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Version: VAST v3.1


Threat Bus has a plugin-based architecture, implemented via pluggy. The following document describes the existing plugin types in detail and explains their responsibilities.

Plugin Types

Threat Bus differentiates two plugin types. Application plugins extend Threat Bus to provide a new endpoint for "apps" to connect with. How the endpoint looks like, and what message-formats are used for communication is up to the application plugin. "Apps" are security tools, like Zeek or VAST.

Backbone plugins are required for actual message passing. At least one backbone plugin is required for the bus to be functional. The most basic plugin for that job is the in-memory backbone.

Application Plugins

Application plugins are the entrypoint for applications to connect with Threat Bus. App plugins do two things:

  1. They provide an endpoint. App plugins provide an endpoint (i.e., they bind certain ports) and offer a communication protocol. For example, the Zeek plugin exposes a Broker endpoint. Broker is the native communication protocol for Zeek ("the app"), so it is the Zeek plugin's responsibility to expose an endpoint that Zeek instances can work with.
  2. They handle message-format mapping. Threat Bus internally uses the STIX-2 serialization format. Not all open-source security tools can work with this format. App plugins can implement mappings from STIX-2 to other formats, so that connecting apps can work with it. For example, the MISP plugin receives a proprietary format from MISP and transforms these attribute to STIX-2 Indicators.

Threat Bus itself is at no point concerned with alternative formats, nor with details about the connected applications, nor exposed endpoints. Instead, Threat Bus is only aware of Subscribers and STIX-2 messages that are exchanged between them.

Backbone Plugins

Backbone plugins either implement the message provisioning logic themselves (like the in-memory backbone plugin) or offer a transparent interface to existing message brokers, like the RabbitMQ backbone plugin does.

Threat Bus notifies all backbone-plugins whenever new subscriptions come in. A subscription consists of a topic and a queue (outq) that is used by the subscriber to receive messages. The job of a backbone plugin is to read messages from the global queue of incoming messages (inq), optionally hand these over to an existing messaging broker (like RabbitMQ) and consume them back, and lastly, based on the topic, sort those messages to all subscribed outqs.

Apps and Wrappers

Threat Bus is a pub/sub broker, and hence applications have to subscribe themselves to the bus. However, that requires active behavior from applications, and hence could require changes to the source code. Generally speaking, that is undesirable.

Some applications, like Zeek, can be scripted. In that particular case, the logic for connecting to Threat Bus is implemented in a separate script.

Other applications, like VAST, cannot be scripted. Those applications require either a change to the source code or a wrapper script to initiate communication with Threat Bus. See VAST Threat Bus for an example application.