Viruses, worms and Distributed Denial of Service attacks are only some of the threats that an IPS system can help you prevent. Read on to find out everything you need to know about this extra – but necessary – layer of security. 

What Is an IPS System? Definition & M.O.

The term IPS stands for Intrusion Prevention System and refers to a form of network security that aims to detect and prevent identified threats

An IPS system continuously monitors a network, looking for possible malicious activity and gathering information about it. The IPS system sends these reports to system administrators and decides what to do next. IPS systems can also help with preventing employees and network guests from violating corporate security policies. 

IPS systems can be classified into several major types: 

1. NIPS

Network-based intrusion prevention systems look for questionable traffic by analyzing the entire network’s protocol activity. 

2. WIPS

Wireless intrusion prevention systems work in the same way as NIPS, but they’re looking across the entire wireless network. 

3. HIPS

Host-based intrusion prevention systems are secondary software packages that look for malicious activity and analyze events within a single host.

4. NBA 

Network behaviour analysis is interested in the network traffic and tries to identify threats that produce suspicious traffic flows. 

ips system - concept image for cyber threats

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An IPS system is designed to prevent: viruses and worms, various types of exploits, Denial of Service (DoS) attacks and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, and it does so by using various approaches

a. Signature-Based

This approach relies on predefined signatures of common network threats. If the IPS system finds an attack that matches a certain signature or pattern, it immediately takes the necessary actions. 

b. Anomaly-Based

As you might guess, the anomaly-based approach looks for any abnormal or unexpected behaviour. When an anomaly is detected, the IPS system blocks its access to the target host. 

c. Policy-Based

The policy-based approach makes use of the security policies that the administrators need to configure according to the network infrastructure and each company’s security policies. In this case, if the IPS system discovers an activity that violates a security policy, it triggers an alert to notify the system administrators. 

When it comes to intrusion countermeasures, an IPS system can: 

 

  • configure a firewall to increase protection;
  • replace malicious parts of an email, for example (like fake links), with warnings about the content that was removed;
  • notify system administrators about possible security breaches by sending automated alarms;
  • drop the detected malicious packets; 
  • block traffic from suspicious IT addresses;
  • reset connections.

What Is an IPS System? IPS vs. IDSSimilarly to IPS systems, an Intrusion Detection System 

is a device or software application that monitors a network or systems for malicious activity or policy violations. Any intrusion activity or violation is typically reported either to an administrator or collected centrally using a security information and event management (SIEM) system. A SIEM system combines outputs from multiple sources and uses alarm filtering techniques to distinguish malicious activity from false alarms. 

The main difference between an IPS system and an IDS system is hidden in the above definition: 

  • IPS systems control the access to IT networks by monitoring intrusion data and taking the necessary actions to prevent an incident or attack. 
  • IDS systems do not block attacks – they only monitor networks and, if they detect potential threats, they send alerts to system administrators. 

Moreover, an IDS system requires a human or another system to look at the results it finds, while an IPS system requires its database to be continuously updated with new threat information. 

IDS systems can be divided into network intrusion detection systems (NIDS) and host-based intrusion detection systems (HIDS). “A system that monitors important operating system files is an example of a HIDS, while a system that analyzes incoming network traffic is an example of a NIDS.” 

Another way of classifying IDS systems is according to the detection approach:  

The most well-known variants are signature-based detection (recognizing bad patterns, such as malware) and anomaly-based detection (detecting deviations from a model of “good” traffic, which often relies on machine learning). Another common variant is reputation-based detection (recognizing the potential threat according to the reputation scores). 

What Is an IPS System? Benefits

IPS systems, as well as IDS, should be a significant component of any cybersecurity strategy, because it helps: 

a. With Automation

Nowadays, companies need a pretty high level of security to ensure safe communication, and the ability to prevent intrusion by having an automated solution that can take the necessary actions with minimal IT intervention and low costs is a nice advantage.

b. Achieve Compliance

Investing in cybersecurity is not only a necessity, but also a requirement of compliance. By choosing an IDS or IPS system you will, simultaneously, gain peace of mind because your network will be safe from multiple online threats and check off a box on the compliance sheet because you’ll address a significant number of CIS security controls. 

c. Enforcing Policies 

IPS/IDS solutions can help you configure internal security policies at the network level. For example, you can use it to block other VPN traffic if you support only one VPN. 

Our Heimdal™ Threat Prevention can help you reduce more than 90% of the advanced forms of malicious software by stopping threats at the perimeter level. This Network Prevention, Detection, and Response tool offers complete DNS protection and is powered by our AI-driven, “Character-Based” Neural Network intelligence, using advanced Machine Learning algorithms to deliver HIPS/HIDS and IOA/IOC capabilities that detect even concealed malware.

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What Is an IPS System? Final Thoughts

In today’s world, cyber-attacks only become more sophisticated, so the technologies we use to prevent them must try to be one step ahead. In terms of network protection, IPS systems help you achieve this. 

However you choose to proceed, please remember that Heimdal™ Security always has your back and that our team is here to help you protect your home and your company and to create a cybersecurity culture to the benefit of anyone who wants to learn more about it. 

Drop a line below if you have any comments, questions or suggestions regarding the topic of IPS systems  – we are all ears and can’t wait to hear your opinion!

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