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What Is An IDS (Def)?

What Is An IDS (Def)?


As cybersecurity becomes a more pressing concern for everyone, so it becomes more important for everyone to learn about it to some extent. At a minimum, people should be familiar with key terms relating to it. There are often helpful definitions of these online. You just need to search on appropriate terms (e.g. IDS def). In some cases, however, it can be useful to have more detail. With that in mind, here is a brief guide to IDS.

What is an IDS (def)?

The simple answer to the question “What is an IDS (def)?” is that an IDS is an Intrusion Detection System (IDS). A more complete answer is that it is a sophisticated cybersecurity tool designed to monitor network traffic in real-time for potential security threats.

Types of IDS

Answering the question “What is an IDS (def)?” is only the start of what there is to learn about IDS. The next step is to become familiar with the different types of IDS. Here is a brief overview of them.

Network-based IDS (NIDS): NIDS are comprised of standalone sensors. These are strategically placed at key points within a network, such as routers or switches. They allow for comprehensive coverage and analysis of the entire network’s traffic. NIDS excels in large-scale threat monitoring, making it suitable for enterprise-level networks.

Host-based Intrusion Detection Systems (HIDS): HIDS are installed directly on individual devices within a network to provide a tailored and device-specific layer of protection. HIDS is particularly valuable for securing servers, where critical data and services are housed. It can also be used to protect endpoints. Traditionally, that would mean workstations or laptops. Now HIDS is increasingly used on mobile devices.

Cloud-based IDS (CIDS): CIDS uses the power of the cloud to provide highly scalable and flexible security solutions. It allows for centralized management of security policies and configurations. This streamlines administrative tasks and ensures consistent protection across the entire network. It also facilitates real-time updates and threat intelligence, enhancing the system’s ability to identify and respond to emerging security threats promptly. CIDS is particularly effective for organizations with distributed or cloud-centric network architectures.

Wireless IDS (WIDS): WIDS is a specialist solution for wireless networks. It uses advanced algorithms to detect anomalies in wireless communication patterns that could indicate security threats specific to the wireless environment. These include rogue devices, unauthorized access points, and man-in-the-middle attacks.

Network Behavior Analysis (NBA) IDS: NBA IDS employs sophisticated algorithms to establish a baseline of normal network behavior. Deviations from this baseline are flagged as potential anomalies, indicating possible security threats. This makes it highly effective at detecting more advanced methods of attack such as zero-day threats, insider threats, and persistent threats. These can be subtle enough to go unnoticed by traditional security measures.

Choosing between IDS and IPS

Possibly one of the main reasons people end up searching for “IDS def” is to remind themselves of the difference between an IDS and an IPS (Intrusion Prevention System).

The key difference is that an IDS is reactive, whereas an IPS is proactive. In other words, an IDS alerts administrators about potential threats; an IPS takes immediate actions to prevent those threats from causing harm. This means that an IDS is better suited to observation whereas an IPS is better suited to response.

With that said, whether an IDS or an IPS is the better option for you depends on your individual situation. Here is an overview of the three key factors you should consider when making this choice.

Your overall approach to security

Security measures can be divided into two broad categories. These are proactive (IPS) and reactive (IDS). The proactive approach emphasizes prevention while the reactive approach emphasizes cure (i.e. detection and response).

In theory, the proactive approach is the better option as it minimizes the likelihood that an organization will fall victim to an attack. In practice, however, the proactive approach requires substantial investment in preventive technologies. They also require a lot of highly skilled labor to manage them effectively. If not properly managed, they can actually become liabilities by generating excessive false-positive alerts.

Furthermore, all organizations need to assume that their defenses will be breached. This means they will always need to implement some level of reactive measures. This includes having robust event management and incident-response frameworks.

Your view of risk

With an IDS the main risk is that other tools and/or human agents will not be able to deliver a prompt and appropriate response. With an IPS, the main risk is that regular business will be disrupted through false-positive alerts.

Your current resources

If you are confident in your event management and incident-response capabilities, then using an IDS may be preferable. This will give you the highest level of control of your response. On the other hand, if your resources are stretched, then an IPS may help to reduce the pressure on them.

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