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3/20/2008
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A Peek at Snort 3.0

Next-generation of open source platform will be more than just IDS/IPS

The wildly popular open source Snort intrusion prevention technology is getting a major makeover.

Marty Roesch, who wrote the first version of the software nearly 10 years ago, has rewritten the software from top to bottom in the next-generation Snort 3.0 release, due in beta next month and early next year in its final release.

“Snort 3 [makes Snort] not just an IDS/IPS anymore. It’s for building arbitrary network security operations and other technologies atop it,” says Roesch, who is also founder and CTO of Sourcefire. Snort 3.0 will serve as a network traffic analysis platform as well, according to Roesch.

Roesch says the new platform is a more streamlined, scalable, and faster system that’s more adaptable to today’s networks. “Snort 3 is heavily multi-threaded,” he says. “It has IPv6 support, and MPLS support, built in,” for instance.

Snort 3.0 is built to run any type of traffic and to handle any type of network security task, he says. “If you want to implement a firewall in Snort, you can do that," and it could encompass change and anomaly detection, for instance, as well.

One of the key improvements in the new Snort is that it’s less susceptible to IDS/IPS evasion or bypass attacks, where attackers sneak past the devices. Roesch says Snort 3.0 doesn’t have to be manually fed rules: “You teach Snort what the network looks like so it can defend itself accordingly. It tunes itself. My end goal is to have a self-tuning protection engine.”

The new Snort 3.0 engine also supports more hardware acceleration: “You’ll be running Snort on bigger and faster networks, so in version 3 we made it easier to add hardware acceleration to it,” he says.

And yes, it will be backwards-compatible with Snort V2. Roesch says the open-source beta of Snort 3.0, which will be released next quarter, includes a Snort V2 engine module running atop the Snort 3.0 platform. That will allow Snort V2 users to more easily get accustomed to the new version, he says. “Snort 3 is going to be an upgrade,” Roesch says.

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    Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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