Intrusion Prevention Systems: Protecting Your Network from Advanced Threats

 In Blog, Cybersecurity

In today’s digital age, businesses of all sizes are at risk of cyber attacks. With the increasing number of sophisticated and evolving threats, it is more important than ever to have a comprehensive security strategy in place. One key component of such a strategy is an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), which can help prevent cyber attacks before they can cause harm to your network.

The term “Intrusion Prevention System” (IPS) was first coined in the late 1990s, when intrusion detection systems (IDS) were becoming increasingly common in computer networks. The primary difference between IDS and IPS is that while IDS only detect and report on potential security breaches, IPS actively works to prevent or block them.

A brief history of IPS

The first commercial IPS product was released by Network Associates (now McAfee) in 2001. Since then, IPS has become an essential component of many enterprise security architectures, with numerous vendors offering their own IPS solutions.

Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) have evolved over the years to provide more advanced security capabilities. Some of the technologies that have evolved out of IPS include:

  1. Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs): NGFWs incorporate IPS technology as well as other security features like application control, URL filtering, and user-based policies. NGFWs are designed to provide more granular visibility and control over network traffic, which makes them better at detecting and blocking advanced threats.
  2. Threat Intelligence Platforms (TIPs): TIPs are used to collect, analyze, and share threat intelligence across multiple security platforms. They use machine learning and other advanced analytics to identify patterns and trends in threat data, which allows security teams to better understand and mitigate potential threats.
  3. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems: SIEM systems are designed to provide a centralized view of security events and alerts from multiple sources. They use real-time analytics and correlation to detect and quickly respond to security incidents.
  4. Deception Technologies: Deception technologies are designed to detect and deflect cyberattacks by creating fake network resources and luring attackers into interacting with them. They use machine learning and other advanced analytics to detect anomalous behavior and alert security teams to potential threats.

What is an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)?

An Intrusion Prevention System is a security technology that monitors network traffic and identifies potential threats in real time. It is designed to block malicious traffic and prevent cyber attacks by analyzing packets of data and looking for signs of suspicious behavior. An IPS can identify and stop a wide range of threats, including malware, spyware, viruses, SQL injections, cross-site scripting, buffer overflows, and other types of cyber attacks.

An IPS can be deployed as a hardware or software solution and can be integrated into existing network infrastructure, including firewalls and routers. By constantly monitoring network traffic, an IPS can detect and block threats that may have slipped past other security measures.

How an IPS Works

An IPS uses a combination of signature-based and behavior-based detection techniques to identify potential threats. Signature-based detection involves comparing incoming traffic to a database of known threats, while behavior-based detection looks for patterns of suspicious behavior that may indicate an attack is underway.

Once a potential threat is detected, the IPS can take a range of actions to block or mitigate the threat, including dropping the malicious packet, blocking the source IP address, or alerting security personnel. An IPS can also be configured to take automatic actions based on pre-defined policies.

Benefits of an IPS

The benefits of an IPS include:

  1. Advanced threat protection: An IPS can detect and block a wide range of advanced threats, including zero-day exploits and APTs before they can cause harm to your network.
  2. Real-time monitoring: An IPS provides real-time monitoring of network traffic, which can help identify and stop threats as they happen.
  3. Comprehensive coverage: An IPS can provide coverage for all network traffic, including web, email, and file transfers.
  4. Customizable policies: An IPS can be customized to meet the specific needs of your organization, with policies that can be tailored to different user groups and network segments.
  5. Compliance: An IPS can help organizations meet regulatory compliance requirements, such as PCI DSS and HIPAA.

Statistics on IPS Effectiveness

Several studies have shown that an IPS can be highly effective in preventing cyber attacks. According to a report by the Ponemon Institute, 63% of organizations that had experienced a data breach did not have an IPS in place. In addition, the report found that IPSs can reduce the cost of a data breach by an average of $1.6 million.

A study by NSS Labs found that the effectiveness of IPSs varied widely depending on the vendor and configuration, but that overall, IPSs can provide significant protection against cyber attacks. The study found that IPSs can detect and block over 90% of threats, with a false positive rate of less than 1%.

Government Support for IPS

Government agencies have recognized the importance of intrusion prevention systems in protecting critical infrastructure and sensitive data. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends the use of IPSs as part of a comprehensive security strategy, stating that “IPSs are an important component of an enterprise’s defense-in-depth strategy.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also recommends the use of IPSs, stating that “IPSs provide real-time network protection by identifying and preventing malicious network traffic from entering a protected network.” The DHS recommends that organizations deploy IPSs in conjunction with other security technologies, such as firewalls and antivirus software.

Find out if an IPS is right for your network, we’re here to help, contact us to learn more.

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