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Trace and block suspicious external IP addresses

Big Picture

Use Calico Cloud flow logs to trace external IP addresses that access clusters.


Anomaly detection is key to threat protection. Calico Cloud not only captures North-South ingress traffic in flow logs, but also external IP addresses that access clusters.

Having visibility into external IP addresses allows network security teams to detect unusual amounts of traffic coming from any single IP address, or if traffic is coming from an untrusted source.

Capturing ingress flow records is also necessary for compliance monitoring and reporting.


This how-to guide uses the following features:

  • Flow logs in Elasticsearch (or similar tool)


The hops in between matter

Typically, flow logs only show where traffic starts, and where it ends up within the cluster. Starting and ending points are fine for intra-cluster traffic, but not very helpful on their own for ingress because traffic typically goes through intermediaries such as load balancers and ingress proxies.

To expose external IP addresses in flow logs, Calico Cloud must also track these intermediaries that function between the internet and the cluster. When configured, Calico Cloud flow logs for traffic that has traversed load balancers and web proxies will include both the source IP of the intermediary and the original source IP of the connection.

Interpreting the hops of an external IP address

If you identify source IP addresses of malicious traffic, searching the flow logs for the original source IP of the traffic will alert you if these sources are hitting your cluster. For example, if there is a known malicious actor at, enabling ingress flow logs allow you to report on the source IP from the HTTP headers in addition to the connection information we already collect. If traffic from is hitting your cluster, it should show up in your flow logs, and appropriate actions can be taken to prevent such access.

Blocking suspicious IPs

We recommend that you investigate suspicious IPs before you block an IP address based on the flow logs. If you decide to block an external IP address found in the original source IP field of flow logs, note that since this information derives from the HTTP headers, it is more appropriate to block this traffic at your firewall. If the suspicious IP appears as the source IP, rather than the original source IP, then it made a direct connection without an intermediary into your cluster.

Before you begin

Ensure that intermediary components are configured. For example, enable direct server return (for load balancers and such) and HTTP header forwarding (specifically for the X-Forwarded-For and X-Real-IP headers).

The following ingress controllers are supported:

The following are required before starting to configure flow logs to trace external IP addresses:

Create a Kubernetes pull secret in the namespace your ingress controller or router syslog server is running in.

kubectl create secret generic cnx-pull-secret -n <ingress controller namespace> --from-file=.dockerconfigjson=$HOME/.docker/config.json --type

How to

Step 1: Set up the ingress log collector

To gather the appropriate information for consolidating source IPs with your existing flow logs, you need to set up the ingress log collector and configure Calico Cloud to accept the collected logs. The installation of the ingress log collector will be done in a later step.

  1. Download the patch file to patch-ingress.yaml.

    curl -O
  2. Modify patch-ingress.yaml so that the ingress controller container name appropriately reflects the container name in your ingress controller installation. Replace <ingress-controller-name> with the name of the ingress controller container in your pod. If you are running a router in OpenShift, replace <ingress-controller-name> with the name of the syslog container you have set up to receive the router logs in the below command.

    sed -i -e "s?<INGRESS_CONTROLLER_NAME>?<ingress-controller-name>?g" patch-ingress.yaml
  3. In the “env” section of the ingress-collector container in patch-ingress.yaml, set the following environment variables to meet your needs:

Environment VariableDefault ValueDescription
INGRESS_LOG_INTERVAL_SECONDS5 secondsInterval in seconds for sending flow log information for processing.
INGRESS_LOG_REQUESTS_PER_INTERVAL10 IP addressesMaximum number of unique IP addresses that are sent during each interval. All other requests beyond this limit are tracked in the count of requests. To ignore the maximum limit, set this to any negative number (for example, -1).
INGRESS_LOG_PATH/var/log/calico/ingress/ingress.logPath to ingress log files.
FELIX_DIAL_TARGETPath of the socket for communication with Felix.
LOG_LEVELPanicLogging level. There are seven levels: Trace, Debug, Info, Warning, Error, Fatal and Panic.

Step 2: Enable communication with Calico Cloud

In order for the logs captured by the ingress log collector to be correlated with connection flow logs properly, we need to enable communication between the ingress log collector and Calico Cloud. Follow the directions based on your orchestrator.



Ingress flow log correlation requires the Policy Sync API to be enabled on Felix. To do this cluster-wide, modify the default FelixConfiguration to set the field policySyncPathPrefix to /var/run/nodeagent.

kubectl patch felixconfiguration default --type='merge' -p '{"spec":{"policySyncPathPrefix":"/var/run/nodeagent"}}'


  1. Download the appropriate patch file for enabling the Policy Sync API on Felix.
    curl -O
  2. Apply the Policy Sync API patch.
    oc patch daemonset calico-node -n kube-system --patch "$(cat patch-flexvol.yaml)"

Step 3: Install the ingress log collector

Now that Felix has been configured, apply the customized patch-ingress.yaml. If you are running a router in OpenShift, replace the resource (deployment and deploymentconfig in the below examples) and <name of ingress controller deployment> with the resource type and name of your syslog server resource respectively.

Example Kubernetes command:

kubectl patch deployment <name of ingress controller deployment> -n <namespace> --patch "$(cat patch-ingress.yaml)"

Example OpenShift command:

oc patch deploymentconfig <name of syslog server resource> -n <namespace> --patch "$(cat patch-ingress.yaml)"

Step 4: Configure your ingress controller/router

To read out the correct information to correlate Ingress source IPs with flow logs, add the appropriate information to the ingress controller logs.

  1. Add the following json template to the logging format for your chosen ingress controller/router:

    tigera_secure_ee_ingress: {"source_port": $realip_remote_port, "destination_ip": "$server_addr", "destination_port": $server_port, "source_ip": "$realip_remote_addr", "x-forwarded-for": "$http_x_forwarded_for", "x-real-ip": "$http_x_real_ip"}

    Kubernetes community-maintained NGINX ingress controller Set the log-format-upstream variable in your ingress controller configuration configmap (see the Kubernetes community maintained NGINX ingress controller documentation for more details).

    NGINX Inc-maintained NGINX ingress controller Set the log-format variable in your ingress controller configuration configmap (see the NGINX Inc. ingress controller documentation for more details).

    OpenShift router In order to view OpenShift router logs, set up a syslog server (See the OpenShift documentation for more details). Once that is set up appropriately, add the above json template to the ROUTER_SYSLOG_FORMAT environment variable on your router.


    The variable values for source_ip, destination_ip, x-forwarded-for, and x-real-ip should be quoted.

  2. Set the log file path to /var/log/calico/ingress/ingress.log.

    Kubernetes community-maintained NGINX ingress controller If you are using the community maintained ingress controller, set access-log-path in your configmap. Set this value to /var/log/calico/ingress/ingress.log


    Setting the access-log-path will reroute logs in NGINX from writing to stdout. This means that the kubectl log command will no longer return logs since they are now being routed to the file of your choice. These logs are still accessible within your containers at the new location. If you are also reading the container logs mounted on your host, NGINX info will no longer be at the stdout file 0.log but will now be at the newly specified log location. To have logs readable through the kubectl log command, you will need to follow the same directions as the NGINX Inc-maintained NGINX ingress controller but instead mount in your NGINX template according to the Kubernetes community-maintained ingress controller documentation.

    NGINX Inc-maintained NGINX ingress controller If you are using the NGINX Inc maintained ingress controller, create a custom NGINX template in order to tell NGINX to log to a file. To do this, set main-template in your configmap. Your new template should probably look similar to the mounted template. The only difference is that under each access_log line, another access_log line should be added pointing towards /var/log/calico/ingress/ingress.log.


    access_log  /var/log/nginx/access.log  main;
    access_log /var/log/calico/ingress/ingress.log main;

    OpenShift router If you are using the OpenShift router, configure your syslog server to write log files to /var/log/calico/ingress/ingress.log.

Step 5: Test your installation

To test your installation, you must first know the appropriate path to access your cluster. The path can be either of the following:

  • The public address of your cluster/service
  • The cluster IP of your ingress service (if testing within the cluster)

After identifying the path, run the following command.

curl <path to access service> --header "X-Forwarded-For:" --header "X-Real-Ip:"

Now when viewing the flow logs in Kibana, you should be able to see the original_source_ip field populated with on the connection that the curl command made. In the case where an X-Real-Ip header is not provided, then you should instead see the original_source_ip field populated with the value from the X-Forwarded-For header.