Default detection rules

YARA-L rules language

YARA-L is a detection rules language developed by Google. The purpose of YARA-L is to move away from detections as just data queries to actual event-driven investigations. YARA-L is derived from the YARA language commonly used in malware analysis. The L stands for logs. YARA-L enables you to take advantage of all the information from multiple sources within detections, and correlate those events into actionable alerts. For more information, see the Overview of the YARA-L 2.0 language.

Google Security Operations sample detection rules

To help accelerate your adoption of the Google Security Operations Detection Engine, there is a GitHub repository with sample rules. This repository contains several different categories of detection rules, including the following:

  • Google Cloud CloudAudit
  • Google Workspace
  • Informational warnings
  • Malware
  • SOC prime rules
  • Suspicious events

Each category takes a specific approach in how it views data sources and specifies what events and matching statements to use.

Example rules and tuning

The following rule creates an event variable $e1 which is used to track the event type. The event variable can be any value which has meaning to the data being evaluated. The UDM field being evaluated in this event is metadata.eventype so it makes sense to just call it e1. The next lines searches for specific occurrences of regular expression matches within e1. The condition that creates a detection in Google Security Operations is any time the event $e1 takes place. For tuning purposes, a not condition is provided to exclude certain non-malicious paths for the command line argument. Further not conditions could be added to this rule if you identify frequent false positives coming from other known file paths.

rule suspicious_unusual_location_svchost_execution

   author = "Google Cloud Security"
   description = "Windows 'svchost' executed from an unusual location"
   yara_version = "YL2.0"
   rule_version = "1.0"

   $e1.metadata.event_type = "PROCESS_LAUNCH"
   re.regex($e1.principal.process.command_line, `\bsvchost(\.exe)?\b`) nocase
   not re.regex($e1.principal.process.command_line, `\\Windows\\System32\\`) nocase


Specify more than one event variable

YARA-L enables you to have more than one event variable in a rule. In the following example, the rule has events $e1 and $e2. The condition states the logical condition that triggers the detection.

rule ExcludeZeroValues {
    author = ""

    $e1.metadata.event_type = "NETWORK_DNS"
    $e1.principal.hostname = $hostname

    // $e1.principal.user.userid may be empty string.
    $e1.principal.user.userid != "Guest"

    $e2.metadata.event_type = "NETWORK_HTTP"
    $e2.principal.hostname = $hostname

    // $ cannot be empty string as explicitly specified.
    $ != ""

    // $hostname cannot be empty string.
    $hostname over 1h

    $e1 and $e2

Rules outcome section

Use the outcome section to set holding variables within the rule detection to provide enrichment for downstream consumption. For example, you can add severity scoring information that relies on data from the events being analyzed. The following detection examines two events to attribute the $hostname value. If the value $hostnames match over a 5 minute period, a severity score is applied. When using time periods, the Google Security Operations Detection Engine only examines the discrete blocks of time you specify.

rule OutcomeRuleMultiEvent {
      author = ""
      $u.udm.principal.hostname = $hostname
      $asset_context.graph.entity.hostname = $hostname

      $severity = $asset_context.graph.entity.asset.vulnerabilities.severity

      $hostname over 5m

      $risk_score =
          +   if($hostname = "my-hostname", 100, 50)
          +   if($severity = "HIGH", 10)
          +   if($severity = "MEDIUM", 5)
          +   if($severity = "LOW", 1)

      $asset_id_list =
          if($u.principal.asset_id = "",
             "Empty asset id",

      $asset_id_distinct_list = array_distinct($u.principal.asset_id)

      $asset_id_count = count($u.principal.asset_id)

      $asset_id_distinct_count = count_distinct($u.principal.asset_id)

      $u and $asset_context and $risk_score > 50 and not arrays.contains($asset_id_list, "id_1234")


YARA-L is a flexible detection language which enables you to examine security events and not simply just return a data query. The event variable is used to track what field values are being used in the condition section of the rule. You can use a single event, multiple events over time, correlate sources for a single value (such as $hostname from different data sources), and even use tools such as regular expressions to provide matches. It is essential to tune the rules to your own environment and this can be done by specifying exclusions within the logic. You can also use reference lists to group items together and then reference that list in the rule. Don't forget that Google Security Operations does not need every detection to be alerted on. You can keep track of detections for multiple purposes and only alert on those you determine are most critical in your environment.