Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) Types: The 3 Key Systems

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) Types: The 3 Key Systems<br />

Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) Types

Imagine you’re hosting a party and have set up a bouncer at the gate. The bouncer lets in your guests, but keeps an eye out for any party crashers, ensuring they are quickly shown the door. This, in a nutshell, is what an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) does. It’s the bouncer of your network, allowing authorized data and promptly removing any unwanted intruders.


An Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) is a network security technology that monitors and prevents malicious activities in real-time. It detects potential threats, blocks harmful traffic, and reports incidents, providing a robust shield for your network.

Type 1 – Network-Based IPS (NIPS): This type of IPS scans the entire network for malicious activities. Picture it as a watchtower in the middle of a village, overseeing all the activities and stopping any threats that might harm the community.

Type 2 – Host-Based IPS (HIPS): A more personalized guardian, this IPS is installed on a single host or server. It’s like having a personal bodyguard who ensures no harm comes to the person (or in this case, the computer) they’re protecting.

Type 3 – Wireless IPS (WIPS): In our world of increasing wireless connectivity, WIPS is like an eagle soaring in the sky, watching over the airwaves for any malicious wireless activities or attacks. It prevents unauthorized access and ensures the wireless network remains safe.

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Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) Types In-depth

Network-Based IPS (NIPS)

Imagine an eagle soaring high above a bustling city, its keen eyes scanning every inch of the area for potential threats. This is what a Network-Based Intrusion Prevention System (NIPS) does for your network. It keeps an all-seeing eye on the grand landscape of your digital city – the network.

Just like how a city watchtower would oversee all the activities happening within its purview, NIPS keeps track of everything happening in your network. It’s the reliable lookout perched on your network’s highest tower, providing a panoramic view of the digital landscape. And what does it do with this vantage point? It diligently seeks out any mischievous activities or rogue elements that could disrupt the harmony of your network city.

In more technical terms, NIPS monitors the entire network for any suspicious activities by analyzing the traffic flow. It’s like a detective, skillfully decoding patterns and sniffing out anomalies that don’t belong. When it identifies a potential threat, it doesn’t just report it, it actively works to neutralize it, much like a superhero intervening to stop the villain’s plan. It’s not just a passive observer; it’s an active protector.

So, how does NIPS know what’s normal and what’s not? It’s all about the patterns. NIPS relies on a vast library of known attack patterns called ‘signatures.’ It’s akin to having a wanted poster of all known villains. However, cyber threats are ever-evolving, so NIPS also employs anomaly-based detection methods. It learns what ‘normal’ looks like for your network and alerts when it sees something that deviates from this normality, much like a guard dog barking when it sees an unfamiliar face.

The beauty of NIPS lies in its ability to safeguard large networks. Whether you’re running a multinational corporation or a large public sector organization, NIPS can protect your network from malicious intruders. It’s like having a dedicated police force for your digital city, ensuring law and order in your network, around the clock.

In a world of increasing digital threats, having a NIPS can be your first line of defense, the sturdy watchtower safeguarding your network city from malicious elements, leaving you to focus on your core tasks without the constant worry of digital threats.

So, when you think of network security, remember the eagle in the sky, the watchtower in your digital city, remember NIPS, your all-seeing guardian ensuring a safe, secure, and harmonious network.

Host-Based IPS (HIPS)

Imagine having a personal bodyguard, someone who is always on high alert, dedicated to your safety, and ready to ward off any potential threats. In the digital world, this is what a Host-Based Intrusion Prevention System, or HIPS, does for your computer or server. It’s like having your very own digital bodyguard, providing round-the-clock protection for your system.

Whereas the Network-Based IPS watches over the whole network city, HIPS focuses its attention on a single host, like a bodyguard keeping an eye on their assigned individual in a bustling crowd. Its primary mission is to ensure the security of one computer or server, meticulously monitoring for any harmful activities that could threaten its charge.

In terms of tech-talk, a HIPS is installed directly onto one device and then guards the system from the inside out. It’s like having a sentinel inside the castle walls, looking out for any potential threats. It scrutinizes every bit of data coming in or going out, making sure nothing harmful gets through. If it detects a threat, like our trusty bodyguard, it steps in to neutralize it, ensuring the host remains secure.

So, how does a HIPS do this? It uses a combination of approaches, including anomaly-based and signature-based detection methods. Picture it as having a list of known troublemakers, but also being vigilant for anyone behaving suspiciously. If anything or anyone doesn’t fit the pattern of normal behavior, HIPS springs into action.

The great thing about HIPS is that it can offer protection even if the network security fails. It’s like having a last line of defense, a personal shield, that stays up even when the city walls are breached. This makes HIPS an excellent choice for protecting high-value systems and data, ensuring these crucial resources remain safe from cyber threats.

To sum up, a HIPS functions as your very own digital bodyguard, continually watching over your system, ready to leap into action at the first sign of trouble. It allows you to work in peace, secure in the knowledge that your system is under the watchful eyes of a robust security guard.

In the bustling crowd of digital data, it’s comforting to know that your HIPS bodyguard is on the job, ensuring your system’s safety amidst the chaos. When it comes to host-based security, think HIPS, your personal line of defense in the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.

Wireless IPS (WIPS)

Think about a stealthy hawk, circling high in the sky, ever watchful over its domain. This bird of prey represents the Wireless Intrusion Prevention System (WIPS) in our digital ecosystem. Just as the hawk guards the open skies, a WIPS safeguards the invisible airwaves, the wireless networks that are now a vital part of our lives.

Wireless networks, as convenient and essential as they are, open up new avenues for potential threats. It’s like having an open field where intruders can easily hide and make their moves. Here’s where our vigilant hawk, the WIPS, swoops in. It flies high above this digital field, keeping a keen eye out for any unwelcome activity.

So, what does this look like in practical terms? A WIPS scans the wireless spectrum around the clock, looking for any signs of intrusion. It’s like having a radar sweeping the skies, ready to pick up any blips that shouldn’t be there. If it detects something unusual, like an unauthorized access point or malicious activity, it doesn’t just ring the alarm – it takes action to neutralize the threat.

How does WIPS accomplish this? By using signature-based and anomaly-based detection techniques, much like its counterparts in the IPS family. But the WIPS has a unique trick up its sleeve. It can locate rogue devices and unauthorized access points in the physical space, making it easier to take direct action against these threats. It’s like our hawk not just spotting a threat but also pinpointing its nest.

What’s great about WIPS is that it brings the robustness of IPS to the often vulnerable world of wireless networks. Whether you’re running a coffee shop with free WiFi or managing a sprawling corporate campus, WIPS provides a security blanket over your wireless domain, ensuring your airwaves remain free of malicious interference.

In the end, a WIPS is your guardian of the invisible, ensuring the airwaves of your wireless network are secure and under constant vigilance. It’s your digital hawk, circling high above, keeping a close eye on your wireless domain, and ready to swoop in when needed.

So, when you think of wireless security, think of the watchful hawk in the sky, think of WIPS, your reliable sentinel securing your digital airspace from unwanted intrusions. In the invisible landscape of wireless networks, WIPS stands as your robust shield against cyber threats.


In our increasingly interconnected digital world, safeguarding our networks has never been more important. Intrusion Prevention Systems stand as vigilant guardians in this landscape, each type bringing its unique strengths to the battle against cyber threats. Whether it’s the eagle-eyed NIPS overseeing your network, the dedicated HIPS serving as your personal digital bodyguard, or the ever-watchful WIPS securing your wireless airwaves, IPS is the robust shield protecting your digital realms. So, the next time you browse the internet or connect to a Wi-Fi network, take a moment to appreciate these unsung heroes, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure a safe and secure digital experience for us all.

How to stay safe online:

  • Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
  • Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
  • Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.

Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

Can an Intrusion Prevention System replace my antivirus software?

While an Intrusion Prevention System provides robust protection against network threats, it’s not meant to replace antivirus software. Instead, think of them as complementary tools in your security arsenal. While IPS protects against network-based threats, antivirus software guards against threats at the file level, such as malware or virus-infected downloads.

How does an Intrusion Prevention System identify threats?

IPS identifies threats using a combination of methods. These include signature-based detection, where it matches network traffic against a database of known threat patterns, and anomaly-based detection, where it flags activities that deviate from the normal behavior of your network. Some systems also use protocol analysis, which involves checking network traffic for improper use or unusual protocols.

Are there any drawbacks to using an Intrusion Prevention System?

While IPS provides a high level of network security, it’s not without its challenges. For one, it needs to be continually updated with the latest threat signatures to remain effective. Additionally, while anomaly-based detection can identify previously unknown threats, it can also lead to false positives, where legitimate activities are flagged as threats. Despite these challenges, the benefits of using an IPS for network security greatly outweigh the potential drawbacks.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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