In the danger ridden environments of today, threat management is a highly prioritized issue for enterprises and in order to ensure that it is addressed in an adequate and effective manner, it is important to make careful and knowledgeable purchase decisions regarding the requisite tools. In this paper, the benefits, suitability and differences between the two primary options available – Intrusion Defense Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS).
IPSes and firwalls are the two primary control devices that are used to ensure network security. An IPS is similar to a firewall, which is a security set up that allows the passage of only those data packets that are permissible by a set of rules and discards the other ones. An IPS functions in a similar manner, except that the rules pertain to permissibility rather than prohibition. Thus, an IPS tests if the data packet is prohibited under any of the rules and if not, it is allowed to pass through.
While Intrusion Detection Systems is a control mechanism and a visibility tool. These systems operate on the perimeters of the network and monitor the traffic on multiple points and thus lend visibility to the security aspect of the network. It is comparable to a protocol analyzer, that is used by engineers to gather in-depth insight regarding the network.The IDS serves a similar purpose to the security engineer and enables him or her to unearth information regarding security policy violations, viruses such as Trojans, possible information wastages and leakages, configuration mistakes, detection of unauthorized users in the system, etc.
From the above discussion, it is apparent that IDS and IPS function in a complementary manner to tackle problems pertaining to network ‘intrusion’, which is the aspect that makes them similar. Intrusion refers to the situation where an unauthorized person gains access to the network in an illegitimate manner . While the IDS enables the detection of intrusions, IPS enables the prevention and the blockage of such intrusions. IDS provides visibility to the network managers whereas IPS equips them with the ability to control the flow of traffic into the system. Thus, both the mechanisms are required in order to ensure enterprise security.
In conclusion, it can be said that organizations that have specific and nuanced control needs and significant possibilities of threat should aim to purchase IPS and firewalls, whereas, organizations that are in the diagnostic phase and need to identify the problems plaguing the network need to buy visibility mechanisms such as IDS. However, complete security can be obtained through a combined employment of both IPS and IDS.
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