ids v ips

In the ever-expanding cyber threat landscape organizations have to fortify their networks with next-generation technologies that are capable of identifying and repelling intrusions in real-time. That’s where IDS and IPS solutions come in.

As one of the most effective methods of modern cybersecurity, IDS/IPS systems tirelessly scrutinize network traffic, analyzing anomalies, and preventing malicious network intrusions before they cause significant damage.

In this article we go over what these systems are and how they work, the advantages and disadvantages, and the differences between them.

Advantages of IDS

Advantages of IPS

Disadvantages of IDS

Disadvantages of IPS

Differences Between IDS and IPS

While there is overlap in these systems, they have a few key differences. Let’s go over what they are.


There are different types of IDS/IPS systems – host based, network based, and wireless. Host-based systems deploy at the endpoint device level. This type of IDS system monitors traffic flow in and out of devices.

Like EDR, IPS is software deployed on devices and servers that monitors events and takes action if threats are detected. Network IDS systems examine packets and metadata across the entire network. They have a wider view than host-based but visibility is not as granular.

Lastly there are wireless systems, which are only available for IPS. They are a network security device that monitors radio waves from unauthorized access points and work to prevent them from damaging network systems.


IDS is a monitoring tool that reads and compares data packets and references them against known threat signatures. It’s built to surveille and detect, but IDS systems only take minimal action if it detects a threat. IPS systems use a control system that accepts or rejects packets based on the designated rulesets. IPS systems can do everything IDS systems can do, but not the other way around.

IDS systems work across the entire network and operate in real time. All packet threats and anomalies are scanned for any indication of compromise. Detected threats and anomalies are flagged. Once the IDS system flags a violation of security policies it alerts human personnel for incident investigation. IPS works on a smaller scale. It’s usually placed on the same network location as the firewall and intercepts traffic where it meets the internet. If it detects a threat, it stops the flow of malicious traffic. IPS can shut down threats to prevent these malicious packets from hitting their intended target. They apprise the security operations team so they can take action. IDS can’t.


Both systems have a network location, but they are integrated at different points within it. IDS works across the entire network to provide packet scanning anywhere on it. Indicators of compromise, anomalies, and threats from data packets are acknowledged. If security policy violations like port scanning, malware, or ransomware are detected the IDS system notifies the human security personnel to investigate and take action.

Intrusion detection is located in the same part of the network as the firewall and intercepts traffic at the intersection where the internal network meets the internet. Upon threat detection it stops the flow of bad traffic. But unlike IDS, which only creates alerts and notifies the designated security team to investigate, IPS shuts down the threat and prevents the dangerous packets from reaching their intended target in addition to creating alerts. But keep in mind the range can be more limited than in an IDS system.

Level of Intervention

IDS requires a team with technical and security acumen to actually prevent threats. Since they just scan, organizations need to dedicate resources to ensure nothing malicious gets on the network. If it does, they need to have the ability to perform proper incident response.

Since IPS is a proactive modality they operate with a database of current threat signatures. They also use other technologies like machine learning to detect and prevent threats. Since they are autonomous, fewer (if any) organizations don’t need to dedicate as many resources to ensuring they provide proper protection.


Intrusion detection systems usually operate inline. Their actions can be specified upon detected threat. An example would be an IDS system that’s set to create an event log, send a notification, or provide a command to a networking device like a firewall or router. By creating a log digital forensics can be performed for analysis. They can also update device policies to stop similar events from happening again. It’s not uncommon for organizations to set up their IDS for logging/alerting. Network architecture uses other devices like servers, firewalls, and routers also address threats.

When it comes to IPS, these are placed behind the network’s firewall. They are normally configured to function in “end host” or “inline” mode. Understand that false positives do occur and take resources to investigate. But with proper configurations they can be set to minimize them.

As cyberthreats become more dangerous it’s important to use the proper network security tools to combat them. Systems that use next-generation technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning and integrate threat signature databases equip security teams with extra bulwark in their defense in depth cybersecurity strategy. IDS and IPS solutions have similarities in the security benefits they provide and how they function. But they differ in key areas that are important to be aware of.

Reasons to Integrate IDS/IPS into Your Infrastructure

There are multiple reasons to integrate one of these systems into your network infrastructure. The biggest reason is cyber defense. With this type of continuous monitoring comes early threat detection, improved network visibility, reduced risk, and more effective incident response should a threat get through.

If your organization falls under one of the compliance regulation frameworks like CMMC, NIST 800-171, or FINRA there are requirements to have a continuous monitoring solution in place and IDS/IPS is the perfect solution.

They also help with network performance. By filtering out bad traffic you can prevent attacks intended to clog bandwidth. Business continuity costs if it’s unavailable, and a continuous monitoring solution helps to ensure there are no downtime periods.

 Summing it Up

The landscape of cybersecurity is as dynamic as the threats it fights. IDS/IPS systems are one of the most powerful ways to protect the networks of organizations against advancing cyber threats.

Technology and threats evolve in tandem. And with them the reasons and requirements for organizations to invest in continuous monitoring solutions only grows stronger.