0s8 and the IP address is

Open and edit the Suricata config file.

vim /etc/suricata/suricata.yaml

Under the vars section, you need to configure Suricata to differentiate between your internal network to be protected and external network. This can be done by defining the correct values for the HOME_NET and EXTERNAL_NET variables respectively under the address groups.

The HOME_NET variable should include the IP address of the interface on which Suricata is listening on and all the local networks to protect.

The EXTERNAL_NET variables should define any IP or network that is not local.

  # more specific is better for alert accuracy and performance
    #HOME_NET: "[,,]"
    HOME_NET: "[]"
    #HOME_NET: "[]"
    #HOME_NET: "[]"
    #HOME_NET: "[]"
    #HOME_NET: "any"


Under the af-packet section, set the value of the interface to your interface name.

# Linux high speed capture support
  - interface: enp0s8

Save and exit the configuration file.

Specify Suricata Rules

Define the Suricata rules-files to use. We are using the default ET rules in this demo;

default-rule-path: /var/lib/suricata/rules

  - suricata.rules

Disable Packet Offloading

Disable Suricata packet offloading by disabling interface Large Receive Offload (LRO)/Generic Receive Offload (GRO);

ethtool -K <interface> gro off lro off

Replace <interface> with your interface.

First check if these features are enabled;

ethtool -k enp0s8 | grep -iE "generic|large"
	tx-checksum-ip-generic: on
generic-segmentation-offload: on
generic-receive-offload: off
large-receive-offload: off [fixed]

If enabled, disable by running the command below;

ethtool -K enp0s8 gro off lro off

Running Suricata

Suricata can be managed by a systemd service.

Before you can run it, you need to specify the interface on which it is listening in /etc/sysconfig/suricata config file.

vim /etc/sysconfig/suricata

# Add options to be passed to the daemon
#OPTIONS="-i eth0 --user suricata "
OPTIONS="-i enp0s8 --user suricata "

Save and exit the file,

Start and enable Suricata to run on boot on CentOS 8.

systemctl enable --now suricata

You can check the status;

systemctl status suricata
● suricata.service - Suricata Intrusion Detection Service
   Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/suricata.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (running) since Thu 2020-07-23 16:50:34 EAT; 29s ago
     Docs: man:suricata(1)
  Process: 19153 ExecStartPre=/bin/rm -f /var/run/ (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
 Main PID: 19154 (Suricata-Main)
    Tasks: 7 (limit: 5027)
   Memory: 387.6M
   CGroup: /system.slice/suricata.service
           └─19154 /sbin/suricata -c /etc/suricata/suricata.yaml --pidfile /var/run/ -i enp0s8 --user suricata

Jul 23 16:50:34 systemd[1]: Starting Suricata Intrusion Detection Service...
Jul 23 16:50:34 systemd[1]: Started Suricata Intrusion Detection Service.
Jul 23 16:50:34 suricata[19154]: 23/7/2020 -- 16:50:34 - <Notice> - This is Suricata version 5.0.3 RELEASE running in SYSTEM mode
Jul 23 16:50:42 suricata[19154]: 23/7/2020 -- 16:50:42 - <Notice> - all 1 packet processing threads, 4 management threads initialized, 

Note that instead of using s systemd service above, you can run Suricata with a simple command;

suricata -D -c /etc/suricata/suricata.yaml -i enp0s8

Suricata logging;

To check if Suricata is running check the Suricata log:

tail /var/log/suricata/suricata.log

You should see such a line;

23/7/2020 -- 16:50:42 - - all 1 packet processing threads, 4 management threads initialized, engine started.

To check Suricata statistics;

tail -f /var/log/suricata/stats.log

To check Suricata alert logs;

tail -f /var/log/suricata/fast.log

Suricata can also write logs in EVE Json output. The default log file is;

tail -f /var/log/suricata/eve.json

Check our other guide on how to read Suricata Eve JSON logs.

Testing Suricata Rules

In this demo, we are using the default ET Suricata rules. If you have created you own custom rules, be sure to test the Suricata rules for syntax errors;

suricata -c /etc/suricata/suricata.yaml -T -v
23/7/2020 -- 17:44:10 - - Running suricata under test mode
23/7/2020 -- 17:44:10 - - This is Suricata version 5.0.3 RELEASE running in SYSTEM mode
23/7/2020 -- 17:44:10 - - CPUs/cores online: 1
23/7/2020 -- 17:44:10 - - fast output device (regular) initialized: fast.log
23/7/2020 -- 17:44:10 - - eve-log output device (regular) initialized: eve.json
23/7/2020 -- 17:44:10 - - stats output device (regular) initialized: stats.log
23/7/2020 -- 17:44:12 - - 1 rule files processed. 20676 rules successfully loaded, 0 rules failed
23/7/2020 -- 17:44:12 - - Threshold config parsed: 0 rule(s) found
23/7/2020 -- 17:44:12 - - 20679 signatures processed. 1138 are IP-only rules, 3987 are inspecting packet payload, 15324 inspect application layer, 103 are decoder event only
23/7/2020 -- 17:44:25 - - Configuration provided was successfully loaded. Exiting.
23/7/2020 -- 17:44:25 - - cleaning up signature grouping structure… complete

Then restart Suricata;

systemctl restart suricata

Perform SSH DDoS Test Attack

On another system, install hping3 tool and perform an SSH DDoS test attack.

dnf install hping3

Then attack SSH on the server running Suricata.

hping3 -S -p 22 --flood --rand-source

Refer to man hping3.

While hping is running, tail the alert logs on Suricata server;

tail -f /var/log/suricata/fast.log

You should see such log lines;

07/24/2020-21:43:02.613445 [] [1:2400000:2768] ET DROP Spamhaus DROP Listed Traffic Inbound group 1 [] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
07/24/2020-21:43:02.751133 [] [1:2400007:2768] ET DROP Spamhaus DROP Listed Traffic Inbound group 8 [] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
07/24/2020-21:43:02.800769 [] [1:2400012:2768] ET DROP Spamhaus DROP Listed Traffic Inbound group 13 [] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
07/24/2020-21:43:02.801827 [] [1:2400009:2768] ET DROP Spamhaus DROP Listed Traffic Inbound group 10 [] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
07/24/2020-21:43:02.802528 [] [1:2400013:2768] ET DROP Spamhaus DROP Listed Traffic Inbound group 14 [] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
07/24/2020-21:43:02.803033 [] [1:2400021:2768] ET DROP Spamhaus DROP Listed Traffic Inbound group 22 [] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
07/24/2020-21:43:02.803268 [] [1:2400006:2768] ET DROP Spamhaus DROP Listed Traffic Inbound group 7 [] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
07/24/2020-21:43:02.803548 [] [1:2400009:2768] ET DROP Spamhaus DROP Listed Traffic Inbound group 10 [] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
07/24/2020-21:43:02.870288 [] [1:2400021:2768] ET DROP Spamhaus DROP Listed Traffic Inbound group 22 [] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
07/24/2020-21:43:02.871212 [] [1:2400003:2768] ET DROP Spamhaus DROP Listed Traffic Inbound group 4 [] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
07/24/2020-21:43:02.871608 [] [1:2400021:2768] ET DROP Spamhaus DROP Listed Traffic Inbound group 22 [] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->

With that simple test, we can see that Suricata is setup and running well using the default Emergency Threat rules.


Read more on Suricata User Guide.

Related Tutorials

Install and Setup Suricata on Ubuntu 18.04

Other CentOS 8 Tutorials

Install and Setup Wazuh Server in CentOS 8/Fedora 32

Install and Use Docker CE on CentOS 8

Install and Configure Filebeat on CentOS 8

Setup OpenVPN Server on CentOS 8


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2 thoughts on “Install and Setup Suricata on CentOS 8”

  1. Hello,
    Thank you so much for this great tutorial. Can you add something about Suricata-IDS and Firewalld? CentOS using Firewalld by default and configuration Suricata-IDS with Firewalld is different.
    It will be a great article.

    Thank you.


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