Open-Source Security Tools Touted at InfoSec

By Ryan Naraine  |  Posted 2005-04-05 Print this article Print

A security consultant encourages cash-strapped businesses to consider open-source security tools and utilities to help cope with the increasing spate of malicious hacker attacks.

ORLANDO, Fla.—A well-known security consultant on Tuesday urged cash-strapped businesses to consider using free, readily available open-source security tools and applications to help cope with the rising spate of malicious hacker attacks. In what has become a recurring theme at this years InfoSec World conference here, president and principal consultant at Sph3r3 LLC Matt Luallen said enterprises must embrace the same hacking tools used by the bad guys to find potential faults and vulnerabilities within critical information infrastructure.

"You can use open-source applications alongside commercial applications [to cut down on costs]," Luallen said during a show-and-tell with dozens of toolsets that can handle anything from fault identification to spam detection to incident response.
"There are some open-source utilities that blow away commercial products, and you should take advantage of them."

"Some of these tools work so well that, at the very least, you should start evaluating them for widespread use in your organization," Luallen said, seeking to dismiss fears that the absence of product support when using open-source utilities could be a deterrent. "These open-source tools have better product support—its called Google Groups. If you do a search on Google Groups, in most situations, youll have an international community available with answers round-the-clock."

"Im not here to tell you that you should get rid of commercial products. There are some fantastic commercial products out there. However, in many cases, it is practical, cheaper and even better to look for an open-source alternative," Luallen said. "Remember, the attack utilities are open-source as well. Its important that you understand the tools the bad guys are using to find holes in your system. You have to use those tools, too, and find the same faults."

Read more here about IT administrators being urged to think like hackers. During his presentation, Luallen touched on the concept of "Google hacking," wherein attackers use cunning search queries to uncover security flaws in a business network. Searching for certain keywords or document extensions can put sensitive corporate data in the hands of the wrong person, and Luallen said businesses should start using the same techniques to pinpoint problem areas.

He recommended SiteDigger 2.0, a free Windows utility from McAfee Inc.s Foundstone unit that automates Google security queries to the Google web service API. SiteDigger can be used to search Googles cache to look for vulnerabilities, errors, configuration issues, proprietary information and interesting security nuggets on Web sites.

Luallen said popular open-source repositories like, SourceForge and Googles Linux search can be used to find thousands of useful security-related utilities. Next Page: Avoiding the risks.


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