IDS vs. Firewall vs. IPS – Comprehensive Comparison

There is no shortage of network administrators who want to know the difference between IDS vs. Firewall vs. IPS. We have composed this article to assist them with the required information. So, continue reading.

Introduction to IDS vs. Firewall vs. IPS

Before we head toward the comparisons, it is always better to learn the basics of each of these systems.


IDS is the shortened form of Intrusion Detection Systems. This is a system that is developed to analyze and monitor traffic on a given network. It specifically keeps track of the potential attackers that use known cyber threats to grab data from your network.

An IDS system can compare the current network activity with a known database of threats. Thereby, it can detect various kinds of harmful aspects like security policy violations, malware, port scanners, etc.

– Firewall

When it comes to a firewall, it is a network security system that can monitor and control network traffic. In fact, it controls both incoming and outgoing network traffic. It functions based on security rules that are predetermined.

However, the user can customize the security rules. Basically, a firewall acts as a barrier between your internal network and an untrusted external network (the internet).


IPS is the shortened form of Intrusion Prevention Systems. This is pretty similar to a firewall when it is applied to a network. That is because IPS stands between the external world (the internet) and your local area network.

IPS is designed to deny network traffic proactively. It takes control of the traffic based on a security profile. As a result, it can detect known security threats.

Considering how they function, there is one major difference between a firewall and an IDS. Firewalls directly block suspicious connections and filter traffic; the other two alert system administrators about the threats.

Basically, a firewall allows or denies network traffic as per the configurations. Firewalls are designed to rely on source, ports, and destination addresses. If there is any traffic that does not meet the criteria of the firewall, that will be denied.

IDS, on the other hand, is a passive device. This specific tool monitors the packets of data that travel across the given network. Then, it compares the traversing data with the signature patterns. If there is a mismatch, it gives out an alarm to the system administrators.

When it comes to IPS, it is an active device that works in inline mode. It actively engages in inline mode to prevent potential attacks simply by blocking harmful connections.

A Clear Comparison Between IDS vs. Firewall vs. IPS

To make things even clearer, we provide a comparison between IDS vs. Firewall vs. IPS in a table. This table will give you a better idea of the whole concept.

Shortened form for Intrusion Prevention SystemIntrusion Detection System
The conceptBasically, a firewall is a network security system that can filter both incoming and outgoing traffic on a network. It blocks or allows traffic based on rules that are preconfigured. It can be hardware, software, or a combination of both.An intrusion Prevention System is a specific device that can monitor and inspect traffic. Then, it classifies traffic before proactively stopping potentially harmful network traffic.IDS or Intrusion Detection System can be software or a piece of hardware. This system can monitor network traffic for malicious activities or potential policy violations in a given system. In case of noticing any harmful connections, it will display an alert.
How does it function?It basically filters traffic based on aspects like IP addresses and port numbers on a data network.IPS inspects the network traffic in real time for the predetermined traffic patterns or signatures of potential attacks. Then, it prevents attacks that were detected.It is capable of detecting network traffic in real time. Also, it looks for the predetermined traffic patterns or signatures of potential attacks. Then, it generates alerts based on that information.
Mode of configurationFirewalls come with layer 03 configuration (which is transparent mode).This is a system that works based on layer 02 configuration, which is the inline mode.It can be called inline or end host configuration to deploy monitoring and detection.
Where it is placedInline placement within the perimeter of the respective data network.Inline placement and it is usually placed after the firewall.This is a non-inline device and placed through a port span or tap.
Analyzing traffic patternsFirewalls don’t analyze traffic patterns.They do analyze traffic patterns.They do analyze traffic patterns.
Placement order with each otherIt should be placed as the first line of defense.It should be placed after the firewall device in the data network.And it is supposed to be placed after the firewall.
What actions it takes upon detecting unauthorized trafficIt blocks the traffic upon noticing potentially harmful or unauthorized network traffic.In the event of detecting an anomaly, the respective traffic will be prevented.Once unauthorized traffic is detected, it gives out an alarm.
What are the terminologies used
  • Stateful packet filtering.
  • It permits or blocks the respective traffic based on ports or protocols.
  • Detects traffic based on anomalies;
  • Can deploy signature detection.
  • Zero-day attacks.
  • Block the attack.
  • Anomaly-based detection.
  • Signature detection.
  • Alarm.
  • Monitoring.
  • Zero-day attacks.

Also, know more about the Firewall Meaning.

What Can IPS and IDS Do to Enhance Your Cybersecurity?

In this IDS vs. Firewall vs. IPS comparison, we will explain the importance of IPS and IDS. In general, network administrators and anyone concerned about cybersecurity take IPS and IDS very seriously. Why do they do that? Let’s find it out.

Basically, security teams have a huge challenge in facing the threat of data breaches and compliance fines. The threats are growing at a rapid speed, and there is absolutely no chance for poorly secured systems. The teams are always on the lookout for potential solutions that don’t cost a fortune.

In other words, every single individual wants to find a cost-effective way to fight against cyber threats. This is exactly when IDS/IPS technology comes to play. In general, the IDS and IPS combination covers a pretty large area of a good cybersecurity system.

– Automation

One of the most important things associated with IDS and IPS systems is that they are very much automated. That means you can use them in the existing security stack without any issues.

IPS offers significant peace of mind for network administrators. That is particularly because of its ability to protect a network from known threats using minimal resources.

– Compliance

When you implement an IDS/IPS solution, it can address a large number of security issues. The best thing is that auditing data is crucial to your compliance investigations.

– Policy Enforcement

Both IDS and IPS can be configured in order to enforce internal security policies. This is applicable at a network level. For instance, if you want to use one VPN service only, you can use IPS and block others.

As a result, you can use the permitted VPN and block the traffic that comes from any other. This is a very impressive measure for those who want optimal protection for their data networks.

It is true that network security is exceptionally important to protect networks from data breaches. In that case, a well-implemented IDS/IPS system can be a great assist. With such a system, you can monitor real-time network activity so that you can take necessary actions without any delay.

Things can become really ugly if you face situations such as ransomware attacks and data breaching. To block such attacks successfully, however, you must be able to update the signatures and have them ready.

If the system is properly updated, facing potential attacks at the network level itself is possible. If you can couple the respective system with a good firewall as well, you can expect optimal protection.

By the way, get to know how to disable the firewall on CentOS 7.

What Else Can You Do?

Having an IDS, IPS, and a firewall on your network can significantly minimize the potential threats. Such systems can prevent your network from a variety of threats. However, to make it a complete system, you must be smart enough to take other measures.

For instance, you can add a strong antivirus program and a VPN and entertain a very safe cybersecurity policy. As an organization, what you spend on a network security system is a very smart investment. It can yield priceless results to every individual and to the entire organization as well.


So, that’s our comparison on IDS vs. Firewall vs. IPS. We hope this comparison provided you with some good awareness of those systems. You can combine all those three aspects to ensure better security.

If you know better ways to ensure the security of your data network, please share your knowledge with us. Other readers will love to know your thoughts, as well. Your feedback is exceptionally important to us. Good luck!



Ten years of experience in information and computer technology. Passionate about electronic devices, smartphones, computers, and modern technology.