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Centrax offers free security tools

A free tool lets administrators monitor host computers for unauthorized users, but to automate the process, users must buy the product.

    A small Internet security start-up is giving away tools that detect when insiders or outsiders break into computers they're not authorized to use.

    Centrax hopes the free version of its software, called Centrax Log Analyst or CLA, will motivate network administrators to buy its full-featured product. To automate the monitoring process, you have buy a different version.

    Kind of a host-based intrusion detection software, CLA monitors network devices to see whether hackers have tried to break in where they're not welcome. Intrusion detection software comes in another flavor too--network-based intrusion detection, which monitors corporate networks for unauthorized traffic.

    "CLA means administrators will have an effective capability for processing event logs," said Paul Proctor, Centrax chief technology officer.

    Built for Windows NT, the software is being implemented as a snap-in to the Microsoft Management Console, the Windows 2000 administration interface that was recently introduced in Service Pack 4 for Windows NT 4.0.

    CLA simplifies the process of analyzing the large volumes of security logs to detect and generate reports on failed log-ins, inappropriate account usage, suspicious file browsing, and other security threats. However, the free version does not fully automate the logging and analysis operations.

    Entrax allows more automation and also manages security policies and configuration of machines. It competes with host-based intrusion detection tools from Axent. Market leader Internet Security Systems has focused on network intrusion detection software.

    Proctor said Centrax is now in beta testing for version 2.1 of Entrax, which will add Unix capabilities when it's released in January. By the end of the year, it will put version 2.2 into beta, adding real-time detection of threats and network-based intrusion detection. Versions 2.2 is due to ship by March.

    Next year Centrax plans to add intrusion detection capabilities for firewalls and applications from PeopleSoft and SAP.