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7/27/2010
04:34 PM
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Sourcefire Rolls Out Open-Source 'Razorback'

New platform aimed at better detecting and defending against advanced, targeted attacks

The makers of the popular open-source Snort intrusion detection platform today unveiled a new open-source platform -- a detection framework that unites existing security tools, including IDS/IPSes.

The new Razorback platform developed by Sourcefire is basically a tool for tying together the various layers of detection within an organization, including antivirus, IDS/IPS, Web and email gateways, and firewalls, to use in concert to catch and examine potential threats and create mitigations on the fly. Its creators say it's not the same thing as a security information management tool, however, because it does more than capture events: "SIM collects events in a vacuum: It takes an AV event and says this host is infected by a virus ... It doesn't know anything about that piece of malware on the box," says Matt Watchinski, senior director of Sourcefire's vulnerability research team.

Razorback, however, uses the various tools to provide more context about a potential attack, he says. It handles detection in near real-time and can convert newly found intelligence on an attack into a detection mechanism for it. It's basically a framework that overlays the existing security infrastructure and lets the various tools work more in concert, according to Sourcefire.

Sourcefire's Watchinski says Razorback was inspired, in part, by defense contractors who regularly face advanced persistent threats, or targeted, long-term attacks. "A lot of high-end defense contractors need to deal with adversaries ... and they are having a tough time dealing with adversaries using standard security solutions," he says. Razorback grabs intelligence from all of these tools and puts it into a more useful format that can be shared among them, he says.

So if a user plugs a USB thumb drive containing an infected PDF file into his machine, for example, and the antivirus program in the Razorback-enabled environment doesn't detect the previously unknown malware in the file, the Razorback "dispatcher" system can get a second opinion by routing the file to other security tools designated to check PDFs. "It gives you a coordinated look at the file," Watchinski says. "Shouldn't you be able to us all of those parts and pieces and route it through all of them to get the best look at [the file]?"

Matt Olney, senior research engineer for Sourcefire's VRT, says Razorback can help organizations that manually gather and convert security intelligence from their various tools. "It's essentially a tool for rapid development of advanced-detection capabilities," Olney says.

Razorback's dispatcher feature is the routing system that shares attack information among the various security tools. "It's the main brain," Watchinski says. The dispatcher stores the security intelligence gathered by the various tools. The data-collection capability in Razorback comes via plug-ins to the security tools, for instance, and it can be configured to generate alerts and reports, as well as to remediate systems.

Olney says the open-source platform will now be available to the open-development community to build whatever detection systems they need. "We don't want to dictate how you protect your network. We just provided the things we think are important" and developers can add onto it, he says.

Overall, Razorback can be used to detect all kinds of information. "If you want to capture the weather in Dubai and alert someone, you can do that," Olney says. "It's for any kind of data you decide you want to handle."

Razorback is available for download from Sourcefire here.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

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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