What Is An IPS? (Cybersecurity Simplified)

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What Is An IPS? (Cybersecurity Simplified)

An IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) is a security system that can detect and prevent malicious or undesired network activity. Intrusions are often the result of malware, viruses, worms, spyware, Trojan horses, adware, and other unwanted programs. A firewall can only filter traffic based on known patterns; it cannot recognize new types of attacks. 

An IPS scan all incoming traffic looking for known attack types and any unexpected behavior by comparing it against the knowledge of normal user behavior. If an intrusion attempt is detected, the IPS will block the attack before it reaches its target.

What is an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)?

An Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) is a program or device that monitors the network and prevents intrusion by blocking malicious packets at the point of entry. It can be hardware-based, software-based, or a combination of both. To prevent data loss, they need to have real-time traffic monitoring to simultaneously reach react quickly before any damage is done when an attack occurs.

How Does it Work?

An IPS works as the first line of defense against cyber attacks. It sits between your internet connection and your operating system or applications like browsers and shopping carts to prevent malicious traffic from reaching them.

When the IPS detects something suspicious, it analyzes it for known attack signatures before taking action, such as dropping packets and blocking IP addresses. If the unknown activity is found to pose no threat, then normal data flow continues uninterrupted; if it’s deemed potentially harmful, then an alarm will be triggered so you can respond accordingly (i.e., by changing passwords).

The IPS also logs information about attack attempts so you can analyze trends and investigate suspicious activity.

Benefits of an Intrusion Prevention System

There are many benefits to using an IPS, but here are some of the top reasons you should consider getting one for your business:

  • Helps prevent data loss. If a hacker manages to penetrate your network, it’s crucial that they cannot access any sensitive information or systems connected to it.
  • Monitors all traffic in real-time, so no suspicious activity goes undetected.
  • Reduces security risks associated with employees who aren’t trained well enough on cybersecurity practices since unknowing users can easily install malware through social engineering techniques like phishing.
  • An IPS will lock known cyber threats and detect unknown attacks before they reach their target because every device is monitored regardless of its operating system, which means Mac OS X and Windows devices all receive the same level of protection.
  • Provides a clear view of all traffic coming from the internet to your network so you can see exactly where it’s going and what applications are being used. This is especially beneficial if something ever goes wrong after an update or system change since it allows you to pinpoint any unusual activity that could indicate a malware infection.

Types Of Intrusion Prevention System

An IPS can be hardware or software-based or a combination of both.

Hardware Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS)

A HIPS is typically installed directly on the firewall to monitor all incoming and outgoing traffic before it reaches other devices connected to your network. It works by filtering packets based on predefined security rules programmed into the device itself, which means there’s no need for constant updates since new threats aren’t being detected because they haven’t been identified yet. 

The downside with this type of system is that if an attacker finds a way around one rule, they may have free rein across your entire network, so you still need additional protections in place like anti-malware scanners and IDS systems.

Software Intrusion Prevention System (SIPS)

This type of system is typically used to monitor and control network activity using specific software that runs on various devices, such as laptops and desktops, throughout an organization’s entire infrastructure to detect unusual behavior within applications running on all systems at the same time. 

One benefit of this type of IPS is that because you define application rules, there won’t be any need for constant updates since new threats aren’t detected until they have been identified first. 

However, unlike hardware-based HIPS, where security measures run directly on the firewall itself, signature-based detection techniques like heuristics or statistical analysis must be implemented to block malicious traffic before it enters your network.

Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)

This combination of hardware and software uses an IDS to monitor all incoming and outgoing traffic before it reaches other devices connected to your network for suspicious activity. It works by filtering packets based on predefined security rules, such as application signatures or heuristics, which means there’s no need for constant updates since new threats aren’t being detected because they haven’t been identified yet. 

The benefit of this type of system is that if an attacker finds a way around one rule, they may have free rein across the entire network, so you still need additional protections like anti-malware scanners and HIPS systems. 

If, however, malicious traffic gets past the IPS, the IDS will trigger an alarm so you’ll be notified of the breach in real-time before any damage is done.

Best Practices for Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)

An IPS are only as good as its policies and best practices, so it’s essential to keep these in mind when designing your security strategy:

  • Know the difference between anomaly and signature-based detection methods.
  • Use a layered approach by implementing an IDS alongside other monitoring systems like HIPS, anti-malware scanners, DLP tools, etc. This will increase accuracy while reducing false positives since each device works independently rather than together simultaneously.
  • Apply the principle of least privilege by only giving users the access they need to do their job and nothing more.
  • Use whitelisting over blacklisting since known good traffic is always allowed, whereas unknown or suspicious activity will be blocked automatically if deemed malicious. This leaves no room for error because you can’t forget to add a new firewall rule that allows unwanted data. Still, at the same time, this method uses up valuable processing power that could have been used elsewhere instead, so make sure your hardware can handle what needs to be monitored before implementing this type of IPS.
  • Integrate ticketing systems with your IPS. Suppose an administrator wants to allow users access to specific websites or ports. In that case, they can do this directly through their help desk software rather than manually configure the firewall, leading to human error.
  • Don’t forget about the importance of using different passwords for each user account and strong encryption like AES 256 bit on top of that. Passwords should never be shared among employees since it doesn’t matter how secure your network is. Suppose attackers can gain unauthorized access by guessing someone else’s login credentials. In that case, all security measures you’ve put in place will be useless because no one but you has control over those passwords unless t single sign-on (SSO) system is implemented instead.
  • Restrict physical access to your network devices, so attackers have no choice but to use a VPN connection to reach these.
  • Keep backups of all critical files and data regularly if there’s a fire, flood, another type of disaster that damages the hardware preventing you from accessing this information later on when needed most. 

It’s also advisable not to keep backups stored alongside the original documents because if something happens like an earthquake, which destroys both systems, your backup disks will be useless. 

Keeping them separate is fine since they’re only copies anyway rather than originals; it just means you’ll need longer before restoring everything to its previous state once the damage has been done beyond repair.

Frequently Asked Question

Q. How do you know if your IPS is corrupted or misconfigured?

A. It’s important to ensure that all policies and best practices are being followed, so run a vulnerability scan on the system from time to time, which will highlight any issues with your configuration. However, it’s still better not to rely solely on this since sometimes false positives may occur due to a lack of evidence.

Make sure regular backups have been created at least every few days if someone tampers with anti-malware signatures during off-hours when no one else is around, for example. 

If there’s a way they can tamper with these, they almost certainly will unless measures like SSL connections between security software devices management consoles are implemented, which would protect the integrity of this network traffic.

Q. What is a false positive?

A. The IPS incorrectly identifies legitimate traffic as malicious because it’s not set up to identify these patterns correctly due to outdated signatures or misconfigured rules that were never updated after the system was installed.

Q. What is a false negative?

  1. False negatives occur when no alerts are being sent out regarding suspicious activity that does take place, meaning an attacker successfully evades detection by your IPS even though they should have been blocked automatically but weren’t since something went wrong with its configuration in this case, too usually.

Q. Is it possible to monitor the performance of an IPS?

A. Yes, you can use a few metrics for this purpose, including CPU usage and memory consumption, since if they’re constantly increasing over time, then something isn’t right that needs addressing as soon as possible

Look out for any type of spikes or anomalies which could be happening during off-peak hours, too, because sometimes hackers will try their luck with brute force attacks by trying every password combination until one works, so another way to see these is through monitoring traffic on your network interfaces in real-time but only when no one else is around. Hence, attackers have nothing to hide behind.


IPS inspects the incoming and outgoing files and information and reports any malicious information found. It blocks the traffic from those areas to protect the network. There are a total of three types of IPS. 

A Hardware Intrusion Prevention System is directly installed on the firewall and monitors the incoming and outgoing traffic of all the networks connected to that firewall.

A Software Intrusion Prevention System is installed inside the network. These may be softwares or applications which help monitor and block traffic.

And the Intrusion Prevention System is a combination of both hardware and software. It uses IDS to monitor all incoming and outgoing traffic before reaching other devices connected to your network for suspicious activity.

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