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Understanding IPS Network Security Solutions

Understanding IPS Network Security Solutions


IPS network security solutions are now a core part of most cybersecurity frameworks. In fact, they may even be an effective requirement of data-protection compliance programs. Here is a brief guide to what you need to know about them.

Understanding IPS network security solutions

IPS network security solutions essentially perform the same function as firewalls. That is to say, they monitor the volume and nature of data packets with the aim of detecting and blocking suspicious activities.

The key difference between an IPS and a firewall is their deployment locations. An IPS sits within the internal network while a firewall sits at its perimeter. This means that an IPS will see all the traffic a firewall sees plus internal traffic that does not touch a firewall.

For completeness, the main difference between IPS network security and IDS network security is that an IPS proactively blocks suspicious traffic. An IDS (Intrusion Detection System) is, essentially, only an alarm system.

Types of IPS

IPS network security solutions are generally categorized by their deployment model and their deployment location. The most common deployment models are hardware-, software- and cloud-based IPS.

Hardware-based IPS

Hardware-based IPS involves the use of dedicated physical appliances designed for robust intrusion prevention. These appliances are purpose-built with specialized components optimized for efficient and effective threat detection. These typically include dedicated processors, memory, and network interfaces.

The use of dedicated components enhances the performance and responsiveness of the IPS, making it well-suited for high-traffic environments. These appliances often come with pre-configured settings and are relatively straightforward to deploy, making them a preferred choice for organizations seeking a plug-and-play solution for intrusion prevention.

Software-based IPS

Unlike hardware-based solutions that rely on dedicated physical appliances, software-based IPS can be installed on general-purpose servers or virtual machines. This flexibility allows organizations to deploy intrusion prevention measures on existing hardware or virtual infrastructure. Software-based IPS network solutions also tend to offer extensive configuration options that allow for customization based on specific security requirements.

Software-based IPS network solutions do not have the same raw processing power as hardware appliances. With that said, advancements in computing technology have significantly improved their performance. This makes them viable options for organizations that need to balance performance with flexibility, scalability, and/or cost.

Cloud-based IPS

In a cloud-based IPS, the intrusion prevention services are provided by a third-party service provider, and the infrastructure is hosted on cloud servers. This approach offers centralized management, allowing administrators to monitor and configure IPS settings from a unified cloud-based interface.

One key advantage of cloud-based IPS is the ability to receive real-time updates. The cloud-based model ensures that the system is continuously updated with the latest threat intelligence, signatures, and security policies. This responsiveness to emerging threats enhances the overall effectiveness of intrusion prevention.

Additionally, cloud-based IPS can efficiently scale to accommodate the varying workloads and traffic patterns of diverse organizations. This makes it an attractive option for those seeking dynamic and scalable intrusion prevention solutions.

The most common deployment locations are network-based IPS, wireless IPS, and host-based IPS.

Network-based IPS

Network-based IPS is strategically placed at critical points within the network architecture, such as routers or switches, where it can analyze data packets in real time. The primary function of network-based IPS is to inspect and filter network traffic for potential threats.

By examining the data packets passing through strategic points, network-based IPS can identify and block malicious activities before they reach their intended destinations. This approach offers a proactive defense mechanism that safeguards the entire network infrastructure.

Wireless IPS

Wireless IPS is essentially network-based IPS but customized to protect wireless networks. These are often highly vulnerable to security breaches. As a result, deploying WIPS is now widely considered to be essential to ensuring their safety.

One of the key features of WIPS is its ability to enforce security policies specific to wireless communication. It can automatically take preventive actions, such as blocking unauthorized devices or isolating compromised access points. This proactive approach significantly raises the overall security of wireless networks.

Host-based IPS

Host-based IPS, or HIPS, provides focused protection tailored for individual devices, with a particular emphasis on securing specific hosts like servers. Unlike network-based solutions that operate at strategic network points, HIPS is deployed directly on individual devices to monitor and defend against threats at the host level.

HIPS enables organizations to customize security measures based on the specific requirements of individual devices. This includes safeguarding critical servers that store sensitive data or run essential services. HIPS therefore plays a crucial role in preventing and mitigating threats that may target specific hosts within a network.

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