Maintaining an online presence became the saving grace for most businesses, especially during the thick of the pandemic. Digital assets allowed companies to reach their customers and stabilize their profit margins amidst restrictions and lockdowns. Undoubtedly, the integration of online platforms and digital solutions has bolstered business and industry in most sectors. But what does this have to do with Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), or first things first, what is an IDS?

Of course, this transition is not without its drawbacks. With more businesses maintaining digital assets, the threats of cyberattacks and instances of successful infiltration are also on an uptick. Contrary to popular belief, small and medium businesses aren’t safe from malicious perpetrators. According to research, 43% of network and online attacks are aimed at small businesses. This is daunting considering how only 14% can defend themselves from these threats. 

Businesses have options in cybersecurity and network management. Arguably, an Intrusion Detection System is one of the most effective means to safeguard data and prevent downtime. So, what is an IDS and why do you need it? 

What is an IDS (Intrusion Detection System)?

An Intrusion Detection System, otherwise known as IDS, is a cybersecurity measure that aims to identify and detect threats when an attack occurs on your network. It can come in the form of a device or an application that inspects network traffic or a host’s behavior, and alerts the responsible team for malicious entities. 

An IDS is similar to a firewall – however, there are a few key differences. First, a firewall acts as a gatekeeper that allows the ins and outs of users onto a network. An IDS, on the other hand, inspects behaviors within an internal network. Thus, it is an effective complement to a firewall because it acts as a second layer of defense.

There are several types of Intrusion Detection Systems available in the market today. In this article, we would be exploring IDS that use signature-based detection and behavior-based detection.  

Intrusion Prevention System Versus Intrusion Detection System 

Intrusion Prevention System and Intrusion Detection system are both components of a network’s cybersecurity protocol. They are similar, but they aren’t the same. 

To put it as simple as possible, IDS monitors, IPS responds. Both IDS and IPS scan through network packets and scans content against a database of known attacks. IDS are designed to monitor and alert administrators in cases of a possible breach. On the other hand, IPS can accept and reject incoming network packets before they infiltrate a network. 

Two Types of Intrusion Detection System

There are several types of Intrusion Detection Systems available in the market today. The differences are based on the variety of approaches. The two main types are Signature-based IDS, and Behavior-Based IDS:

Signature-Based IDS

Every threat, prevalent malware, possesses identifying traits that act like fingerprints. Similar to how fingerprints are used to identify people, malware is identified through these signatures. 

Signature-based intrusion detection is the most common form of an intrusion detection system. This method of cybersecurity inspects data within an internal network. Through a database of known malware, the application compares incoming traffic to signatures of known threats. 

Choosing signature-based detection software comes with plenty of benefits. This option is well-known, well-studied, and relatively easy to operate. Companies would be able to secure a partnership with a leading IDS provider with ease. Likewise, signature-based detection software produces fast results. They can identify threats before it latches onto a network. 

For the most part, signature-based detection options are effective and accurate in detecting threats within a network. However, there are limitations to the effectiveness of this IDS type. 

Signature-based detection fails to identify and detect newly introduced attacks. Likewise, since most networks are protected through a library of known malware, hackers have mutated their code to prevent security applications from identifying malicious code. 

Behavior-Based IDS

Unlike signature-based detection software, behavior-based detection and security identifies threats by analyzing an object’s behavior and intentions. The system learns what normal behavior for a specific network is. Once a profile has been established, it detects “abnormal” behavior and generates an alert for administrators.

Behavior-based IDS is critical especially for networks that experience a relatively high volume of traffic. One of the main advantages of behavior-based detection in IDS is its capability to detect new unknown attacks, as its detection mechanism does not mainly rely on fingerprints of previous attacks.

Importance of IDS to your Network

Cyberattacks have become more sophisticated over the last few years. At this point, no company is safe from malicious threats. Moreover, one form of defense is often no longer enough to protect an entire network. 

  • Real-Time Threat Monitoring

Especially with signature-based detection, companies that opt-in on IDS software can monitor their networks in real-time. Proactive cyber threat hunting is an invaluable feature because it allows administrators enough time to circumvent a possible attack. 

  • Prevention of DDoS Attacks

A DDoS attack occurs when a network is overloaded with traffic rendering a network unavailable for its intended users. With IDS software, a company would monitor the current state of its network and prepare for DDoS attacks. 

After Detection Procedures

IDS software points you in the right direction. Nevertheless, you and your IT teams should navigate the information that flows through this cybersecurity software. Like most software, there is a margin of error with IDS. Below are a few to be wary of:

  • False Positives

With behavior-based detection, in particular, false positives are an ever-present possibility. Therefore, to circumvent the number of false positives, it is crucial to establish a solid baseline of regular traffic.

  • False Negatives

Similar to false positives, false negative alerts can also occur with IDS software. This issue is especially prevalent with zero-day or emerging threats that are yet cataloged in the system. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to both Signature-Based and Behavior-Based Detection used in IDS. The option that you choose should match the operational structure of your company. There is no one-size-fits-all in cybersecurity, only best practices. 

At SecureBrain, we understand that the process of securing your digital assets can be overwhelming. Threats are rampant, and there is only so much a small business can do on its own. Thankfully, SecureBrain can be your cybersecurity partner. Our tried-and-tested tech-based solutions guarantee a formidable stronghold against various attacks.