The Great IDS Debate

Thursday, 6 February 2003, 1:13 PM EST

Intrusion detection systems (IDS) have rapidly become a crucial component of any network defense strategy. Over the past few years, their popularity has soared as vendors have refined their results and increased performance capabilities. At the heart of intrusion detection systems lies the analysis engine. It reviews each packet, determines if it is malicious, and logs an alert if necessary – the core tasks of an IDS. Two different IDS techniques, each favored by separate and loyal camps, have emerged as the preferred engine behind the software. Despite the copious marketing material and fiery online debates, each method has distinct strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we'll examine and compare the two different techniques: signature analysis and protocol analysis.

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