IPS stands for “intrusion prevention system” and it does what it says on the tin—it prevents intruders from accessing your network and causing irreparable and expensive harm through financial losses and data breaches.
It’s a network security system that analyzes network traffic flows to detect, flag, isolate, and prevent malicious activity and code from harming networks. Often situated behind a firewall, IPS provides an additional, in-depth layer of analysis that further inspects web traffic—often performing a deep dive into IP packets and signatures to find any anomalies. Anything deemed malicious is isolated, resolved, and flagged with IT teams for further inspection. Some solutions also come with the ability to detect any vulnerabilities within the network, which can also be highlighted for admins to investigate.
It might seem like an unnecessary step—after all, why bother when firewalls filter out malicious traffic in the first place? But IPS does a vital job in triple-checking all incoming traffic and filtering out particularly evasive threats or attacks that only become malicious after passing a firewall. IPS is beneficial in delivering security at deeper layers in the network, which is particularly helpful in tackling the unprecedented rise in DDoS attacks at the third layer in 2021—a 95% rise, to be precise.
A lot of the intrusion prevention systems on this list are part of a consolidation of other security tools under one product, such as firewalls or unified threat management (UTM) solutions. This is due in part to the fact that IPS solutions are usually placed directly behind a firewall, so they’re often integrated into other solutions.
AT&T Cybersecurity is a globally recognised cybersecurity solutions leader, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, USA. AlienVault USM is its cloud-based security management solution that consolidates threat detection, incident response, and compliance management using powerful threat intelligence from its AT&T Alien Labs. The product is also frequently updated to ensure that USM is operating on the latest knowledge to defend against emerging threats. Its cloud-based structure allows it to be deployed on all networks and servers, and doesn’t hinder network performance. Deployment, configuration, and management are noted for its simplicity, and the model is highly scalable.
Configuration capabilities are extensive and flexible, with the option to automate incident investigation and response to what is needed for your business. After configuration, USM works silently in the background, only alerting administrators when human input is absolutely necessary. The system can process events in real-time before correlating and investigating, then alerting if needs be. USM collects data from all infrastructures, including cloud services, to provide actionable reports.
AlienVault USM is a strong option for large companies that need to work within strict compliance guidelines; it is compliant with GDPR, Microsoft Azure, PCI-DSS, and more. It is also a fairly expensive solution. AT&T’s plans for this product begin with its Essentials package for small teams, which starts at $1075 per month before reaching Enterprise level which starts at $2595 per month.
Check Point’s IPS solution is hands-off immediately after deployment. It comes as part of its next-gen firewall solution, with all updates done automatically—leaving admins with one less thing to worry about. It can be enabled on all Check Point gateways and integrates well with other solutions. The program is easy to deploy and up and running in a short space of time, with predefined configurations allowing for immediate use—it can then be further customized to suit company needs. Admins are granted complete visibility on a single, clean dashboard.
Check Point IPS can preemptively defend your network from thousands of signatures and behavioral threats—both new and old. It also prioritizes the most critical threats, ensuring your team addresses the more serious problems first before tackling minor ones. False positives are infrequent and when they do occur, they’re easy to spot. The IPS solution also offers patching capabilities, automatically patching vulnerabilities in the network as it finds them. IPS enables follow-ups on recently updated prevention patterns.
Check Point IPS is part of the company’s Next-Gen Firewall solution. Plans begin from 25 nodes and are tailored to meet company needs. Pricing is supplied via a quotation request.
Californian-native Cisco is a globally recognised leading specialist in network software and cybersecurity solutions. Deployment for its IPS products is flexible, and it can be deployed at the network perimeter, on-prem at the data center, or behind a firewall. It can also be configured for either inline inspection or passive detection. The solution integrates well not just with other Cisco products but other platforms and tools as well.
Visibility functionality with this product is comprehensive and across the board. Admins can gain insight into apps, potential compromise, host profiles, sandboxing, vulnerabilities, devices, and file trajectories. From there, admins can customize policies to enhance security where needed.
The system is automatically updated every two hours, making sure it’s well versed on the latest threats. It relies on an extensive threat library, ensuring that your network is protected against every known eventuality and more. Threat prioritization ensures that time and effort is not lost focusing on low-priority threats, improving threat response time and reducing staff overhead.
Cisco offers a range of IPS solutions that fit a range of company sizes, from the Firepower 1000 Series which offers threat inspection from 650 Mbps to 2.2 Gbps, all the way to Firepower Threat Defense for ISR, which delivers IPS threat inspection of up to 800 Mbps. Pricing is supplied via a quotation request.
Perhaps an outlier on this list, CrowdSec is a distributed, open-source intrusion prevention system that is free to use and community driven. Deployment options are flexible, with the program designed to run on virtual machines, servers, containers, or from company code through CrowdSec’s API. Admins are presented with a consolidated dashboard that is built with Metabase and Prometheus that is easy to navigate and easy to spot anomalies. It’s easy to deploy, configure, and maintain.
CrowdSec is adept in singling out and responding to a range of threats, no matter the complexity or severity. It can detect attacks from IPV4 and IPV6 addresses, IP-driven attacks, and attacks directed at user sessions and business-orientated layers. CrowdSec is also stateless and decoupled, meaning it doesn’t affect performances or data streams.
The community aspect of CrowdSec is a notable feature, as when one organization is attacked by a malicious IP address, they can flag this event (and the IP address in question) with CrowdSec who will notify everyone else in the network, ensuring everyone else is up to date on the newest threats. Despite being a handy, free tool that hinges on a community aspect, CrowdSec doesn’t compromise on the things that matter most—which is protecting data. As such, the solution is also GDPR, ISO, and PCI-DSS compliant. When it comes to reporting, only the timestamp, malicious IP, and information on the event are shared with others — protecting your company’s identity and information.
CrowdSec is an excellent and robust option that is also free, making it an attractive solution for small businesses, micro-organizations, and individuals looking to not only enhance security at the network layer, but also add an extra line of defense to their firewalls. CrowdSec is available for immediate download from the CrowdSec website.
Headquartered in California, USA, FireEye, now owned by Trellix, is a respected vendor in the cybersecurity industry, particularly for its powerful intrusion prevention solution Trellix Network Security (NX). It offers deep inspection and prevention of all malicious web traffic before it reaches your company network, preventing malicious code from reaching servers and causing breaches. The solution merges well with most systems, including Microsoft, Windows, and Apple. It has a range of deployment options, including on-prem, cloud, and hybrid. It is often placed in the path of internet traffic to provide 24/7 monitoring and prevention.
The solution combines Trellix’s Multi-Vector Virtual Execution (MVX) product with strong machine learning and AI technology. MVX is signature-less—it’s an engine composed of pre-set and customized policies and is adept at singling out anomalies that evade your usual signature or policy-based defense mechanisms. The solution’s IPS feature is proficient in handling the common attacks that use standard signature-matching. Overall, NX’s protection against network-based attacks is robust, being able to detect and prevent multi-stage, multi-flow, zero-day, ransomware and other advanced attacks, as well as the run-of-the-mill attacks.
The solution can be correlated with email and content security measures, providing a consolidated and comprehensive approach to network security. Attacks are prevented in real-time, with immediate blocking at rates from 250 Mbps to 10 Gbps available.
Trellix’s NX solution is a strong choice for mid-to-large-sized organizations, due to its highly scalable nature. Pricing is supplied via a quotation request.
From industry favorite, ForcePoint, comes ForcePoint Next-Gen Firewall. Its intrusion prevention solution is part of its robust firewall product, which offers tight yet flexible network security. It provides round-the-clock monitoring with automated blocking, flagging, isolating, and reporting of any malicious activity that occurs across the network. Deployment options are flexible, with on-prem, virtual, and cloud all possible—as well as hybrid environments. Deployment and management are noted for its ease of use.
Admins are treated to extensive, granular controls and comprehensive insights detailing all network activity via one central console that is easy to navigate and understand. The solution’s false-positive testing and prioritization of threats also ensures that time is not wasted for IT teams, and they can focus on the most pressing anomalies first.
The intrusion prevention function of the program employs a stream-based inspection approach that examines payloads as well as packets, meaning that any disguised malicious activity will be detected. Fast, granular decryption is also adept at uncovering any malicious content that resides within any SSL/TLS traffic. It orchestrates in-depth analysis into protocols to search for any anomalies within protocol setup, metadata, and headers.
We would recommend ForcePoint’s intrusion prevention solution for small-to-medium-sized organizations. Pricing is supplied via a quotation request.
FortiNet is a network security leader based in Sunnyvale, California, USA. FortiNet’s IPS solution comes integrated with its next-gen firewall product to deliver constant monitoring and prevention. FortiGuard IPS offers in-depth analysis and filtering, while not affecting network performance. Deployment is flexible, with the solution applicable to devices, networks, and clouds.
FortiGuard IPS offers network-based virtual patching for applications that are often difficult or impossible to patch, making sure that the network is always protected from vulnerabilities regardless of how porous the network might be. It offers vulnerability scanning on clients, proxies, and web application firewalls (WAF), delivering information admins can act on.
FortiGuard IPS leverages machine learning and AI capabilities to deliver an intuitive, quick-learning solution that offers fast and effective protection from all threats—whether they’re tried-and-tested attacks or zero-day ones. In addition to standard deep packet inspection, FortiGuard IPS also has additional analytic features such as SSL inspection that includes TLS 1.3 to search for hidden malware, ransomware, and any other HTTPS-based attacks.
Fortinet’s IPS solution is a flexible, protective, yet affordable one, making it a strong recommendation for small-to-medium-sized businesses. Pricing is supplied via a quotation request.
Hillstone, based in Suzhou, China, is a strong choice when it comes to intrusion prevention solutions. Its Network Intrusion Prevention System (NIPS) S-Series has flexible deployment options, making it an attractive option regardless of how your company network operates. It can be deployed either in-line or in passive network tap mode, depending on what your business needs. Configuration, deployment, and management is noted for its ease of use.
NIPS S-Series has a strong performance rate and is adept at blocking threats as they emerge. It works in tandem with Hillstone’s next-gen firewall, and can successfully detect and block all common threats, including spam, botnets, and viruses. Alongside NIPS and the firewall, the solution also implements a cloud sandbox and advanced threat engine. The protection it offers is comprehensive, being able to oversee the network on a deep level, from layer 2 to 7. It can provide network monitoring over thousands of applications. Accurate detection is high, with few false positives.
Overall, Hillstone’s contribution to intrusion prevention is a stable, effective, and powerful solution. We would recommend it for large companies that have strict compliance standards they need to meet. Pricing is supplied via a quotation request.
Palo Alto Networks is a leading cybersecurity specialist headquartered in Santa Clara, California, USA. Its intrusion prevention solution comes as part of its VM-Series next-gen firewall package to offer full, comprehensive network security. It offers advanced threat protection with granular controls and enhanced visibility into network activity through a singular, centralized console. The VM-Series is a cloud-deployed solution that provides a virtual next-generation firewall that offers consistent, reliable security through single-pass architecture.
The VM-Series integrates IPS with Palo Alto Networks’ next-gen firewall to deliver enhanced segmentation and micro segmentation, delivering a solution based on zero-trust. The solution also offers deep packet inspection to provide prevention against any known and unknown threats. The solution can detect and block exploit attempts, and malicious activity that can normally evade detection through both the network and application layers—including buffer overflows, remote code execution, port scans, and more.
It can also block more traditional threats that are well-known, using Signature-based prevention for known exploits, C2, and commodity malware. Threat libraries are updated regularly, making sure that your solution stays up to date on the latest threats.
We recommend Palo Alto Networks’ VM-Series for medium-to-large-sized organizations. Pricing is supplied via a quotation request.
Tokyo-based Trend Micro is an international leader in the cybersecurity and data security industries. Among its robust, often cloud-based products, it offers a strong intrusion prevention solution under the name TippingPoint NGIPS. The solution offers automated, inline inspection, strategically placed through the network to provide full visibility and reporting into all network traffic. It’s a next-generation solution that has flexible deployment options, including cloud and on-prem, or hybrid.
TippingPoint can analyze, detect, and flag any anomalies in inbound, outbound, and lateral network traffic, though currently the product can only block based on IPs and not on domains. It offers deep inspection, covering all blind spots and offering strong advanced threat analysis. It’s a highly customizable solution, with the option to customize based on the level of security exposure a company has. It provides scalable performance that doesn’t impact the performance of the network or other tools, with performance from 250 Mbps to 120 Gbps. The product also operates in layer 2 in the network, rendering it invisible to attackers.
Trend Micro’s TippingPoint NGIPS is an excellent solution for any organization looking to enhance network security with a solution that is not only robust, with intensive reporting capabilities, but is also invisible to attackers. We recommend this solution for all organizations ranging from SMBs to enterprises. Pricing is supplied via a quotation request.