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Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS): Protect Critical Computer System

Today's malware is so numerous and diversified that security experts have known for some time that signature-based solutions are no longer sufficient. Not only are there too many new malicious files every day, but some of them can also alter their appearance and signature as they spread. If you cannot identify something based on its appearance, you may be able to classify it based on its behavior. Methods such as HIPS (Host Intrusion Prevention System) come into play here.

The host intrusion detection system (HIDS) and host intrusion prevention system (HIPS) are host-based relatives of the network intrusion detection system (NIDS) and network intrusion prevention system (NIPS). They do information processing within the host. They may process network traffic as it reaches the host, although files and processes are often their primary concern.

Our article will center on what HIPS is, how it functions, and how to set it up. In addition, we'll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using HIPS as well as some significant distinctions between HIPS and HISD, antivirus. You can learn whether you need a HIPS in the final section.

What is a Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS)?

The Host-based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) protects your system against malicious software and unwanted activities that attempt to harm your computer. HIPS employs advanced behavioral analysis in conjunction with network filtering's detection capabilities to monitor running programs, files, and registry keys. HIPS is distinct from real-time file system protection and is not a firewall; it monitors just operating system operations.

By definition, HIPS is an installed software program that analyzes events occurring on a single host to detect suspicious activities. In other words, a Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) is designed to prevent malware by observing the behavior of code. This allows you to maintain the security of your system without waiting for a specific danger to be added to a detection update.

HIPS and firewalls have historically been closely intertwined. Whereas a firewall controls the traffic to and from your computer based on a set of rules, HIPS provides a similar function but for the significant modifications made to your machine.

How does the Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) Work?

The Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) analyzes events occurring within a single host to detect suspicious activities. HIPS solutions safeguard the host from the network layer to the application layer against both known and undiscovered cyber attacks. If a hacker or virus attempts to modify the operating system or an application, HIPS prevents the operation and notifies the user so they may take the proper next measures.

A HIPS identifies intrusions by analyzing system calls, application logs, and file-system updates using a database of system objects (binaries, password files, capability databases, and access control lists). The HIPS remembers each object's properties and calculates a checksum for each object's contents. This data is maintained in a secure database for comparison purposes.

Additionally, the system verifies that relevant memory locations have not been altered. Rather than using viral patterns to detect malicious software, it maintains a list of trustworthy applications. Software that exceeds its permissions is prevented from doing unauthorized activities.

Typically, host-based intrusion prevention solutions are employed to safeguard endpoint devices. Once malicious behavior is detected, the HIPS program can implement a variety of steps, including alerting the computer user, documenting the malicious activity for further analysis, resetting the connection, discarding malicious packets, and blocking traffic from the suspect IP address. Some host intrusion prevention systems let users transmit malicious activity logs and suspicious code fragments directly to the vendor for analysis and potential detection.

Most host intrusion prevention systems employ signatures, which are established attack patterns, to identify malicious behavior. Signature-based detection is successful but only protects the host device from known threats. It cannot defend against zero-day attacks or signatures that are not in the provider's signature database.

The second method of intrusion detection generates a baseline of typical activity, which is then compared to the present activity. The HIPS searches for abnormalities, such as bandwidth, protocol, and port irregularities. An incursion may be in progress when activity deviates from a permissible range, such as a remote program attempting to open a typically closed port. However, an abnormality, such as a rapid increase in bandwidth use, does not necessarily indicate a genuine attack. Therefore, this strategy amounts to an educated guess with a high likelihood of false positives.

Stateful inspection is a third frequent intrusion-detection approach that evaluates the actual protocols in packets traversing the network. Because the malware protection tool monitors the status of each protocol, the analysis is referred to as stateful. It knows, for instance, how TCP and UDP packets can or cannot transport DNS, SMTP, HTTP, and other protocols, as well as the values that should or should not be carried within each packet of each protocol. Stateful protocol analysis searches for departures from the regular states of protocol content and flags a potential attack if an unexpected divergence is detected. Since stateful analysis is more cognizant of real packet contents than statistical anomaly detection, the likelihood of false positives is considerably reduced.

Even though anti-virus and firewall companies are adapting their scanning techniques to match the growing number of threats, both are frequently reactive. If the attack is attempting to exploit a vulnerability for which there is no signature, the anti-virus will not block it. Host Intrusion Prevention System solutions take a different approach to PC security than typical signature anti-malware - HIPS takes control of program integrity as opposed to attempting to match signatures from the millions of existing malware samples.

How to Set up a Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS)?

What are the Advantages of the Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS)?

Let's examine the usability and advantages of a host-based intrusion prevention system (HIPS):

  • For enterprise and home users, zero-day vulnerabilities are too dangerous. Because HIPS uses anomaly detection, it has a greater possibility of detecting and stopping a zero-day attack.
  • There is no need to wait for a security officer to respond before preventive steps are implemented to preserve host integrity using intrusion prevention. This strategy may be useful, especially in light of recent research indicating that susceptible systems may be corrupted within minutes.
  • HIPS employs a unique preventative technique that can prevent such attacks more than conventional safeguards.
  • Multiple PC-protecting security solutions, such as anti-virus, anti-spyware, and software firewall, can be merged into one.
  • TCO is another advantage of HIPS. HIPS is a single security solution that may be purchased as opposed to three.

The Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) effectively combats:

  • Theft of private information
  • Questionable uses while preventing hazardous activities
  • Familiar dangers, as it prevents their initiation
  • The prevalence of the most recent threats before antivirus databases are updated

What are the Disadvantages of the Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS)?

The HIPS is that the reaction may render the host ineffective or affect the accessibility of a vital resource. It is one thing for an IDS to generate a false positive, but a false positive that triggers a reflexive action might be worse.

Existing HIPS that incorporate firewall, system-level action control, and sandboxing into a unified detection net, in addition to a typical AV product, may have a high system resource need.

What are the Differences Between HIPS and HIDS?

A Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) is more recent than a Host Intrusion Detection System (HIDS), with the primary distinction being that a HIPS may mitigate a detected attack. For instance, a HIPS deployment may detect a port scan and block all communication from the server doing the scan. A HIPS often checks memory, kernel, and network status, log files, and the execution of processes. A HIPS also safeguards against buffer overflows.

  • HIPSs rely mostly on anomaly detection of system activity, whereas HIDSs focus primarily on network activity anomaly detection.
  • HIPS is suggested for Windows computers, whereas HIDS is advised for Linux PCs (OSSEC HIDS, for instance, is available for the two platforms).

What are the Differences Between HIPS and Antivirus Software?

An anti-virus solution's primary objective is to detect and block access to malicious files, whereas a HIPS solution has a broader objective: it may track changes in the file system (to detect changes not necessarily implying malicious code, such as an unexpected setting change), analyze log files (system and application logs), check the system components to detect any irregularities and attempt to detect potential malware.

Anti-virus software may be the only component of a HIPS solution, or one may choose an all-in-one solution that combines all of these tasks into a single application.

Today's end-user anti-virus software is more than a simple anti-virus; through time, they have collected a vast array of functions, transforming them into security suites that may be viewed as HIPS solutions for end-users.

Do You Need a Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS)?

Yes, you need HIPS as a complementary solution to endpoint security solutions like antivirus. The majority of contemporary settings include security software to avoid compromises of the host, such as an endpoint solution and a host intrusion prevention system. The endpoint solution will examine the host's files for known malware, whilst the HIPS will do packet inspection and terminate any unauthorized connections.