IDS users swamped with false alerts

Four in five are duds

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story


Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.