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Detect and alert on anomalies


This feature is tech preview. Tech preview features may be subject to significant changes before they become GA.

Big picture

Detect suspicious security and performance activities within a cluster and generate alerts.


The Calico Cloud anomaly detection engine analyzes patterns and alerts on potential threats and issues such as:

  • Security issues - threats like DGA, reconnaissance threats like IP sweep, but also issues with servers that can affect daily operations.

  • Performance issues - spikes in data transmission, and anomalous degradation in network communication that may impact application workloads.

All you need to do is install the anomaly detection within your cluster. If there are any security or performance anomalies, you will automatically get alerts in Manager UI.


This how-to guide uses the following Calico Cloud features:

  • Anomaly detection


About anomalies

Calico Cloud anomaly detection allows you to proactively determine if there is an issue (or not), and potentially resolve problems before service levels are compromised. Anomaly detection uses Calico Cloud Elasticsearch logs (flow logs, L7 logs, and DNS logs) to learn the behavior of cluster nodes, pods, services, and other entities that send log records (applications, load balancers, databases, etc.).

Root causes of anomalies include:

  • Security

    • Malicious behaviors like DoS and crypto-mining attacks
  • Security and performance

    • Applications and microservices
    • Bugs in applications and microservices
    • Underprovisioned applications (replicas)
    • Network and infrastructure process or CPU overload due to traffic surges

About anomaly detection modeling

Anomaly detection uses a neural network and probabilistic time series modeling to automatically identify anomalies associated with workloads in your cluster. It can also work as a daemon that periodically retrains the model and performs anomaly detection. Anomaly detection perform these high-level tasks:

  • Learns the normal behavior and patterns of cluster nodes, pods, services, and other entities that send log records (applications, load balancers, databases, etc.).
  • Collects data from different cluster log fields (individual or aggregated) such as connections, bytes sent, latencies, and counters.
  • Learns the time patterns (hourly, daily, or other) in field values. For example, there can be a peak in the connections to an authorization service in the morning, then a big data transmission when the database starts a backup operation.

For a list of anomalies that are enabled by default, see Anomaly detection reference.


Do I need to configure anomaly values?

Anomalies are preconfigured with reasonable defaults that are optimized for frequency and severity. You should not need to change the values unless you are getting too many alerts.

Will alerts be unusually high until the engine learns to distinguish normal from anomalous behavior?

Yes. If you have data for a cluster running for several hours, that could result in an unusually high alert rate.

If the engine detects more than one anomaly (ex. one in flow logs, and DNS logs), will I get separate alerts?

You can see several suspicious_records from different logs in the same alert if those records are presented in the same time interval. Suspicious records in an alert are grouped by log names.

Where does anomaly detection run on multi-cluster management (mcm) deployments?

Anomaly detection runs on the management cluster, but users on managed clusters can enable/disable alerts.

Before you begin


  • All platforms in this release except OpenShift


  • To use L7/HTTP anomaly detectors, you must enable L7 logs on the cluster

How To

Enable and disable anomaly detectors

By default all Anomaly Detectors are disabled. To enable/disable a detector, follow these steps in Manager UI.

  1. If you are using multi-cluster management, select the cluster where you want to run the detector in the dropdown at the top right of the page.

  2. In the left navbar, click Activity, Anomaly Detection.

  3. On the Anomalies page, click the action dropdown and select Enable or Disable. The Status and Last Run columns immediately show the status.


Monitor anomaly alerts in Manager UI

You can monitor anomaly alerts on the Alerts page and/or Service Graph.

Monitor anomalies in Manager UI

Alerts page

From the left navbar, click Alerts. This page lists both security and performance anomaly alerts.


Service Graph

From the left navbar, click Service Graph. Monitor security performance in the bottom panel.


Quarantine suspicious pods

If you find anomalous behavior that is suspicious but not urgent, you may want to disable the detector to research the root cause. For any critical anomaly, you may need to quarantine pods immediately by applying a network policy. A best practice is have a network policy ready for editing (as part of your tier and policy lifecycle workflow) to ensure that you can quickly enforce it.

Additional resources