Silicon Defense Inc. took a step towards helping customers better use the company’s Sentarus Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) when it announced the release of its SNX-MN8 management console for the device.

The Sentarus IDS line uses the open source IDS program Snort running on top of a Sun Microsystems Inc. Netra V100 platform to perform its intrusion detection, said Stuart Staniford, president and founder of Silicon Defense. The Sentarus appliances are 1U (1.75 inches or 4.45 centimetres) tall, rackmountable devices that pack a 500MHz 64-bit UltraSPARC processor, 512MB of RAM and a 40GB hard disk for US$4,000 each, said Bob Heckler, vice-president of business development at Silicon Defense, located in Eureka, Calif.

The management console, SNX-MN8, will be sold with a Sentarus appliance, and will allow one console to manage up to eight sensors, Heckler said. Within that set of eight sensors, the devices can be grouped into smaller sets that can be managed using different policies, he said. The console is Web-based and allows updates to be pushed to all sensors managed by the console, he added.

Using the console, sensors can even be grouped inside and outside the firewall, thus allowing the sensors inside the firewall to measure what attacks get through perimeter defences, Heckler said.

The console also offers some attack correlation and reporting features, Staniford said. Both areas will be expanded on in future releases of the console, he said.

The management console is sold with a Sentarus appliance for a combined total of US$6,000, Heckler said.

Silicon Defense is not the only company looking to put a user-friendly front-end on Snort. Sourcefire Inc., another company that sells Snort-based IDS sensors, announced its own US$20,000 management console in late February.