Making network intrusion detection work with IPsec
May 11, 2007
MIT Lincoln Laboratory Report TR-1121
Network-based intrusion detection systems (NIDSs) are one component of a comprehensive network security solution. The use of IPsec, which encrypts network traffic, renders network intrusion detection virtually useless unless traffic is decrypted at network gateways. One alternative to NIDSs, host-based intrusion detection systems (HIDSs), provides some of the functionality of NIDSs but with limitations. HIDSs cannot perform a network-wide analysis and can be subverted if a host is compromised. We propose an approach to intrusion detection that combines HIDS, NIDS, and a version of IPsec that encrypts the header and the body of IP packets separately. We refer to the latter generically as Two-Key IPsec. We show that all of the network events currently detectable by the Snort NIDS on unencrypted network traffic are also detectable on encrypted network traffic using this approach. The NIDS detects network-level events that HIDSs have trouble detecting and HIDSs detect application-level events that can't be detected by the NIDS.