IDS users swamped with false alerts

Four in five are duds

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

The number of redundant alarms and false positives generated by Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) has come under fire from users attending an event designed to raise awareness about the technology.

Users attending an 'ABCs of IDS' event at London's City University yesterday said more the 80 per cent of the alerts they received were false, with one citing 60 alerts he had received about non-existent problems that morning at 0300.

IDS systems, which act as a kind of burglar alarm to for hacker attacks, provide "defence in depth" from hack attacks by providing alerts about suspicious activity via sensors on a network or host machine. The technology is reactive in nature, meaning human intervention is needed, because if an IDS system shut off traffic or stopped a service automatically this could cause more problems than it solves.

Representation from Cisco Systems, Intrusion.com, NFR Security, Top Layer and managed services firm proseq at the event conceded false alerts and redundant alarms (such as Apache-targeted hacks on firm with no such servers) were a serious problem. However there was a marked absence of ideas of how about the technology could be fine-tuned to minimise the problem, with vendors emphasising the fact that systems need to be part of an overall security policy, which receives adequate resources.

Part of the problem seems to be that business managers buy IDS systems (often on the advice of auditors or consultants) without committing to the people and resources needed to make the technology work, or having a managed services firm maintain an installation.

The concern is that adopters of the technology will fail to maintain it or simply leave it to gather dust as overworked admins get bombarded with false alarms.

In recent weeks we've spoken to two service providers, COLT Telecom and Data Return, who both told us customers request the installation of IDS systems in their datacentre but then subsequently fail to monitor the alerts generated.

Speaking at a recent Black Hat conference, Nicolas Fischbach, senior IP and security engineer at COLT Telecom, said IDS systems if hosting environments generate "thousands of alerts but no one watches them."

This can generate a false sense of security, he warned.

Users at last night's conference echoed these concerns and one summed up the feelings of the meeting by saying "installation of IDS systems is only 10 per cent of the solution".

Brian Milnes, general manager in Northern Europe of security tools firm Intrusion.com, said buying a IDS systems was like "buying a Christmas puppy" because both needed attention. ®

Related stories

Stealth encoding bypasses IDS protection
The Cisco Intrusion Undetection System
Hacking activity at all-time high
Denial of service warning for network security tool
Different approach to intrusion detection touted

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story


Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.