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Importance of Intrusion Detection System in Cybersecurity

An Intrusion detection system (IDS) helps to identify anomalies and prevent attacks. Secure your network now, read here.

Intrusion detection system (ids)

As businesses shift to distributed environments, the threat landscape gets broader, and hackers are now shifting their focus to attacking the systems of remote workers. In this context, the importance of an intrusion detection system or IDS becomes more important than ever, in protecting endpoint devices and enterprise networks from sophisticated attacks. This article will shed light on the different types of intrusion detection systems and why it is beneficial for ethical hackers to use IDS to detect anomalies and minimize cyberattacks.

An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) is an application to detect suspicious activity on network traffic. Also known as an Intrusion Prevention System, it is widely used to identify suspicious or unknown malware activities on a protected asset. It is not impossible for hackers to penetrate networks; therefore, intrusion detection system importance is paramount here. Traditional enterprise systems and organizations can benefit from IDS to improve their security controls and protect their network environment.

IDS gathers and analyzes malicious actions before reporting them to the system administrator and other users. It can also be stored in a Security Information and Event Management System (SIEM).

Let’s understand a bit about the functions and types of intrusion detection systems below.

Functions of an Intrusion Detection System

IDS serves three main functions: detecting anomalies, reporting potential threats, and blocking traffic using two methods – Signature-based detection and Anomaly-based detection.

1. Signature-based IDS

With the rise in cyberattacks, it is wise to safeguard your personal or business network from malware, viruses, Trojans, etc. Signature-based detection is a popular technique to detect and identify suspicious software or malware attacks in your system. It analyzes inbound network activity and looks for known fingerprints (signatures) or vulnerable patterns in the signature database, also known as attack signatures. Antivirus developers use Signature-based IDS to detect suspicious activity in the system files or database. However, it cannot detect unknown suspicious activity.

2. Anomaly or Behavior-based IDS

Anomaly-based IDS is more effective than signature-based detection systems. Unlike signature-based, the anomaly-based detection system can monitor and analyze significant network traffic and data to detect anomalies. It does not rely on known signature attacks to identify potential threats but looks for behaviors that could be a threat or attack. Therefore, there are higher chances of identifying and lowering the risks of malicious attacks. Anomaly-based IDS monitors network traffic with the help of AI (Artificial Intelligence), statistical models, and machine learning to safeguard your network.

Types of Intrusion Detection Systems

IDS is a great way to protect your businesses’ network environment from cyberattacks. Network-based and host-based intrusion detection systems are the two major classifications of an Intrusion Detection System.

Let us unravel these two types in detail.

1. Network-based Intrusion Detection System (NIDS)

Network intrusion detection systems keep track of all traffic coming in and out of the network. The tool can look for threats and identify potential intrusions from within the network. It can also warn the administrator of the potential risks and block the source from accessing the network.

The NIDS analyzes the traffic to spot trends and strange actions, after which a warning is given. When a port scanner is used on a network that is protected by an IDS, it is highlighted and further investigated in ethical hacking.

A few advantages of NIDS include:

  • Relatively safe from direct attacks as hackers may be unable to trace it.
  • Faster than a host-based detection system.
  • Helpful in detecting internal and external threats or attacks.

A few disadvantages of NIDS include:

  • Cannot read or identify encrypted data.
  • Chances of false positives are high.
  • Time-consuming as it monitors a large volume of data.

2. Host-based Intrusion Detection System (HIDS)

A host-based intrusion detection system (HIDS) analyzes entire system activity, including application logs and system calls. It differs from NIDS in this regard – while NIDS monitors network behavior, HIDS monitors all system activity. HIDS looks for both internal and external threats in your system. They can locate or identify known signatures or malicious patterns that are a threat to your network security, either generated by people or software. If someone tries to log into another’s computer or tamper with someone’s files or data, HIDS can be helpful to detect anomalies. It can capture snapshots of the machine’s data and in running processes and can generate an alert if they are altered over time; HIDS examines change management in operating system files, logs, software, and other areas.

A few pros of a Host-based IDS include:

  • Encrypted data is also accessible.
  • Detects anomalies by focusing on systems/devices.
  • Can identify both internal and external activities.

 A few cons of Host-based IDS include:

  • Substantial risk of false positives.
  • Tedious and time-consuming process.
  • Chances of network traffic congestion.

Based on your network size, you can choose to use NIDS or HIDS for your organization.


These days, intrusions are quite common, owing to the growing cyberattacks and increasing vulnerabilities in network security. Therefore, companies are using several techniques to monitor IT security lapses and intrusion to mitigate cyberattacks. If you are interested in building a career in this domain, you need to get certified in ethical hacking training programs.

EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) program is beneficial for cybersecurity professionals and aspiring participants to learn ethical hacking concepts and deploy IDS techniques to prevent cyberattacks. While IDSs can recognize internal and external risks, hacking intrusion prevention systems are also relatively easy with the various hacking tools available. An ethical hacker must have the knowledge to prevent malicious hackers from hacking intrusion systems and bring down potential threats. There is also substantial risk of false positives and false negatives arising out of network IDS. The CEH course aims to help aspirants and professionals understand and detect intrusions in a network, system, or application and equip them with the skills needed to eliminate false positives.

The ethical hacking training and course module is designed to prepare you to be a successful ethical hacker. By the time you finish your training in ethical hacking, you will be a trained, ethical hacker and have learned to scan, test, hack and secure your networks and system from intrusion.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Name the different types of intrusion detection systems?

While there are several types of IDS, there are four main ones, namely:

  • Network intrusion detection system (NIDS)
  • VM based Intrusion Detection System (VIDS)
  • Perimeter Intrusion Detection System (PIDS)
  • A host-based intrusion detection system (HIDS)

2. Why is an Intrusion Detection System needed?  

Your device or your network’s environment is prone to external or internal intrusions more than ever. Therefore, companies can install IDS to detect hackers or prevent malicious malware. It is a crucial element of a network’s security and understanding of ethical hacking. Moreover, it identifies the known signatures or attack signatures and can notify the administrator of unknown threats.

3. Is a firewall an IPS (Intrusion Prevention System)?  

While both firewall and IDS/IPS are core elements of a Network, both have primary purposes. The primary function of a firewall is that it blocks traffic or filters traffic based on network information. In comparison, IDS/IPS identifies or detects anomalies and prevents unforeseen attacks.


  1. https://www.makeuseof.com/how-host-and-network-based-intrusion-detection-systems-work/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/computer-science/network-intrusion-detection-system
  3. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/12941/network-based-intrusion-detection-system-nids