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Privacy is a concern for most of us, regardless of our occupation. Protecting your computer network against attack is vital, especially in the highly connected network environment that we live in. To ensure system privacy, many organizations rely upon Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS); but what are the differences between the two and why are they needed? Think of it this way: Intrusion Detection is passive, while Intrusion Prevention is active. Intrusion Detection Systems detect system intrusion and Intrusion Prevention System prevents it. In this way, the two processes are related. Let’s take a closer look.

IDS is used to detect any infringement or unauthorized access into a computer system or network. When an intrusion is detected, a notification is sent to the administrator so that necessary steps can be taken to restore normal operations. IDS is good for alerting and recovery purposes, but unfortunately cannot prevent an attack from happening. IPS, on the other hand, filters network activity and has the ability to stop malicious attacks on the network offering an additional layer of security. Intrusion Detection Systems and Intrusion Prevention Systems are invaluable tools, and are becoming more of a necessity in any and all environments. Let’s look at some of the benefits.

IDS and IPSBenefits of Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)
Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) create an urgent awareness of any intrusion into the network so that steps may be taken to safeguard private information or policies. Organizations use IDS to observe network activity including any activity that deviates too far from normal user activity. IDS give organizations the ability to:

1) Configure for 100% network visibility, providing IT professionals the ability to see exactly what is running on their networks AND identify threats and vulnerabilities to their networks.

2) Configure to reduce actionable events by up to 99.99%, allowing IT professionals to focus on immediate threats and not wild goose chases.

Benefits of Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)
Intrusion Prevention Systems are more complex than Intrusion Detection Systems because they have a higher degree of efficiency in locating problems and stopping them in their tracks. IPS is capable of preventing any attack on the network that might compromise operational security. Administrators can also learn from IPS; for example, what is the nature of the intrusion; whether the attack is a strong one or a weak one; what can be done to prevent further problems. IPS enables constant upgrades to the network while offering additional security and preventing an attack that can cause damage.

Why do organizations need Intrusion Detection and Intrusion Prevention Systems?
Typical network and systems administrators may not have the specialized skills required or the time needed to deploy IPS or IDS technology. Implementing an enterprise IDS and IPS requires time and preparation.  Configuring the agents, creating group policies, testing the environment, tuning alerts, and understanding what the alerts mean, are just a few of the challenges. Whoever will be implementing and configuring the systems should have a thorough understanding of how the network is designed, know what applications are being used how they function. Some applications may need to write the root of the primary drive, others may need to communication over specific ports.  Mobile or remote workers also need to be taken into consideration.

Additionally, the cost of implementing an enterprise IDS and IPS could be cost prohibitive. Not only is there the cost of the products themselves, there is also the amount of hours it will take to implement. Add in the cost of managing the systems and you can appreciate the challenges of these protective measures.

You may opt to contract with IDS/IPS experts to focus on your network so that you can focus on your business. These experts ensure compliance with regulatory obligations, while they continuously research and update security software so you don’t have to. They’ll help you develop a comprehensive security strategy with multiple layers of security including Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) & Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) to keep you ahead of the next threat. And hiring a team of experts to do the job allows you to focus on what you know best — your business!

With a plethora of vulnerabilities our there, organizations need to constantly mitigate the risks associated with the ever changing environments and applications being introduced. As you can see, IDS and IPS are invaluable tools, but we need to remember that they are not the “silver bullet” for security. Selecting just one technology for comprehensive protection results in too much risk. By combining several preventive measures, organizations now have multiple layers of protection against various types of attacks and can bring risk exposure threats down to acceptable levels.

Now we’d like to hear from YOU. How are you protected from the unknown?

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