New Security Strategy: Preventive Medicine

 
 
By Dennis Fisher  |  Posted 2002-02-18 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

As the number of security vulnerabilities continues to rise, evidenced by the flaws reported in SNMP last week, an increasing number of vendors are turning to so-called intrusion prevention technologies that identify and eliminate vulnerabilities before t

As the number of security vulnerabilities continues to rise, evidenced by the flaws reported in SNMP last week, an increasing number of vendors are turning to so-called intrusion prevention technologies that identify and eliminate vulnerabilities before they can be exploited. Companies such as Recourse Technologies Inc., Foundstone Inc. and SecurityFocus Inc. have each developed products that build on the concept of traditional reactive network security by adding advanced vulnerability and attack detection tools. The result: Administrators have a better chance of protecting networks from hybrid threats. "Preventive medicine is so much better than reactive," said Will Tang, a security consultant at Southern California Edison Corp., based in Rosemead. "If you can see something before it hits your network, youre in a much better position."
Consider the SNMP vulnerabilities that were revealed last week. The flaws, which involve the way SNMP managers and agents process and decode messages, affect products from dozens of vendors. Attacks exploiting them would not have been picked up by traditional IDS (intrusion detection system) methods.
Recourse, of Redwood City, Calif., this week will unveil a new version of its ManHunt threat management software, which combines intrusion detection capabilities with protocol anomaly detection to stop new attacks. Traditional IDSes rely on a database of known attacks. Typically, such systems are hampered by their need for constant updates. ManHunt 2.0, by contrast, incorporates such a database into a larger scheme that monitors protocols such as HTTP, SNMP and TCP/IP for anomalous behavior. ManHunt sensors can pull data from a pool of other network devices, including third-party IDS sensors, firewalls and routers, and correlate and analyze that data to spot new and multipart attacks. Managers can write custom signatures once they identify a new attack and import the signature into ManHunt. The system, which will ship next month, uses SecurityFocus vulnerability database as its foundation.
Foundstone, best known for high-end managed security services, is also moving into intrusion prevention with the release this week of FoundScan Vulnerability Management Software. The product is based on the companys FoundScan technology, a vulnerability assessment and alerting system that performs daily scans of a network and provides administrators with an inventory of software and hardware installed on a network. When a new vulnerability is reported, the administrator can call up the latest network snapshot and see which systems could be at risk. If a system is found to be vulnerable, the softwares VulnTrack feature automatically assigns the task of fixing the problem. A manager can then assign the task to a security analyst, who would fix the problem and enter his or her actions into the Foundstone system. The software would perform a targeted scan of the problem area to verify that the fix worked and then close the issue. SecurityFocus, based in San Mateo, Calif., last week announced Aris 3.0, a threat management system that enables users to set threshold alerts and customize those alerts to the products they have on their networks. Aris uses not only the companys vulnerability database but also data gleaned from more than 9,200 IDS logs sent regularly from customers around the world. By synthesizing and analyzing events from all of those sources, Aris can provide early warning of impending security threats. For example, the system detected early versions of the original Code Red worm two weeks before its first outbreak, company officials said. Like ManHunt, Aris 3.0, due to ship March 4, can correlate data from third-party devices and then normalize events so that each one uses common terminology and figures.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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