A Prelude to better things – Open Source and IDS

A recent number of attempted break-ins to a few machines I manage has had me thinking again about the overall security of the machines, and how to get a better handle on what’s going on. This isn’t something new – anyone managing internet-facing systems ought to be aware of the dangers, and how to mitigate them. As with many things related to open source, there are a plethora of tools out there aimed at providing alerting based on network activity.

I’d wager that many people have heard of Snort, and what it does. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s an open source intrusion detection system (IDS)/intrusion prevention system (IPS). In a normal configuration, Snort monitors traffic and alerts based on predefined rules for such things as port scans and maliciously-crafted HTTP requests. It’s an extremely powerful tool that is also highly configurable, and with an excellent community that provide custom rules for a wide variety of situations. But alerting is one thing – being able to make sense of those alerts is something else.

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