Commercially available network intrusion detection (NIDS) came onto the market over six years ago. These system have gained acceptance as a viable means of monitoring the security of consumer networks, yet no commercial standards exist to help consumers understand the capacity characteristics of these devices. Existing NIDS tests are flawed. These tests resemble the same tests used with other networking equipment, such as switches, routers. However, switches and routers do not conduct the same level of deep packet inspection, nor do they require the higher-level protocol awareness that a NIDS demands. Therefore, the current testing does not allow consumers to infer any expected performance in their environments. Designing a new set of tests that specific to the weak areas, or bottlenecks, of a NIDS is the key to discovering metrics meaningful to the consumers. Consumers of NIDS technology can then examine the metrics used in the tests and profile their network traffic based on these same metrics. Consumers can use standard test result to accurately predict performance on their networks. This paper proposes a test methodology for standardized capacity benchmarking of NIDS. The test methodology starts with examination of the bottlenecks in a NIDS, then maps these bottlenecks to metrics that can be tested, and finally explores some results from tests conducted.
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