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“Unknown beats protocol version: 71 /69”: using Winlogbeat with Graylog Beats input

I found myself scratching my head on a new deployment of the Elastic Winlogbeat client on Windows, where the intent was to forward Event Logs to Graylog.

In the graylog-server.log file, I saw:

ERROR [AbstractTcpTransport] Error in Input [Beats/...] (...) (cause io.netty.handler.codec.DecoderException: java.lang.IllegalStateException: Unknown beats protocol version: 71)
ERROR [AbstractTcpTransport] Error in Input [Beats/...] (...) (cause io.netty.handler.codec.DecoderException: java.lang.IllegalStateException: Unknown beats protocol version: 69)

I turned off TLS on the client and the receiving Graylog Input, thinking it might be some TLS-related issue, to the same error.

To cut a long story short, decimal 71 and decimal 69 are ASCII codes for capital G and capital E — the first two bytes of an HTTP request that the Winlogbeat client was making to the Graylog input. Clearly the input is not expecting to receive ASCII “GE” to start the request!

It turns out the Graylog beats input desires the logstash format, not elasticsearch. I had been ignorant in just modifying the example config in the output.elasticsearch section, when this is not what Graylog wants.

I commented out the entire output.elasticsearch section and moved that configuration (hosts and the ssl options) into an output.logstash YML node.

output.logstash:
   hosts: ["x.y.z.aa:5044"]

This was unclear enough to me that I thought connecting the error messages above with this solution may prove useful for someone else who has the issue.