Inline Responses

Because the iptables signature policy built by fwsnort is always inline to network traffic, it's an ideal candidate for taking action against certain attacks that are particularly malicious. For example, suppose that a new vulnerability is discovered within Linux server software (such as BIND) that is deployed in your infrastructure. If the Snort community develops a signature to detect attacks against this vulnerability, fwsnort can be configured to drop packets (via the iptables DROP target) that appear to match the attack, and standard protocol responses can be issued by fwsnort via the REJECT target (more on this topic in Chapter 11).

If the server uptime is tied to a Service Level Agreement (SLA), then there may be a waiting period before it can be taken down and patched, and this assumes the availability of a patch to fix the vulnerability (which is not always the case). If the server software must remain globally available before an outage window can be scheduled to apply a patch, an inline prevention mechanism can provide valuable protection against exploits for the vulnerability. (In addition, because fwsnort policies are lightweight, they can usually be deployed alongside other prevention mechanisms such as Snort running in inline mode.)

NOTE Because fwsnort just builds a shell script to execute iptables commands, it is easily deployed on many systems with something like Zenoss (, which can execute commands via SSH over many remote systems in one fell swoop. This makes it easy to leverage fwsnort across all Linux systems in your infrastructure.

3 I emphasize IPS here because, in the case of IDS, Snort can use the shared memory page method of grabbing packet data from the kernel (which requires CONFIG_PACKET_MMAP support in the kernel), and this has less of an impact on performance than getting packet data over a netlink socket, as Snort does in IPS mode.

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