Re: Threats to IDS/IPS deployments


Your post raises an interesting topic, how often do users perform an assessment of their key security defenses to prove that they perform operationally as described in the marketing materials, my bet is not that often in reality.

I have worked in the security market space for the last 15 years and during that time have seen many end users want to but not really know how to test their security defenses. You spend a lot of money on these systems, then many times users put their faith that the product is working as advertised without realy being able to prove it or having the necessary tools to help.

One regular post to this list is "can I use a vulnerability scanner to test my IDS/IPS", the answer is generally no as they are not designed for that purpose.

There are a number of things that you should really look at when testing an IDS or IPS system and one of the most important things is just how useable is it?

If the worst happens and some kind of attack is picked up does the management console become unusable due to the scale and volume of alerts? (I've seen many deployments where a slight burst in activity can make the management system become a monster and un useable)

How easy is it to spot if a sensor has gone off line? (I've seen many occasions when acording to the management console the sensor is working fine and active but in reality somehow it has "gone to sleep" and is not picking up anything.

There are a number of resources out there to help you

The Tolly Group also published a whitepaper on IPS testing and benchmarking you may find intresting.


Tony Haywood
Audit, Test, Prove & Validate

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