Attack Spoofing

If there is one constant among intrusion detection systems, it is that they generate false positives—alerts are sometimes sent for traffic that is clearly not malicious. Tuning an IDS is a requirement for reducing the false positive load, but even the most finely tuned IDS can mistake normal traffic for something malicious. Networks are complex beasts, and intrusion detection systems generate false positives even when monitoring isolated internal networks that are not subject to any attack or malicious activity. This creates a window of opportunity for an attacker. If an attacker can deliberately manufacture network traffic that looks malicious to an IDS, it may also be possible to hide real attacks from the IDS (or the people watching the alerts from the IDS). After all, an IDS is only as good as the people who are watching the alerts it sends—if there are a huge number of alerts that are all equally plausible, then a real attack can sometimes easily be buried within this mountain of data.

Furthermore, an attacker can frame an innocent third party by spoofing attacks against an IDS from an IP address owned by that third party; it can be difficult for an IDS administrator to distinguish between the spoofs and real attacks. The snortspoof.pl script that appears later in this appendix shows you how to create such bogus traffic targeted against the Snort IDS; in our discussion of the script, we'll also cover the countermeasures that Snort employs to mitigate this sort of attack.

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