Digital Self-Defense

Tutorials – Intrusion Protection

Article from Issue 195/2017

No computer security is perfect, so make sure you've got a second line of protection.

Let's take a look at two ways of making sure that, in the event of some bad guys (who may or may not work for a government) break into your machine, you find out they're there before they do any damage. The two methods differ in what they monitor: We'll use a host-based intrusion detection system (HIDS) to keep an eye on what's going on inside our machines, and we'll use a network intrusion detection system (NIDS) to try and detect suspicious traffic. Neither is fool-proof, but these two complementary systems can significantly increase your chances of staying safe.

OSSEC – the HIDS we'll use – is built from the ground up to monitor multiple computers in a network. Years ago that might have only been relevant for people working on enterprise IT, but these days most people have many devices connected to their home network, and with the Internet of Things starting to take off, the number of computing devices in the average home is only likely to increase. Tripwire (see "Tripwire" box for details) is another option that's a bit easier to set up but only really suitable for one machine at a time unless you buy the enterprise additions.

Before installing OSSEC, you'll need to decide which machine should be the master. If you have a home server that's on all the time, then this is ideal. However, even if it's a desktop that's only turned on periodically, this is still better than not having any protection.


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