What Is an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)?

Aaron Paul updated on Nov 23, 2022 to Knowledge Center

A computer on an open network is threatened by many malicious things, such as malware or other things that might intrude into it through the network. That's why computer security has implemented various types to ensure the protection of a device.

One such measure is the intrusion prevention system. Often shortened for IPS, it's important to understand what it is. So, what exactly is IPS? Moreover, how does IPS work, and what are its benefits? Today, we're going to analyze that and more, so let's get started.

What Is An Intrusion Prevention System? (IPS)

Intrusion prevention systems are used to detect and stop cyber-attacks. Moreover, an intrusion prevention system is a network security device delicately designed to prevent other security issues in real-time.

It detects and blocks unauthorized access from the Internet or internal networks by analyzing network traffic for malicious content. Intrusion prevention systems are often deployed on the perimeter of an organization's network, where they can monitor both incoming and outgoing traffic.

They work by inspecting packets of data for various signs of attack, such as the presence of a virus or malware or other indications that an attack is underway, such as a sudden increase in outbound communication with suspicious destinations.

It's often compared with IDS (Intrusion Detection System), which works together with it. An intrusion detection system (IDS) is a computer program that monitors network or system activities for malicious activity or policy violations.

If the IDS detects suspicious behavior, it alerts the intrusion prevention system (IPS), which then takes action to stop the attack. Intrusion prevention systems rely on signatures and heuristics to identify malicious activity. They examine network traffic patterns and look for patterns that match known attacks or other threats.

How Does Intrusion Prevention System Work?

The intrusion prevention system (IPS) aims to monitor and analyze all the data and packets traveling through a network. The system judges each aspect of the network traffic to identify specific threats, such as:

  • Exploits and malicious files
  • Viruses and worms
  • Harmful data pockets
  • Avoid exploited networks and their connection
  • DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service)
  • DoS attacks (Denial of service)

The IPS does this by scanning each data packet in real-time. This inspection takes a few seconds as the system thoroughly scans each packet traveling through the network. So, what happens if the IPS detects any of the aforementioned issues?

  • IPS will proceed to dismiss the TCP session that has gotten exploited. On the other hand, it'll block the IP address (the source) from where the offending file originated.
  • Reconfigure the firewall, so any future instances are blocked as well.
  • Delete any malware, worms, or viruses from the network for secure traffic.

The prevention system conducts these three main actions when a threat is detected.

Types Of Intrusion Prevention Systems

The Intrusion Prevention System is usually divided into various types. These types are customizable and changed by the network administrator. They serve as a protocol to detect viruses and allow IPS to deal with threats accordingly. The types include:

  • Signature-based uses a predefined signature by the administrator and databases to understand common network threats. So, when it comes across files, it judges them in the standard provided to it.
  • Policy-based is thoroughly customizable by the administrator, and it can prevent files that aren't even malicious. This is just a key basis for control in a specific network, such as workplaces.
  • The anomaly-based policy deals with any unexpected or unwarranted activity within the network. This allows the IPS to detect anything out of the ordinary and act accordingly.

These are the three main types that you can configure into an IPS system. However, all of these usually come predetermined.

Benefits Of Using An Intrusion Prevention System

By this point, we know that Intrusion Prevention Systems and their types include security software that monitors and blocks unauthorized system access. They are often used in large organizations with sensitive data.

Some of the benefits of using an intrusion prevention system include increased efficiency, time-saving, and compliance with company policies. In addition, intrusion prevention systems can be customized to fit the needs of the organization, or they can be used as a tool to block malware and viruses.

Conclusion

These are the major benefits of using IPS in any network-based system. It's not only a key method to ensure that nothing out of the ordinary happens, but the data within a specific network parameter also remains safe and secure.

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