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What is Snort, and can I use it to recover from virus attacks?

What is Snort, and how does it work? I've heard that it can help my organization recover quickly from virus attacks. Is that true?

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Snort is an intrusion detection facility. Quoting from the snort home page at

"Snort has three primary uses. It can be used as a straight packet sniffer like tcpdump(1), a packet logger (useful for network traffic debugging, etc.), or as a full blown network intrusion detection system."

Snort may help you to detect certain types of attacks that can take place at the security perimeter of you network. Snort is not specifically a virus detective, and it certainly is not an anti-virus solution.

Editor's note: For more information on Snort and other intrusion detection strategies, check out our Best Web Links on intrusion detection and prevention.

This was first published in July 2003

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