Upon hearing the terms Intrusion Detection System (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), you may assume that they both refer to the same type of intrusion-blocking cybersecurity solution. While they serve similar purposes, though, they aren’t necessarily the same. IDSs and IPSs work in different ways to lock down your business’s information technology (IT) infrastructure and, therefore, protect it against cyber threats. So, what’s the difference between an IDS and IPS exactly?

What Is an IDS?

An IDS is a cybersecurity tool — either software or hardware based — that monitors traffic on a network for signs of suspicious activity. When deployed, it will constantly scan the traffic on your business’s network while looking for signs of a cyber attack. The IDS will monitor network traffic in search of potential cyber threats.

IDSs work by cross-referencing network traffic to a database of known cyber threats. If the IDS identifies a cyber threat on your business’s network, it will log the event so that you can further investigate or otherwise take the appropriate steps to mitigate it.

What Is an IPS

An IPS, on the other hand, is a cybersecurity tool that performs the same function of monitoring network traffic as an IDS but with the ability to block suspicious or malicious traffic as well. They cross-reference network traffic to a database of known cyber threats — just like their IDS counterparts. The difference, however, is that IPSs are capable of blocking suspicious or malicious activity, whereas IDSs are only capable of identifying and logging such activity.

Like firewalls, IPSs serve as a barrier between your business’s internal network and the internet. Whether you are downloading an email attachment or browsing a website, your business’s internal network is being exposed to external traffic from the internet. With an IPS in place, though, you can rest assured knowing that your business’s network is safe from external threats.

There are four primary types of IPSs, including the following:

  1. Network based
  2. Wireless
  3. Network behavior analysis
  4. Host based

In Conclusion

IDSs and IPSs are two common cybersecurity tools that can protect your business from cyber threats. They both work by checking network traffic against a database of known cyber threats. With that said, only IPSs can block cyber threats. IDSs are designed exclusively to identify cyber threats, whereas IPSs are designed to both identify and block cyber threats. Aside from this subtle nuance, they are pretty much the same.

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