Intrusion prevention system (IPS)

An Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) is a network security/threat prevention technology that examines network traffic flows to detect and prevent vulnerability exploits. Vulnerability exploits usually come in the form of malicious inputs to a target application or service, which attackers use to interrupt and gain control of an application or machine. The main functions of an IPS include:

  1. Monitoring: It continuously monitors network traffic to identify potential threats in real time.

  2. Analysis: It analyzes the traffic on various protocol and application layers to identify suspicious patterns or anomalies that may indicate a security threat.

  3. Detection: Using signature-based detection, anomaly detection, and other methods, it identifies activities that may signify an attack or intrusion attempt.

  4. Prevention: Once a potential threat is identified, the IPS can take actions to prevent the intrusion, such as blocking traffic from the source IP address, closing access to vulnerable applications, or even interacting with firewalls to adjust security policies dynamically.

  5. Reporting: It generates alerts and reports for security analysts to review, providing insights into the nature of the attempted intrusion, the targeted systems, and the type of attack.

  6. Integration: Often, IPS can integrate with other network and security systems like firewalls, SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) systems, and threat intelligence platforms to enhance overall security posture.

IPS can be deployed in different modes, including inline (where it directly interacts with network traffic, able to block or allow traffic in real-time) and passive (where it monitors and analyzes traffic without directly intervening, alerting administrators to potential threats).

The effectiveness of an IPS depends on its ability to accurately detect and prevent threats without significantly impacting network performance or generating false positives, which can lead to unnecessary disruptions in network operations.