IDS: Is It Essential for Network Security?

IDS: Is It Essential for Network Security?

 By Charles Joseph | Cybersecurity Advocate
 Last update: November 25, 2023

Ever wondered how networks stay alert to potential threats, even when we’re not watching? That’s where an IDS comes into play. But what exactly is an IDS?

An IDS, or Intrusion Detection System, acts like a vigilant watchman for your digital infrastructure. Its primary job? To constantly monitor and signal any suspicious activities or breaches on a computer network. Think of it as a burglar alarm but for your digital assets.

Diving a bit deeper, there are two main types of IDS you might come across:

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  1. Network-based IDS (NIDS): This variant casts a watchful eye over your entire network, scanning for anomalies or potential threats.
  2. Host-based IDS (HIDS): More focused, the HIDS concentrates on individual devices or systems, ensuring that specific points of potential vulnerability are covered.

So, how exactly does an IDS identify a potential threat? They generally operate using one of two main detection methods.

The first, signature-based detection, is about recognizing patterns of known threats, much like how you’d recognize a person from a photo.

The second, anomaly-based detection, is a bit more nuanced. Instead of looking for known issues, it establishes what ‘normal’ looks like and then alerts when there’s a deviation from this norm. It’s a bit like noting a stranger in a place where you only expect familiar faces.

In our digital age, with threats lurking in unseen corners, having an IDS is like equipping your network with a keen sense of sight and intuition, always ready to raise the alarm at the first sign of trouble.

Popular Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)

ProductTypeCompanyCompany Location
SnortNIDSCisco, which acquired Snort in 2013 from SourcefireSan Jose, California, USA
SuricataBoth (NIDS & HIDS)Open Information Security Foundation (OISF)Worldwide
Zeek (formerly Bro)NIDSCorelightSan Francisco, California, USA
OSSECHIDSTrend Micro, which acquired in 2009 the company Third Brigade and their rights to the OSSEC projectTokyo, Japan

Key Points

  • IDS is an intrusion detection system that can be used to detect and respond to malicious activity on a network.
  • IDS can be used to monitor traffic for suspicious activity and generate alerts when something appears to be amiss.
  • IDS can help organizations identify and investigate potential security incidents.
  • IDS can be a valuable tool for protecting networks from attack, but it is important to remember that it is not a silver bullet solution and should be just one part of a comprehensive security strategy.


Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) serve as the digital sentinels of our computer networks, diligently monitoring for any signs of suspicious activity or potential breaches.

Their ability to either scan an entire network or focus on individual devices makes them versatile tools in our cybersecurity arsenal.

As cyber threats continue to evolve, the importance of a properly configured and installed IDS in safeguarding our digital landscapes becomes increasingly paramount.

"Amateurs hack systems, professionals hack people."
-- Bruce Schneier, a renown computer security professional