Saturday, June 02, 2007

CS-MARS Package Checker: Keeping your MARS appliance up to date

I just thought I'd put a quick blurb about an upcoming release that will be showing up on this blog soon. I'm in the process of finalizing a program I originally wrote for myself that helps me keep my MARS appliance (and some other Cisco products) up to date. The concept behind the program is for it to, on a defined basis, automatically check CCO for the latest device packages and e-mail them to you.

CS-MARS, like most security devices, is only as useful as the known threats built into the device. Anyone who operates an IPS/IDS device knows how critical it is to keep such a device up-to-date. CS-MARS is no different. Cisco provides no avenue for automated update checking, so rather than remembering to check CCO every once and a while for package, this program does it all for me, and soon for you.

It's very basic in operation. It was originally written in Perl and ran under Linux, but has since been ported to C# for usability. It's an executable, an XML configuration file, and scheduling is done through Windows (scheduled taks). Simply configure the XML file with your CCO credentials, SMTP server, and the From/To mail account. After then, you can execute the program at your leisure or schedule it through Windows.

Though this may sounds simple, it's a wildly useful tool. It's so useful, I've begun re-writing it to allow checking of other packages. It now e-mails me daily with the latest packages for CS-MARS, Unified Wireless, ASA/PIX images, and WAAS updates. Don't expect the first release to have the feature of checking for updates for other products, but it is a planned add-on for later releases. Input about other products you'd like to see have similar notifications is welcomed. Just add a comment to this post!

I'm bringing up the topic of this app now because I don't want my blog to simply be me throwing up information onto the Internet (though if I drink Jack Daniels... well.. different topic). I want input from anyone that has anything to say. I'm wrapping up development now in my free time, but I'd like to hear input about whether this would be useful or not. Drop a comment or two and expect to see the release in the coming weeks.


Anonymous said...

Looks like I'm the first anxious customer in line, camped out waiting for the 12midnight opening. I'll ask around our shop to see what others might be interested in. We've been doing a lot of CallManager/Unity projects, so that and phone updates would be cool.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a very useful app. I remeber signing up with CCO for just such notifications many years agao when I managed a 4215 IDS and would never get any update emails from Cisco at all.

I for one will look forward to notifications on the following Cisco products.

Anonymous said...

Great Idea! I am in!