9 Best IPS Tools

8/9/2022

Security

A tool used at the interface between a private network and a public network to stop malicious network packets from entering is called an intrusion prevention system. As the name suggests, this tool’s presence serves to guarantee that packets with malicious signatures are not let to join the private network since, if they are, they might cause damage to the internet. To stop assaults at the network level, the IPS technologies may easily be linked with other tools used in network security. We will learn more about this in this chapter.

What is an IPS?

An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is a network security tool that continually scans a network for harmful activity and responds to it when it does occur by reporting, blocking, or discarding it. It can be either hardware or software.
It is more sophisticated than an intrusion detection system (IDS), which can just warn an administrator and merely identify harmful activities. A next-generation firewall (NGFW) or unified threat management (UTM) solution may contain intrusion prevention technologies. Like many network security systems, they must be strong enough to scan a large traffic volume without impairing network performance.

How does it work?

An intrusion prevention system is positioned inline between the source and the destination of network traffic and often resides directly below the firewall. The methods that intrusion prevention systems employ to find threats include:

  • Signature-based: This approach compares the behavior to threats’ known signatures. This approach has the limitation that it can only thwart known assaults and is unable to detect new ones.
  • Anomaly-based: An approach that looks for anomalies by contrasting random samples of network activity with a reference point. Although it is more reliable than signature-based monitoring, it occasionally produces false positives. Anomaly-based monitoring is supported by newer, more sophisticated intrusion prevention systems that employ artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Policy-based: A little less frequently used than signature-based or anomaly-based monitoring. It applies the enterprise’s security policies and stops behavior that goes against them. An administrator must configure security policies and set them up.

As soon as the IPS notices suspicious behavior, it may do various automatic tasks, such as notifying administrators, discarding packets, obstructing traffic from the originating address, or reconnecting the network. A “honeypot” or fake high-value data, is another technique specific intrusion prevention systems use to draw attackers and deter them from achieving their goals.

Types of IPS

  • Network intrusion prevention system (NIPS): To monitor all network traffic and proactively search for threats, this sort of IPS is only placed at key locations.
  • Host intrusion prevention system (HIPS): Placed on an endpoint (such as a PC) and exclusively monitors inbound and outgoing traffic from that device. As the last line of protection for threats that have gotten past a NIPS, it functions best in combination with one.
  • Network behavior analysis (NBA): This examines network activity to find out-of-the-ordinary traffic patterns, such as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) assaults.
  • Wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS): Monitors a Wi-Fi network for unwanted access and removes any such devices.

Benefits of IPS

  • Less security-related incidents While linked units often don’t notice any changes. The IPS guarantees that university systems are less disrupted and security issues are less frequent.
  • Limited logging. To protect network users’ privacy, the IPS only logs activity when it takes action.
  • Protection of privacy. The IPS does not store or examine content; instead, it analyzes network data to a list of known malicious activity.
  • Protection is controlled by reputation. The IPS subscribes to a reputation-based list of known harmful sites and domains to safeguard the institution.
    • Example: A university employee who clicks on a link in a phishing email or malware advertisement for a website that is on the IPS denylist of known harmful websites would see a blank page due to blocked traffic.
  • Protection against several threats. The IPS protects against availability threats, such as DDoS and DoS attacks, and mitigates brute force password attempts and zero-day threat exposure.
    • Example: Brute Force Password Attempt: If a criminal makes several login attempts to access a university account using brute force, the IPS may track the volume of data moved, spot odd trends, and prevent access.
  • Dynamic response to threats. The IPS may be adjusted to specifically identify and respond to risks, enabling the institution to address threats to university operations.
  • Additional security: An IPS works with other security measures and can spot threats that other measures cannot. Systems that employ anomaly-based detection are especially susceptible to this. Due to the high level of application awareness, it also offers enhanced application security.
  • Efficiency boost for other security controls: An IPS decreases the burden on other security devices and controls by filtering out harmful traffic before it reaches them, enabling other measures to operate more effectively.
  • Saving time: An IPS needs less time from IT teams because it is entirely automated.
  • Compliance: An IPS satisfies many PCI DSS, HIPAA, and other regulations’ criteria for compliance. It also offers useful auditing information.
  • Customization: To provide security controls particular to the organization using it, an IPS may be configured with customized security rules.

What abilities do IPS possess?

  • The primary purpose of an IPS is to monitor network traffic to spot any unwanted intrusion attempts.
  • Other security measures for identifying, preventing, and recovering from assaults include firewalls, routers, key management servers, and file monitoring.
  • Giving non-technical workers a user-friendly interface to control system security
  • Enabling administrators to modify, organize, and comprehend the important audit trails and other operating system logs that are typically challenging to analyze and keep track of.
  • To stop an attack attempt, block the server or the intruders.
  • Alerting the network administrator that network security has been violated.
  • It is identifying and reporting files that have been changed.
  • It supplies an extensive library of attack signatures that may be compared to the data from the system.

Why is it essential to have an IPS?

An IPS is an essential component of any corporate security system for a number of reasons. A contemporary network interacts with many access points and traffic, making manual monitoring and response an impractical choice. Additionally, the threats that enterprise security systems must contend with are becoming more numerous and sophisticated (This applies to cloud security in particular, where a highly connected environment can result in an expanded attack surface and subsequently greater vulnerability to threats). A company can respond to attacks rapidly without putting pressure on IT employees, thanks to the automated features of an IPS. An IPS are essential to an organization’s security architecture because it can assist in stopping some of the most dangerous and complex threats.

How do an IPS fit into the framework of your current security system?

It’s crucial to remember that an IPS is only one component of a comprehensive security system; for optimal efficacy, it must collaborate with other technology. Although they can also be sold alone, intrusion prevention systems are frequently provided as a feature of unified threat management or next-generation firewall solution. The IPS often works with the firewall in conventional security architecture, providing an additional layer of security and catching threats that the firewall cannot by itself.

Top IPS Tools

1. OSSEC

A well-liked IPS system is OSSEC. It is a host-based intrusion detection system since its approaches for detection are based on looking at log files. Despite the absence of a “H” the name of this utility stands for “Open Source HIDS Security.”

Key characteristics:

  • Free
  • Extremely regarded
  • Host-based

Being an open-source project is fantastic since it also implies that the software is accessible for free. Even though it is open-source, Trend Micro is the true owner of OSSEC. You don’t get assistance using free software, which is a drawback. The system is often used, and the OSSEC user group is a fantastic resource for learning how to utilize it.

You may create your monitoring policies or download packs free from the user community. OSSEC calls these rules of detection “policies.” Additionally, it is possible to define actions that ought to be carried out automatically in response to particular alerts.

Pros:

  • A large user base
  • Free detection rules are offered
  • With a detection rule language that may be customized

Cons:

  • There is a charge for a bundle of expert assistance.

2. Open WIPS-NG

Give Open WIPS-NG a try if you especially require an IPS for wireless systems. You may program automatic responses and have intrusion detection using this free program.

Key characteristics:

  • Free tool
  • Wifi channels are scanned
  • Detects intrusions is offered

An open source project is called Open WIPS-NG. Only Linux may be used to execute the program. The wireless packet sniffer is the tool’s main component. The sniffer element is a sensor module that serves as a data collector and a broadcaster of solutions to thwart infiltration. This is a very capable program because it was created by the same individuals that created the well-known hacking tool Aircrack-NG.

Pros:

  • Written by the people that made a hacking tool
  • Detects intruders
  • Ability to kick off trespassers

Cons:

  • Merely a Linux-based command-line system

The tool also includes an interface and server software that executes the detection rules. Additionally, you may program actions to begin immediately when an incursion is discovered.

3. Fail2Ban

A simple IPS alternative is Fail2Ban. This free program looks for indications of illegal activity in log files to identify infiltration using host-based techniques.

Key characteristics:

  • Free tool
  • Detection based on hosts
  • IP addresses are blocked

An IP address ban is one of the automated solutions that the program can execute. These restrictions typically only apply for a short time, but you may change the duration of the limitation via the utility’s dashboard. The “filters” are the detection rules; you may link a corrective action to each. A “jail” is the name given to that particular combination of a filter and an action.

Pros:

  • Quick log file analysis
  • By mixing filters and actions, create a jail.
  • Operates on Unix, Linux, and Mac

Cons:

  • No GUI is available

4. Zeek

Another excellent free IPS is Zeek, known initially as Bro until 2019. Zeek is software that employs network-based intrusion detection techniques that may be installed on Linux, Unix, and Mac OS. Zeek offers you data on the performance of your network devices and traffic analysis while monitoring the network for malicious behavior.

Key characteristics:

  • Free tool
  • Network traffic analysis
  • Picks out and keeps suspicious packets

Zeek’s detection rules act at the application layer, allowing it to recognize signatures in various network packets. A database of anomaly-related detection rules is also available from Zeek. The “event engine,” which logs suspicious occurrences and packets, carries out Zeek’s task during the detection stage. Policy scripts search the saved records for indications of hacker activity. The Zeek program has policy scripts, but you may also develop your own.

Pros:

  • May serve as a security package and network monitor at the same time
  • Protection for device setup
  • Detects attempts at port scanning.

Cons:

  • No expert assistance

Zeek will monitor device settings in addition to network traffic. Through the observation of SNMP traps, network abnormalities and unusual behavior of network devices are monitored. Zeek monitors HTTP, DNS, and FTP activities in addition to normal network activity. Additionally, the program will notify you if it discovers port scanning, a hacker technique for gaining unauthorized access to a network.

5. SolarWinds Security Event Manager 

As its name implies, the SolarWinds Security Event Manager manages access to log files. The instrument can also monitor networks, though. A network monitoring facility is not included in the software package, but you may add this functionality by utilizing the free application Snort for network data collection. You get two viewpoints on infiltration thanks to this setup. IDSs employ two types of detection techniques: host-based and network-based.

Key characteristics:

  • A SIEM
  • Log manager and log server
  • data from the network in
  • Rule of event correlation
  • Active measures to address threats

A network-based system identifies events in real-time data, whereas a host-based intrusion detection system examines the records in log files.

The SolarWinds software package comes with event correlation rules and guidelines for spotting infiltration symptoms. You can let the system only manually detect intrusion and prevent threats. You may also enable the IPS features of SolarWinds Security Event Manager for automated threat remediation.

When threats are identified, the SolarWinds Security Event Manager’s IPS component puts plans into action. Active Responses is the name given to these operations. An action can be connected to a particular alert. For instance, the program may modify firewall tables to deny access to a network for an IP address that has been found to engage in dubious activities. Additionally, you may pause or resume processes, pause or resume hardware, and shut down the system altogether.

Windows Server is the only platform on which SolarWinds Security Event Manager can be deployed. However, it cannot just acquire threat data from Windows logs; it can also do so from Linux and Unix systems that are networked to host Windows computers.

Pros:

  • Searching logs for events
  • Gathers application logs, Syslog, and Windows Events
  • Automated searches for threats
  • Automatic threat adjustment
  • On-demand auditing and real-time scanning

Cons:

  • The SaaS version is missing

6. Datadog Real-time Threat Monitoring 

A threat detection platform is integrated into Datadog’s network monitoring system, which includes real-time threat monitoring. Network and device, application, and web performance monitoring are all covered by the cloud-based service Datadog.

Key characteristics:

  • Cloud-based
  • Monitoring for network threats
  • Management of cloud security posture
  • Security for cloud workloads

Threat Detection Rules are the foundation for the network traffic monitor’s security functions. Although they are already provided, additional regulations can be made. They create a pattern of traffic that the system watches for, and if the system notices one of the combinations of events that a rule defines, it will send out an alert. Another service feature is Security Rules, which are similar to Threat Detection Rules but specify searches in other data sources.

Pros:

  • An options menu for cloud security
  • Secure local and cloud computing systems
  • Comprehensive threat hunting
  • Standard compliance tailored for

Cons:

  • A group of services rather than a single product

7. CrowdStrike Falcon XDR 

An endpoint detection and response system that interacts with external security tools is called CrowdStrike Falcon XDR. To improve threat detection and minimization, the system makes use of security, orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR).

Key characteristics:

  • Hybrid 
  • Combines on-site security instruments
  • Coordinates threat reactions

The XDR draws on a few other products on the SaaS system and is built on the cloud architecture of security modules known as CrowdStrike Falcon. The first is a next-generation anti-virus endpoint protection technology called CrowdStrike Falcon Prevent. Each endpoint receives the Prevent tool installation. Versions of this system are available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Even when the network is down, this solution can keep safeguarding endpoints.

Falcon Insight is the XDR solution’s top layer. This enterprise-wide Falcon Prevent installation’s activities are coordinated by an endpoint detection and response (EDR) system. This generates a personal threat intelligence network and provides a system-wide picture. Each Falcon Prevent instance sends activity data to the cloud module of Falcon Insight, which aggregates these feeds and searches for signs of penetration (IoCs). Insight notifies the Prevent units if a threat is found and provides remedy recommendations.

Pros:

  • Additional features for endpoint identification and response
  • Security Response, automation, and orchestration
  • Endpoint protection still applies even if the device is disconnected from the network.

Cons:

  • Installing Falcon PRevent on each endpoint is a must.

8. Splunk

Network traffic analyzer Splunk provides IPS and intrusion detection features.

Key characteristics:

  • Tool for flexible data processing
  • Siem choice
  • Robotic reactions

Splunk comes in four different versions:

  • Free Splunk
  • Light Splunk (30-day free trial)
  • Splunk Business (60-day free trial)
  • Cloud Splunk (15-day free trial)

Except for Splunk Cloud, all versions operate on Windows and Linux. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) clients can access Splunk Cloud through the internet. Only the Enterprise and Cloud editions of Splunk have IPS features. The detecting system uses log files and network data to function. The detection method looks for anomalies, which are recurring patterns of unusual activity.

Pros:

  • Suited for a variety of data analysis tasks.
  • Module for specialist threat hunting
  • The option between on-premises and SaaS

Cons:

  • The current free edition only lasts 60 days.

9. Sagan

Sagan is a free intrusion detection system with the ability to run scripts. This is an IPS since it has the ability to link actions to alarms.

Key characteristics:

  • Intrusion detection system based on hosts
  • Free
  • Robotic reactions

Sagan uses log file monitoring as one of its primary detection techniques, indicating that it is a host-based intrusion detection system. You can also use Sagan to do network-based detection if you additionally install Snort and give Sagan the output of that packet sniffer. Alternatively, you may provide the tool network data obtained via Zeek (formerly Bro) or Suricata. Other Snort-compatible programs like Snorby, Squil, Anaval, and BASE may also communicate data with Sagan.

Pros:

  • A cost-free on-site package
  • Incorporates network-based ids
  • Reputable and long-standing system

Cons:

  • Setup requires technical expertise

WiFi Security: Comparison of WEP, WPA, WPA2 and WPA3

Choosing the proper encryption level is equally crucial. This article clarifies the key distinctions among the most used wireless security protocols, namely WEP, WPA, WPA2, and WP3.

Conclusion

After reading the descriptions of the IPS tools on our list, your first duty is to make a selection based on the server’s operating system, where you’ll be installing your security software.

These solutions offer security in places where specific system security measures such as firewalls and antivirus software cannot; therefore, they do not replace them.

Another decisive aspect would be your budget. Most of the items on this list can be used for free.

However, your business will suffer significant financial losses if hackers get access to the customer, supplier, and employee data kept on your company’s IT system. In light of that, investing in an intrusion protection system is not very expensive.

Make a skill audit of the personnel on-site. Choosing a professionally supported program will probably be wiser if you don’t have any person that could manage the technical process of putting up detection criteria.

Have you installed an intrusion prevention system yet? What do you employ? Are you considering utilizing a different IPS? To share your experience with the community, leave a remark in the space below in the “Comments.”