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"Advanced IDS Techniques Using SNORT, Apache, MySQL, PHP, and ACID"

by Rafeeq Rehman

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About Book

Book Description

Network security has become an important part of corporate IT strategy and safeguarding all the nooks and crannies of your network can be timely and expensive. This book provides information about how to use free Open Source tools to build and manage an Intrusion Detection System. Rehman provides detailed information about using SNORT as an IDS and using Apache, MySQL, PHP and ACID to analyze intrusion data. The book contains custom scripts, real-life examples for SNORT, and to-the-point information about installing SNORT IDS so readers can build and run their sophisticated intrusion detection systems.SNORT is your network's packet sniffer that monitors network traffic in real time, scrutinizing each packet closely to detect a dangerous payload or suspicious anomalies.NSS Group, a European network security testing organization, tested SNORT along with intrusion detection system (IDS) products from 15 major vendors including Cisco, Computer Associates, and Symantec. According to NSS, SNORT, which was the sole Open Source freeware product tested, clearly outperformed the proprietary products.Part of the Bruce Perens' Open Source Series

From the Back Cover

Protect your network with Snort: the high-performance, open source IDS

Snort gives network administrators an open source intrusion detection system that outperforms proprietary alternatives. Now, Rafeeq Ur Rehman explains and simplifies every aspect of deploying and managing Snort in your network. You'll discover how to monitor all your network traffic in real time; update Snort to reflect new security threats; automate and analyze Snort alerts; and more. Best of all, Rehman's custom scripts integrate Snort with Apache, MySQL, PHP, and ACID-so you can build and optimize a complete IDS solution more quickly than ever before.

  • An expert introduction to intrusion detection and the role of Snort
  • Writing and updating Snort rules to reflect the latest attacks and exploits
  • Contains detailed coverage of Snort plug-ins, preprocessors, and output modules
  • Logging alerts to a MySQL database
  • Using ACID to search, process, and analyze security alerts
  • Using SnortSnarf to analyze Snort log files
  • XML support for Snort via the Simple Network Markup Language (SNML)
FTP Site

The accompanying ftp site contains all the software, scripts, and rules you need to get started with Snort.

About the Open Source Series

Bruce Perens' Open Source Series is a definitive series of Linux and Open Source books by the world's leading Linux software developers. Bruce Perens is the primary author of The Open Source Definition, the formative document of the open source movement, and the former Debian GNU/Linux Project Leader. The text of this book is Open Source licensed

About the Author

RAFEEQ UR REHMAN is founding director of Argus Network Security Services, Inc. He is an HP Certified System Administrator and CCNA with more than nine years' experience in UNIX and network administration, as well as C and database programming. His books include The Linux Development Platform; Solaris 8 Training Guide (310-043): Network Administrator Certification; and HP Certified: HP-UX System Administration. He is a contributing writer for SysAdmin Journal and Linux Journal.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Security is a big issue for all networks in today's enterprise environment. Hackers and intruders have made many successful attempts to bring down high-profile company networks and web services. Many methods have been developed to secure the network infrastructure and communication over the Internet, among them the use of firewalls, encryption, and virtual private networks. Intrusion detection is a relatively new addition to such techniques. Intrusion detection methods started appearing in the last few years. Using intrusion detection methods, you can collect and use information from known types of attacks and find out if someone is trying to attack your network or particular hosts. The information collected this way can be used to harden your network security, as well as for legal purposes. Both commercial and open source products are now available for this purpose. Many vulnerability assessment tools are also available in the market that can be used to assess different types of security holes present in your network. A comprehensive security system consists of multiple tools, including:

  • Firewalls that are used to block unwanted incoming as well as outgoing traffic of data. There is a range of firewall products available in the market both in Open Source and commercial products. Most popular commercial firewall products are from Checkpoint , Cisco and Netscreen . The most popular Open Source firewall is the Netfilter/Iptables-based firewall.
  • Intrusion detection systems (IDS) that are used to find out if someone has gotten into or is trying to get into your network. The most popular IDS is Snort.
  • Vulnerability assessment tools that are used to find and plug security holes present in your network. Information collected from vulnerability assessment tools is used to set rules on firewalls so that these security holes are safeguarded from malicious Internet users. There are many vulnerability assessment tools including Nmap and Nessus.

These tools can work together and exchange information with each other. Some products provide complete systems consisting of all of these products bundled together.

Snort is an open source Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) which is available free of cost. NIDS is the type of Intrusion Detection System (IDS) that is used for scanning data flowing on the network. There are also host-based intrusion detection systems, which are installed on a particular host and detect attacks targeted to that host only. Although all intrusion detection methods are still new, Snort is ranked among the top quality systems available today.

The book starts with an introduction to intrusion detection and related terminology. You will learn installation and management of Snort as well as other products that work with Snort. These products include MySQL database and Analysis Control for Intrusion Database (ACID). Snort has the capability to log data collected (such as alerts and other log messages) to a database. MySQL is used as the database engine where all of this data is stored. Using Apache web server and ACID, you can analyze this data. A combination of Snort, Apache, MySQL, and ACID makes it possible to log the intrusion detection data into a database and then view and analyze it later, using a web interface.

This book is organized in such a way that the reader will be able to build a complete intrusion detection system by going through the following chapters in a step-by-step manner. All steps of installing and integrating different tools are explained in the book as outlined below.

Chapter 2 provides basic information about how to build and install Snort itself. Using the basic installation and default rules, you will be able to get a working IDS. You will be able to create log files that show intrusion activity.

Chapter 3 provides information about Snort rules, different parts of Snort rules and how to write your own rules according to your environment and needs. This chapter is very important, as writing good rules is the key to building a detection system. The chapter also explains different rules that are part of Snort distribution.

Chapter 4 is about input and output plug-ins. Plug-ins are parts of the software that are compiled with Snort and are used to modify input or output of the Snort detection engine. Input plug-ins prepare captured data packets before the actual detection process is applied on these packets. Output plug-ins format output to be used for a particular purpose. For example, an output plug-in can convert the detection data to a Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) trap. Another output plug-in is used to log Snort output data into databases. This chapter provides a comprehensive overview of how these plug-ins are configured and used.

Chapter 5 provides information about using MySQL database with Snort. MySQL plug-in enables Snort to log data into the database to be used in the analysis later on. In this chapter you will find information about how to create a database in MySQL, configure a database plug-in, and log data to the database.

Chapter 6 describes ACID, how to use it to get data from the database you configured in Chapter 5, and how to display it using Apache web server. ACID is a very important tool that provides rich data analysis capabilities. You can find frequency of attacks, classify different attacks, view the source of these attacks and so on. ACID uses PHP (Pretty Home Page) scripting language, graphic display library (GD library) and PHPLOT, which is a tool to draw graphs. A combination of all of these results in web pages that display, analyze and graph data stored in the MySQL database.

Chapter 7 is devoted to information about some other useful tools that can be used with Snort.



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