WAF vs. IPS: What’s The Difference?

It would not be wrong to say that one of the most valuable assets of an organization is its data. Malicious individuals use different methods to capture, exploit, and access this sensitive data from companies’ vulnerabilities. Attacks on network protocols can occur at different layers of the network, forcing us to use different security mechanisms for each layer and attack type. Two of these different security mechanisms, WAF and IPS, are often compared to each other. Now let’s see the difference between them.

Key Difference

Firstly, IPS relies solely on signatures. It is not sensitive to sessions and users trying to access the web application, it does not examine them. But WAF is aware of sessions and users, constantly analyzing network traffic. Also, one of the most fundamental differences between the two technologies is that IPS operates at Layers 3 and 4, while WAF operates at Layer 7.

All in all, WAF is extremely useful for protecting web applications and is often used to secure traffic between servers and users. It is aware of and have a command of the web traffic. On the other hand, IPS provides protection for different network protocols and can perform raw protocol decoding, detect anomalous behavior, but is unaware of sessions (GET/POST), users or even applications, and cannot take action by learning the behavior in these areas with machine learning.