With the evolution of cybersecurity solutions from the early days of firewalls, these distinct capabilities merged to offer organizations both IDPS solutions. Fast-forward and security tools continue to combine features, including IDPS, into advanced solutions like next-generation firewalls (NGFW) and XDR. While IDPS comes with a growing number of products and managed services, vendors still offer standalone IDPS, allowing organizations to pick a solution that supports their other security assets and needs. Be it a physical, cloud, or virtual appliance, the next-generation intrusion prevention systems (NGIPS) of today are worth any growing enterprise’s consideration.
In this guide, we cover the industry’s leading intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), what to consider when along a summary of key features to look for as you evaluate solutions.
Top Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS) of 2022
Analyzing the Top IDPS Solutions
Check Point Intrusion Prevent System (IPS)
Included in the firewall pioneer’s line of NGFWs, the Check Point Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) offers organizations the needed features to guard against evasive and sophisticated attack techniques. Scanning for behavioral and protocol anomalies, Check Point IPS can detect and block DNS tunneling attempts, signature-less attacks, protocol misuse, and known CVEs. With built-in access to antivirus, anti-bot, and sandboxing (SandBlast) features, organizations can quickly deploy IPS with default and recommended policies. Based on organization device and network security needs, administrators can also set signature and protection rules by vulnerability severity, attack detection confidence level, and impact on performance.
Check Point IPS Features
- Up to 1Tbps of IPS throughput with Check Point’s Maestro Hyperscale network security
- Detailed and customizable reports for critical security events and needed remediation
- Vulnerability detection for multiple protocols including HTTP, POP, IMAP, and SMTP
- Configure policies based on tags for vendor, product, protocol, file type, and threat year
- Virtual patching and security updates automatically every 2 hours via a security gateway
Read more: 9 Best Secure Web Gateways
Cisco Firepower Next-Generation IPS (NGIPS)
For a new era of advanced threats, the IT giant offers its line of Cisco Firepower Next-Generation IPS (NGIPS). Customers can select an NGIPS based on throughput, concurrent and new sessions, and fail-to-wire (FTW) interfaces with a handful of appliances to choose from. Each NGIPS model comes with Cisco security intelligence and the ability to detect, block, track, analyze, and contain malware. From the Firepower Management Center, Administrators can access and manage policies for monitoring, logging, reporting, and configuration with extensive features like 80 categories covering 280 million addresses for URL filtering.
Cisco Firepower NGIPS Features
- Visibility into 4,000 commercial applications with integration options for custom apps
- Advanced malware protection (AMP) for addressing advanced file-related threats
- Embedded DNS, IP, and URL security intelligence and 35,000 IPS rules
- Policies for discovering and blocking anomalous traffic and sensitive data access
- Threat analysis and scoring, and malware behavior analysis with file sandboxing
FireEye Network Security
Known for its incident response track record, it’s no surprise FireEye Network Security is a smart choice for maximizing detection, prevention, and remediation capabilities. With multiple techniques for analyzing traffic – including dynamic machine learning, correlation, and FireEye’s Multi-Vector Virtual Execution (MVX) engines – administrators have the real-time awareness to contain and manage imminent threats. FireEye Network Security is deployable as a hardware appliance with integrated MVX service while distributed, multi-site organizations have a few choices between on-premises, virtual, and cloud MVX implementation.
FireEye Network Security Features
- Support for Windows and macOS systems and analysis of 160 different file types
- Signature-less, dynamic analysis engine (MVX) for sophisticated and persistent threats
- Options for inline monitoring, inline active blocking, out-of-band monitoring, and HA
- Identify malware, phishing, exploits, and command and control (CnC) callbacks
- Integrate response workflows with FireEye’s email, forensics, and endpoint security
Read more: Top Secure Email Gateway Solutions for 2021
Hillstone S-Series Network Intrusion Prevention System (NIPS)
With over 20,000 enterprise customers since 2006, Hillstone Networks offers a suite of cybersecurity solutions for protecting today’s hybrid infrastructure. A part of Hillstone’s Edge Protection tools, organizations can choose between Hillstone’s industry-recognized NGFWs and its line of inline Network Intrusion Prevention Systems (NIPS) appliances. With IPS throughput limits ranging from 1 Gbps to 12 Gbps across six models, the S-Series NIPS offers flexibility in meeting a range of network security needs. The Hillstone NIPS inspection engine includes almost 13,000 signatures and options for custom signatures, rate-based detection, and protocol anomaly detection.
Hillstone S-Series NIPS Features
- Antivirus, anti-spam, URL filtering, botnet C2 prevention, and a cloud sandbox
- High availability features like AP/peer mode, heartbeat interfaces, failovers, and more
- Block, monitor, or filter 4,000+ apps by name, category, subcategory, risk, or technology
- Real-time behavioral analysis informed by known and unknown malware families
- Cloud-based unified management for optimizing distributed, remote NIPS devices
McAfee Network Security Platform
McAfee Network Security Platform Features
- Self-learning, profile-based detection, and connection timing for DDoS attack prevention
- Intrusion prevention with TCP stream reassembly, IP defragging, and host rate limiting
- Threat intelligence including reputation analysis for apps, protocols, files, IPs, and URLs
- Botnet and callback protection with DNS sinkholing, correlations, and CnC database
- Scalable with throughput options up to 30 Gbps (single device) and 100 Gbps (stacked)
Read more: Best SIEM Tools & Software for 2022
NSFOCUS Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System (NGIPS)
Launched in 2000, NSFOCUS offers a stack of technologies, including network security, threat intelligence, and application security. For IPDS capabilities, the Santa Clara and Beijing-based vendor offers the NSFOCUS Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System (NGIPS) with a handful of appliances providing IPS throughput up to 20Gbps. Real-time intelligence of global botnets, exploits, and malware inform the discovery and denial of advanced threats. Organizations have the option of adding NSFOCUS Threat Analysis Center (TAC) for even more powerful engines using static analysis, virtual sandbox execution, antivirus, and IP reputation analysis.
NSFOCUS NGIPS Features
- Response methods include block, pass through, alert, quarantine, and capture packet
- Web security and prevention for Webshell, XSS, SQL injection, and malicious URLs
- 9,000+ threat signatures, categories for IPS policies, and complex password policies
- Traffic analysis, bandwidth management, and NetFlow data on inbound/outbound traffic
- DDoS protection for TCP/UDP port scanning, floods (ICMP, DNS, ACK, SYN), and more
Palo Alto Networks Threat Prevention
Palo Alto Networks Threat Prevention builds off traditional intrusion detection and prevention systems with a list of advanced features and protection for all ports to address an evolving threat landscape. Included in the vendor’s industry-leading next-generation firewalls (PA-Series), the Threat Prevention subscription provides multiple defensive layers with heuristic-based analysis, configurable custom vulnerability signatures, malformed packet blocking, TCP reassembly, and IP defragmentation. With Palo Alto Networks Threat Prevention, administrators can scan all traffic for comprehensive and contextual visibility, deploy Snort and Suricata rules, block C2 risks, and automate policy updates against the newest threats.
Palo Alto Networks Threat Prevention Features
- Reduce risk and attack surface with file and download blocking, and SSL decryption
- Remote user protection with GlobalProtect network security for endpoints via PA-Series
- Generate C2 signatures based on real-time malicious traffic for blocking C2 traffic
- Integration with PAN’s advanced malware analysis engine for scanning threats, WildFire
- Visibility into protocols with decoder-based analysis and anomaly-based protection
Read more: 2022’s Best Zero Trust Security Solutions
Trend Micro TippingPoint Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System (NGIPS)
Global cybersecurity vendor Trend Micro is an industry leader in next-generation intrusion prevention systems, offering its TippingPoint solution for threat prevention against today’s most sophisticated threats. Available as a physical appliance, cloud, or virtual IPS, TippingPoint is a robust network security solution for guarding against zero-day and known vulnerabilities. Whether it’s endpoints, servers, or network protection, Trend Micro TippingPoint can scan inbound, outbound, and lateral traffic and block threats in real-time. Administrators can maximize vulnerability management and threat hunting efforts with complete visibility into a network.
Trend Micro TippingPoint NGIPS Features
- Integration with existing vulnerability tools and maps of common CVEs for remediation
- High availability with watchdog timers, built-in inspection bypass, and hot swaps
- Out-of-the-box recommended settings for configuring threat protection policies
- Deep pack inspection and reputational analysis of URLs and malicious traffic
- Low latency with performance options up to 100 Gbps in inspection data throughput
What is an Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDPS)?
Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS) monitor network traffic, analyze it and provide remediation tactics when malicious behavior is detected. Physical, virtual, and cloud-based IDPS solutions scan for matching behavior or characteristics that indicate malicious traffic, send out alerts to pertinent administrators, and block attacks in real-time.
Having both the capabilities to detect and prevent is vital to adequate security infrastructure. Detection only identifies malicious behavior but won’t block or prevent attacks when one hits the alarms. It will solely log these alerts. Prevention systems can adjust firewall rules on the fly to block or drop malicious traffic when it is detected. Still, they do not have the robust identification capabilities of detection systems.
IDPS tools can detect malware, socially engineered attacks, and other web-based threats, including DDoS attacks. They can also provide preemptive intrusion prevention capabilities for internal threats and potentially compromised systems.
Features of IDPS Solutions
The primary functions of IDPS solutions can be broken down into four main categories:
- Monitoring: IDPS monitors IT systems using either signature-based or anomaly-based intrusion detection to identify abnormal behavior and signature malicious activity.
- Alerts: After identifying potential threats, IDPS software will log and send out alert notifications to Inform administrators of abnormal activity.
- Remediation: IDPS tools provide blocking mechanisms for malicious threats, giving administrators time to take action. In some cases, IT teams may not need to take action after an attack is blocked.
- Maintenance: Besides monitoring for abnormal behavior, IDPS tools can also monitor the performance of IT hardware and security components with health checks. This health monitoring ensures a security infrastructure is operating correctly at all times.
Intrusion Detection (IDS) vs. Intrusion Prevention (IPS)
A holistic IDPS tool requires both detection and prevention capabilities. When browsing for solutions, you will likely encounter intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS). These are standalone products and should not be confused with IDPS, which will help you avoid large holes in your security infrastructure.
|Intrusion Detection System (IDS)||Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)|
|IDS tools were built to detect malicious activity and log and send alerts. They are not capable of preventing an attack. The warnings they raise always require human intervention or an additional security system.||IPS responds based on predetermined criteria of types of attacks by blocking traffic and dropping malicious processes. IPS tools lead to more false positives as they have inferior detection capabilities than IDS.|
IDPS solutions incorporate the strengths of both systems into one product or suite of products.
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Types of IDPS
The types of IDPS are classifiable according to their protection priorities. They generally fall under two types: host-based and network-based.
Host-based IDPS is software deployed on the host that solely monitors traffic to connect to and from that host. It typically only protects a single, specific endpoint. In some cases, it may also scan system files stored on the host for unauthorized changes and processes running on the system.
Network-based IDPS, also sometimes called network intrusion detection systems (NIDS), are deployed in a place where they can monitor traffic for an entire network segment or subnet. Their functionality somewhat resembles firewalls, which can only prevent intrusions coming from outside the network and enforce access control lists (ACLs) between networks.
NIDS was built to detect and alert potential malicious internal traffic moving laterally throughout a network; this makes it an excellent tool for a zero trust security framework. The traffic gets analyzed for signs of malicious behavior based on the profiles of common types of attacks.
Intrusion Detection Methodologies
These systems identify potential threats based on built-in rules and profiles. The most common are signature-based and anomaly-based detection methodologies.
Signature-Based Intrusion Detection
Signature-based intrusion detection looks for instances of known attacks. When malicious content is identified, it is analyzed for unique features to create a fingerprint or signature for that attack. This signature could be in the form of a known identity or pattern of behavior. Signature-based systems then compare this fingerprint to a database of pre-existing signatures to identify the specific type of attack. The downside to these systems is that they must be updated regularly to recognize new and evolving types of attacks.
Anomaly-Based Intrusion Detection
Anomaly-based intrusion detection builds an initial “normal” behavior model for a specific system rather than creating fingerprints. The system will then compare all real-time behavior against the previously created standard model to identify behavioral anomalies. These instances of abnormal behavior get used in determining potential attacks and trigger alerts.
Contrasting Signature-Based vs. Anomaly-Based IDPS
There are issues with both of these systems individually. Signature-based detection has low false positives but can only detect known attacks making them vulnerable to new, evolving attack methods.
Anomaly-based detection can lead to high false positives as it alerts all anomalous behavior. But it has the potential to catch zero-day threats. Fortunately, many IDPS products combine both methodologies to complement their strengths and weaknesses.
Challenges When Managing IDPS
You may experience some challenges when it comes to IDPS software tools. Here are a few to keep top-of-mind:
- False Positives: You will almost undoubtedly run into the problem of false-positive alerts, which can waste time and resources. Be vigilant when notified of potentially malicious behavior, but also be aware that it’s not a guarantee of an attack.
- Staffing: Cybersecurity is so essential to modern organizations that there is a shortage of available security professionals. Before implementing an IDPS system, ensure you’ve put together a team that has the capabilities to manage it effectively.
- Genuine Risks: Beyond just managing an IDPS, there will be cases where administrator intervention is required. An IDPS can block many attacks but not all. Ensure teams keep their knowledge up-to-date on new types of attacks, so they’re not blindsided when one is identified.
This post was orginally written on January 15, 2021, and updated by Sam Ingalls on December 22, 2021.