If you would like to deploy Security Onion 2.3 in AWS, we have an AMI that is already built for you. As this is an older version of Security Onion, the launch of the VM is a little different from installing the latest version on the marketplace. The details are described below.


Existing Security Onion AMI installations should use the soup command to upgrade to newer versions of Security Onion. Attempting to switch to a newer AMI from the AWS Marketplace could cause loss of data and require full grid re-installation.


This section does not cover network connectivity to the Security Onion node. This can be achieved through configuring an external IP for the node’s management interface, or through the use of a VPN connection via OpenVPN. For more details about VPN connections, please see


This section does not cover how to set up a VPC in AWS. For more details about setting up a VPC, please see


Before proceeding, determine the grid architecture desired. Choose from a single-node grid versus a distributed, multi-node grid. Additionally, determine if the lower latency of ephemeral instance storage is needed (typically when there is high-volume of traffic being monitored, which is most production scenarios), or if network-based storage, EBS, can be used for increased redundancy.

Single Node Grid

For simple, low-volume production monitoring, a single node grid can be used. EBS must be used for Elasticsearch data storage if used for production purposes. Single node grids cannot use ephemeral instance storage without being at risk of losing Elasticsearch data. However, for temporary evaluation installations, where there is little concern for data loss, ephemeral instance storage should be used.

Listed below are the minimum suggested single-node instance quantities, sizes, and storage requirements for either standalone or evaluation installations (choose one, not both). Note that when using virtual machines with the minimum RAM requirements you may need to enable memory swapping.


  • Quantity: 1
  • Type: t3a.xlarge
  • Storage: 200GB EBS (Optimized) gp3


  • Quantity: 1
  • Type: t3a.2xlarge
  • Storage: 100GB EBS (Optimized) gp3
  • Storage: 100GB Instance Storage (SSD/NVMe)

Distributed Grid

For high volume production monitoring, choose a multi-node grid architecture. At least two search nodes must be used in this architecture. This is required due to the use of ephemeral instance storage for Elasticsearch data storage, where each of the search nodes retains a replica of another search node, for disaster recovery.

Listed below are the minimum suggested distributed grid instance quantities, sizes, and storage requirements. Note that when using virtual machines with the minimum RAM requirements you may need to enable memory swapping.

VPN Node

  • Quantity: 1
  • Type: t3a.micro (Nitro eligible)
  • Storage: 50GB EBS (Optimized) gp3


  • Quantity: 1
  • Type: m5a.xlarge
  • Storage: 300GB EBS (Optimized) gp3

Search Nodes

  • Quantity: 2 or more
  • Type: m5ad.xlarge
  • Storage: 200GB EBS (Optimized) gp3
  • Storage: 150GB Instance Storage (SSD/NVMe)

Sensor monitoring the VPN ingress

  • Quantity: 1
  • Type: c5a.xlarge
  • Storage: 500GB EBS (Optimized) gp3

Create Monitoring Interface

To setup the Security Onion AMI and VPC mirror configuration, use the steps below.

Create a Security Group for Sniffing Interface

Security Groups act like a firewall for your Amazon EC2 instances controlling both inbound and outbound traffic. You will need to create a security group specifically for the interface that you will be using to sniff the traffic. This security group will need to be as open as possible to ensure all traffic destined to the sniffing interface will be allowed through. To create a security group, follow these steps:

  • From the EC2 Dashboard Select: Security Groups under the Network & Security sections in the left window pane.
  • Select: Create Security Group
  • Provide a Security Group Name and Description.
  • Select the appropriate VPC for the security group.
  • With the inbound tab selected, select: Add Rule
  • Add the appropriate inbound rules to ensure all desired traffic destined for the sniffing interface is allowed.
  • Select: Create

Create Sniffing Interface

Prior to launching the Security Onion AMI you will need to create the interface that will be used to monitor your VPC. This interface will be attached to the Security Onion AMI as a secondary interface. To create a sniffing interface, follow these steps:

  • From the EC2 Dashboard Select: Network Interfaces under the Network & Security section in the left window pane.
  • Select: Create Network Interface
  • Provide a description and choose the appropriate subnet you want to monitor.
  • Select the security Group that you created for the sniffing interface.
  • Select: Create

Create Security Onion Instances

Instance Creation

To configure a Security Onion instance (repeat for each node in a distributed grid), follow these steps:

  • From the EC2 dashboard select: Launch Instance
  • Browse for more AMIs. Change to the Community AMIs tab and search for security onion official. Choose the 2.3.260 version.
  • Choose the appropriate instance type based on the desired hardware requirements and select Next: Configure Instance Details. For assistance on determining resource requirements please review the AWS Requirements section above.
  • From the subnet drop-down menu select the same subnet as the sniffing interface.
  • Under the Network interfaces section configure the eth0 (management) interface.
  • (Distributed “Sensor” node or Single-Node grid only) Under the Network interfaces section select: Add Device to attach the previously created sniffing interface to the instance.
  • (Distributed “Sensor” node or Single-Node grid only) From the Network Interface drop-down menu for eth1 choose the sniffing interface you created for this instance. Please note if you have multiple interfaces listed you can verify the correct interface by navigating to the Network Interfaces section in the EC2 Dashboard.
  • Select: Next: Add Storage and configure the volume settings.
  • Select: Next: Add Tags and add any additional tags for the instance.
  • Select: Next: Configure Security Group and add the appropriate inbound rules.
  • Select: Review and Launch
  • If prompted, select the appropriate SSH keypair that will be used to ssh into the Security Onion instance for administration
  • The default username for the Security Onion 2 AMI is: onion

Prepare Nodes with Ephemeral Storage

For distributed search nodes, or an evaluation node if using ephemeral storage, SSH into the node and cancel out of the setup. Prepare the ephemeral partition by executing the following command:

sudo so-prepare-fs

By default, this command expects the ephemeral device to be located at /dev/nvme1n1 and will mount that device at /nsm/elasticsearch. To override either of those two defaults, specify them as arguments. For example:

sudo so-prepare-fs /dev/nvme3n0 /nsm/elasticsearch

Restart the Security Onion setup by running the following command:

cd /securityonion
sudo ./so-setup-network

Manager Setup

If this is an ephemeral evaluation node, ensure the node has been prepared as described in the preceding section.

After SSH’ing into the node, setup will begin automatically. Follow the prompts, selecting the appropriate install options. For distributed manager nodes using ephemeral storage, if you would like to use traditional Elasticsearch clustering, select Advanced and answer Yes. Continue instructions below for applicable nodes.

AWS provides a built-in NTP server at IP This can be used when prompted for an NTP host.


As Security Onion 2.3 approaches EOL, new cloud images are no longer being released. However, maintenance releases are available for cloud installation. After the manager completes setup it is important to run sudo soup to apply all newer maintenance releases and patches. This only is necessary on the manager node.

All Distributed Manager Nodes

For distributed manager nodes, if connecting sensors through the VPN instance then follow the instructions below to allow remote sensor connections:

Run so-firewall includehost minion <inside interface of your VPN concentrator>. Ex:

so-firewall includehost minion

Run so-firewall includehost sensor <inside interface of your VPN concentrator>. Ex:

so-firewall --apply includehost sensor

At this time your Manager is ready for remote minions to start connecting.

Distributed Manager Nodes using Traditional Elasticsearch Clustering

For distributed manager nodes using ephemeral storage that chose to use traditional Elasticsearch clustering, make the following changes in /opt/so/saltstack/local/pillar/global.sls:

replicas: 1

Then, restart Logstash:

sudo so-logstash-restart

Next, fix ElastAlert indices so that they have a replica. This will cause them to turn yellow but that will be fixed when search nodes come online:

so-elasticsearch-query elastalert*/_settings -X PUT -d '{"index" : { "number_of_replicas" : 1 }}'

Search Node Setup

Follow standard Security Onion search node installation, answering the setup prompts as applicable. If you are using ephemeral storage be sure to first prepare the instance as directed earlier in this section.

AWS Sensor Setup

SSH into the sensor node and run through setup to set this node up as a sensor. Choose eth0 as the main interface and eth1 as the monitoring interface.

Remote Sensor Setup

Setup the VPN (out of scope for this guide) and connect the sensor node to the VPN. When prompted to choose the management interface, select the VPN tunnel interface, such as tun0. Use the internal IP address of the manager inside AWS when prompted for the manager IP.

The AWS internal VPN endpoint IP will need to be added to the minion and sensor arrays in /opt/so/saltstack/local/salt/firewall/hostgroups.local.yaml on the manager. This will open up the required ports for the remote sensor to communicate with the manager, since it is behind a NAT.

For instance, assuming the following architecture:

Remote Network (including Forward Node, <–> Remote Network VPN Endpoint, <–> Internet <–> AWS VPN Endpoint, <–> AWS Security Onion Manager,

In order to add the Remote Network Forward Node to the Grid, you would have to add to the minion and sensor arrays in /opt/so/saltstack/local/salt/firewall/hostgroups.local.yaml.

AWS Traffic Mirroring

Traffic mirroring allows you to copy the traffic to/from an instance and send it to the sniffing interface of a network security monitoring sensor or a group of interfaces using a network load balancer. For more details about AWS Traffic Mirroring please see:


You can only mirror traffic from an EC2 instance that is powered by the AWS Nitro system. For a list of supported Nitro systems, please see

Create Mirror Target

A mirror target in AWS refers to the destination for the mirrored traffic. This can be a single interface or a group of interfaces using a network load balancer. To configure a mirror target, follow these steps:

  • From the VPC dashboard select: Mirror Targets under the Traffic Mirroring section in the left window pane.
  • Select: Create traffic mirror target
  • Under the Choose target section select the appropriate target type and choose the sniffing interface connected to the Security Onion instance. For more details about traffic mirror targets please see:
  • Select: Create

Create Mirror Filter

A mirror filter allows you to define the traffic that is copied to in the mirrored session and is useful for tuning out noisy or unwanted traffic. To configure a mirror filter, follow these steps:

Create Mirror Session

A traffic mirror session defines the source of the traffic to be mirrored based on the selected traffic mirror filters and sends that traffic to the desired traffic mirror target. For more details about traffic mirror sessions please see:

  • From the VPC dashboard select: Mirror Sessions under the Traffic Mirroring section in the left window pane.
  • Select: Create traffic mirror session
  • Under the Mirror source section, choose the interface that you want to be mirrored.
  • Under the Mirror target section, choose the interface or load balancer you want to send the mirrored traffic to.
  • Assign a session number under the Additional settings section for the mirror session.
  • In the filters section under Additional settings choose the mirror filter you want to apply to the mirrored traffic.
  • Select: Create

Verify Traffic Mirroring

To verify the mirror session is sending the correct data to the sniffing interface run the following command on the Security Onion AWS Sensor instance:

sudo tcpdump -nni <interface>

You should see VXLAN tagged traffic being mirrored from the interface you selected as the Mirror Source.

To verify Zeek is properly decapsulating and parsing the VXLAN traffic you can verify logs are being generated in the /nsm/zeek/logs/current directory:

ls -la /nsm/zeek/logs/current/