[Snort-sigs] Cisco acquires Sourcefire ... should we be worried?

Bad Horse b4dh0rs3 at ...2420...
Tue Jul 23 13:56:41 EDT 2013

What a crazy random happenstance! Today I see the news that Cisco is
acquiring Sourcefire (
http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac49/ac0/ac1/ac259/sourcefire.html).  I know
this will make the Sourcefire people a lot of money but honestly it makes
me concerned.

My primary worries center around the the traditional open source position
of Snort and Sourcefire (although some have questioned the open source
attitude of Sourcefire at times and I don't necessarily agree with them nor
do I wish to bring up that argument here).  But what will happen to Snort?
Cisco is extremely adroit at acquiring companies and leveraging them to
push their company forward.  Progress via acquisition? Yes. But Cisco
doesn't let the companies they buy just die, they use them to enhance their
position in the marketplace.  So I say again, what will happen to Snort and
the open source roots it grew from?

Obviously, Cisco will use Snort IDS in their products; Cisco currently has
an IDS offering which is weak and thus you have the Sourcefire buy.  So now
we can expect to see Snort as an integrated module in Cisco firewalls,
routers, and other networking equipment.

But will Snort remain open source?  What will happen to the rulesets?  The
mailing lists? Will the "community" that Joel has been trying to build be
put out to pasture?

I have to be honest ... today I just approved a purchase order for some
major hardware that the team will be using to evaluate Suricata (
http://suricata-ids.org/) and some other open source IDS/IPS solutions such
as Bro (http://www.bro.org/).  I am also investigating ET Pro (
http://www.emergingthreats.net/) as a source for high quality rulesets and
scheduling some PoCs with high ranking managed security services (MSS)
providers.  With the news about Cisco, the future of Snort is uncertain and
I need to be prepared (or be prepared to pay Cisco prices in a year or two
when they implement Snort which I'd rather not do if there are viable open
source alternatives).

I worry that Snort may become closed source in the near future and that
progress on the IDS engine will stall during the acquisition period.
Additionally, I fear that the vibrant Snort community will quickly dry up
if everything becomes closed source and you have to "pay to play".

Are my fears unfounded?  Or is Snort just going to get better?  I'd love to
see a press release saying that Cisco is committed to keeping Snort open
source although with a purchase price of $2.7B USD I'm not sure how much
Sourcefire cares right now since they are lounging on all that cash :)

-B4d H0rs3
 The Thoroughbred of SYN
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