In addition to the Antivirus software, you will also need to invest in some reliable and efficient network security systems or mechanisms.
It may be a Firewall or an Intrusion Detection System which is also referred to as IDS or an Intrusion Protection System which is commonly referred to as IPS.
Now, the question is which among the given options you should choose to use in your computer systems. Well, the best way to know the answer is to know the differences between the three, Firewall, IPS and IDS.
In This Article
- Firewall refers to the network security software or hardware but Intrusion Prevention System is that which examines the network traffic while Intrusion Detection System is an application that detects malicious activities and sends alerts.
- Firewall follows transparent or Layer 3 mode for configuration but IPS follows inline mode just like the IDS.
- The Firewall acts as the first line of defense but the IPS and the IDS are placed after the Firewall.
Firewall vs IDS vs IPS – The 10 Differences
1. Basic Philosophy
Ideally, the term Firewall refers to a network security software or a hardware device that monitors and filters incoming and outgoing network traffic and blocks them when it is necessary depending on the predetermined set of rules.
On the other hand, IPS or Intrusion Prevention System refers to the mechanism that examines the network traffic and detects it in order to classify so that it can proactively prevent any malicious traffic from attacking.
And finally, IDS or Intrusion Detection System, just as the name signifies, refers to the software application or mechanism that monitors the network traffic to detect malicious activities or violations of security policy or set of rules in order to send an alert after detection.
2. Working Principle
Typically, the principle of working of the Firewall is usually based on filtering the inbound as well as the outbound traffic depending on the port numbers and the IP addresses.
On the other hand, the principle of working of the Intrusion Prevention System is typically based on inspecting the network traffic in real time and looking for any particular traffic pattern or signatures that indicates an attack and then preventing it from happening after detection.
And finally, the working principle of the Intrusion Detection System is usually based on detecting the network traffic in real time and looking for specific signatures or traffic patterns that indicates an attack and then generating necessary alerts for it accordingly.
3. Functions on
The firewall typically functions on Layer 3 and goes on up to Layer 4.
On the other hand, both the Intrusion Prevention System and the Intrusion Detection System can function on Layer 2.
4. Mode of Configuration
Typically, Firewall follows the Layer 3 mode or transparent mode for configuration.
On the other hand, Intrusion Prevention System follows the inline mode for configuration which is usually being in Layer 2.
And finally, the Intrusion Detection System follows the inline mode for configuration or as end host through span to monitor and detect traffic.
5. Individual Location
Typically, the Firewall is placed inline at the perimeter of the network.
On the other hand, the Intrusion Prevention System is placed inline usually after Firewall.
And finally, the Intrusion Detection System is placed non-inline via tap or via port span.
6. Traffic Patterns
Typically, the traffic pattern in the case of Firewall is not analyzed.
On the other hand, both in the case of the Intrusion Prevention System as well as in the case of the Intrusion Detection System the traffic patterns are analyzed.
7. Hardware Features
The Firewall typically needs several physical network interfaces so that it will allow it to divide the entire network into several security zones.
On the other hand, the hardware for the Intrusion Prevention System and Intrusion Detection System is required to be high performing so that DPI or Deep Packet Inspections can be carried out but the traffic is not slowed down due to it.
8. Placement With Respect to Each Other
The Firewall is placed in such a way that it acts as the first line of defense to control the traffic being placed generally at the front of the network.
On the other hand, the Intrusion Prevention System is usually placed after the Firewall device in a network either in-line or out of band.
And finally, the Intrusion Detection System is normally placed after the Firewall in the same way as the IPS.
9. Detection Mechanism
The Firewall usually works in layers and can function up to Layer 4 in order to block or allow ports and IP addresses.
On the other hand, both the Intrusions Prevention System as well as the Intrusion Detection System follows rules based, signature based, and statistical anomaly detection mechanisms.
10. Action Taken
The Firewall typically blocks the traffic at the network level after it detects any unauthorized traffic.
On the other hand, the Intrusion Prevention System directly prevents the network traffic from accessing when it detects any anomaly in it.
And finally, the Intrusion Detection System only sends alarms or alerts to the user of the network security administrator when it detects any anomaly in the network traffic.
Which is Better to Use – Firewall or IDS or IPS?
This is a very common question that is asked not only by the average users but also by the security and network administrators.
Ideally, all of these are created specifically to offer the best security solutions to computer networks.
That is why they are considered as the essential components for a network, especially for the data center network.
Still, according to the universal rule, no two products are the same due to their differences in features and functionalities, and, it is applicable to Firewall, Intrusion Preventions System and Intrusion Detection System as well.
Ideally, it is for you to decide which among Firewall, IDS and IPS is better to use based on your computing and security needs.
And, for that, in addition to the list of differences, you will need to know a bit more about these three particular network security solutions.
You may consider the Firewall solution to be a bit better than IDS and IPS because it filters the traffic and blocks the unwanted ones at the same time.
On the other hand, the Intrusion Prevention and Detection Systems do not do what the Firewall does to prevent the attack based on the individual configuration.
Typically, the IDS simply detects and alerts the system administrator and the IPS blocks the traffic directly.
A Firewall usually follows a set of rules that are configured beforehand while allowing traffic through it to the network.
It will automatically block, drop, or reject a specific traffic to the network if it does not meet the desired criteria that are determined on the basis of a few specific parameters such as:
- The source
- The ports and
- The destination addresses.
In comparison, the IDS is typically a passive device which does the following:
- It watches the data packets moving through the network
- It compares them with the signature patterns and
- It sets off an alarm when it detects any suspicious activity on the network.
On the other hand, the IPS is an active device that works in inline mode and also blocks the traffic that may result in a network attack.
Therefore, it can be said that the Firewall allows or blocks network traffic based on stateful packet filtering and depending on the port or protocol rules.
In comparison, the Intrusion Prevention System performs signature and anomaly based detections to prevent zero day attacks by blocking the traffic.
On the other hand, the Intrusion Detection System also performs signature and anomaly based detection to prevent zero day attacks but it simply monitors the traffic and sends an alarm when any suspicious activity is detected.
Therefore, considering the fact that the Firewall will drop or block the traffic that is supposed to be malicious it can be considered a better security solution to use in comparison to the Intrusion Prevention and Intrusion Detection system.
This means that your list of priority should have Firewall on the top followed by IPS and then by IDS. Still as said earlier, everything eventually depends on your security needs.
So, now you know the differences between the Firewall, Intrusion Prevention System, and Intrusion Detection System and how each of these security mechanisms works to keep your computer system and network safe from malicious attacks and hacks.