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Monitoring Snort Performance with Zabbix

In January I gave a presentation to the REN-ISAC on how to monitor the performance of Snort IDS systems. It covers:

  • A comparison of high-performance capture-frameworks like vanilla-libpcap vs pfring vs dedicated capture cards from Endace or similar.
  • An overview of the perfmon preprocessor and the --enable-perfprofiling configure-option that allow snort to log useful performance metrics.
  • A very brief overview of Zabbix as a system-monitoring framework, followed by some worked-examples of actual snort problems that are analyzed using data collected by Zabbix.

The presentation-video is available only to REN-ISAC membership, but I’m making the slides and my notes available here. They’re a bit rough, but if I get questions in the comments here or on the snort-users mailing list I’ll try to be helpful. If there’s enough confusion based on the roughness of the slides, and enough interest to warrant it I can expand the presentation into a series of blog-posts to clarify some of the points that are unclear. In the meantime, have a look at an article by Juliet Kemp that fleshes out some of this material called Use Profiling to Improve Snort Performance.

Update 2012-02-09: The notes for slide 16 of this deck assert that the averaging period for the “Drop Rate” provided by perfmon is the lifetime of the Snort process instead of the data-collection period, and warns of the type of confusion this can cause. That note is incorrect, the Drop Rate is averaged over the data-collection period like everything else. The misinformation was from my own research, dating back several versions of Snort. It’s possible that my original analysis was mistaken, or that I noticed a bug which has since been quietly fixed.