>IDS vs. IPS

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) are both parts of the network infrastructure. IDS/IPS compare network packets to a cyberthreat database containing known signatures of cyberattack – and flag any matching packets.

  • IDS is a monitoring system
  • IPS is a control system

What’s the Difference?

IDS does not alter the network packets in any way. IPS prevents the packet from delivery based on the contents of the packet, similar to how a firewall prevents traffic by IP address.

  • IDS: analyzes and monitors network traffic for signs of known cyberthreats that may infiltrate or steal data from the network. IDS systems compare the current network activity to the known threat database to detect many kinds of behaviors like security policy violations, malware, and port scanners.
  • IPS: are in the same area of the network as a firewall, between the outside and the internal network. IPS denies network traffic based on a security profile if the packet represents a known security threat.

IDS/IPS both read network packets and compare the contents to a database of known cyberthreats. The main difference between them is that IDS are detection and monitoring tools that require human action to decide what to do next, while IPS is a control system that accepts or rejects packets based on a ruleset.

  • IDS is a better incident investigation tool.
  • The purpose of an IPS system is to catch malicious packets and drop them before they reach their target.

Many vendors have integrated new IPS systems with firewalls to create a Unified Threat Management (UTM) technology that combines the similar functionality of the two systems into a single unit. Some systems even provide both IDS and IPS functionality in one unit.

Why IDS/IPS Systems are Important for Cybersecurity

  • Automation: IDS/IPS systems are mostly hands-off, which makes them ideal for use in the current security stack. IPS, specifically, provides assurance that the network is protected from known threats with limited resource consumption.
  • Compliance: Part of compliance often requires proving that you have invested in tech and systems to protect data. IDS/IPS solutions provide that and address a number of the CIS Security controls. Also, the auditing data is a valuable part of compliance investigations.
  • Policy enforcement: IDS/IPS systems are configurable to help enforce internal security policies at the network level. For example, if your company only supports one VPN, the IPS can be used to block traffic from other VPNs.

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