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Intrusion prevention systems (IPS) evolved in the late 1990s to resolve ambiguities in passive network monitoring by placing detection systems in-line. Early IPS were IDS that were able to implement prevention commands to firewalls and access control changes to routers. This technique fell short operationally for it created a race condition between the IDS and the exploit as it passed through the control mechanism. Inline IPS can be seen as an improvement upon firewall technologies (snort inline is integrated into one), IPS can make access control decisions based on application content, rather than IP address or ports as traditional firewalls had done. However, in order to improve performance and accuracy of classification mapping, most IPS use destination port in their signature format. As IPS systems were originally a literal extension of intrusion detection systems, they continue to be related.
Intrusion prevention systems may also serve secondarily at the host level to deny potentially malicious activity. There are advantages and disadvantages to host-based IPS compared with network-based IPS. In many cases, the technologies are thought to be complementary.
An Intrusion Prevention system must also be a very good Intrusion Detection system to enable a low rate of false positives. Some IPS systems can also prevent yet to be discovered attacks, such as those caused by a buffer overflow.