Table of Contents
In the toolkit to counter cyber threats, the Intrusion Detection System (commonly abbreviated as “IDS”) stands out as a cornerstone in cybersecurity defences. IDS plays an integral role in an organisation’s security posture, providing monitoring and detection capabilities that help protect against malicious activity and unauthorised access to system resources.
An IDS is a sophisticated device or software application that meticulously monitors network traffic or system activities for any signs of potential violations, unauthorised access, or malicious activities. Its primary function is to detect these anomalies, raise alarms, and often produce detailed logs to aid further analysis.
Think of it as a vigilant watchdog, continually scanning its surroundings and barking to alert the owner when it perceives a threat. By providing an early warning of suspicious activities, IDS helps organisations take timely action to mitigate risks and prevent breaches.
Cybersecurity Education and Training Begins Here
Here’s how your free trial works:
- Meet with our cybersecurity experts to assess your environment and identify your threat risk exposure
- Within 24 hours and minimal configuration, we’ll deploy our solutions for 30 days
- Experience our technology in action!
- Receive report outlining your security vulnerabilities to help you take immediate action against cybersecurity attacks
Fill out this form to request a meeting with our cybersecurity experts.
Thank you for your submission.
How IDS Works
An Intrusion Detection System is a vigilant monitor that constantly oversees network traffic for any signs of unauthorised access or malicious activities. When such activities are detected, the IDS springs into action by alerting relevant authorities or personnel. Here’s a breakdown of the IDS mechanism:
- Monitoring and Analysis: The IDS continually examines network traffic flow while scrutinising activity for anything suspicious.
- Rule and Pattern Comparison: It utilises a database of predefined rules and patterns, acting as the IDS’s criteria for potentially suspicious or malicious behaviour.
- Alert Generation: When network activity resonates with any of these established criteria, the IDS raises a flag by alerting the system’s administrator or relevant authority.
Intrusion detection systems can be categorised based on their placement or methodology. Each approach takes a different function behind how the IDS operates.
It’s also vital to differentiate IDS from its proactive counterpart, the Intrusion Prevention System (IPS). While both monitor network traffic for potential threats, the primary focus of an IDS is detection and alerting. In contrast, an IPS takes a more active stance to prevent the detected threats from causing harm.
In addition to its detection capabilities, the potency of IDS lies in its ability to enhance security responses. It identifies hosts and devices within the network, examines the data carried by network packets, and traces it back to the origin of a potential attack. This comprehensive approach fortifies a network’s defence against malicious intents.
IDS is an integral early-warning system for networks that plays a pivotal role in any organisation’s cybersecurity strategy.
Types of IDS Detection
Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) employ various detection techniques to identify suspicious activities within a network. While the first two (below) are the primary types of IDS detection, alternative methods are used for specific environments:
As one of the most common detection methods, signature-based detection relies on a database of known attack patterns, often termed “signatures”. When incoming traffic matches one of these patterns, an alert is generated. While effective against known threats, it can’t detect new, previously unrecorded threats.
Unlike signature-based systems, anomaly-based IDS focuses on establishing a baseline of “normal” network behaviour. If the incoming traffic deviates significantly from this baseline, it triggers an alert. This approach is beneficial for detecting new or unknown threats but can sometimes produce false positives.
Heuristic-based IDS uses advanced algorithms and analytics to predict an attacker’s next move based on their behaviour patterns. It can adapt and learn from observed traffic, protecting against novel and evolving threats.
Stateful Protocol Analysis
This method involves understanding and tracking the state of network protocols in use. It identifies deviations that might indicate an attack by comparing observed events to pre-determined profiles of generally accepted definitions of benign activity.
This type functions on a defined set of policies or rules the network administrator sets. Any activity that violates these policies triggers an alert. It’s a proactive approach requiring periodic policy updating to stay relevant.
Not a traditional detection technique, honeypots are decoy systems that attract potential attackers. They divert the attacker from the actual systems and gather information about their methods. The insights from honeypots can inform other IDS about emerging threat patterns.
Understanding the different detection types is critical in selecting the proper IDS for specific network environments. The best approach often combines multiple detection methods to ensure a comprehensive protective layer against a wide array of threats.
Intrusion Detection Systems vs. Intrusion Prevention Systems
Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) are essential network security tools designed to identify and combat malicious activities or policy breaches within a network. Their primary distinction lies in their respective reactions to perceived threats.
While IDS and IPS have distinct roles, they often function best when used in tandem. IDS ensures nothing slips through unnoticed, and IPS prevents detected threats from causing harm.
IDS vs. Firewalls
Intrusion Detection Systems and firewalls are both integral components of network security. However, they serve different purposes, primarily based on their functionality and response mechanism.
While firewalls control the flow of traffic based on set parameters, IDS monitors the network to identify and alert on anomalies. For a robust security posture, using both together offers layered protection, with firewalls filtering unwanted traffic and IDS ensuring continuous monitoring.
IDS vs. SIEM
While IDS is a specialised tool for detecting threats, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) provides a comprehensive security data analysis and management platform. Each operates in different capacities within a network security framework.
SIEM operates as the main control centre, offering a 360-degree view of security status, trends, and threats. It’s the analytical and integrative counterpart to the IDS’s vigilant watch. Leveraging both in unison ensures rapid threat detection combined with in-depth insights and layered defence.
To combat these evasion tactics, organisations must regularly update and configure their IDS. Additionally, IDS should be integrated with other security tools, as combining multiple layers of security and maintaining vigilance can help mitigate the risk of such evasion techniques.
How Proofpoint Can Help
Proofpoint’s Emerging Threat Intelligence solutions deliver timely and accurate threat intelligence, which provides the backbone for supporting modern Intrusion Detection Systems. Equipped with the solution’s ET Pro Ruleset, organisations can leverage an advanced rule set that helps detect and block threats via their existing network security appliances.
Proofpoint’s fully verified intel provides deeper context and integrates seamlessly with security tools to enhance decision-making. Its threat intelligence feeds can be directly fed to SIEMs, firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion protection systems (IPS), and authentication systems.
When integrated with IDS, Proofpoint’s Emerging Threat Intelligence can help improve the detection and prevention of malicious activities or policy violations in a network. Emerging Threat Intelligence also provides separate lists for IP addresses and domains, and subscribers get free use of their Splunk technology add-on.
For more information, contact Proofpoint.