USBRIP Tracking History of USB Events Linux
USBRIP Tracking History of USB Events Linux

USBRIP: Tracking History of USB Events on Linux

usbrip (inherited from “USB Ripper”, not “USB R.I.P.”) is a simple forensics tool with command line interface that lets you keep track of USB device artifacts (i.e., USB event history) on Linux machines.

usbrip is a small piece of software which analyzes Linux log data: journalctl output or contents of /var/log/syslog* (/var/log/messages*) files. Based on the collected data usbrip can build USB event history tables with the following columns:

  • “Connected” (date & time);
  • “Host”;
  • “VID” (vendor ID);
  • “PID” (product ID);
  • “Product”;
  • “Manufacturer”;
  • “Serial Number”;
  • “Port”;
  • “Disconnected” (date & time).

Besides, it also can:

  • export collected data as a JSON dump for later use;
  • generate a list of authorized (trusted) USB devices as a JSON file (call it auth.json);
  • search for “violation events” based on the auth.json: discover USB devices that do appear in history and do NOT appear in the auth.json;
  • *when installed with -s flag* create protected storages (7-Zip archives) to automatically backup and accumulate USB events with the help of crontab scheduler;
  • search additional details about a specific USB device based on its VID and/or PID.

Quick Start

Way 1. Install with pip:

sudo -H python3 -m pip install --upgrade usbrip
usbrip --help

Way 2. Install bleeding-edge with (recommended, extra features available):

sudo apt install python3-venv p7zip-full -y
git clone ~/usbrip && cd ~/usbrip
~/usbrip$ sudo -H installers/
~/usbrip$ cd
usbrip --help


Capture usbrip
Capture usbrip

Docker (*DEMO ONLY!*)

docker run --rm -it snovvcrash/usbrip


System Log Structure

usbrip supports two types of timestamps within system log files:

  1. Non-modified – standard syslog structure for GNU/Linux ("%b %d %H:%M:%S", ex. "Jan 1 00:00:00"). This type of timestamp does not provide the information about years.
  2. Modified (recommended) – better syslog structure which provides high precision timestamps including years ("%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S.%f%z", ex. "1970-01-01T00:00:00.000000-00:00").

If you do have journalctl installed, then there’s nothing to worry about as it can convert timestamps on the fly.

Otherwise, the desired syslog structure could be achieved by setting RSYSLOG_FileFormat format in rsyslog configuration.

  1. Comment out the following line in /etc/rsyslog.conf:
$ActionFileDefaultTemplate RSYSLOG_TraditionalFileFormat
  1. Add custom .conf file for usbrip:
echo '$ActionFileDefaultTemplate RSYSLOG_FileFormat' | sudo tee /etc/rsyslog.d/usbrip.conf
  1. (optional) Delete existing log files:
sudo rm -f /var/log/syslog* /var/log/messages*
  1. Restart the service:
sudo systemctl restart rsyslog

Firstly, usbrip will check if there is a chance to dump system events using journalctl as the most portable option. If not – it will search for and parse /var/log/syslog* and /var/log/messages* system log files.

DEB Packages

  • python3.6 (or newer);
  • python3-venv;
  • p7zip-full (used by storages module).

pip Packages

Manual installation

Git Clone

For simplicity, lets agree that all the commands where ~/usbrip$ prefix is appeared are executed in the ~/usbrip directory which is created as a result of a git clone:

git clone usbrip && cd usbrip

Besides installing with pip, usbrip can also be installed with custom installers/ script.

When using some extra features become available:

  • the virtual environment is created automatically;
  • the storage module becomes available: you can set a crontab job to backup USB events on a schedule (the example of crontab jobs can be found in usbrip/cron/usbrip.cron).

Warning: if you are using the crontab scheduling, you want to configure the cron job with sudo crontab -e in order to force the storage update submodule run as root. The storage passwords are kept in /var/opt/usbrip/usbrip.ini and accessible by root only by default.

To install usbrip use:

~/usbrip$ sudo -H installers/ [-l/--local] [-s/--storages]
~/usbrip$ cd
usbrip --help
  • When -l switch is enabled, Python dependencies are resolved from local .tar packages (./3rdPartyTools/) instead of PyPI.
  • When -s switch is enabled, not only the usbrip project is installed, but also the list of trusted USB devices, history and violations storages are created.

After the installation completes, feel free to remove the ~/usbrip directory.


When installed with, the usbrip uses the following paths:

  • /opt/usbrip/ – project’s main directory;
  • /var/opt/usbrip/log/ – usbrip logs when using with cron;
  • /var/opt/usbrip/storage/ – USB event storages (history.7z and violations.7z, created during the installation process);
  • /var/opt/usbrip/trusted/ – list of trusted USB devices (auth.json, created during the installation process);
  • /var/opt/usbrip/usbrip.ini – usbrip configuration file (contains passwords for 7-Zip storages);
  • /usr/local/bin/usbrip – symlink to the /opt/usbrip/venv/bin/usbrip script.


Cron jobs can be set as follows:

~/usbrip$ sudo crontab -l > tmpcron && echo "" >> tmpcron
~/usbrip$ cat usbrip/cron/usbrip.cron | tee -a tmpcron
~/usbrip$ sudo crontab tmpcron
~/usbrip$ rm tmpcron

The installers/ script removes usbrip and all the installation artifacts from your system.

To uninstall usbrip use:

sudo installers/ [-a/--all]
  • When -a switch is enabled, not only the usbrip project directory is deleted, but also all the storages and usbrip logs are deleted too.

Don’t forget to remove the cron job if you had set up one.



# ---------- BANNER ----------

$ usbrip banner
Get usbrip banner.

# ---------- EVENTS ----------

$ usbrip events history [-t | -l] [-e] [-n <NUMBER_OF_EVENTS>] [-d <DATE> [<DATE> ...]] [--host <HOST> [<HOST> ...]] [--vid <VID> [<VID> ...]] [--pid <PID> [<PID> ...]] [--prod <PROD> [<PROD> ...]] [--manufact <MANUFACT> [<MANUFACT> ...]] [--serial <SERIAL> [<SERIAL> ...]] [--port <PORT> [<PORT> ...]] [-c <COLUMN> [<COLUMN> ...]] [-f <FILE> [<FILE> ...]] [-q] [--debug]
Get USB event history.

$ usbrip events open <DUMP.JSON> [-t | -l] [-e] [-n <NUMBER_OF_EVENTS>] [-d <DATE> [<DATE> ...]] [--host <HOST> [<HOST> ...]] [--vid <VID> [<VID> ...]] [--pid <PID> [<PID> ...]] [--prod <PROD> [<PROD> ...]] [--manufact <MANUFACT> [<MANUFACT> ...]] [--serial <SERIAL> [<SERIAL> ...]] [--port <PORT> [<PORT> ...]] [-c <COLUMN> [<COLUMN> ...]] [-q] [--debug]
Open USB event dump.

$ sudo usbrip events genauth <OUT_AUTH.JSON> [-a <ATTRIBUTE> [<ATTRIBUTE> ...]] [-e] [-n <NUMBER_OF_EVENTS>] [-d <DATE> [<DATE> ...]] [--host <HOST> [<HOST> ...]] [--vid <VID> [<VID> ...]] [--pid <PID> [<PID> ...]] [--prod <PROD> [<PROD> ...]] [--manufact <MANUFACT> [<MANUFACT> ...]] [--serial <SERIAL> [<SERIAL> ...]] [--port <PORT> [<PORT> ...]] [-f <FILE> [<FILE> ...]] [-q] [--debug]
Generate a list of trusted (authorized) USB devices.

$ sudo usbrip events violations <IN_AUTH.JSON> [-a <ATTRIBUTE> [<ATTRIBUTE> ...]] [-t | -l] [-e] [-n <NUMBER_OF_EVENTS>] [-d <DATE> [<DATE> ...]] [--host <HOST> [<HOST> ...]] [--vid <VID> [<VID> ...]] [--pid <PID> [<PID> ...]] [--prod <PROD> [<PROD> ...]] [--manufact <MANUFACT> [<MANUFACT> ...]] [--serial <SERIAL> [<SERIAL> ...]] [--port <PORT> [<PORT> ...]] [-c <COLUMN> [<COLUMN> ...]] [-f <FILE> [<FILE> ...]] [-q] [--debug]
Get USB violation events based on the list of trusted devices.

# ---------- STORAGE ----------

$ sudo usbrip storage list <STORAGE_TYPE> [-q] [--debug]
List contents of the selected storage. STORAGE_TYPE is "history" or "violations".

$ sudo usbrip storage open <STORAGE_TYPE> [-t | -l] [-e] [-n <NUMBER_OF_EVENTS>] [-d <DATE> [<DATE> ...]] [--host <HOST> [<HOST> ...]] [--vid <VID> [<VID> ...]] [--pid <PID> [<PID> ...]] [--prod <PROD> [<PROD> ...]] [--manufact <MANUFACT> [<MANUFACT> ...]] [--serial <SERIAL> [<SERIAL> ...]] [--port <PORT> [<PORT> ...]] [-c <COLUMN> [<COLUMN> ...]] [-q] [--debug]
Open selected storage. Behaves similarly to the EVENTS OPEN submodule.

$ sudo usbrip storage update <STORAGE_TYPE> [IN_AUTH.JSON] [-a <ATTRIBUTE> [<ATTRIBUTE> ...]] [-e] [-n <NUMBER_OF_EVENTS>] [-d <DATE> [<DATE> ...]] [--host <HOST> [<HOST> ...]] [--vid <VID> [<VID> ...]] [--pid <PID> [<PID> ...]] [--prod <PROD> [<PROD> ...]] [--manufact <MANUFACT> [<MANUFACT> ...]] [--serial <SERIAL> [<SERIAL> ...]] [--port <PORT> [<PORT> ...]] [--lvl <COMPRESSION_LEVEL>] [-q] [--debug]
Update storage -- add USB events to the existing storage. COMPRESSION_LEVEL is a number in [0..9].

$ sudo usbrip storage create <STORAGE_TYPE> [IN_AUTH.JSON] [-a <ATTRIBUTE> [<ATTRIBUTE> ...]] [-e] [-n <NUMBER_OF_EVENTS>] [-d <DATE> [<DATE> ...]] [--host <HOST> [<HOST> ...]] [--vid <VID> [<VID> ...]] [--pid <PID> [<PID> ...]] [--prod <PROD> [<PROD> ...]] [--manufact <MANUFACT> [<MANUFACT> ...]] [--serial <SERIAL> [<SERIAL> ...]] [--port <PORT> [<PORT> ...]] [--lvl <COMPRESSION_LEVEL>] [-q] [--debug]
Create storage -- create 7-Zip archive and add USB events to it according to the selected options.

$ sudo usbrip storage passwd <STORAGE_TYPE> [--lvl <COMPRESSION_LEVEL>] [-q] [--debug]
Change password of the existing storage.

# ---------- IDs ----------

$ usbrip ids search [--vid <VID>] [--pid <PID>] [--offline] [-q] [--debug]
Get extra details about a specific USB device by its <VID> and/or <PID> from the USB ID database.

$ usbrip ids download [-q] [--debug]
Update (download) the USB ID database.


To get a list of module names use:

usbrip --help

To get a list of submodule names for a specific module use:

usbrip <module> --help

To get a list of all switches for a specific submodule use:

usbrip <module> <submodule> --help


Show the event history of all USB devices, suppressing banner output, info messages and user interaction (-q--quiet), represented as a list (-l--list) with latest 100 entries (-n NUMBER--number NUMBER):

usbrip events history -ql -n 100

Show the event history of the external USB devices (-e--external, which were actually disconnected) represented as a table (-t--table) containing “Connected”, “VID”, “PID”, “Disconnected” and “Serial Number” columns (-c COLUMN [COLUMN ...]--column COLUMN [COLUMN ...]) filtered by date (-d DATE [DATE ...]--date DATE [DATE ...]) and PID (--pid <PID> [<PID> ...]) with logs taken from the outer files (-f FILE [FILE ...]--file FILE [FILE ...]):

usbrip events history -et -c conn vid pid disconn serial -d '1995-09-15' '2018-07-01' --pid 1337 -f /var/log/syslog.1 /var/log/syslog.2.gz
  • Note: there is a thing to remember when working with filters. There are 4 types of filtering available: only external USB events (devices that can be pulled out easily, -e); by date (-d); by fields (--host--vid--pid--product--manufact--serial--port) and by number of entries you get as the output (-n). When applying different filters simultaneously, you will get the following behavior: firstly, external and by date filters are applied, then usbrip will search for specified field values in the intersection of the last two filters, and in the end it will cut the output to the number you defined with the -n option. So think of it as an intersection for external and by date filtering and union for by fields filtering. Hope it makes sense.

Build the event history of all USB devices and redirect the output to a file for further analysis. When the output stream is NOT terminal stdout (| or > for example) there would be no ANSI escape characters (color) in the output so feel free to use it that way. Also notice that usbrip uses some UNICODE symbols so it would be nice to convert the resulting file to UTF-8 encoding (with encov for example) as well as change newline characters to Windows style for portability (with awk for example):

usbrip events history -t | awk '{ sub("$", "\r"); print }' > usbrip.out && enconv -x UTF8 usbrip.out

Remark: you can always get rid of the escape characters by yourself even if you have already got the output to stdout. To do that just copy the output data to usbrip.out and add one more awk instruction:

awk '{ sub("$", "\r"); gsub("\\x1B\\[[0-?]*[ -/]*[@-~]", ""); print }' usbrip.out && enconv -x UTF8 usbrip.out

Generate a list of trusted USB devices as a JSON-file (trusted/auth.json) with “VID” and “PID” attributes containing the first three devices connected on November 30, 1984:

sudo usbrip events genauth trusted/auth.json -a vid pid -n 3 -d '1984-11-30'

Warning: there are cases when different USB flash drives might have identical serial numbers. This could happen as a result of a manufacturing error or just some black hats were able to rewrite the drive’s memory chip which turned out to be non-one-time programmable and so on… Anyways, “No system is safe”. usbrip does not handle such cases in a smart way so far, namely it will treat a pair of devices with identical SNs (if there exists one) as the same device regarding to the trusted device list and genauth module.

Search the event history of the external USB devices for violations based on the list of trusted USB devices (trusted/auth.json) by “PID” attribute, restrict resulting events to those which have “Bob-PC” as a hostname, “EvilUSBManufacturer” as a manufacturer, “0123456789” as a serial number and represent the output as a table with “Connected”, “VID” and “PID” columns:

sudo usbrip events violations trusted/auth.json -a pid -et --host Bob-PC --manufact EvilUSBManufacturer --serial 0123456789 -c conn vid pid

Search for details about a specific USB device by its VID (--vid VID) and PID (--pid PID):

usbrip ids search --vid 0781 --pid 5580

Download the latest version of usb.ids database:

usbrip ids download