Re: [fw-wiz] RE: IDS (was: FW appliance comparison)

Brian Loe wrote:
>Where I work, I'm not sure how we could do it. We're a transactions
>company, and do thousands and thousands (and more at times) a second.

Would you like to think about that for maybe a second?? Logging
an event is, what, thousands of times less CPU and I/O intensive
than executing a transaction?? So how can you say that you're
not sure how to do something that's _easier_ than what you are
already doing??

>Debugging from ONE of our firewalls puts us int he gigabyte-per-hour

Let's see - how exciting is that? 1024 megs in 3600 seconds is..
whoah!!! Holy moly - not very impressive, really. My _ipod_ can
move data faster than that; have you considered using one of those?
24 gigs per day? With compression, you might fit as much as a
month's worth of logs on a $750 LaCie "bigger disk" firewire
drive. Logs compress really well, which further reduces your
I/O requirements.

Sure, it's not something you'd want to handle with lightweight
tools or slow interpreted programming languages, but you are
not talking about spine-crushing data rates.

> I tried turning up a syslogging system here once... it died
>three hours later. Maybe I wasn't using the greatest hardware,
>database and reporting software - but where do you find that sort of

Syslog definitely has problems with high rates of input. See:
but it's mostly due to UDP output queue overruns.

It's not a hardware problem... But - wait - you said "database"?
Please tell me you weren't trying to stick that much data into
a SQL database with indexes on your tables and an interpreted
query/optimizer engine on top of all that? If so, I'm not surprised
it didn't work -- but that's not a "logging is hard" problem that is
a "using a relational database for a write-heavy application is
the wrong tool" problem.

> With that much data, and 98% of it being useless, you kind have
>to ask yourself, "what's the point?"

I don't ask myself that. Because I don't agree that 98% of it is
useless. It's probably closer to 99.99999% of it is useless.
Except for the one or two lines that you might someday
really, really need.

> IF we catch something it'll
>probably still be too late - our IDS will have already been updated
>with the new "something".

That's the problem, then. You're assuming that your IDS is going
to know how to detect some site-specific hack that only works
against you. That's what the logging is for. It's for figuring out
what happened after it's too late. Sometimes being able to
determine if the customer database got out because of a SQL
injection attack through log examination can be quite
useful if management is otherwise convinced the problem is
an insider.. I once spent a few happy weeks poring through
40 gigs of transaction log data (yeah, 3 days' worth...) trying
to identify traces of a hithertofore unknown DOS attack. At
stake were a bunch of sysadmins' jobs. It was a very
intellectually stimulating mission.

> I don't want to have to go to my manager and
>say, "well, we spent 250k on a machine that would log every
>transaction - no, sorry, PACKET

Well, see, what you'd normally do is actually _think_ about
the problem a little bit - not just jump into it half-assed.
Most of the commercial logging tools are aimed at attempting
to "do everything" but you pay a lot for that - if you actually
know what you want to do, you can do it for not a whole lot.

> - we ever passed and we still got
>hacked because we didn't hire a new engineer to review the data
>streaming out of the system and therefore see the new exploit in time
>to shut it down.

If you are stupid about how you deploy technology, you
will usually get stupid results. Try explaining that to your
boss. No - wait - don't.


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