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network intrusion protection system (NIPS)

A network intrusion protection system (NIPS) is an umbrella term for a combination of hardware and software systems that protect computer networks from unauthorized access and malicious activity. 

NIPS hardware may consist of a dedicated Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) device, an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), or a combination of the two such as an Intrusion Prevention and Detection System (IPDS). Note that while an NIDS can only detect intrusions, an IPS can pro-actively stop an attack by following established rules, such as changing firewall settings, blocking particular Internet protocol (IP) addresses or dropping certain packets entirely. The software components of an NIPS consists of various firewall, sniffer and antivirus tools in addition to dashboards and other data visualization tools.

A NIPS continually monitors an organization's computer networks for abnormal traffic patterns, generating event logs, alerting system administrators to significant events and stopping potential intrusions when possible. A NIPS is also useful for internal security auditing and providing documentation for compliance regulations. Spyware, viruses and attacks continue to grow and it is now recognized that a layered combination of security systems working together is necessary to protect computer networks from compromise. A NIPS in some form is vital for any computer network that can be accessed by unauthorized persons. Computers holding sensitive data always need protection; however, even seemingly insignificant networks can be hijacked for use in botnet attacks.

See also: HIDS/NIDS, intrusion protection, intrusion detection, Snort, Wireshark

This was last updated in July 2011

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