IPS vs. IDS: The Difference between Intrusion Prevention and Detection Systems

Updated on September 12, 2022
IPS vs. IDS: The Difference between Intrusion Prevention and Detection Systems

The risks posed by cyberattacks are higher than they’ve ever been. Tools like intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) that combine signature databases with AI are invaluable for helping IT teams strengthen their security posture against sophisticated cyber threats.

Let’s dive into the details and see how these systems work and what are the differences between the two:

How do Intrusion Detection Systems work?

The IDS keeps track of network traffic and notifies the user when it notices any unusual activity. The user can take action to identify the underlying cause and fix the issue after receiving the notice. 

There are two types of IDS systems: 

  1. Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS): Through network-wide sensors, NIDS keeps an eye on network traffic for security issues.
  2. Host Intrusion Detection System (HIDS): HIDS keeps track of all activity on the system or device where it is installed.

Threat Detection methods used by IDS

The two main detection methods that IDS employs are described below:

Signature-based Detection

In order to detect potential danger, signature-based systems look for patterns in user behaviour that match those of known dangers. Anything like email subject lines previously connected to malware to suspicious data packets associated with a DDoS threat could be on that list.

An IDS that relies on signatures to detect threats will examine all incoming data for matches against a predefined list of malware and viruses.`

Anomaly Detection

A standard model of activity is used by an anomaly-based IDS to find unusual activity on the network. Once “typical” user traffic has been determined, an anomaly-based system may analyze user behaviour and identify outliers.

To aid in the detection of anomalous activity by these systems, several companies are integrating AI and machine learning. Depending on the company you purchase from, these systems might be prone to false positives despite their high effectiveness. The best suppliers emphasize keeping their false-positive rate low.

How do Intrusion Prevention Systems work?

An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is a type of network security system that monitors network traffic for malicious activity and takes appropriate action to stop it. The IPS is positioned in the network’s backend, and it just like IDS, also utilizes signature or anomaly detection to flag malicious activity.

In its most basic form, an IPS may be thought of as an IDS with the addition of active prevention. Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) is an essential part of today’s business security infrastructure. Organizational networks in 2022 have many points of entry and handle large amounts of data, making it difficult to keep tabs on all of the traffic and deal with security concerns manually.

Why are IDS and IPS solutions important?

Cyberattacks that target a company’s information assets should be avoided at all costs, making solutions like IDS (intrusion detection systems) and (intrusion prevention systems) extremely valuable. 

Cyber attacks can have devastating results as Investopedia reported that around 6% of businesses have paid a ransom to recover access to their data. Organizations typically lose over $2.45 million when malware is used to disrupt their operations. You may protect yourself from cyber threats with the use of solutions like intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS).

Cybercriminals use DDoS attacks, brute force attacks, and vulnerability exploits to bring down businesses; IDS and IPS can detect all three. Therefore, most businesses should incorporate both into their cybersecurity strategies.

Companies now function in highly linked settings thanks to the widespread adoption of cloud technologies. This has many advantages, but if the cloud platform isn’t properly protected, it also opens up a lot of entry points for attackers. This calls for the timely and proper implementation of IDS and IPS systems. 

Differences between IDS and IPS

IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems)IPS (Intrusion Prevention Systems)
The IDS does not block any cyber attack or suspicious attempt. Rather, it only alerts the user that there has been an intrusion or attempt of intrusion. The IPS responds instantly to any suspicious attempts and blocks the threat. Unlike IDS, it tries to prevent intrusions.
The number of false positives is higher in IDS and it can cause interruptions.The IPS are improving over time as the companies are enhancing the machine learning infrastructure. Therefore, the chances of false positives are lower in IPS. 
One of the drawbacks of IDS is that it relies on human admins. It alerts the admins and then they have to manually block the threat. IPS is AI and machine learning based, which is why it blocks the threat itself and does not require any human admin. 
The best option for internal networks and websites with low traffic.Best for websites with high traffic volume from various regions. 

Similarities Between IDS and IPS 

Following are some of the similarities between IDS and IPS:

  1. Both of the systems are built for networks with multiple entry points and high traffic volume. 
  2. Both IDS and IPS use signature-based and Anomaly-based approaches for identifying and dealing with intrusions. 
  3. Both IDS and IPS have a common capacity to apply policies aimed at ensuring the safety and morality of corporate activities.

How to choose an IDS Or IPS

Certain things should be kept in focus before choosing an IDS or IPS. The cost of the system, integration capabilities, purpose, and resources required ate the things you should take a look at it before making any decision. The integration of the system would require time and money, which is why you should set a goal before choosing whether you should opt for IDS or IPS. 

If you are okay with hiring a system admin who can deal with threats whenever an alert is generated and you’re working on intranets, then obviously IDS should be your choice.

However, if you are working on external networks and you want the process of detection and blocking of threats to be automated, you should go for IPS. 

IDS Or IPS; Which One to Choose?

When it comes to safety, every business and user has various requirements since they encounter unique dangers and problems. While an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) would be appropriate for a single business’s private network, an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) might be more practical for a big website with several servers.

In order to reduce the number of potential ports of access to your network, a proactive cybersecurity plan is essential. To be prepared for when cyberattacks do occur, IPS and IDS solutions help you detect them. In most cases, an IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) is the best choice for businesses that wish to cut down on time spent on security issues.

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About The Author

Arsalan Rathore

Arsalan Rathore is a tech geek who loves to pen down his thoughts and views on cybersecurity, technology innovation, entertainment, and social issues. He likes sharing his thoughts about the emerging tech trends in the market and also loves discussing online privacy issues.

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