# $Id: README,v 1.84 2006/01/28 22:11:12 andreas_o Exp $ #
Oinkmaster is written by Andreas Ístling
The homepage is at http://oinkmaster.sourceforge.net/
Oinkmaster is simple Perl script released under the BSD license that
helps you keep your Snort rules current with little or no user
interaction. It has quite a few useful features regarding rules
management, such as ability to enable, disable and modify specified
rules after each update. It will tell you the exact changes from your
previous rules, so you have total control of what's going on.
It may be useful in conjunction with any program that can use Snort
rules, like Snort (doh!) or Prelude-NIDS.
Oinkmaster is most often used to grab the latest official rules tarball
from www.snort.org and apply a set of modifications to them (such as
disabling unwanted ones), but it can just as well be used to manage
your local rules and also third party rules and distribute them to
multiple sensors with ability to fine-tune the rules on each sensor or
group of sensors. Oinkmaster is designed to integrate well with other
scripts and you can easily setup a very powerful rules management system.
See the FAQ for hints and suggestions.
Use Oinkmaster with care and at your own risk. Check the INSTALL file
for quick installation instructions. You may also find the FAQ useful,
and README.gui if you want to use the graphical front-end. If you're on
Windows, have a look at README.win32. Information about the available
command line options can be found in the manual page (oinkmaster.1).
If it's not installed on your system you don't want to install it, you
can read it directly with "groff -man -Tascii oinkmaster.1 | less".
Check out http://www.snort.org/ for more information about Snort and
It should work on most Unix-like systems with Perl 5.6.1 or later.
You also need either the binaries tar, gzip and wget, or the Perl
modules Archive::Tar, IO::Zlib and LWP::UserAgent. See oinkmaster.conf
for more information about this. So far it has been successfully tested
on OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Linux, AIX, Solaris, Mac OS X, QNX and
What problem does Oinkmaster solve?
To have any use of your NIDS, you must keep your signatures (or "rules")
current. On www.snort.org for example, there is a rules tarball that is
updated with new and improved rules on a regular basis. Very soon you
will realize that this tarball contains rules that are not suitable for
your environment, so you delete (or comment out) them from your local
rules files. There may also be rules that you have to tweak in different
ways to suit you better. Everything is fine until it's time to update the
rules since you will have to apply all these modifications again (and you
must also keep track of these modifications so you can repeat them after
each update). This clearly becomes a boring and difficult task if you do
it manually, especially if you have many sensors and make lots of local
fine-tuning of the rules.
This is where Oinkmaster comes in - it will automatically do those
boring modifications to the rules that you would otherwise have to do
manually after each update.
How it works
It's actually really simple. Here follows a step by step list of how a
typical rules update with Oinkmaster works. Optional features may of
course activate additional procedures, but this is what the basics look
1) It fetches the Snort rules archive from the specified location
and puts it in a temporary directory.
2) It unpacks this archive and looks for a directory called "rules" in
it. All rules files in here (i.e. files matching the "rules_update"
regexp specified in oinkmaster.conf) are processed as specified in
oinkmaster.conf. It basically opens each rules file, cleans some
leading/trailing whitespaces from it, enables/disables/modifies
rules as requested, and writes the result back to the same file
3) These new files are now compared to the ones in your output
directory (the one specified with "-o"), file by file. All lines are
compared, not just the actual rules, although a more complicated
comparison is performed on the rules so that the we can later
present a result that is easier to parse for a human. Files that are
not identical are copied from the temporary directory to the output
directory. Detailed result of the comparison is then printed.
Try ./oinkmaster.pl -h for more usage information and available options.
Full descriptions of the options can be found in the Oinkmaster manual
page. There are also many useful notes and examples in the default
As a first test, you can create an empty rules directory, for example
/tmp/rules/. Then try executing "oinkmaster.pl -o /tmp/rules". Since
your /tmp/rules/ directory is empty, all rules files in the downloaded
archive will be regarded as added, and copied to the output directory.
Then try "oinkmaster.pl -o /tmp/rules" one more time. This time the
files in the downloaded archive will be compared to the ones in
/tmp/rules/ and Oinkmaster will tell you if something has been updated.
If you already have several rules commented out (or removed) in your
current local rules, you need to add the SIDs (Snort rule ID) of those
to oinkmaster.conf manually (or check out the contrib directory for a
help script) before running Oinkmaster, or they will be re-enabled
after each update.
You disable rules by adding "disablesid " to oinkmaster.conf, where
is the SID of the rule in question. So if you want the rule with
SID 12345 to be commented out after each update, you add the line
"disablesid 12345" to oinkmaster.conf. When you update the rules the
next time, this rule will become commented out and Oinkmaster will notify
you of that change.
You can also add entire files to be totally ignored by adding
"skipfile filename" options to oinkmaster.conf where "filename" is a
file in the distribution archive you don't care about at all. These
files will not be checked for changes and they will not be added or
updated. For example if you don't include the file icmp-info.rules from
your snort.conf and don't care about keeping it up to date and don't
want to be notified of changes in it, you can to add the line
"skipfile icmp-info.rules" to oinkmaster.conf. Although it may be a good
idea to track changes even for rules files you don't use (i.e. that you
don't include from your snort.conf). Who knows, you might find something
interesting some day.
The skilled/brave/stupid people can also use the "modifysid" keyword in
oinkmaster.conf to make arbitrary changes to certain rules after each
download. This is an excellent way to screw up your rules, so don't use
it unless you really have to.
Oinkmaster can be run manually or automatically as a cron job. But of
course, be very careful when doing the latter. Things could easily get
messed up from one update to another because of different layout in the
rules archive, typo in a rule, bugs in the script, and so on. At least
run snort -T on the new rules before restarting your Snort process.
And as always when updating the Snort rules there may be some changes
that you really don't like (or at least want to know about before
Remember that after switching to Oinkmaster for performing the rules
updating, permanent modifications to the rules files must be done by
editing oinkmaster.conf, not by editing your rules files directly as
such modifications will be lost after an update.
To automatically update the rules every night at 02:30 and make a
backup of the old ones if there were any changes and send difference
notification to syslog, you could use something like this in your
30 2 * * * oinkmaster.pl -o /etc/snort/rules/ -b /etc/snort/backup 2>&1 |logger -t oinkmaster
If you want the output to be sent to you in a mail instead, you could
use something like:
oinkmaster.pl ... 2>&1 | mail -s "subject" firstname.lastname@example.org
If you just want to check for changes in the rules but not actually
update your existing rules, you can use the -c flag for "careful" mode.
To silently check for updates as a cron job and not sending any e-mail
unless there were updates available, you could use something like this
(wrapped for readability):
30 2 * * * TMP=`mktemp /tmp/oinkmaster.XXXXXXXX` &&
(oinkmaster.pl -o /etc/snort/rules/ -q -c > $TMP 2>&1;
if [ -s $TMP ]; then mail -s "subject" email@example.com < $TMP; fi; rm $TMP)
This example only works on systems with the mktemp command but could
easily be rewritten for others. You get the point. The important thing
here is to use the -q argument (quiet mode) so Oinkmaster doesn't give
any output unless there were updates available or if there were
warning/error messages. You should of course change directories and
subject/e-mail addresses in the examples above as appropriate. More
usage examples can be found in the Oinkmaster manual page.
If there were any changes, Oinkmaster will tell you about them.
Here is what the different changes in the rules mean:
- New rule (the SID did not exist in the old rules file).
- The rule was commented out in the old rules file, but is
now activated (perhaps because the SID was removed from oinkmaster.conf).
o Enabled and modified:
- The rule was commented out in the old rules file, but
is now activated. The actual rule had also been modified.
- The rule no longer exists in the new rules file.
- The rule still exists but has now been commented out (perhaps because
a disablesid statement with this SID was added to oinkmaster.conf).
o Disabled and modified:
- The rule still exists but has now been commented out.
The actual rule had also been modified.
o Modified active:
- The rule has been modified and is an active rule.
o Modified inactive:
- The rule has been modified but is currently an inactive (commented
Non-rule changes will also be printed. Non-rule lines are simply lines
that are not actual rules (or rules that for some reason could not
be successfully parsed), and Oinkmaster will keep track of those as well.
Here comes some typical example output. We see that an active rule in
exploit.rules has been modified and that a rule in web-frontpage.rules has
[***] Results from Oinkmaster started Thu Dec 11 09:39:06 2003 [***]
[///] Modified active rules: [///]
-> Modified active in exploit.rules (1):
old: alert tcp $EXTERNAL_NET any -> $HOME_NET 515 (msg:"EXPLOIT LPRng overflow";
flow:to_server; content: "|43 07 89 5B 08 8D 4B 08 89 43 0C B0 0B CD 80 31 C0 FE C0 CD 80
E8 94 FF FF FF 2F 62 69 6E 2F 73 68 0A|"; reference:cve,CVE-2000-0917;
reference:bugtraq,1712; classtype:attempted-admin; sid:301; rev:4;)
new: alert tcp $EXTERNAL_NET any -> $HOME_NET 515 (msg:"EXPLOIT LPRng overflow";
flow:to_server,established; content: "|43 07 89 5B 08 8D 4B 08 89 43 0C B0 0B CD 80 31 C0
FE C0 CD 80 E8 94 FF FF FF 2F 62 69 6E 2F 73 68 0A|"; reference:cve,CVE-2000-0917;
reference:bugtraq,1712; classtype:attempted-admin; sid:301; rev:4;)
[---] Disabled rules: [---]
-> Disabled in web-frontpage.rules (1):
#alert tcp $EXTERNAL_NET any -> $HTTP_SERVERS $HTTP_PORTS (msg:"WEB-FRONTPAGE /_vti_bin/
access";flow:to_server,established; uricontent:"/_vti_bin/"; nocase; classtype:web-application-activity; sid:1288;
[*] Non-rule line modifications: [*]
[*] Added files: [*]
If you think it's too hard to see the actual difference between the old
and new rule, you could use the "-m" argument to remove common leading
and trailing parts from the rules (see the manual page for details).
The above modified rule would then instead look like this:
[///] Modified active rules: [///]
-> Modified active in exploit.rules (1):
old SID 301: ...low"; flow:to_server; content: "|43 07 8...
new SID 301: ...low"; flow:to_server,established; content: "|43 07 8...
If there were any added rules files (i.e. files that have not been
included in the rules archive before and that have now been added to
your output directory), you should consider including them from your
Snort configuration file by adding an "include " statement for it.
If there were any files removed from the archive, you should probably
consider excluding them from your Snort configuration file (you must use
-r to check for removed files). Note that if a SID is moved from one file
to another, it will be regarded as removed from the first one and added
to the new one. This is good, because if a rule we like is moved from file
A to file B and we only include file A from our snort.conf, we sure would
like to be informed of that.
Misc important notes
o It's a really good idea to separate your local rules files (if you have
any) from the official rules files by keeping them in separate
directories. This way you don't have to worry about filename collisions
and that some of your local file can become overwritten by files from
the downloaded rules archive.
It's also a good idea to keep an extra (unused) copy of snort.conf in
the rules directory but specify another snort.conf (one that's not in
your output directory specified by -o to Oinkmaster) when starting
Snort. This way you can keep track of changes in the snort.conf file
from the rules archive while keeping your customized copy intact. You
do not want to update your production snort.conf automatically!. If
there are added/removed rules files in the archive or added/modified
variables in snort.conf, you will have to edit your production copy
of snort.conf manually and update as needed. Oinkmaster does not do
that kind of stuff. Yes, this means that if there is a new variable
added the distribution snort.conf and that is used in the new rules,
your new rules will not even load until you define that variable in
your snort.conf manually. See, Auto-updating with auto-restart is bad
unless you're careful.
You can run with -U though, which means that Oinkmaster will
search snort.conf in the downloaded rules archive(s) for all
variables (the "var varname something" lines) and then verify against
, which probably is your local production copy of snort.conf.
Variables that exist in the distribution snort.conf but not in
will be added to directly after any other variables it may
contain. Variables that have just been modified are NOT updated, the
-U argument only cares about new ones.
o Oinkmaster never deletes any rules files from your system.
So if a file called foo.rules is usually included in the rules
distribution archive but is one day removed from it, the old
foo.rules will still be left in your rules directory. Oinkmaster will
notify you of this but only if you use the "-r" argument, which means
that each rules file (*.rules, *.conf ...) in your output directory
will be checked to see if it also exists in the downloaded rules
archive. If it doesn't, it will be regarded as removed from the
archive and a message will be printed because you may want to edit
your Snort configuration file to exclude this file and possibly
remove it from your system as well.
If you use a separate directory for your Snort rules from snort.org
(i.e. you have possible local rules files in another directory) you
probably want to use the "-r" argument. Otherwise it will be very
misleading since your local rules files obviously don't exist in the
rules distribution, and will therefore be regarded as removed every
o Remember that there are many ways to stop alerts from firing, and
disabling the rule is not always the best way. For example, if all
you want is to stop the alert from/to a particular host, you should
not disable the rule completely. Instead, check the Snort manual on
how to use BPF filters, suppressing and pass rules, and choose the
best method for the situation. Also check out the document entitled
"How to stop Snort alerts from being generated / how to (not) ignore
traffic" on the Oinkmaster web site.
o Don't depend too much on this script for the rules updating process.
It's just intended to be a small help and you should always keep an
eye on it. Manual reviewing of all your rules and configuration
should always be done.