Information systems are more powerful and widely used today than ever before. The entire society, and thus all businesses, rely on computing environments with high-speed internet connections. It is much easier to perform essential job functions online. However, the increased convenience and reliance on the internet, combined with the fact that cyber-attacks are becoming more common than ever, has resulted in a greater need to have security measures in place to minimize risk as much as possible.

Network administrators must employ tools for network security and prevent any malicious activities with the help of IT and security risk management services. Intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) are two types of tools that are frequently used. Using them makes sense since cyber security is a major issue that businesses of all sizes face. Threats are constantly evolving, and businesses must deal with new, unknown threats that are difficult to detect and prevent. This is where IDS and IPS solutions are necessary.

So what is a network intrusion detection system and an intrusion prevention system?

The process of monitoring and analyzing network traffic for signs of potential intrusions, such as exploit attempts and incidents that could pose a threat to your network, is known as intrusion detection. Intrusion prevention, on the other hand, is the process of detecting intrusions and then preventing them, typically by dropping packets or canceling sessions. Intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) are available for these security measures, both of which are part of the network security measures used to detect and prevent potential incidents and are included as functionality in next-generation firewalls (NGFW).

What advantages do IDS/IPS offer?

IDS/IPS monitors all network traffic to spot any known malicious activity. Exploiting a software or hardware vulnerability is one of the ways an attacker will try to compromise a network. IDS/IPS detects and stops exploit attempts before any network endpoints are successfully compromised. IDS/IPS are essential security technologies, both at the network edge and inside the data center, due to their ability to prevent attackers who are gathering network intelligence. The other important benefits of deploying IDS/IPS are briefly explained below:

  • Automation

Security tasks can be automated with the aid of IDS and IPS software, eliminating the need to manually monitor everything. The systems will assist in automating these tasks so that the management team can focus on core business activities, which not only reduces effort but also saves costs.

  • Compliance

IDS and IPS are necessary during audits and in protecting customer and business data, thereby helping a business to follow compliance regulations and avoid financial penalties.

  • Application of Policy

A security policy can be enforced across organizations, even on the network level, by utilizing IDS and IPS systems. It assists in preventing violations and monitoring all actions inside and outside of the company.

IDS vs. IPS: Key Differences

  • Network packet contents are read by the IDS and IPS, which are then compared to known threat data. IDS are surveillance and detection tools; they do not act on their own. IDS needs human intervention or other devices to review and choose the next steps, which may be based on how much network traffic is generated daily. However, IPS is a system of control that approves or rejects a registered packet. 
  • On the other hand, the IPS aims to gather and drop risky packets before they reach their target. It is more proactive than IDS, which only requires routine database updates with new threat information.
  • In a network, IDS should be placed after the firewall, whereas IPS should be placed before the firewall.
  • An IPS system failure results in unexpected attacks. Remember to use a firewall to filter, block, and allow ports, addresses, and operations, as some of them can also be accessed via the network. Unless technology is incorporated into a single device, the manager has the option of using it as an inline IPS or only identifying strategically placed sensors to track network traffic passively.
  • In IDS, configuration mode is inline, and it is usually on layer 2. In contrast, configuration mode in IPS is inline mode or as an end host.

Why are IDS and IPS solutions essential for cyber security?

An intrusion detection and prevention system, or IDPS, is a solution that combines the advantages of both systems, and organizations shouldn’t prioritize one over the other because both are very beneficial. So, in order to leverage the capabilities of IDS and IPS, both of these technologies can be used in tandem. Using IDS enables one to see how traffic moves through the network and detect issues, while using IPS to prevent risks. It aids in the protection of the servers, network, and assets, as well as providing 360-degree security in the organization.

To recognize if the attack has reached the perimeter and to take the necessary action, organizations must be able to detect and respond to attacks. Businesses are catching bad actors and decreasing dwell time by implementing efficient detection and response solutions, thereby reducing the impact these actors can have.

Before selecting the appropriate IDS and/or IPS solution, security leaders should be aware of the requirements of their organization and have a list of the data that needs to be monitored. They should also assess their own security division to decide whether they prefer a hybrid approach, an automated solution, or an agency that can respond appropriately. COMnet, an IT professional company, offers a wide range of network security components, including IDS/IPS, EDR solutions, virtual private networks (VPN), anti-virus software, and firewalls.