Host-based intrusion detection with Samhain

Wednesday, 6 August 2003, 9:51 AM EST

Samhain is a wonderful GPL host-based intrusion detection system. Rather than just comparing files with a known-good database, samhain can perform centralized monitoring with encrypted TCP/IP communications, log to SQL databases, compute cryptographic checksums of configuration files, use stealth mode to disguise itself from intruders, and detect kernel rootkits. It offers a Web interface should you decide to use it in client-server mode.

Installation from tarball is simple and well-documented. There a quite a few switches you can use before you make the executable. Consult the documentation for a complete list. A few of the more useful ones will be covered here.

Probably the neatest characteristic of samhain, which separates it from other host-based IDSes, is the stealth features. The designers have put a tremendous amount of paranoid code into this project, and a well-configured samhain installation can resist almost any subversion. We'll start with the simpliest technique, renaming all references to samhain to an arbitrary name. If an intruder cannot discover that samhain is running, he cannot compromise it.

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