Part 32: Follow the news

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Can you follow the news with Zabbix? Of course you can! By day, I am a lead site reliability engineer at a global cyber security company. By night, I monitor my home with Zabbix & Grafana and do some weird experiments with them. Welcome to my blog about the project.

Long time ago, before the dawn of the social media, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) readers were all the rave. Instead of visiting each site you followed individually, you could add their RSS feeds to your RSS reader, which then would show you the latest news titles from as many sources as you wanted. Not only the titles, but depending on news site you could also read a teaser or even the full news through your RSS reader without ever visiting the site itself.

This was all good for the end-users, but the beancounters at the news companies got worried, as of course without visits to news sites, the advertisement income would come down, too.  RSS readers can still be useful, but.... oh; I'll need to stop, this is not the scope of this blog post.

Instead the underlying technology of RSS is what makes it interesting. It's just XML, so easy to consume by whatever software. Even though RSS is not a media darling anymore, it's useful for gathering info from various sources to be then utilised somewhere else -- like in Zabbix.

Let's follow this site

So, how to follow the latest posts on this site through Zabbix? Easy, as this is just about parsing some XML.

Raw RSS

Let's begin with adding a new HTTP agent item.

HTTP Agent master item

With that in place, let's add some dependent items, with the end result being this:

List of items

Each of those are just dependent items with some item pre-processing -- the example below parses the first occurrence of title to text.

Parsing the first occurrence

How to use this?

In this case, I created a separate dashboard to show the latest blog post title, a link to it and a publication date. Wouldn't be too hard to create a custom Zabbix module to make this more fancy, but that maybe for another day. For now, by just using Item value widget types, we get this.

My dashboard

In real world, there are plenty of actual use cases. Use it to alert you about latest vulnerabilities, updates or other news about the stuff you have in your environment. Create a news dashboard for your security operations team or developers. If your own products do utilise RSS for something, this also can be a very handy end-to-end testing, as both Zabbix and your eyes can spot visually if something is not right. I'm sure you can come up with more and better ideas.

I have been working at Forcepoint since 2014 and never get tired of news.

Comments

Hi Janne Pikkarainen nice to greet you and thank you for your help with the integration of rss with zabbix, by any chance do you know how I can send these updates to a telegram?

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