Peering over the firewall

Friday, 25 July 2003, 10:46 AM EST

When our home LAN graduated to a 24x7 Internet connection, my Linux box became the firewall and the router. I liked the ability to customize the firewall, and by using Snort I could keep an eye on the barbarians at the gates. However, I could not experiment much without disrupting the entire household's Internet access. Adding a DSL/cable broadband router (see Resources) with a built-in firewall took my computer off the critical path and allowed me to experiment with various configurations and operating systems without domestic discord. But, I missed seeing what was going on. I do not want the first sign of someone attacking me to occur when they appear inside the firewall.

Intrusion detection systems (IDSs) are standard practice in the corporate world, but they easily can cost more than an entire home network, including computers. With some free software (Snort), a cheap Ethernet hub and a custom cable, you can have an IDS that is almost as good as a commercial system. The major lack is the pretty reports and graphs necessary to justify a big salary.

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