[Snort-devel] Re: [Snort-users] Announce: FLoP-1.0 --- Fast Logging Project for snort

Dirk Geschke Dirk_Geschke at ...802...
Mon Dec 1 01:49:08 EST 2003

Hi Jeff,

> Yes, you're right.  If the process reading off the domain socket is 
> terminated or crashes (read: bites the dust), then you've lost your 
> logging information.  Log files are more permanent in that sense... of 
> course there are other solutions for this as well (possibly persistent 
> IPC?  I don't know if this is portable though).

as outlined in the answer to Bamm's mail it is very unlikely that
the process will die. There are some reason when this may happen
but even snort may die which is maybe worser. But there are some
possible solutions which could be applied.

At the moment there is only one situation where the sockserv
process (the process running on the sensor and listening on
the socket) will die: If the process on the central server
is not running the process tries it (adjustable) up to 10
times (with a delay of 10 seconds, also adjustable) to reach 
the server process. If this fails then the process will simply
stop. The values are set quite small. But if you want to test
them it is better to have small values...

If this happens you have a serious problem on your central
server. Therefore we stop working to give an admin a hint.

But this values can be set on very high values. Maybe an
option for an infinite loop should be added? 

Yes, log files are more permanent until the disk/partion is filled
up. And what happens then?

The big advantage of the FLoP solution is that you indeed may
loose the alerts but no process fails due to breaking the chain.
You can restart the dead process and all works again without

With a full disk you may get some more problems until all is
working again...

> Files were chosen because they're persistent, but there is of course a 
> cost associated with them.  The argument is sometimes made that a 
> memory filesystem can be used if you need more speed out of spool 
> files, but a memory filesystem is no more permanent than missing 
> messages sent to the domain socket.  The best sense of permanency in 
> this situation is to move your spooled file out of the memory 
> filesystem (if you need it for permanency).  But, now we're getting 
> into the minutia of all this stuff.

With FLoP I thought of a distributed system with several sensors
reporting to one central server. If you store the log files locally
you have to check all sensors for these files.

Yes, you can temporarily spool the data on the filesystem and then
insert them later on in the database. But this will have some side
effects like disordering the alerts in the time they were generated.

> I don't know what the best option is right now.  The only point at 
> which you need persistence is generating the initial spool file.  So, 
> perhaps barnyard ought to provide a domain socket to allow for the 
> decoupling of output rather than require people integrate their code 
> within it (register their output plugin in the same way you would with 
> Snort, etc..).

If we skip the problems with the filesystem then the main problem 
with barnyard is in my eyes the output plugin for the database.
This is the old behaviour of snort. 

The advantage of barnyard is like in FLoP that the output is decoupled
from the snort process. But if you want to store the data in a database
(and where else should they be kept?) then they are stored directly via
TCP/IP over the network to the central database. (Note: I think still of
distributed sensor and one central database. But I think the database
should never run on a sensor in a critical environment.)

You have to feed several tables of the database which would result in
a high amount of traffic for each alerting packet. (Maybe you have to
fill up at least the tables: event, sensor, iphdr, tcpdhr, data. And
all values have to be send via TCP/IP.) With my approach you are sending
all alert informations with two TCP packets to the central machine.
Here the servsock process feeds them to the database via an unix socket.
This is much faster than via the (real) network. 

And again: servsock works like sockserv, one thread simply receives the
alerts and stores them in memory (so it is unlikely that this blocks) 
and the second thread feeds this data to the database. If the database
is hanging (due to, maybe, indexing) or there are two many sensors
alerting at the same time the alerts are buffered.

And if even this results in problems there is still the possibility
to drop alerts if too many are stored in memory. These dropped alerts
can be send (only the short form, no payload) to a list of recipients
via e-mail.

You see, there are already some aspects I took care of...

Best regards


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