Network monitoring with NTOPng

In our academic institution we have a pretty complex network with ~50 VLANs, few DHCP and DNS servers; and the requisite for monitoring and logging our traffic. Traffic from our main router Mikrotik CCR1036-8G-2S+ is collected, forwarded, and logged onto separate server. Server runs Debian Jessie operating system and ntopng + nprobe packages.

Ntopng is the next generation version of the original ntop, a network traffic probe that shows the network usage, similar to what the popular top Unix command does. ntopng is based on libpcap and it has been written in a portable way in order to virtually run on every Unix platform, MacOSX and on Windows as well.

Idea is that we can corelate all logs and informations from our network/servers/users and to have a REALTIME monitoring of a network. We have a centralized log managment system for all crucial system logs. System has two nodes/machines. One of them is configured like main syslog machine, which receives and stores all recieved logs locally, then forwards logs to another machine where we have Graylog software installed. 

Main router is configured to forward data over its traffic-flow feature to the nprobe. MikroTik Traffic-Flow is a system that provides statistic information about packets which pass through the router. Nprobe is converting netflow/traffic-flow to JSON format adequate for ntopng, also it logs traffic flow to local syslog, which then forwards logs to the main syslog server, and main syslog server forward logs to Graylog server. Realtime network statistics can be seen on ntop webgui. Simple as that :) 

Installation and configuration

Install and configure firewall (ferm in our case).

apt-get install ferm
vim /etc/ferm/ferm.conf
# -*- shell-script -*-
#  Configuration file for ferm(1).
table filter {
    chain INPUT {
        policy DROP;

        # connection tracking
        mod state state INVALID DROP;
        mod state state (ESTABLISHED RELATED) ACCEPT;

        # allow local packet
        interface lo ACCEPT;

        # respond to ping
        proto icmp ACCEPT; 

        # allow NETFLOW
        saddr ROU.TER.IP.ADDR/32 proto (tcp udp) dport 2055 ACCEPT;

        # allow NTOPNG connections
        proto tcp dport (80 443) ACCEPT;

        # allow SSH connections
        proto tcp dport ssh ACCEPT;
    chain OUTPUT {
        policy ACCEPT;

        # connection tracking
        #mod state state INVALID DROP;
        mod state state (ESTABLISHED RELATED) ACCEPT;
    chain FORWARD {
        policy DROP;

        # connection tracking
        mod state state INVALID DROP;
        mod state state (ESTABLISHED RELATED) ACCEPT;

# IPv6:
#domain ip6 {
#    table filter {
#        chain INPUT {
#            policy ACCEPT;
#            # ...
#        }
#        # ...
#    }

Reload firewall

/etc/init.d/ferm reload

Install ntopng packages

dpkg -i apt-ntop.deb
apt-get clean all
apt-get update
apt-get install pfring nprobe ntopng ntopng-data n2disk

Configure ntopng

vim /etc/ntopng/ntopng.conf
--local-networks="" #define your own local networks

Restart ntopng

/etc/init.d/ntopng restart

Install nginx as reverse proxy to ntop webgui

apt-get install nginx
vim /etc/nginx/sites-available/ntop
# Upstream to Ntop frontend
proxy_next_upstream error timeout;
upstream ntop_web_interface {
    server localhost:3000 fail_timeout=0;

# Redirect everything to https
server {
    listen 80 default_server;
    return 301$request_uri;

server {
    listen 443 ssl default_server;

    # SSL certificate
    ssl_certificate /etc/nginx/ssl/; # replace with your own certificate -
    ssl_certificate_key /etc/nginx/ssl/; # replace with your own certificate -

    location / {
        proxy_pass_header Date;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header Host $http_host:$server_port;
        proxy_redirect off;
        proxy_set_header X_FORWARDED_PROTO $scheme;
        chunked_transfer_encoding off;
        proxy_pass http://ntop_web_interface;

Enable ntop site and restart nginx

cd /etc/nginx/sites-enabled
ln -s ../sites-available/ntop .
/etc/init.d/nginx restart

Start nprobe

nprobe -n none --syslog nprobe --collector-port 2055 --zmq tcp:// -b 2

Configure router via CLI

/ip traffic-flow
set enabled=yes interfaces=all
/ip traffic-flow target
add address=NTOP.SERVER.IP.ADDR:2055 disabled=no version=5

​Go to and grab popcorns ...


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