Announcing the Trail of Bits osquery extension repository

Today, we are releasing access to our maintained repository of osquery extensions. Our first extension takes advantage of the Duo Labs EFIgy API to determine if the EFI firmware on your Mac fleet is up to date.

There are very few examples of publicly released osquery extensions. Very little documentation exists on the topic. This post aims to help future developers in navigating through the process of writing an extension for osquery. The rest of this post describes how we implemented the EFIgy extension for osquery.

About EFIgy

At this year’s Ekoparty, Duo Labs presented the results of its research on the state of support and security in EFI firmwares. These software components are really interesting for attackers. They operate on a privilege level that is out of reach even from operating systems and hypervisors. Duo Labs gathered and analyzed all the publicly released Apple updates from the last three years and verified the information by looking at more than 73,000 Macs across different organizations.

The researchers found that many of these computers were running on outdated firmware, even though the required EFI updates were supposed to be bundled in the same operating system patches that the hosts had installed correctly. Duo Labs followed this finding by creating the EFIgy service, a REST endpoint that can access the latest OS and EFI versions for any known Apple product through the use of details such as logic board id and product name.

Programmatically querying EFIgy

EFIgy expects a JSON object containing the details for the system we wish to query. The JSON request doesn’t require many keys; it boils down to hardware model and software versions:

  "board_id": "Mac-66E35819EE2D0D05",
  "smc_ver": "2.37f21",
  "build_num": "16G07",
  "rom_ver": "MBP132.0226.B20",
  "hw_ver": "MacBookPro12,1",
  "os_ver": "10.12.4",
  "hashed_uuid": ""

The rom_ver key is kind of tricky. It doesn’t include the full EFI version because (according to the author) it includes timestamps that are not necessarily useful or easy to keep track of. Separated by the dot characters, the only fields you need are the first, third and fourth.

As the name suggests, the hashed_uuid field is a SHA256 digest. To compute it correctly, the MAC address of the primary network interface must be prefixed to the system UUID like this: “0x001122334455” + “12345678-1234-1234-1234-1234567890AB”.

The remaining keys are self-explanatory, but keep in mind that they will not be reported correctly when running from a virtual machine. board_id, hw_ver and rom_ver will report information about the virtual components offered by your hypervisor.

Querying the service is simple. The JSON data is sent via an HTTP POST request to the following REST endpoint:

The server response is made of three JSON objects. Compare them with your original values to understand whether your system is fully up to date or not.

  "latest_efi_version" : {
    "msg" : "<version>"

  "latest_os_version" : {
    "msg" : "<version>"

  "latest_build_number" : {
    "msg" : "<error message>",
    "error" : "1"

Developing osquery extensions

The utilities provided by Duo Labs are easy and straightforward to use, but manually running them all on each system in our fleet was not an easy task. We decided to implement an osquery extension that queries EFIgy, an idea we got from Chris Long.

Why write an extension and not a virtual table? We’ve decided to keep native operating system functions in core and convert everything else into an extension. If a new feature uses an external service or a non-native component, we will default to writing an extension.

The only toolset you have available is the standard library and what you manually import into your project. osquery links everything statically. You have to take special care of the libraries you use. Don’t rely on loading dynamic libraries at runtime from your program.

Once your environment is ready, table extensions do not require much work to be implemented. You just have to inherit from the osquery::TablePlugin class and override the two methods used to define the columns and generate the table rows.

class MyTable final : public osquery::TablePlugin {
    osquery::TableColumns columns() const override {
      return {

    osquery::QueryData generate(osquery::QueryContext& request) override {
      osquery::Row row;
      row[“column_name”] = “value”;

      return { row };

The source files must then be placed in a dedicated folder inside osquery/external. Note that you must add the “extension_” prefix to the folder name. Otherwise, the CMake project will ignore it.

For more complex projects, it is also possible to add a CMakeLists.txt file, creating the target using the following helper function:

ADD_OSQUERY_EXTENSION(${PROJECT_NAME} source1.cpp source2.cpp)

You will have access to some of the libraries in osquery such as Boost, but not some other utilities (e.g. the really useful http_client class).

There is no list of recommended steps to take when developing an extension, but if you plan on writing more than one I recommend you bundle your utility functions in headers that can then be easily imported and reused. Keeping all external libraries statically linked is also a good idea, as it will make redistribution easier.

Using our osquery extensions repo

Without anywhere to submit our new feature, we created a new repository for our extensions. The EFIgy extension is the first item available. Expect more to follow.

Using the repository is simple. However, you will have to clone the full source code of osquery first since the SDK is not part of the distributable package. Building the extension is easy. You only have to create a symbolic link of the source folders you want to compile inside the osquery/external folder, taking care to name the link according to the following scheme: extension_<name>. You can then follow the usual build process for your platform, as the default ALL target will also build all extensions.

cd /src/osquery-extensions
ln -s efigy /src/osquery/external/extension_efigy

cd /src/osquery
make sysprep
make deps

make -j `nproc`
make externals

Extensions are easy to use. You can test them (both with the shell and the daemon) by specifying their path with the –extension parameter. Since they are normal executables, you can also start them after osquery. They will automatically connect via Thrift and expose the new functions. The official documentation explains the process very well.

To quickly test the extension, you can either start it from the osqueryi shell, or launch it manually and wait for it to connect to the running osquery instance.

osqueryi --extension /path/to/extension

Take action

If you have a Mac fleet, you can now monitor it with osquery and the EFIgy extension, and ensure all your endpoints have received the required software and firmware updates.

If you’re reading this post some time in the future, you have even more reason to visit our osquery extension repository. We’ll keep it maintained and add to it over time.

Do you have an idea for an osquery extension? Please file an issue on our Github repo for it. Do you need osquery development? Contact us.

6 thoughts on “Announcing the Trail of Bits osquery extension repository

  1. Pingback: TrailOfBits releases osquery extenson repo, including EFI use | Firmware Security

  2. Pingback: What are the current pain points of osquery? | Trail of Bits Blog

  3. Pingback: 2017 in review | Trail of Bits Blog

  4. Pingback: Manage Santa within osquery | Trail of Bits Blog

  5. Pingback: QueryCon 2018: our talks and takeaways | Trail of Bits Blog

  6. Pingback: Announcing QueryCon 2019 | Trail of Bits Blog

Leave a Reply