New Wave of IDS Tools Take Aim at Prevention

Security vendors are responding to customer demands for technologies that can prevent attacks, instead of simply warn of their presence.

Security vendors are responding to customer demands for technologies that can prevent attacks, instead of simply warn of their presence.

Entercept Security Technologies Inc. and TippingPoint Technologies Inc. are both set to unveil IPS (intrusion prevention system) products in the coming weeks. And a trio of leading vendors—Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., Okena Inc. and IntruVert Networks Inc.—last week partnered to integrate their products and create what theyre calling the Intrusion Prevention Ecosystem.

IDSes (intrusion detection systems) are falling out of favor with many network administrators and security specialists, who have become frustrated by the incessant false alarms and passive nature of the technology. While theyre not ready to rip their IDS out altogether, many users say it will likely serve as nothing more than a kind of traffic recorder for post-attack analysis.

Entercept this week will introduce its Database Edition, a companion to its flagship Web server protection product. Designed to protect servers running Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server 2000, Database Edition uses a purpose-built software engine to intercept SQL queries before they reach the database engine.

The engine inspects all queries coming into the database and looks for telltale signs of known attacks such as SQL injection or buffer overruns. The product also includes a technology known as database shielding, which prevents attackers from gaining access to database files, even if they have valid credentials.

"Weve made it so that even if someone gets root access, they wont be able to manipulate files or use the server as a way to attack other servers. Its another way to stop attacks before they start," said Lou Ryan, president and CEO of Entercept, of San Jose, Calif.

"I still look at IDS as key, but whatever we can use to predict attacks before they occur and stop them is great," said Ash Shehata, director of IS and telecommunications at Antelope Valley Hospital, in Lancaster, Calif., and an Entercept customer. "[Database Edition] will give us the ability to stabilize and protect our mission-critical applications. More and more of them are using SQL, and they cant go down."

TippingPoint, meanwhile, will release its UnityOne IPS product at the end of the month. The company has taken a hardware-based approach to IPS with its line of UnityOne appliances. Both appliances use the Threat Suppression Engine, which does packet and flow reassembly and stateful inspection of incoming traffic.

Unlike traditional IDS systems, UnityOne can see sophisticated attacks that come through in fragmented packets.

"We dont have to guess at what its going to be when it reassembles," said Marc Willebeek-LeMair, chief technology officer of TippingPoint, of Austin, Texas. "We can impose an algorithm on it and see exactly what it will be. That process where the IDS has to alert the firewall isnt sufficient. You have to be able to drop bad packets as soon as you see them."

Okena and IntruVert have combined their respective technologies with Check Points VPN-1 and FireWall-1 products to create intrusion prevention solutions for large enterprises. The solutions include network and host IDS capabilities and have real-time attack prevention capability, the companies said.

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