Safeguarding Your Business Against Cyber Threats with an Intrusion Detection System
As businesses rely more on connected technologies, they become sitting ducks for cyberattacks. Malicious actors are hard at work developing new methods to infiltrate networks and steal sensitive data. Ensure your business has watertight security measures by implementing all 15 ways to protect your business from a cyberattack, including an intrusion detection system (IDS).
An IDS works like an advanced warning system, scanning your network activity for suspicious behaviors that may indicate a cyberattack. It provides an extra layer of protection to catch potential threats that other security tools may miss.
What is an IDS?
An intrusion detection system monitors network traffic by searching for patterns that may signify a network breach or data exfiltration attempt. It works by establishing a baseline of normal network behavior and sending alerts when any abnormal activity is detected.
IDS tools utilize either signature-based or anomaly-based detection methods. On the one hand, signature-based systems look for known threats by comparing live traffic against databases of attack signatures. On the other hand, anomaly-based systems try to detect deviations from normal patterns.
There are two main types of IDS deployments.
Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS)
A network intrusion detection system is like a security camera that monitors activity throughout an entire building. The security camera is installed to view all common spaces, halls, and entry points. It analyzes movement and behaviors, looking for suspicious activities like someone sneaking around who shouldn’t be there. The security camera provides extra visibility into what’s happening throughout the building, allowing security guards to detect intruders.
Similarly, a NIDS watches an entire network, inspecting all the data flowing through. It’s analyzing the network packets to identify unusual traffic that could signal a hacker’s attack. This gives IT professionals greater insight into network events to spot potential threats that other protections may miss. The NIDS acts as an extra set of eyes monitoring the network for breaches around the clock.
Host-Based Intrusion Detection System (HIDS)
On the other hand, a host-based IDS is like a surveillance camera inside a store, watching over just one cash register. It focuses on all activity happening at that specific checkout lane. The camera tracks every item scanned, register key pressed, drawer opened, and barcode scanned – anything that could look like suspicious behavior. With its targeted view, the camera can detect if a cashier is doing something shady, like pocketing cash or manipulating transactions.
In the same way, a HIDS zooms in on events within a single computer or device. It monitors low-level operations like system commands, log files, and file changes. Looking for abnormal patterns, the HIDS builds an understanding of normal behavior in that one host. If any abnormal activity deviates from the baseline, the HIDS can flag it as a potential security breach. So, this targeted monitoring helps catch threats like an employee illicitly accessing company data on their work laptop.
IDS Benefits for Businesses
Intrusion detection provides essential visibility into threats that other defenses like firewalls and antivirus software can miss.
Here are some key advantages an IDS delivers:
- Early detection of attacks: IDS tools can spot malicious activity as it unfolds before severe damage is done. This grants responders a critical head start on investigating and containing the breach.
While anti-virus software relies on signatures to catch known threats, an IDS uses behavioral analysis to detect anomalous activity that could indicate zero-day attacks. This allows an IDS to catch incidents proactively before the antivirus recognizes them.
Therefore, an IDS provides a vital additional security layer by identifying stealthy or unprecedented threats that other defenses may miss. Implementing an IDS alongside antivirus software offers more robust protection.
- Insight into insider threats: A HIDS monitors user activity for dangerous behaviors, like unauthorized attempts to access or modify data. You can catch potentially rogue employees before they do any damage. Your anti-ransomware or antivirus cannot do that.
- Strengthening of incident response: While security awareness training is vital for reducing risk, IDS tools provide comprehensive visibility into malicious activities that allow responders to quickly determine the attack’s extent. This speeds up recovery efforts and informs preventative improvements to security defenses.
- Prioritizing patch management: By revealing exploited vulnerabilities, an IDS highlights where patching efforts should be focused first. The real-time insight an IDS provides enables administrators to determine which systems are most vulnerable quickly. Prompt patching of these critical security flaws is essential for reducing attack surface exposure.
- Compliance assistance: Audit logs and alerts generated by an IDS help demonstrate regulatory compliance regarding monitoring for threats. Detailed activity logs can provide proof of a robust security program to auditors. IDS alerts also supply documentation of response processes when incidents occur, further aiding compliance efforts.
With cybercriminals relentlessly attempting intrusions, businesses need proactive monitoring to detect threats. An IDS delivers this through round-the-clock surveillance, empowering rapid response.
Deploying an Effective IDS
To leverage an IDS most effectively, careful planning and configuration is required.
Here are some best practices to follow:
- Place IDS sensors at key network choke points to monitor inbound and outbound traffic. Critical infrastructure like DMZs and database servers warrant extra monitoring.
- Fine-tune the detection parameters to minimize false positives while still catching true threats. Start with looser settings while learning normal baseline behaviors.
- Ensure the IDS has high availability, redundancy, and cyber attack resistance itself.
- Establish proper logging and retention policies for the alerts and audit data produced. Integrate the IDS with a security information and event management (SIEM) platform for deeper analysis.
- Set up notifications to receive immediate warnings of high-priority threats. Monitor dashboards regularly to stay on top of developing issues.
- Keep detection rules and behavior profiles updated as new attack techniques emerge. Perform testing to validate that the IDS can catch known threats.
- The optimal IDS approach combines both network and host-based systems to get a comprehensive view of threats across the enterprise.
Protect Your Business with Help from AZCOMP
While intrusion detection systems offer critical protection, they require know-how to manage and tune properly. AZCOMP has extensive experience when it comes to deploying and optimizing IDS to detect stealthy attacks other defenses miss. We offer 24/7 monitoring and response powered by our advanced Security Operations Center (SOC).
Beef up your cyber defenses and gain greater visibility into threats targeting your business. Contact AZCOMP today to discuss adding managed IDS capabilities and SOC services tailored to your operations. We help businesses across industries build robust, multi-layered security programs to protect against continually evolving cyber risks. Don’t leave your valuable data vulnerable.
About AZCOMP Technologies
AZCOMP Technologies of Mesa, AZ, is a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions and services for businesses of all sizes. The purpose of AZCOMP IT Services is to help businesses improve operational efficiency, eliminate IT frustrations, and drastically reduce the risk of cyber attacks with robust cybersecurity solutions.
AZCOMP Technologies has provided technology solutions and services to businesses in Mesa, Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Apache Junction, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Gold Canyon, Glendale, Surprise, and more since 2000. Request your IT consultation today!