IT is a notoriously fast-paced field. Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-paced areas within IT. As a result, it’s very easy to get left behind by it. With that in mind, this article will provide a simple answer to the common question “What does IPS stand for?”.
The simplest answer to the question “What does IPS stand for?” is “intrusion prevention system”.
It is a security solution designed to actively monitor, detect, and respond to potential threats or attacks on a network. The core purpose of an IPS in network security is to go beyond intrusion detection (IDS) by not only identifying malicious activities but also taking proactive measures to prevent them.
By analyzing network traffic patterns and employing various detection methods, an IPS can block or mitigate security threats in real-time, safeguarding the network infrastructure from unauthorized access, data breaches, and other cyber threats.
Just answering the question “What does IPS stand for?” only provides a very high-level understanding of IPS. IPS systems can actually be subdivided into further types. Here is a quick overview of the main categories of IPS.
Overview: Physical devices dedicated to intrusion prevention.
Functionality: Operates as standalone appliances, examining and filtering network traffic in real-time.
Advantages: Offers high performance and reliability, making it suitable for enterprise-level security.
Overview: IPS functionality implemented through software applications.
Functionality: Integrates with existing hardware infrastructure, providing flexibility and scalability.
Advantages: Cost-effective, particularly for smaller organizations, and allows for easier updates and customization.
Overview: IPS services delivered and managed through cloud platforms.
Functionality: Analyzes network traffic in the cloud, providing centralized security for distributed or cloud-centric environments.
Advantages: Scalable, offers real-time updates, and is well-suited for organizations with cloud-focused operations.
Overview: Installed on individual devices, such as servers or endpoints.
Functionality: Focuses on the security of a specific host system, monitoring activities, and preventing unauthorized access.
Advantages: Tailored protection for individual devices, crucial for securing endpoints and servers.
Overview: Deployed at key network points, such as routers or switches.
Functionality: Monitors and filters network traffic, blocking malicious activities in real time.
Advantages: Provides comprehensive network protection, capable of blocking threats before reaching internal systems.
IPS continuously monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic, scrutinizing data packets, headers, and payloads. By analyzing these components in real-time, IPS systems can identify patterns, behaviors, or signatures associated with known threats or suspicious activities.
Most IPS mainly use signature-based detection and anomaly-based detection.
Signature-based detection: This compares observed network traffic against a database of predefined signatures or patterns associated with known cyber threats. Signature-based detection is effective for detecting and blocking known malware, viruses, or attack patterns.
Anomaly-based detection: This identifies deviations from established baselines or normal behavior within the network. Anomaly-based detection enables an IPS to detect previously unknown or zero-day attacks by recognizing unusual patterns that may indicate a security threat.
IPS may also utilize heuristic-based detection. This involves the analysis of patterns or behaviors using general rules and algorithms. Heuristic-based detection enables the detection of novel attack patterns without relying on specific signatures, enhancing the system’s ability to identify emerging threats.
When an IPS detects a potential threat, it takes immediate action to block or mitigate the malicious activity. This can include blocking specific IP addresses, filtering certain types of traffic, or applying other predefined security measures.
The proactive nature of IPS helps prevent the exploitation of vulnerabilities and stops attacks before they can compromise the integrity, confidentiality, or availability of the network.
Here is a quick overview of how an IPS compares with other key security components.
IPS aims to prevent and block threats in real time, while IDS primarily focuses on detecting and alerting about potential security incidents. This means that IPS has proactive blocking capabilities, whereas IDS relies on manual intervention after detection.
IPS focuses on real-time threat detection, while SIEM systems collect, correlate, and analyze logs for comprehensive security event management. IPS contributes to SIEM data, enhancing overall security intelligence and incident response capabilities.
An IPS and a firewall perform much the same job but they operate in different parts of the network. A firewall will typically sit at the perimeter of the internal network. Essentially, it’s the wall between the internal network (intranet) and the external network (internet). An IPS will sit within a network. Effectively, a firewall will do a first-level triage of traffic based on security policies. An IPS will then perform a more robust scan.
Antivirus software scans for and removes malware on individual devices, while IPS monitors network activities for anomalies.
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