Intrusion Detection Message Exchange Format

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Used as part of computer security, IDMEF (Intrusion Detection Message Exchange Format) is a data format used to exchange information between software enabling intrusion detection, intrusion prevention, security information collection and management systems that may need to interact with them. IDMEF messages are designed to be processed automatically. The details of the format are described in the RFC 4765. This RFC presents an implementation of the XML data model and the associated DTD. The requirements for this format are described in RFC 4766, and the recommended transport protocol (IDXP) is documented in RFC 4767




The purpose of IDMEF is to define data formats and exchange procedures for sharing information of interest to intrusion detection and response systems and to the management systems that may need to interact with them. It is used in computer security for incidents reporting and exchanging. It is intended for easy automatic processing.

IDMEF is a well-structured object-oriented format, which consists of 33 classes containing 108 fields, including three mandatory:

There are currently two types of IDMEF messages that can be created, Heartbeat or Alert


The Heartbeats are sent by the analyzers to indicate their status. These messages are sent at regular intervals which period is defined in the Heartbeat Interval Field. If none of these messages are received for several periods of time, consider that this analyzer is not able to trigger alerts.


Alerts are used to describe an attack that took place, the main areas that create the alert are:

There are three other alert types that inherit from this scheme:


IDMEF report of ping of death attack can look as follows:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><idmef:IDMEF-Messagexmlns:idmef=""version="1.0"><idmef:Alertmessageid="abc123456789"><idmef:Analyzeranalyzerid="bc-sensor01"><idmef:Nodecategory="dns"><idmef:name></idmef:name></idmef:Node></idmef:Analyzer><idmef:CreateTimentpstamp="0xbc71f4f5.0xef449129">2000-03-09T10:01:25.93464Z</idmef:CreateTime><idmef:Sourceident="a1a2"spoofed="yes"><idmef:Nodeident="a1a2-1"><idmef:Addressident="a1a2-2"category="ipv4-addr"><idmef:address></idmef:address></idmef:Address></idmef:Node></idmef:Source><idmef:Targetident="b3b4"><idmef:Node><idmef:Addressident="b3b4-1"category="ipv4-addr"><idmef:address></idmef:address></idmef:Address></idmef:Node></idmef:Target><idmef:Targetident="c5c6"><idmef:Nodeident="c5c6-1"category="nisplus"><idmef:name>lollipop</idmef:name></idmef:Node></idmef:Target><idmef:Targetident="d7d8"><idmef:Nodeident="d7d8-1"><idmef:location>Cabinet B10</idmef:location><idmef:name>Cisco.router.b10</idmef:name></idmef:Node></idmef:Target><idmef:Classificationtext="Ping-of-death detected"><idmef:Referenceorigin="cve"><idmef:name>CVE-1999-128</idmef:name><idmef:url></idmef:url></idmef:Reference></idmef:Classification></idmef:Alert></idmef:IDMEF-Message>

Tools implementing the IDMEF protocol

Competing Frameworks

Many telecommunications network elements produce security alarms [1] that address intrusion detection in conformance with international standards. These security alarms are inserted into the normal alarm stream [2] , where they can be seen and acted upon immediately by personnel in a Network operations center.

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  1. ITU-T. "Recommendation X.736 : Information technology - Open Systems Interconnection - Systems Management: Security alarm reporting function" . Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  2. ITU-T. "Recommendation X.733 : Informations technology - Open Systems Interconnection - Systems Management: Alarm reporting function".