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IDFAQ: What is a Host Intrusion Detection System?


Host based intrusion detection (HIDS) refers to intrusion detection that takes place on a single host system. Currently, HIDS involves installing an agent on the local host that monitors and reports on the system configuration and application activity. Some common abilities of HIDS systems include log analysis, event correlation, integrity checking, policy enforcement, rootkit detection, and alerting1. They often also have the ability to baseline a host system to detect variations in system configuration. In specific vendor implementations these HIDS agents also allow connectivity to other security systems. For example, Cisco CSA has the ability to send host data upstream to Cisco network IPS devices2, Checkpoint Integrity can be integrated with Checkpoint Secure Client (Client VPN)3, and IBM Proventia Desktop is Cisco NAC certified.4

HIDS Intrusion Prevention

Most HIDS packages now have the ability to actively prevent malicious or anomalous activity on the host system. Due to the potential impact this can have on the end user, HIDS is frequently deployed in "monitor only" mode initially. This enables the administrator to create a baseline of the system configuration and activity. Active blocking of applications, system changes, and network activity is limited to only the most egregious activities. Administrators can then tune the system policy based on what is considered "normal activity".

Architecture General