Would you like to be more proactive and block malicious traffic from entering your company’s network in a more efficient manner? Would you like to ensure compliance while knowing that very few human resources and little time are used in the process? If the answer is yes, an IPS solution that offers automated protection and response against threats might be the perfect tool for your business’s cybersecurity. 

IPS Solution Quality Guidelines: Definition

IPS is an acronym for Intrusion Prevention System and refers to a form of network security concerned with detecting and preventing identified threats

An IPS solution’s mission is to continuously monitor a network, looking for possible malicious activity and gather information about it. The information reports are then sent to system administrators. The next step? The IPS solution decides what to do next:

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

IPS Solution Quality Guidelines: How It Works

An IPS solution prevents threats at the network level by using various approaches: 

a. Signature-Based

This IPS solution approach relies on predefined signatures of common network threats. Therefore, when the IPS discovers an attack matching a certain signature or pattern, it immediately takes the necessary actions to prevent it. 

b. Anomaly-Based

The anomaly-based approach looks for any abnormal or unexpected behavior. When the IPS solution detects an anomaly, the system blocks its access to the target host. 

c. Policy-Based

The policy-based approach of an IPS  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. 

IPS Solution Quality Guidelines: Threats It Avoids

IPS solutions are excellent in preventing viruses and worms, various types of exploits, Denial of Service (DoS) attacks and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Let us have a closer look at each of them:

Viruses and Worms

Viruses and worms can be defined as distinct types of malware that are designed to execute malicious functions. A virus is capable of self-replication and needs human intervention to run. A worm, on the other hand, is a self-contained program that can move and copy itself from device to device. You can find an in-depth analysis of the virus vs. worm issue in an article of my colleague Bianca, Virus vs. Worm: What’s the Difference? 

Exploits

Exploit is another term for security vulnerability and refers to  

[…] an unintended and unpatched flaw in software code that exposes it to potential exploitation by hackers or malicious software code such as viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other forms of malware.

Security exploits may result from a combination of software bugs, weak passwords or software already infected by a computer virus or worm […]. 

Denial of Service Attacks

A Denial of Service (DoS) attack maliciously targets networks 

by flooding it with useless traffic. […] Hackers use DoS attacks to prevent legitimate uses of computer network resources. DoS attacks are characterized as […] attempts to flood a network, attempts to disrupt connections between two computers, attempts to prevent an individual from accessing a service or attempts to disrupt service to a specific system or person. Those on the receiving end of a DoS attack may lose valuable resources, such as their email services, Internet access or their Web server. Some DoS attacks may eat up all your bandwidth or even use up all of a system resource, such as server memory, for example. 

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

In the case of Distributed Denial of Service attacks

[….] multiple compromised systems are used to target a single system. These types of attacks can cause significant, widespread damage because they usually impact the entire infrastructure and create disruptive, expensive downtimes. […] The primary way to identify a DDoS attack compared to another type of DoS attack is to look at how the attack is being executed. In a DDoS attack, the incoming traffic flooding the victim originates from many different sources potentially hundreds of thousands or more. This effectively makes it impossible to stop the attack simply by blocking a single IP address; plus, it is very difficult to distinguish legitimate user traffic from attack traffic […] 

IPS Solution Quality Guidelines: Classification

The classification of IPS solutions includes four major types: 

1. NIPS

A Network-based intrusion prevention system analyzes the entire network’s protocol activity and looks for suspicious traffic. 

2. WIPS

A Wireless intrusion prevention system looks across the entire wireless network trying to find problematic traffic. 

3. HIPS

A Host-based intrusion prevention system represents a secondary software package that scouts for malicious activity and analyzes events within a single host.

4. NBA 

Network behaviour analysis analyzes the network traffic trying to identify threats that produce odd traffic flows. 

ips solution - ips solutions classification

IPS Solution Quality Guidelines: Advantages

Apart from being an important part of a good cybersecurity strategy, IPS solutions offer other significant advantages: 

Automation

An IPS solution automatically ensures safe communication and the possibility to prevent intrusion, with minimal IT intervention and relatively low costs. 

Compliance

An IPS solution will guarantee that your network is safe from multiple online threats, but it will also help you tick off a box on the compliance sheet since you’ll address a significant number of CIS security controls. 

Policies

In the same train of thought, an IPS solution can help you configure and enforce internal security policies at the network level. 

IPS Solution Quality Guidelines: Selection Criteria

Choosing the right IPS solution for your business might be a challenging task. Here are a few things you should bear in mind before making a decision: 

a. An IPS solution should protect your network against a wide range of threats 

This goes without saying. A good IPS solution should provide efficient, immediate protection against various known threats (DDoS, malicious code, viruses, worms etc.), but also enforce compliance with network policies. 

b. An IPS solution should “meet enterprise architecture and management needs” 

As Internal Auditor notes, 

A companywide IPS requires dozens of geographically distributed devices. IT security managers must have the ability to deploy, configure, and administer these systems through centralized management and policy tools. In addition, the IPS application must have a centralized functionality that includes detailed reporting and audit capabilities, so organizations can monitor events and controls that support regulatory compliance requirements.

c. An IPS solution should be easy to install and flexible for configurations

Last but not least, a good IPS solution should be easy to install and should allow you to set your own configurations, since different IT departments have their own, different requirements. 

Our Heimdal™ Threat Prevention, for example, offers network & endpoint prevention, detection and response and uses the world’s most advanced DNS product to hunt advanced threats and infected users and processes. It is easy to deploy and can be combined with any antivirus, stopping ransomware, data leaks, network malware and other incoming attacks. 

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Your perimeter network is vulnerable to sophisticated attacks.

Heimdal™ Threat Prevention - Network

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  • Complete DNS, HTTP and HTTPs protection, HIPS and HIDS;
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IPS Solution Quality Guidelines: Final Thoughts

An IPS solution is a great addition to any cybersecurity strategy, helps you stop a significant percent of threats at perimeter level and allows you to focus on what’s really important for your business. 

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 solutions – we are all ears and can’t wait to hear your opinion!

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