NetworkSecurity

IDS vs IPS

Both intrusion detection systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) have their role in protecting sensitive data and networks from being hacked. Though their function is similar, i.e., stopping malicious activities, there is a slight difference between them.

Knowing about them is important for applications in certain organizations and for enhancing their effectiveness. This article highlights all you need to know about IDS vs. IPS and their differences and similarities. So, let’s start with what they are:

What Are Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)?

An intrusion detection system detects the cybersecurity threats that could lead to the leakage of sensitive information in a company.

IDS generates an alert in case any potential threat like malware or virus is detected to make the security personnel have an in-depth analysis of the incident and take action against it.

IDS are classified in several ways depending on their identification and deployment action. They can monitor the traffic, processes in the system and logs related to a particular host if deployed on it.

Host-based intrusion detection systems (HIDS) and network-based intrusion detection systems (NIDS) can be deployed to get the information of data received by a particular system.

When classified based on potential threats, signature-based IDS can identify threats by using a library of signatures. If any deviation from normal processes is noted, the anomaly-based intrusion detection system reports to the security officials. Hybrid systems are also present that use both identification and deployment approaches to keep the secrets safe.

What Are Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)?

An intrusion protection system (IPS) detects the malicious threat in the system, just like IDS, and takes action to find the remedy against the known threats to protect the system.

IPS raises an alert when a threat is detected and prevents malicious sources from entering the company’s system. IPS scans the normal network traffic employing different detection methods, including:

Detection Based On Signature

In signature-based detection, IPS monitors based on malicious signatures compare the pre-configured patterns with the network packets to detect the malicious or unwanted packets creating intrusion and find a remedy.

Detection Based On Statistical Anomalies

In statistical anomaly-based detection, IPS monitors traffic on the entire network and compares it to the pre-configured data to create the baseline. The baseline gives an idea about the protocols and bandwidth used.

This way, potential threats to a system can be identified, especially unknown ones. Moreover, IPS can create false positives when the bandwidth increases the baseline capacity, or poor configuration is detected.

 Detection Based On Stateful Protocol Analysis  

Based on stateful protocol analysis, intrusion protection systems identify the protocol deviations by comparing them with pre-observed and pre-determined events on the profiles or already defined benign activities.

After successful detection, the IPS takes several actions to protect the systems from cyber security threats. Some of them include:

  • Termination of already running transmission control protocol sessions.
  • Blocking the suspicious IP address or account to terminate access to the host, application, or network resource.
  • Reconfiguration of the firewall to prevent an attack in the future.
  • Delete malicious content that remains in the sources after recovery from the malicious attack.

This way, IPS prevents an organization’s network from distributed denial of service (DDOS), viruses, exploits, computer worms, and brute force attacks.

Key Similarities Between IDS And IPS

Both intrusion detection systems and intrusion protection systems protect the network infrastructure of a company’s system from malicious activities. Their way of working involves scanning the traffic and comparing the database with a normal behaving model.

However, there is a slight difference between them – IDS monitors the traffic, whereas the IPS controls the traffic.

Some key similarities between IDS and IPS operation are:

Innovation In Monitoring The Modern Enterprise

After the Covid 19 pandemic, companies are shifting to online systems because they are cheaper and, along with cutting costs, require fewer employees. The rising shift to remote working environments has enhanced the involvement of networks and generated higher traffic than in the past.

So, in highly connected environments, manual monitoring of threats is hard. The thing making it more alarming is the increase in the number of cyber security attacks.

Keeping this in view, IDS and IPS provide an edge to modern organizations for controlling their security. Both of them have an automated security tool that helps security officials show prompt responses to breaches.

Moreover, they keep the companies updated about the latest threats.

Signature Databases Or Behavioral Models Based Detection

IDS and IPS use signature or behavior-based models and adopt a hybrid method to combine both approaches. Once the threat is detected on the bases of signature, both intrusion systems compare the network behavior with already set models and initiate automated actions like alerts or termination of malicious activities.

Both systems are best for the identification of threats and indicate whether a specific behavior has the potential to become a malicious attack or not. The gateways like malicious domains, email content, subject lines, and sequences are flagged to proceed with further action.

If the signature match is detected, the IDS and IPS take further action. Both systems detect anomalies and initiate action through machine learning to access the behavior of the network.

Automation Of Protection

Traditional security methods need frequent monitoring by security staff, but IDS and IPS use automated procedures for the detection and prevention of digital enterprises against threats. This helps organizations secure their networks from threats without spending a lot on extra resources.

Intrusion systems employ hardware and software-based approaches to protect the organizational network against breaches. In IDS systems, the detection tools are installed to monitor malicious data, while in IPS, the detection and prevention tools are installed to scan the input and output data.

After detection, the alarm is raised to configure the solution. No human intervention is required for operations.

Prevent Major Damage

When organizations enhance their footprint in the digital world, the security staff needs to be increased. More workforce can create a hassle and lead to more issues than solving the already present ones. IDS and IPS detect and prevent major data damage through malicious codes and viruses.

Timely implementation and integration with other security devices can reduce the pressure on the organizational security teams. These systems can detect traffic and network and security threats if correctly installed. Real-time monitoring, detection, and prevention by IDS and IPS enhance the efficiency of the security network.

Differences Between IDS And IPS

Cybersecurity Scope

The intrusion detection systems offer security tools for reading and comparing network data against a set of signatures or a baseline while employing machine learning protocols.

They are built specifically for detection and surveillance and feed the information to the security staff by alarms in case of detection of malicious traffic or cybercrime threats.

Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) use control-based security solutions to accept or reject the network database after comparing them with the pre-configured rulesets.

IPS can perform both detection and performance without human interference, while IDS can only detect and indicate malicious traffic through alarms.

Range And Location

An intrusion detection system (IDS) works through real-time monitoring and analysis across the organization’s network. Network packets are scanned to detect malicious traffic, and threats are flagged.

If ransomware or malware is detected, it alerts the human security personnel contacted, and the cycle ends here. The range is limited from threat to alert.The intrusion prevention system (IPS) is focused more on the prompt response to the threat identified. Its range is not limited to the alarm system only.

IPS tries to minimize the action that the threat or cyber-attack could take against the organization by limiting bandwidth usage. They can prevent malicious programs from reaching targets.

It is prominent that the range of IPS is better than IDS. However, IPS may rely on IDS to enhance the range of surveillance against network intrusion.

Levels Of Intervention

Intrusion detection systems depend on security teams to protect the network from threats. They are only able to scan the systems for threats that are already known. Nevertheless, they give a pathway, plan, and action to address the malicious activity.

If IPS are not implemented with IDS, the security system would not be as efficient as it can be with IPS. Moreover, if IDS is combined with IPS, the detection range is enhanced, and threats can be easily detected.

On the other hand, IPS are automated solutions to detection and prevention problems. They have the latest threat signatures to detect and shield against new threats. They can show autonomous responses to new threats that IDS cannot employ.

Configuration

IDS is operated in inline mode while the IPS works behind the firewall. Once the threat is identified, IDS leaves everything to the security teams after creating a log of the events, communicating to routers, and sending a notification to the console.

However, IPS operates as a host and catches the threats. Behavior-based IPS can create baseless alarms too.

IDS allow security teams to analyze future threats, and their logs can be used to update the firewall to stop such type of activities in the future. However, IPS works through the normal network routine to let the day-to-day operations flow smoothly.

Types Of IDS And IPS

Intrusion Detection System Types

Intrusion detection systems are of 2 types:

Host-Based Intrusion Detection Systems (HIDS)

HIDS are used to provide endpoint level detection against threats. They can monitor the network traffic that inflows and outflows the device. Moreover, they track running processes and examine system logs. They only protect the host device and cannot access the complete organizational network framework. So, decision-making through this is negligible.

Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS)

They monitor the entire organizational network and have an eye on all the traffic on the network. It can take data from all devices on that network and make decisions based on the content and metadata on the network.

Intrusion Prevention System Types

Meanwhile, intrusion prevention systems are of 3 types:

Host-Based Intrusion Protection Systems (HIPS)

They are a kind of security software located on both the host and company’s servers and monitor the malicious activity in the host’s device.

Network-Based Intrusion Protection Systems (NIPS)

They are positioned within the organizational framework, monitor the complete data on the organizational network, and stop malicious sources from reaching the targets.

Wireless Intrusion Protection Systems (WIPS)

They behave like security devices by scanning the radio waves to check whether the access points are authorized. Moreover, they automatically take steps to prevent incoming data from creating breaches in organizational infrastructure.

Importance Of Intrusion Detection System And Intrusion Detection Systems Regarding Cyber Security Tools

Intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems can both prove beneficial for minimizing the chances of data losses through security breaches and malicious traffic that goes undetected.

IDS is not superior to IPS or IPS over IDS while analyzing IDS vs. IPS. However, the working efficiency of both is enhanced by being counterparts.

IDS only detects and feeds the data to the security personnel in an organization’s network. Combined with IPS, it offers the protection feature too that can save the company from hiring extra individuals for security staff.

Moreover, IPS can perform better when combined with IPS to provide beyond-the-borders detection of malicious behavior and intrusion prevention. Company owners can implement both systems to establish a secure network that protects them from cyber threats.

Endnote

IDS vs. IPS is essential to compete with attackers and save the company’s organizational infrastructure. Though both offer protection against threats, IDS is only focused on detection. Meanwhile, IPS is focused on detecting and protecting the system from malicious activities.

Both of them, when working together, can enhance the security activity of the other. Hence, providing a security system is ideal for stabilizing organizational infrastructure.

Derik Belair

As President and CEO, Derik leads the vision, strategy and growth of Augmentt. Prior to founding Augmentt, Derik was the Vice President at SolarWinds, leading the digital marketing strategy for SolarWinds’ Cloud division. Derik has been working in the channel for over 20 years, starting his career as a channel sales rep at Corel Corp. and eventually becoming the first employee at N-able Technologies in April of 2000.

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