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Using PostgreSQL as a database for IntelMQ

The EventDB is a database (usually PostgreSQL) that gets filled with with data from IntelMQ using the SQL Output Bot.


IntelMQ comes with the intelmq_psql_initdb command line tool designed to help with creating the EventDB. It creates in the first line:

  • A CREATE TABLE events statement with all valid IntelMQ fields as columns and correct types
  • Several indexes as examples for a good read & search performance

Having an events table as outlined in the SQL file, IntelMQ's SQL Output Bot can write all received events into this database table.

In addition, the script supports some additional features supporting use cases described later in this document:

  • --partition-key - for generating schema aligned with TimescaleDB or partitioned tables,
  • --separate-raws - for generating views and triggers needed to eventdb_raws_table (works also together with adjustments for partitioning).

For a full list of supported parameters, call the script help using -h parameter.

All elements of the generated SQL file can be adapted and extended before running the SQL file against a database, especially the indexes. Please review the generated script before applying.

Be aware that if you create tables using another DB user that is used later by the output bot, you may need to adjust ownership or privileges in the database. If you have problems with database permissions, refer to PostgreSQL documentation <>.

EventDB Utilities

Some scripts related to the EventDB are located in the contrib/eventdb folder in the IntelMQ git repository.

Apply Malware Name Mapping

The script applies the malware name mapping to the EventDB. Source and destination columns can be given, also a local file. If no local file is present, the mapping can be downloaded on demand. It queries the database for all distinct malware names with the taxonomy "malicious-code" and sets another column to the malware family name.

Apply Domain Suffix

The script writes the public domain suffix to the source.domain_suffix / destination.domain_suffix columns, extracted from source.fqdn / destination.fqdn.


The Python scripts can connect to a PostgreSQL server with an eventdb database and an events table. The command line arguments interface for both scripts are the same. See --help for more information: -h -h

PostgreSQL trigger

PostgreSQL trigger is a trigger keeping track of the oldest inserted/updated "time.source" data. This can be useful to (re-)generate statistics or aggregation data.

The SQL script can be executed in the database directly.

EventDB Statistics

The EventDB provides a great base for statistical analysis of the data.

The eventdb-stats repository contains a Python script that generates an HTML file and includes the Plotly JavaScript Open Source Graphing Library. By modifying the configuration file it is possible to configure various queries that are then displayed using graphs:

EventDB Statistics Example

Using EventDB with Timescale DB

Timescale DB is a PostgreSQL extension to add time-series support, which is quite handy as you don't have to learn other syntaxes as you already know. You can use the SQL Queries as before, the extension will handle the rest. To see all limitations, please check the Timescale DB Documentation.

What is time-series?

Time-series has been invented as traditional database design like relational or nosql are not made for time-based data. A big benefit of time-series instead of other database designs over a time-based search pattern is the performance. As IntelMQ uses data based upon time, this design is awesome & will give you a performance boost.

How to choose the time column?

To utilize the time-series, choose a column containing the right time. This is then used by you for manual queries and graphs, and also by the database itself for organizing the data.

An Event has two fields that can be used for this: time.source or time.observation. Depending on your needs (tracking when the event occurred or when it was detected, if different), choose one of them.

You can use the :ref:intelmq_psql_initdb tool to generate SQL schema valid for TimescaleDB by passing the partitioning key:

intelmq_psql_initdb --partition-key "time.source"

How to setup

Thanks to TimescaleDB its very easy to setup.

  1. Choose your preferred Timescale DB environment & follow the installation instructions. 2. Now lets create a hypertable, which is the timescale DB time-series structure. SELECT create_hypertable('', 'time.source');. 3. Now our hypertable is setup & timescaleDB takes care of the rest. You can perform queries as usual, for further information please check Timescale DB Documentation.

How to upgrade from my existing database?

To update your existing database to use this awesome time-series feature, just follow the How to setup instruction. You can perform the hypertable command even on already existing databases. BUT there are some limitations from timescaleDB.

Separating raw values in PostgreSQL using view and trigger

In order to reduce the row size in the events table, the raw column's data can be separated from the other columns. While the raw-data is about 30-50% of the data row's size, it is not used in most database queries, as it serves only a backup functionality. Other possibilities to reduce or getting rid of this field are described in the FAQ, section faq-remove-raw-data.

The steps described here are best performed before the events table is filled with data, but can as well be done with existing data.

The approach requires four steps:

  1. An existing events table, see the first section of this document.
  2. Deleting or renaming the raw column of the events table.
  3. Creating a table raws which holds only the raw field of the events and linking both tables using the event_id.
  4. Creating the view v_events which joins the tables events and raws.
  5. Creating the function process_v_events_insert and INSERT trigger tr_events.

The last steps brings us several advantages:

  • All INSERT statements can contain all data, including the raw field.
  • No code changes are needed in the IntelMQ output bot or your own scripts. A migration is seamless.
  • PostgreSQL itself ensures that the data of both tables is consistent and linked correctly.

The complete SQL script can be generated using the intelmq_psql_initdb. It does not cover step 2 to avoid accidental data loss - you need to do this step manually.

Other docs

You have two basic choices to run PostgreSQL:

  1. on the same machine as intelmq, then you could use Unix sockets if available on your platform
  2. on a different machine. In which case you would need to use a TCP connection and make sure you give the right connection parameters to each psql or client call.

Make sure to consult your PostgreSQL documentation about how to allow network connections and authentication in case 2.

PostgreSQL Version

Any supported version of PostgreSQL should work (v>=9.2 as of Oct 2016) [1].

If you use PostgreSQL server v >= 9.4, it gives you the possibility to use the time-zone formatting string "OF" for date-times and the GiST index for the CIDR type. This may be useful depending on how you plan to use the events that this bot writes into the database.

How to install

Use intelmq_psql_initdb to create initial SQL statements from harmonization.conf. The script will create the required table layout and save it as /tmp/initdb.sql

You need a PostgreSQL database-user to own the result database. The recommendation is to use the name intelmq . There may already be such a user for the PostgreSQL database-cluster to be used by other bots. (For example from setting up the expert/certbund_contact bot.)

Therefore if still necessary: create the database-user as postgresql superuser, which usually is done via the system user postgres:

createuser --no-superuser --no-createrole --no-createdb --encrypted --pwprompt intelmq

Create the new database:

createdb --encoding='utf-8' --owner=intelmq intelmq-events

(The encoding parameter should ensure the right encoding on platform where this is not the default.)

Now initialize it as database-user intelmq (in this example a network connection to localhost is used, so you would get to test if the user intelmq can authenticate):

psql -h localhost intelmq-events intelmq </tmp/initdb.sql

PostgreSQL and null characters

While null characters (0, not SQL "NULL") in TEXT and JSON/JSONB fields are valid, data containing null characters can cause troubles in some combinations of clients, servers and each settings. To prevent unhandled errors and data which can't be inserted into the database, all null characters are escaped (u0000) before insertion.