The Student News Site of Archbishop Mitty High School

The Monarch

The Student News Site of Archbishop Mitty High School

The Monarch

The Student News Site of Archbishop Mitty High School

The Monarch

Guardians of the Cyber Realm: The Superpowers of IDS and IPS


When you fill out your personal information into a website, do you have a moment of reluctance? An unsettling sense of vulnerability prompted by the countless headlines about cyber attacks and data breaches? Even in a rapidly-progressing world, fortified networks, such as those of educational, business, and government organizations, aren’t immune to such malicious threats. 

That begs the question, what prevents hackers? You’ve heard of having to use passwords of over 8 characters, with numbers and a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters. But a complicated, unpredictable password isn’t the only security measure. Networks themselves also have sophisticated mechanisms to deter hackers from exploiting your personal information. Enter some of the most effective digital booby traps: the intrusion detection system (IDS) and the intrusion protection system (IPS).

All about intrusion detection systems.

An IDS monitors your network traffic for unusual activity. They analyze these events to see if they might be malicious or unauthorized threats to the network. Intrusion detection systems are passive, meaning that they don’t take any action by themselves.

 An IDS works by monitoring and analyzing network traffic, and comparing this information with known attack tactics and behaviors. If there is suspicious behavior, the system sends detailed alerts to the organization’s security operations team. Early detections of potential threats enable organizations to respond swiftly to prevent data breaches, thefts, and tampering. 

Types of IDS: Signature-based & Anomaly-based.

One type of IDS is signature-based detection, which identifies known threats and their signatures. It refers to a pre-programmed database of threats along with specific behaviors that usually precede them. Anomaly-based detection, on the other hand, can detect new, unknown suspicious behavior. It operates with machine learning to recognize a normalized baseline. Anything that deviates from the baseline, such as user activity outside of business hours or unauthorized devices being added to a network, will alert the IDS. Companies usually use both types of IDS mechanisms to form an effective structure for detecting suspicious behavior.

All about intrusion prevention systems.

An IPS, on the other hand, takes automated actions to prevent and mitigate threats. According to leading cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks, an IPS can  send an alarm to an administrator (just like an IDS), drop malicious packets of data, block traffic from a suspicious IP address, reset the connection, and configure other security measures to prevent future attacks. An IPS often sits directly in the network traffic, between the source (a user’s device) and the destination (a website), and behind the firewall, which tracks and filters network traffic.

As Palo Alto Networks explains, this means that the IPS must “[w]ork efficiently to avoid degrading network performance, [w]ork fast, because exploits can happen in near real-time, [and] [d]etect and respond accurately to eliminate threats and false positives.” As attacks get faster and more sophisticated, an IPS is particularly useful for networks that have a lot of sensitive data, as an intrusion into these databases could cause serious damage. An IPS is like a tower defense game!

So, which is better to protect networks: an IDS or an IPS? Many organizations avoid this debate altogether by turning to both of these solutions to protect their data.An IDS may be excellent at recognizing known threats, but it won’t notice the unknown ones. Likewise, the IPS can effectively identify new threats, but not known ones.

Applying both the IDS and the IPS gives organizations the best of both worlds: traffic on the network itself can be analyzed and attacks can be stopped simultaneously. Although the IDS and the IPS are essential tools, they’re just a few of the barriers in the cybersecurity fortress. Other protective mechanisms include firewalls, anti-malware software, vulnerability scanners. With these intelligent defense mechanisms and more layered security measures, organizations can be effectively protected from a broad scope of threats.