Infrastructure and security

New Relic's infrastructure monitoring provides comprehensive data from your entire system by running comfortably on your hosts, especially when it runs with administrator privileges. What follows is an overview of our agent's security and some recommendations.

Secure agent communication

Every piece of information exchanged between your hosts and the infrastructure agent is delivered securely. All communication from the agent occurs over HTTPS, using Transport Layer Security (TLS). To ensure secure communication, the infrastructure agent was designed with the following protective measures:

  • All communication is established directly from the agent to the service.
  • The agent does not require any incoming ports to be opened.
  • The agent is read-only and cannot make changes to your system.

The infrastructure agent does not support high security mode.

For more information about New Relic's security measures, see our security and privacy documentation, or visit the New Relic security website.

Running modes

New Relic is committed to the security of your data. All data derived while running the infrastructure agent is protected, and used only to deliver information related to your infrastructure back to you.

You can run the infrastructure Linux agent in three different modes:

Run as root

When the agent runs as the root user it has total access to all the system metrics and inventory.

Run as privileged user

The agent runs a non-privileged user, named the nri-agent, which is granted extended kernel capabilities during the installation process. The privileged nri-agent user is therefore able to collect some metrics and most of the inventory. These permissions are read-only.

The installation scripts in privileged mode will make the following changes in your system:

  1. Create the nri-agent user and group.
  2. Set the nri-agent user and group as the owners of the following directories:

    • /var/run/newrelic-infra
    • /var/db/newrelic-infra
    • /var/log/newrelic-infra
    • /etc/newrelic-infra
  3. Add the following kernel capabilities to the /usr/bin/newrelic-infra executable:

    • CAP_SYS_PTRACE, which allows inspecting and tracing arbitrary processes
    • CAP_DAC_READ_SEARCH, to bypass file and directory read and execute permission checks
Run as unprivileged user

The agent runs with a non-privileged user, nri-agent, which is automatically created during the upgrade/installation process, and will not have read access to all the system metrics. This provides visibility into environments with very strict security or regulatory policies. There are no special permissions or access granted to the user in this run mode.

The installation scripts in unprivileged mode will make the following changes in your system:

  1. Create the nri-agent user and group.
  2. Set the nri-agent and group as the owners of the following system files and folders:

    • /var/run/newrelic-infra
    • /var/db/newrelic-infra
    • /var/log/newrelic-infra
    • /etc/newrelic-infra

For more details on the different running modes, see the comparison in the Infrastructure installation documentation.

In Windows systems, the agent must be executed with Administrator permissions.

Sources of data collection

The infrastructure agent gathers metrics, events, and inventory data from a variety of OS sources. While some of these sources can be read from a non-privileged account, others require elevated privileges.

For current agent versions, New Relic requires that it run as the root user (on Linux) or with full Administrator access (Windows). Here are additional details about how the infrastructure agent accesses default directories and what packages and commands it uses.

Default directories accessed by the agent

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to any Linux operating system.

Directory or file Purpose Linux OS
/etc/newrelic-infra.yml Default configuration file Any
/usr/bin/newrelic-infra-service Default agent service wrapper binary install location Any
/usr/bin/newrelic-infra Default agent binary install location Any
/usr/bin/newrelic-infra-ctl Default CLI agent control binary location Any
/var/db/newrelic-infra/ Default inventory cache and plugin binaries Any
/var/run/newrelic-infra.pid Default pid file Any
stdout, stderr, logs Depending on configuration, the agent writes logs to stdout, which may connect to your system logging service Any
Packages and commands used by the agent

Some data sources are specific to particular operating systems. Unless otherwise mentioned, New Relic uses the source on all variations of an operating system when the related software is detected. Many of the tools are on a path accessible to the agent. If not otherwise indicated, the infrastructure agent typically searches for them in /usr/bin, /bin, or /sbin.

New Relic uses some tools or data sources to gather information for multiple infrastructure features. Here are some primary use cases. Unless otherwise noted, New Relic uses this information primarily for the Inventory page.

Plugin or data Tool, directory, or file Linux OS
systemd initctl list Any
upstart systemctl -l, systemctl show, modinfo, lsmod Any
selinux sestatus -b, semodule -l Any
dpkg dpkg-query -W -f Debian
rpm rpm -qa Redhat
hostinfo /sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/sys_vendor, /sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/product_name Any
hostinfo /proc/sys/kernel/osrelease Any
hostinfo uptime -s Any
hostinfo /etc/lsb_release Debian
hostinfo /etc/redhat-release Redhat
facter facter -p -j Any
daemontool svstat Any
kernel_modules /sbin/modinfo, /sbin/lsmod Any
users /usr/bin/env who Any
Various plugins gather system-wide details through this directory. Used for infrastructure Inventory and metrics. /proc/ Any
Various plugins gather sysctl settings through this directory. Used for infrastructure Inventory and metrics. /sys/ Any
Various plugins (sshd_config, hostinfo) read specific configs in this directory. Used for infrastructure Inventory and metrics. /etc/ Any

Proxies

New Relic includes optional settings so that you can configure the agent to communicate through a proxy. To define proxy settings, see the configuration documentation for infrastructure monitoring.

External agent connections

The agent periodically sends JSON-formatted data describing compute metrics, events, and your inventory configuration to the infrastructure endpoint at New Relic. These communications are associated with the agent using the license key generated for your account. Once New Relic receives data from any external agent, it will display the new metrics, events, or configuration data in the infrastructure monitoring UI.

External agent commands

The agent handles two different sources of commands, newrelic-infra-ctl and command-API:

  • CLI commands submitted with newrelic-infra-ctl are sent into the agent with Linux or Docker signaling or with Windows named-pipes.
  • Using New Relic's platform command-API endpoint, the agent polls for platform-provided commands every 60 seconds. The connection is always open from the agent into the New Relic platform command-API endpoint, never the opposite way. The command-API endpoint is used only to force enable or disable of dynamic entities' registration. It also applies to the Docker integration that comes with the infrastructure agent version 1.9.0 or higher.

For more help

If you need more help, check out these support and learning resources: