What is an Intrusion Prevention System?

What is an Intrusion Prevention System?

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Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on Mar 19, 2024 14:30 IST

The need to protect your system, data, computer network, etc., has increased significantly as the world becomes increasingly interconnected to the Internet and communication networks. A tool commonly known as Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) has been developed to address this need.


To explain an intrusion prevention system in layman’s terms, it is like a security guard for your computer network. It carefully watches the data that comes in and out of your network and looks for anything suspicious.

Before diving deeper into the article, let’s go through the list of topics listed in the table of contents that we will cover. So, here’s the table:

Table of Contents (TOC)

What is an Intrusion Prevention System? 

Definition: An intrusion prevention system is a network security tool that monitors network traffic for suspicious activities and prevents potential threats from compromising the security of a system by taking appropriate actions. 

In layman’s terms, an intrusion prevention system is like a security guard that watches every data packet that comes and goes out of your network. If the tool finds anything suspicious, it either sends a report to the network administrator, blocks the data packet, or drops it, terminating the connection between sender and receiver.

To understand what an intrusion prevention system is with a real-life example, we can take the example of a bouncer in a nightclub. The bouncer keeps an eye out for troublemakers and takes appropriate actions to take them out. Similarly, an intrusion prevention system does the same task.

You can also explore: What is an Intrusion Detection System (IDS)?

Types of Intrusion Prevention Systems 

An Intrusion prevention system can be mainly categorized into two types:

  • Network based intrusion prevention system (NIPS)
  • Host based intrusion prevention system (HIPS)

Let’s explore both these types in detail.

NIPS: A network based intrusion prevention system is placed, installed, or located on the network and is responsible for monitoring all the network that passes through it. In layman’s terms, NIPS is like a gatekeeper controlling who can enter and who can’t. NIPS protects the whole network by continuously monitoring the data packets and performing appropriate action if it finds anything suspicious.

HIPS: A host based intrusion prevention system is placed, located, or installed on individual devices, such as computers or servers, within the network. In layman’s terms, HIPS is just like a personal bodyguard that watches over the activity on a particular device. It detects and blocks the attacks that are targeting that specific device.

How Does an Intrusion Prevention System Work? 

An IPS tool analyzes the inflow and outflow of the data traffic. It uses a variety of techniques or methods in order to accomplish is, such as:

  • Singnature-based: An IPS tool uses this method to verify the data packets in the form of an envelope based on activity signature. It matches the activity to signatures of well know threats. If it finds something suspicious or the same activity signature, it drops or blocks the data packet, terminating the connection between sender and receiver.
  • Policy-based: An IPS tool uses this method to judge the data packets based on the security policy defined by the organization. If any data packet or activity violates the security policy, it blocks that activity. If you plan to use this method, you must ensure that the network administrator has set up strong security policies.
  • Anamoly-based: An IPS tool uses this method to monitor abnormal or suspicious activities by comparing random samples of network activity against a baseline standard. This method is much more secure than the signature-based method, but it also produces a lot of false positives.

In layman’s terms, an IPS tool works by monitoring the incoming and outgoing traffic, comparing it with the list of known threats, activities, etc., and blocking any traffic or action that poses a risk to the network’s security.

You can also explore: What Is Two-Factor Authentication and Why Do We Need It?

Advantages of IPS 

There are many advantages of an intrusion prevention system. Here are some of the most popular advantages of using this tool:

  • Increases security: An intrusion prevention system improves security by analyzing data packets or activities and blocking them if it finds anything suspicious.
  • Real-time threat detection: An IPS tool can respond to the threat in real time. It can do so by performing appropriate action to save the system and network as soon as it detects any potential threat.
  • Saves time: As IPS tools are largely automated, it saves time for a network administrator, or IT teams to look into each alert or threat identified by the tool.
  • Allows customization: A network administrator can easily set up the IPS tool after customization security policies per the organization’s security criteria.

Disadvantages of IPS 

Here are some of the disadvantages of using this tool:

  • False positives: The possibility of false positives is one of the main disadvantages of using an IPS. This happens when the IPS detects and blocks normal traffic as a threat. This can result in network disruptions and delays, which are inconvenient for users.
  • Impact on network performance: An IPS can impact network performance because it requires resources to analyze and block traffic. Hence, it may cause latency issues depending on the network’s size and traffic volume.

You can also explore: Importance of Cyber Security


In this article, we have discussed what an IPS tool is. We have also explored its types, working, advantages, disadvantages, etc. If you have any queries related to the article, please feel free to send your queries to us in the form of a comment. We will be happy to help.

Happy Learning!!


What is an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), and how does it differ from other security measures?

An IPS is a security technology that actively monitors network traffic for malicious activity or signs of intrusion. Unlike traditional firewalls that focus on access control, an IPS proactively identifies and blocks suspicious or malicious behavior in real-time, providing a higher level of security against cyber threats.

What are the key features and capabilities of an Intrusion Prevention System?

PS systems typically offer features such as signature-based detection, anomaly detection, and the ability to block or mitigate threats automatically. They can also generate alerts and reports to help security teams respond to and investigate potential security incidents.

How does an Intrusion Prevention System help protect against cyberattacks and data breaches?

An IPS plays a crucial role in safeguarding networks and systems by detecting and preventing various cyber threats, including malware, zero-day exploits, and unauthorized access attempts. It acts as a barrier that actively enforces security policies to thwart potential attacks, reducing the risk of data breaches and downtime.

Are there different types of Intrusion Prevention Systems, and how do I choose the right one for my organization?

There are network-based and host-based IPS solutions, each suited to different security needs. Network-based IPS operates at the network perimeter, while host-based IPS is installed on individual devices. Choosing the right IPS depends on factors like network size, security requirements, and budget.

What best practices should organizations follow when implementing and maintaining an Intrusion Prevention System?

Effective implementation and maintenance of an IPS involve regularly updating signatures and rules, tuning the system to reduce false positives, and integrating it with other security tools like firewalls and SIEM systems. Continuous monitoring and analysis of IPS logs and alerts are also essential to stay ahead of emerging threats.

About the Author
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio