IDS and IPS differ because the latter moves past detection to take preventative action. For example, IPS may reject suspicious data packets or engage the network’s firewall.
Unfortunately, this automation can lead to a high number of false positives. That’s why many vendors offer an IDS/IPS combo.
With cyber threats constantly evolving, businesses must have a solution to detect incoming attacks. That’s where IDS and IPS come in. These network security solutions monitor traffic and look for suspicious patterns of behavior that could indicate a threat. They use either a signature-based or anomaly-based approach to identify malicious activity.
Signature-based systems refer to a preset database of known threats and their associated behaviors to scan and alert administrators to any potentially suspicious data packets. This method can flag everything from file hashes linked to DDOS attacks to byte sequences that may indicate malware and even email subject lines that are known to appear in phishing campaigns.
IDS only warns of an incident and does not take any preventative action. This makes it a good option for certain systems, such as industrial control systems (ICS), where system downtime can have significant financial and operational consequences.
In contrast, IPS actively blocks potential threats. It does this by comparing the suspicious data packet to a baseline model created using a combination of threat intelligence and machine learning. Depending on the software, IPS can either reject the data packet or block the incoming connection altogether, and this is why many vendors club IDS with next-generation firewalls/unified threat management (UTM) systems to create a combined IDS/IPS product.
IDS and IPS can detect suspicious activity that may indicate cyberattacks or threats. They do so by scanning incoming traffic, looking for known threat patterns, and regularly updating their databases of these signatures. Once an IDS or IPS system detects an unusual action, it will alert you to the discovery. This might be done through a pager or console message, a network log, or even by communicating with routers, firewalls, and servers to stop the attack.
Depending on the configuration, an IDS or IPS system might also use behavior analysis to create a model of “normal” network behavior. This could be risky because it can easily highlight non-malicious actions as threats, such as user activity outside business hours or multiple previously unidentified IP addresses connecting to the network.
IDS and IPS systems, like those offered by Versa Networks, use behavior-based detection, which can reduce false alerts by identifying specific cyberattacks’ distinct features. For example, these solutions can identify if a particular attack is an attempt to spoof IP addresses or if a botnet is directing it. This allows them to take action to stop the attack without impacting normal network operations. They can block incoming traffic, for instance, or redirect it to a different server. They can also use behavioral analytics to identify patterns of successful attacks and improve their ability to spot them in the future.
While IDS and IPS scan networks to detect cybersecurity threats, they differ in how proactive they stop malicious activity. An IDS system identifies potential attacks through monitoring features of a network or device and can use signature, anomaly, or hybrid detection methods. Once a threat is detected, an IDS system can notify human security personnel or the network’s firewall and routers for remedial action.
An IPS solution prevents attacks by actively monitoring networks or devices for suspicious activity, typically using signature-based and ML-powered behavior models. When a threat is detected, an IPS can block or respond to the offending packet according to predetermined rulesets.
Because an IPS actively controls network traffic, it can avoid false positives that may result from a scanner alerting you to a threat that isn’t an issue at all. False negatives, on the other hand, can be catastrophic. With the increase in work-from-home employees, business mobility, and network access to remote locations, preventing cyber threats is paramount.
Some IDS and IPS vendors integrate detection and prevention capabilities into one appliance to address the increasing need for vigilance. These newer systems, often called next-generation firewalls or NGFWs, offer options to configure them in either detection mode only or in line with the network to monitor and control traffic actively.
Both IDS and IPS monitor and alert when an attack is spotted. They can also be configured to log the detection, send an alert to a pager or console, and communicate with routers, firewalls, and servers to stop a successful exploit from occurring again.
IDS systems use signatures to scan networks for known threats. They need to have a regularly updated database of known threat patterns. This allows them to identify phishing attacks, malware and ransomware distribution, man-in-the-middle attacks, zero-day attacks, SQL injection, and other common cyber crimes.
IPS solutions are designed to detect and block more sophisticated attacks. They can use either a list of existing attack patterns or an ML-powered behavior model to identify suspicious data in network traffic and stop cybercriminals from gaining a foothold inside your network.
Despite this, IPS systems are still prone to false positives, depending on the vendors you choose. For this reason, it’s important to have a clear idea of your business’s unique needs and a list of what information you want to protect before implementing an IPS solution. A combination of IDS and IPS capabilities gives you the best chance to detect various attacks, minimizing their impact on your operations and reputation. By detecting bad actors early, you can prevent them from getting further into your network and stealing trade secrets or other sensitive information.