Setup and configuration

Installation and configuration with Docker Compose

The quickest way setup MWDB is to just clone the repository and use Docker-Compose with all batteries included.

$ git clone

After cloning repository, the first step is to go to the mwdb-core directory and generate configuration using ./ script. Generated variables can be found in mwdb-vars.env.

$ ./
Credentials for initial mwdb account:

Admin login: admin
Admin password: la/Z7MsmKA3UxW8Psrk1Opap

Please be aware that initial account will be only set up on the first run. If you already have a database with at least one user, then this setting will be ignored for security reasons. You can always create an admin account manually by executing a command. See "flask create_admin --help" for reference.

Then build images via docker-compose build and run MWDB via docker-compose up -d.

Your MWDB instance will be available on default HTTP port (80):

If you want to use Docker Compose for MWDB development, check out Developer guide.

Standalone installation

Step 1.: Prerequisites

MWDB was tested on Debian-based systems, but should work as well on other Linux distributions.

For production environments, you need to install:

$ apt install gcc libfuzzy-dev python3-dev python3-venv postgresql-client postgresql-common

Optionally you can install:

It’s highly recommended to create a fresh virtualenv for local MWDB installation:

# Create virtual environment
~/mwdb$ python3 -m venv venv

# Activate virtual environment
~/mwdb$ source ./venv/bin/activate

(venv) ~/mwdb$


If you are a bit overwhelmed by setting up PostgreSQL database and you are looking for quick setup method just for testing: first make sure you have Docker and Docker-Compose installed and go to the Alternative setup with Docker-Compose.

You can also setup temporary PostgreSQL database container using Docker image:

$ docker run -d --name mwdb-postgres -e POSTGRES_DB=mwdb -e POSTGRES_USER=mwdb -e POSTGRES_PASSWORD=mwdb -p postgres

The connection string is: postgresql://mwdb:mwdb@

Step 2.: Installation and configuration

The recommended installation method is pip:

$ pip install mwdb-core

After installing mwdb-core package, let’s start with mwdb-core command:

$ mwdb-core

[!] Wrong MWDB configuration.

Use 'mwdb-core configure' to setup your MWDB instance.

Usage: mwdb-core [OPTIONS] COMMAND [ARGS]...

  MWDB malware database

  --help  Show this message and exit.

  configure  Configure MWDB instance
  db         Perform database migrations.
  routes     Show the routes for the app.
  run        Run a development server.
  shell      Run a shell in the app context.

Then, use mwdb-core configure to provide first configuration for your MWDB server.

$ mwdb-core configure

Where do you want to place MWDB local files?

1) Global directories (/var/lib/mwdb, /etc/mwdb)
2) Local user directory (/home/steve/.mwdb)
3) Current directory
: 3

For first installation we recommend to install everything in current folder via 3 option. If you want to install MWDB system-wide or locally for user: choose 1 or 2.

Then, input the connection string for PostgreSQL database. The database must be online and reachable at the time of configuration. After that, you will be asked for path for uploads and instance base URL. If the default value is ok, press Enter:

PostgreSQL database connection string [postgresql://localhost/mwdb]:
Uploads storage path [./uploads]:
Base public URL of Malwarecage service []:

Depending on the installation type, your configuration will be stored in mwdb.ini file and can be changed any time you want:

[+] Configuration stored in ./mwdb.ini file!

After storing the configuration, the configure command will initialize database schema:

[+] Configuration already initialized... skipping
INFO  [alembic.runtime.migration] Context impl PostgresqlImpl.
INFO  [alembic.runtime.migration] Will assume transactional DDL.
INFO  [alembic.runtime.migration] Running upgrade  -> 2e692ea445a1, Initial version
Provide password for Malwarecage 'admin' account:
Repeat password:

Finally, you will be asked asked for the admin account password that will be used as the management account.

MWDB configured successfully!

Use 'mwdb-core run' to run the server.

And you are done! run command will start the Flask server:

$ mwdb-core run
 * Environment: production
   WARNING: This is a development server. Do not use it in a production deployment.
   Use a production WSGI server instead.
 * Debug mode: off
 * Running on (Press CTRL+C to quit)

Your MWDB instance will be available on port 5000 (use --port to change that):

Keep in mind that Flask server is meant to be used as development server and is not suitable for production. See also:


In standalone setup, remember to run mwdb-core configure after each version upgrade to apply database migrations.

Step 3.: Setting up gunicorn and nginx

It’s recommended to deploy Flask applications using dedicated WSGI server. We highly recommend Gunicorn as it’s used in our Docker images and combine it with Nginx serving as proxy server for best security and performance

Proper configuration files and templates used in our Docker images can be found in docker directory on our Github repository

Upgrading mwdb-core to latest version

For standalone installation (pip-based), upgrade mwdb-core package to the latest version.

$ pip install -U mwdb-core

Then apply required database migrations using mwdb-core configure.

$ mwdb-core configure

If you use Docker-based environment, just pull the latest changes from repository and rebuild the images. Database migrations will be applied as a part of container startup.

Storing files in S3 Compatible storage (MinIO, AWS S3)

New in version 2.1.0.

By default, all files uploaded to mwdb-core are stored in the local file system (under path provided in uploads_folder configuration key). It’s the most universal and simplest way, but not sufficient if our scale requires distributed storage or cloud-based infrastructure. In that case we can use solutions like MinIO or another S3-compatible object-based storage.

If you want to store files using object storage, open the mwdb.ini file and set the following keys:

storage_provider = s3
hash_pathing = 0
s3_storage_endpoint = <storage endpoint>
s3_storage_access_key = <storage access key>
s3_storage_secret_key = <storage secret key>
s3_storage_bucket_name = <storage bucket name>

# optional (for AWS S3)
s3_storage_region_name = <AWS S3 region name>
# optional (for TLS)
s3_storage_secure = 1
# optional (for AWS IAM role authentication)
s3_storage_iam_auth = 1

If you use Docker-based setup, all the configuration can be set using environment variables (e.g. MWDB_STORAGE_PROVIDER=s3).


If you are using karton, we highly recommend creating a separate bucket for it. Failing to do so might result in data loss caused by karton's garbage collector.

Setting higher upload size limit in Docker

mwdb-core allows to set maximum upload size via max_upload_size parameter in configuration (see also Advanced configuration section).

mwdb-core package doesn’t enforce any limitation by default, but if you use Docker images: nginx configuration in mwdb-web image have set 50M limit using client_max_body_size option. If you want to set different limitation for Docker environment, use NGINX_MAX_UPLOAD_SIZE environment variable to set client_max_body_size option.

If you want to customize other nginx settings (e.g. timeouts), you can also provide your own nginx.conf.template by building your own image based on certpl/mwdb-web. More information can be found in #927 issue discussion on Github.

Advanced configuration

mwdb-core can be configured using several methods. Configuration is read from the following sources, ordered by priority:

  • Environment variables (MWDB_xxx)

  • ./mwdb.ini configuration file in current directory

  • ~/.mwdb-core/mwdb.ini in home directory

  • /etc/mwdb-core/mwdb.ini as global configuration

Sources are overriding each other depending on the priority, which means that environment value MWDB_ENABLE_PLUGINS=0 will override the enable_plugins = 1 entry in mwdb.ini file.

The format for environment variable is <SECTION>_<KEY> uppercase. The default section for all mwdb-core settings is mwdb. Plugins can also be configured by mwdb.ini file using their own sections. Check appropriate section name in plugin’s documentation.

Basic settings:

  • postgres_uri (string, required) - PostgreSQL database connection string

  • secret_key (string, required) - Secret key used by Flask application and to sign authentication tokens. Change of that value will invalidate all sessions and all registered API keys.

  • uploads_folder (string, required) - Path where MWDB stores uploaded files

  • base_url (string) - Base URL of MWDB web application, used for registration mail templates. Default is

  • file_upload_timeout (integer) - File upload process will be terminated if it takes more than this parameter value in milliseconds. Default value is 60000 ms.

  • statement_timeout (integer) - Database statement_timeout parameter. Database server aborts any statement that takes more than the specified number of milliseconds.

  • request_timeout (integer) - HTTP request will be terminated if it takes more than this parameter value in milliseconds. Default value is 20000 ms.

  • instance_name - (string) - custom name for local MWDB instance. Default value is “mwdb”.

Web application settings:

  • serve_web (0 or 1) - By default, web application is served by mwdb-core application (1). If you want mwdb-core to serve only API and host web application by yourself (e.g. using nginx), you can turn off serving static files by setting this option to 0.

  • web_folder (string) - Path to web application static files. By default, web application files are served from pre-compiled bundle embedded to Python package. If you want to use plugins that are incorporating additional frontend features, you need to rebuild the web application and serve them from your own path.

  • flask_config_file (string) - additional file containing Flask configuration (.py)

  • admin_login (string) - administrator account name

  • admin_password (string) - initial password for administrator account

  • use_x_forwarded_for (0 or 1) - Set this to 1 if MWDB backend is behind reverse proxy, so X-Forwarded-For header is correctly translated to request.remote_addr value. Set by default to 1 in certpl/mwdb Docker image.

Plugin settings:

  • enable_plugins (0 or 1) - If you want to turn off all plugins, set this option to 0. Default is 1.

  • plugins (list of strings, separated by commas) - List of installed plugin module names to be loaded, separated by commas

  • local_plugins_folder (string) - Directory that will be added to sys.path for plugin imports. Useful if you want to import local plugins that are not redistributable packages.

  • local_plugins_autodiscover (0 or 1) - Autodiscover plugins contained in local_plugins_folder so you don’t need to list them all manually in plugins. Default is 0.

Storage settings:

  • max_upload_size (integer) - Maximum upload size in bytes. Keep in mind that this value refers to whole upload request (Content-Length from request header), so the maximum file size is smaller than that by +/- 500B (because of additional payload with metadata). Default is None, which means there is no limit.

  • storage_provider (disk or s3) - If you want to use S3-compatible object storage instead of local file system, set this option to s3. Default is disk.

  • hash_pathing (0 or 1) - Should we break up the uploads into different folders. If you use S3-compatible storage, recommended option is 0 (default: 1).

  • s3_storage_endpoint (string) - S3 API endpoint for object storage. Required if you use S3-compatible storage.

  • s3_storage_access_key (string) - S3 API access key for object storage. Required if you use S3-compatible storage.

  • s3_storage_secret_key (string) - S3 API secret key for object storage. Required if you use S3-compatible storage.

  • s3_storage_bucket_name (string) - S3 API bucket name for object storage. Required if you use S3-compatible storage.

  • s3_storage_region_name (string, optional) - S3 API storage region name. Used mainly with AWS S3 storage (default is None).

  • s3_storage_secure (0 or 1) - Use TLS for S3 API connection (default is 0).

  • s3_storage_iam_auth (0 or 1) - Use AWS IAM role for S3 authentication (default is 0). If 1, then s3_storage_access_key and s3_storage_secret_key aren’t required.

Extra features:

  • enable_rate_limit (0 or 1) - Turns on rate limiting. Requires Redis database and redis_uri to be set. Default is 0.

  • enable_registration (0 or 1) - Turns on user registration features. Requires additional configuration. Default is 0.

  • enable_maintenance (0 or 1) - Turns on maintenance mode, making MWDB unavailable for users other than admin. Default is 0.

  • enable_json_logger (0 or 1) - Enables JSON logging which may be more convenient for automated log processing. Default is 0.

  • enable_prometheus_metrics (0 or 1) - Enables Prometheus metrics (/api/varz endpoint)

  • enable_debug_log (0 or 1) - Enables debug logging

  • redis_uri (string) - Redis database connection string, required by rate limiter.

  • remotes (comma separated strings) - list of MWDB remotes (experimental)

  • enable_hooks (0 or 1) - enable plugin hooks

  • enable_oidc (0 or 1) - enable OIDC (experimental)

  • listing_endpoints_count_limit (integer) - Limits number of objects returned by listing endpoints. Default is 1000.

Registration feature settings:

  • mail_smtp (string) - SMTP connection string (host:port)

  • mail_from (string) - From field value used in e-mails sent by MWDB

  • mail_username (string) - SMTP user name

  • mail_password (string) - SMTP user password

  • mail_tls (0 or 1) - Enable STARTTLS

  • mail_templates_folder (string) - Path to the directory containing custom mail templates

  • recaptcha_site_key (string) - ReCAPTCHA site key. If not set - ReCAPTCHA won’t be required for registration.

  • recaptcha_secret (string) - ReCAPTCHA secret key. If not set - ReCAPTCHA won’t be required for registration.

Rate limit configuration

New in version 2.7.0.

mwdb-core service has implemented rate limiting feature. Each limit for HTTP method can contain a few conditions (space separated).

Default limits were applied for HTTP methods. The default values are as below:

  • GET method: 1000/10second 2000/minute 6000/5minute 10000/15minute

  • POST method: 100/10second 1000/minute 3000/5minute 6000/15minute

  • PUT method: 100/10second 1000/minute 3000/5minute 6000/15minute

  • DELETE method: 100/10second 1000/minute 3000/5minute 6000/15minute

User can override these limits for individual endpoints by placing new limits in mwdb.ini - in section [mwdb_limiter]. Each line in [mwdb_limiter] section should have a pattern - <resourcename>_<httpmethod> = limit_values_space_separated.

Example rate-limit records in mwdb.ini file are as below

file_get = 100/10second
textblob_post = 10/second 1000/minute 3000/15minute
attributedefinition_delete = 10/minute 100/hour

Above records establish request rate limits for endpoints:

  • GET /api/file to value: 100 per 10 seconds

  • POST /api/blob to values: 10 per second, 1000 per minute and 3000 per 15 minutes

  • DELETE /api/attribute/<key> to values: 10 per minute and 100 per hour

Other endpoints are limited by default limits.


Complete list of possible rate-limit parameters is placed in mwdb-core\mwdb\core\templates\mwdb.ini.tmpl file - section mwdb_limiter.

If your MWDB instance uses standalone installation and MWDB backend is behind reverse proxy, make sure that use_x_forwarded_for is set to 1 and your reverse proxy correctly sets X-Forwarded-For header with real remote IP.

Using MWDB in Kubernetes environment

Here are examples of YAML specifications for k8s deployments:

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
    name: mwdb
    namespace: mwdb-prod
    replicas: 1
            app: mwdb
                app: mwdb
                # Init container that performs database migration on upgrade
                - env:
                    # Provide secrets and first configuration admin password via environment vars
                    - name: MWDB_SECRET_KEY
                        key: key
                        name: secret-mwdb-secret-key
                    - name: MWDB_POSTGRES_URI
                        key: uri
                        name: secret-mwdb-database-uri
                    - name: MWDB_ADMIN_PASSWORD
                        key: password
                        name: secret-mwdb-admin-password
                    - name: MWDB_BASE_URL
                  image: certpl/mwdb:v2.9.0
                  imagePullPolicy: Always
                  name: mwdb-migration-container
                  command: [ 'sh', '-c', '/app/venv/bin/mwdb-core configure -q' ]
                - env:
                    - name: GUNICORN_WORKERS
                      - name: MWDB_SECRET_KEY
                        key: key
                        name: secret-mwdb-secret-key
                    - name: MWDB_POSTGRES_URI
                        key: uri
                        name: secret-mwdb-database-uri-key
                    - name: MWDB_BASE_URL
                    - name: MWDB_ENABLE_KARTON
                      value: '1'
                    - name: MWDB_S3_STORAGE_ENDPOINT
                      # ... more configuration
                  image: certpl/mwdb:v2.9.0
                  imagePullPolicy: Always
                        path: /api/ping
                        port: 8080
                        path: /api/ping
                        port: 8080
                  name: mwdb-container
                    - mountPath: /etc/karton/karton.ini
                      name: karton-config-volume
                      subPath: config.ini
              - name: karton-config-volume
                  defaultMode: 420
                  - key: config-file
                    path: config.ini
                  secretName: karton-config
apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
    name: mwdb-web
    namespace: mwdb-prod
    replicas: 1
            app: mwdb-web
                app: mwdb-web
            - env:
                # Provide internal URI to backend service for nginx reverse proxy
                - name: PROXY_BACKEND_URL
                value: http://mwdb-service:8080/
              image: certpl/mwdb-web:v2.9.0
                    path: /
                    port: 80
              name: mwdb-web-container
                    path: /
                    port: 80