Let’s get the definitions out of the way first: an intrusion prevention system (IPS) monitors network traffic for malicious activity and stops that activity from reaching your network. In a network, it usually operates behind the firewall. In combination with several other security functions, the IPS is a critical part of next-gen firewall protection.
An IPS is not a new concept. In fact, they stem from an old standard known as an intrusion detection system (IDS). The IDS provides the same basic functions as an IPS, with the primary difference being the IDS can’t stop malicious activity. In practice, an IDS scans the network to detect intrusions based upon specific digital signatures.
How They Work
Next-gen firewalls work in tandem with the IPS. The IPS complements the firewall by using dedicated sensors to detect abnormal behavior within segments of the network. These sensors are divided to detect intrusions within particularly vulnerable and vital areas of the network. More modern IPSs are capable of deploying fewer sensors while covering more segments overall. These super-sensors are deployed across areas where connection points between different security policies occur.
Why They’re Necessary
The primary reason that an IPS is necessary in a business environment is that they cover security holes that a firewall leaves open. On its own, a firewall works to check data as it passes through to the network. Conversely, an IPS will seek out malicious offenders and work to deny access to them before they have a chance to strike. Considering that a direct cyberattack can cost businesses as much as $40,000 per hour, they quickly prove their worth to organizations. An IPS can easily spot (and stop) attacks that other security controls simply cannot. As part of a next-gen firewall system, they provide a much needed extra level of network security.
Where They’re Needed
Generally speaking, an IPS is necessary to nearly every area of your network. As previously stated, they can detect certain attacks and intrusions and stop them in their tracks. This is something that many other devices simply cannot do. An IPS behind a next-gen firewall is best suited for a medium to large enterprise. That’s because it’s meant to analyze large amounts of traffic (in the ballpark of one thousand or more application protocols).
Does Your Business Need an IPS?
An IPS is not inherently useful on its own. The costs of installing a standalone IPS in a network can be extremely high, and the effectiveness can vary greatly depending on the knowledge of the installer. For those that want the abilities of an IPS without the prohibitive costs that they introduce, there is hope. There are IPS modules that are part of the package that comes with a next-gen firewall. Using these modules gives your business a far lower acquisition and deployment cost. As an added benefit, smaller organizations can have access to greater security due to the more accessible market entry point.
DMS Technology can determine if a next-gen firewall backed by an IPS module is right for your business. We will assess your network for vulnerabilities and check to see how a next-gen firewall will improve your network security. Reach out today to find out more about next-gen firewalls, and how they can help your company.