Object Store Auditing

The S3A connector provides an extension point for auditing requests to S3. The auditing can take place at the entry point to every FS operation, and inside the AWS S3 SDK, immediately before the request is executed.

The full architecture is covered in Auditing Architecture; this document covers its use.

Important: Auditing is disabled by default

Due to a memory leak from the use of ThreadLocal fields, this auditing feature leaks memory as S3A filesystem instances are created and deleted. This causes problems in long-lived processes which either do not re-use filesystem instances, or attempt to delete all instances belonging to specific users. See HADOOP-18091 S3A auditing leaks memory through ThreadLocal references.

To avoid these memory leaks, auditing is disabled by default.

To turn auditing on, set fs.s3a.audit.enabled to true.

Auditing workflow

  1. An Auditor Service can be instantiated for each S3A FileSystem instance, created during FS initialization and closed when the FS instance is closed.
  2. The S3A FS will request from the Auditor Service an Audit Span for each Hadoop FileSystem API call.
  3. The audit span will have callbacks invoked during each of the S3 operations invoked during the execution of the API call, from within the AWS SDK
  4. This allows the Auditor Service to log requests made and associate with users and operations.
  5. And/or reject operations.
  6. The bundled “Logging Auditor” logs operations and attaches information about calls to the HTTP Referrer header.
  7. So aiding debugging of issues related to performance, bucket load, S3 costs…etc.

Thus: an Auditor Service can be plugged in to provide (best-effort) auditing as well as hinted allow/deny security.

  • Why best effort: coverage is not complete. See limitations below.
  • Why “hinted” security? Any custom code running in the JVM could retrieve the AWS credential chain and so bypass this auditing mechanism.


This is not a means of controlling access to S3 resources. It is a best-effort attempt at supporting logging of FileSystem operations API calls, and, in particular, correlating S3 multiple object requests with a single FS API call, ideally even identifying the process/job generating load.

  • Low-level code using public S3A methods intended only for internal use may not create spans.
  • Code which asks for the AWS S3 client may bypass span creation.
  • Application code can also create a new S3 client (reusing any existing credentials) and so have unaudited access to S3.
  • There’s no tie-up with OpenTelemetry.
  • Uploads and copy operations through the TransferManager do not pick up an active span because work is executed in threads which the S3A code cannot update.
  • There’s a limit to how long an http referer header can be; operations on long paths may be incompletely logged.

Using Auditing

Auditing is disabled by default. When auditing enabled, a Logging Auditor will annotate the S3 logs through a custom HTTP Referrer header in requests made to S3. Other auditor classes may be used instead.

Auditor Options

Option Meaning Default Value
fs.s3a.audit.enabled Is auditing enabled false
fs.s3a.audit.service.classname Auditor classname org.apache.hadoop.fs.s3a.audit.impl.LoggingAuditor
fs.s3a.audit.request.handlers List of extra subclasses of AWS SDK RequestHandler2 to include in handler chain ""
fs.s3a.audit.referrer.enabled Logging auditor to publish the audit information in the HTTP Referrer header true
fs.s3a.audit.referrer.filter List of audit fields to filter ""
fs.s3a.audit.reject.out.of.span.operations Auditor to reject operations “outside of a span” false

Disabling Auditing.

In this release of Hadoop, auditing is disabled.

This can be explicitly set globally or for specific buckets


Specific buckets can have auditing disabled, even when it is enabled globally.

  <description>Do not audit landsat bucket operations</description>

Auditing with the Logging Auditor

The “Logging Auditor” is the default auditor. It provides two forms of logging

  1. Logging of operations in the client via the active SLF4J imolementation.
  2. Dynamic generation of the HTTP Referrer header for S3 requests.

The Logging Auditor is enabled by providing its classname in the option fs.s3a.audit.service.classname.



To print auditing events in the local client logs, set the associated Log4J log to log at debug:

# Auditing

Integration with S3 Server Access Logging

An AWS S3 bucket can be configured to store logs of all HTTP requests made of a bucket into a different S3 bucket, S3 Server Access Logging In the logging auditor the HTTP referer field of every AWS S3 request is built up into a URL which provides context and span information. As this field is saved in the S3 logs, if S3 bucket logging is enabled, the logs will be able to correlate access by S3 clients to the actual operations taking place.

Note: this logging is described as “Best Effort”. There’s no guarantee as to when logs arrive.

Rejecting out-of-span operations

The logging auditor can be configured to raise an exception whenever a request is made to S3 outside an audited span -that is: the thread interacting with S3 through the S3AFileSystem instance which created the auditor does not have any span activated.

This is primarily for development, as it can be used to guarantee spans are being entered through the public API calls.


This rejection process is disabled for some AWS S3 Request classes, which are created within the AWS SDK as part of larger operations and for which spans cannot be attached.

AWS Request Always allowed Reason
GetBucketLocationRequest Used in AWS SDK to determine S3 endpoint
CopyPartRequest Used in AWS SDK during copy operations
CompleteMultipartUploadRequest Used in AWS SDK to complete copy operations

The request to initiate a copy/multipart upload is always audited, therefore the auditing process does have coverage of rename and multipart IO. However, the AWS S3 logs will not include full trace information in the referrer header of the associated copy/complete calls.

Auditing and the HTTP Referrer header

The HTTP referrer header is attached by the logging auditor. If the S3 Bucket is configured to log requests to another bucket, then these logs entries will include the audit information as the referrer.

This can be parsed (consult AWS documentation for a regular expression) and the http referrer header extracted.


Here are the fields which may be found in a request. If any of the field values were null, the field is omitted.

Name Meaning Example
cm Command S3GuardTool$BucketInfo
fs FileSystem ID af5943a9-b6f6-4eec-9c58-008982fc492a
id Span ID 3c0d9b7e-2a63-43d9-a220-3c574d768ef3-3
ji Job ID (Generated by query engine)
op Filesystem API call op_rename
p1 Path 1 of operation s3a://alice-london/path1
p2 Path 2 of operation s3a://alice-london/path2
pr Principal alice
ps Unique process UUID 235865a0-d399-4696-9978-64568db1b51c
t0 Thread 0: thread span was created in 100
t1 Thread 1: thread this operation was executed in 200
ts Timestamp (UTC epoch millis) 1617116985923

Thread IDs are from the current thread in the JVM.


When t0 and t1 are different it means that the span has been handed off to another thread for work on behalf of the original operation. This can be correlated with log entries on the client to isolate work to specific threads.

Limitations of the HTTP Referrer header

There is a size limit on the length of the header; operations on long paths may exceed it. In such situations the audit log is incomplete.

This is why the span ID is always passed in as part of the URL, rather than just an HTTP query parameter: even if the header is chopped, the span ID will always be present.

Privacy Implications of HTTP Referrer auditing

When the S3A client makes requests of an S3 bucket, the auditor adds span information to the header, which is then stored in the logs

If the S3 bucket is owned by the same organization as the client, this span information is internal to the organization.

If the S3 bucket is owned/managed by a different entity, then the span information is visible in any S3 bucket logs collected by that entity. This includes the principal name and the command executed if the application is launched via the Tools or service launcher APIs.

Sharing this information can be disabled by either filtering specific headers, or by explicitly disabling referrer header generation entirely.

Note: even when the HTTP Referrer is disabled by or the principal filtered, AWS S3 logs include ARN of the user or IAM role making the request.

Filtering Referrer headers

Specific fields can be filtered from the referrer header, and so are not included in the S3A logs.

  <value>pr, cm</value>
  <description>Strip out principal and command from referrer headers</description>

Disabling Referrer headers

The logging auditor can be configured to not add the referrer header by setting the option fs.s3a.audit.referrer.enabled to false, either globally or for specific buckets:

  <description>Disable referrer for all buckets</description>

  <description>Do not add the referrer header to landsat operations</description>

Collecting AWS S3 Logs for Analysis

The S3 Bucket(s) must be set up for Server Access Logging.

This will tell AWS S3 to collect access logs of all HTTP requests and store them in a different bucket in the same region. The logs arrive as files containing a few seconds worth of log data, stored under the configured path.

Enabling logging: Source bucket

  1. Create a separate bucket for logs in the same region, if you do not already have one.
  2. In the S3 console, locate the bucket you wish to act as a source for logs, and go to the “properties”.
  3. Scroll down to “Server access logging”
  4. Select “edit” and then enable logging, entering a path in a nearby bucket for logs. (Tip: for ease of logging multiple buckets to the same log bucket, use a prefix like logs/$BUCKET/log- to isolate different bucket’s logs. For example, the path log data from dev data london could be s3://london-log-bucket/logs/dev-data-lon/log-
  5. Save this.

There’s a lag of about an hour between S3 requests being made and the logs appearing; don’t worry during setup if things do not appear to be working. Enable the log, work with the bucket through the “hadoop fs” command line, wait an hour, then go and look in the log bucket for the entries. The log filename includes the time at which these logs began

Keeping costs down by deleting old logs.

As logs are stored in an S3 bucket, they too run up charges. Keep costs down by deleting logs after a period of time, and/or set up a workflow to load and coalesce log entries into a compressed format and larger files.

It is straightforward to set up a rule to automatically delete old log files.

  1. In the S3 console, bring up the bucket which is the destination for the logs, e.g. london-log-bucket.
  2. Go to the “Management” tab.
  3. Add a lifecycle rule (alongside the “abort pending uploads” rule you should already have).
  4. Add rule name “Delete old log files”.
  5. Select “Limit the scope”.
  6. Add the prefix logs/ to have it delete all logs of all buckets. Important: you must not have any leading “/”, such as /logs/ -there will be no match and the rule will not work.
  7. In “Lifecycle rule actions”, select “Expire current versions” This will delete log entries.
  8. In “Expire current versions of objects”, set the number of days to keep log entries.
  9. Finish by pressing the “Create Rule” button

Keep an eye on the bucket to make sure the deletion is working; it’s easy to make an error in the prefix, and as logs will be created without limit, costs will ramp up.

Parsing AWS S3 Logs to extract the referrer header

The AWS S3 Documentation covers the log format and includes a hive external table declaration to work with it.

The Java pattern regular expression used in the hadoop-aws test suites to extract headers is defined as:

(?<owner>[^ ]*) (?<bucket>[^ ]*) (?<timestamp>\[(.*?)\]) (?<remoteip>[^ ]*) (?<requester>[^ ]*) (?<requestid>[^ ]*) (?<operation>[^ ]*) (?<key>[^ ]*) (?<requesturi>(-|"[^"]*")) (?<http>(-|[0-9]*)) (?<awserrorcode>[^ ]*) (?<bytessent>[^ ]*) (?<objectsize>[^ ]*) (?<totaltime>[^ ]*) (?<turnaroundtime>[^ ]*) (?<referrer>(-|"[^"]*")) (?<useragent>(-|"[^"]*")) (?<version>[^ ]*) (?<hostid>[^ ]*) (?<sigv>[^ ]*) (?<cypher>[^ ]*) (?<auth>[^ ]*) (?<endpoint>[^ ]*) (?<tls>[^ ]*)*$

The class org.apache.hadoop.fs.s3a.audit.S3LogParser provides this pattern as well as constants for each group. It is declared as Public/Unstable.


The org.apache.hadoop.fs.s3a.audit log context contains logs for the different components implementing auditing.

Logging of requests audited with the LoggingAuditService can be enabled by setting that log to debug.

# Log before a request is made to S3

This adds one log line per request -and does provide some insight into communications between the S3A client and AWS S3.

For low-level debugging of the Auditing system, such as when when spans are entered and exited, set the log to TRACE:

# log request creation, span lifecycle and other low-level details

This is very noisy and not recommended in normal operation.

Integration with S3A Committers

Work submitted through the S3A committer will have the job (query) ID associated with S3 operations taking place against all S3A filesystems in that thread.

For this to be useful, the work performed in a task MUST be in the same thread which called jobSetup() or taskSetup() on the committer.