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Alerting: Rule Builder Tab

Document created by RSA Information Design and Development Employee on Sep 12, 2017Last modified by RSA Information Design and Development Employee on Nov 11, 2020
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The Rule Builder tab enables you to define a Rule Builder rule.

What do you want to do?

Role I want to ...Show me how
Content ExpertDefine a Rule Builder rule.Add a Rule Builder RuleStep 1. Name and Describe the Rule
Content ExpertDefine rule criteria.Step 2. Build a Rule Statement
Content ExpertAdd conditions to the rule.Step 3. Add Conditions to a Rule Statement
Content ExpertTest the ESA rule logic.Validate an ESA Rule

Related Topics

Quick Look

To access the Rule Builder tab:

  1. Go to (Configure) > ESA Rules.

    The Rules tab opens by default.

  2. In the Rule Library toolbar, select Add list icon > Rule Builder.

    The Rule Builder tab is displayed.

The following figure shows the Rule Builder tab.

Rule Builder tab

The following figure shows the Rule Builder tab scrolled down with the Test Rule section in view.
Rule Builder tab showing the Test Rule section

The following table lists the parameters in the Rule Builder tab.

Rule NamePurpose of the ESA rule.
Description Summary of what the ESA rule detects.
Trial RuleDeployment mode to see if the rule runs efficiently.
Memory Threshold(This option applies to version 11.5 and later.) The maximum memory usage allowed for this rule in MB. Add Memory Thresholds to ESA rules that use memory. For example, if a rule contains windows or pattern matching, configure a memory threshold for that rule. If the configured memory threshold is exceeded, it gets disabled individually and an error is displayed for that rule on the (Configure) > ESA Rules > Services tab.
New rules default to a 100 MB memory threshold. Rules that existed before version 11.5 do not have a default value and a memory threshold is not set.
Alert(This option applies to version 11.3 and later.) When selected, the alert is sent to Respond. If the checkbox is cleared, an alert will not be sent to Respond.
To turn alerts on or off for ALL rules, see the ESA Configuration Guide.
SeverityThreat level of alert triggered by the rule.

The Rule Builder includes the following components:

Conditions Section

In the Conditions section of the Rule Builder tab, you define what the rule detects.

The following figure shows the Conditions section.

Rule Builder Conditions section

The following table lists the parameters of the Conditions section.

Add icon Add a statement.
Delete icon Remove selected statement.
Edit icon Edit selected statement.
StatementLogical group of conditions for one operation.
OccursAlert frequency if the condition is met. This specifies that there must be at least that many events that satisfy the criteria  in order to trigger an alert. The time window in minutes binds the Occurs count.
ConnectorOptions to specify relationship among the statements:
  • followed by
  • not followed by
  • AND
  • OR
The Connector joins two statements with AND, OR, followed by, or not followed by. When followed by is used, it specifies that there is a sequencing of those events. AND and OR build one large criteria. The followed by creates distinct criteria that occurs in sequence.
Correlation TypeCorrelation Type applies only to followed by and not followed by. If you choose a correlation type of SAME, select one meta to correlate on, and if you choose a correlation type of JOIN, select two meta to correlate on. You may want to use JOIN if you are trying to correlate on meta from two different data sources. For example, say you want to correlate an AV alert with an IDS alert.
MetaEnter the meta condition if choosing a correlation type of SAME or JOIN (as described above).
MetaEnter the second meta condition if choosing a correlation type of JOIN (as described above). For example, The destination IP address from the AV alert and source IP address for the workstation from the IDS alert are joined to allow you to view the same entities across different sources.
occurs within minutesTime window within which the conditions must occur. 
Event Sequence

Choose whether the pattern must follow a strict match or a loose match. If you specify a strict match, this means that the pattern must occur in the exact sequence you specified with no additional events occurring in between.

For example, if the sequence specifies five failed logins (F) followed by a successful login (S), this pattern will only match if the user executes the following sequence: F,F,F,F,F,S. If you specify a loose match, this means that other events may occur within the sequence, but the rule will still trigger if all of the specified events also occur. For example, five failed login attempts (F), followed by any number of intervening successful login attempts (S), followed by a successful login attempt might create the following pattern: F,S,F,S,F,S,F,S,F,S which would trigger the rule despite the intervening successful logins. 

Group By

Select the meta key by which to group results from the dropdown list.

For example, suppose that there are three users; Joe, Jane, and John and you use the Group By meta, user_dst (user_dst is the meta field for the user destination account). The result will show events grouped under the user destination accounts, Joe, Jane, and John.
You can also group by multiple keys. For example, you might want to group by user and machine to see if a user logged in from the same machine attempts to log into an account multiple times. To do this, you might group by user_dst and ip_src.

Notifications Section

In the Notifications section, you can choose how to be notified when ESA generates an alert for the rule.

For more information on the alert notifications, see Add Notification Method to a Rule.

The following figure shows the Notifications section.
Rule Builder Notifications section

Add list icon To add an alert notification type.
Delete icon To delete the selected alert notification.
OutputAlert notification type. Options are:
  • Email
  • SNMP (This option is not supported in NetWitness Platform version 11.3 and later.)
  • Syslog
  • Script
NotificationName of previously configured output, such as an email distribution list.
Notification ServerName of server that sends the output.
TemplateName of template for the alert notification.
Output Suppression of every    Option to specify alert frequency.
MinutesAlert frequency in minutes.

Enrichments Section

In the Enrichments section, you can add a data enrichment source to a rule.

For more information on the enrichments, see Add an Enrichment to a Rule.

The following figure shows the Enrichments section.

Enrichments section

Add list icon To add an enrichment.
Delete icon To delete the selected enrichment.
OutputEnrichment source type. Options are:
  • In-Memory Table (Ad hoc only - Recurring In-Memory Tables are no longer supported in version 11.3 and later.)
  • GeoIP
Enrichment SourceName of previously configured enrichment source, such as a .CSV filename for an In-Memory Table.
ESA Event Stream MetaESA meta key whose value will be used as one operand of join condition.
Enrichment Source Column Name

Enrichment source column name whose value will be used as the other operand of the join condition.

For an in-memory table, If you configured a key when creating a .CSV-based enrichment, this column automatically populates with the selected key. However, you can change it if you like. For a GeoIP enrichment source, ipv4 is automatically selected.

Debug Option

Select the Debug option to print alerts to the ESA logs for troubleshooting. This adds an @Audit(‘stream’) annotation to the rule. This is useful when debugging the Esper rules.

Test Rule Section

Note: The Test Rule section is available in NetWitness Platform 11.5 and later.

In the Test Rule section, you can validate your ESA rule to determine if the rule logic is working as expected before deploying the rule.

Basic Rule Builder Rule - Test Rule section


ESA ServiceSelect the ESA Correlation service to process the rule.
Input DataEnter the input events to test the rule. Download the events from the Investigate view in JSON format, copy the events, and paste them in this field.
Output DataAfter you select an ESA Correlation service, input data, and click the Test Rule button, you can view the output of the rule here and verify that the rule is working according to your requirements. You can view the alerts in the output, but this test does not send any alert notifications.

The following table describes the test rule output Engine Stats.

Engine VersionEsper version running on the ESA service
Events OfferedNumber of events processed by the ESA service since the last service start
Offered RateThe rate that the ESA service processes current events / The maximum rate that the ESA service processed events
Runtime ErrorsIf applicable, this field can contain a link to runtime error messages related to the ESA rule deployment.

The following table describes the test rule output Rule Stats.

DeployedA green checkmark indicates that the rule is deployed on the selected ESA service.
Statements FiredThe number of statements that fired the alerts
Alerts FiredThe number of alerts generated from the test data
Events in MemoryThe number of events placed in memory by the rule
Memory UsageThe total amount of memory used by the rule
CPU %The percentage of the deployment CPU used by the rule. For example, a deployment with 1 rule shows 100% CPU usage for that rule and a deployment with two equally CPU heavy rules show 50% each.
Events MatchedThe number of events that matched the rule
Alerted EventsIf applicable, this field can contain a link to events that caused an alert.
Runtime ErrorsIf applicable, this field can contain a link to runtime error messages related to the rule.
Debug LogsThis field contains a link to Esper debug (audit) logs.


Click Show Syntax to view the EPL syntax of conditions, statements, and debugging parameters. It also provides a warning when the syntax is invalid. For more information, see Rule Syntax Dialog.

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