Intrustion prevention systems made a comeback in 2013, growing 4.2 percent.
Intrustion prevention systems made a comeback in 2013, growing 4.2 percent.

The intrusion prevention system (IPS) market that some security professionals deemed to be on the verge of extinction a few years ago has bounced back, growing 4.2 percent, or $1.35 billion, over the past year, according to a new study.

In its “Market Intelligence Brief” NSS Labs predicted that the IPS market will reach a rate of about five percent over the next four years. The prevention technique was essentially declared dead, having lost the security war to the more prominent next generation firewalls (NGFW). However, after Cisco Systems acquired Sourcefire, and IBM and HP introduced new products, IPS is making a comeback, the report said.

According to Rob Ayoub, research director at NSS Labs, don't expect IPS technology to just “roll over and play dead.”  Instead, it's adapting, especially to the needs of larger enterprises. Government and financial institutions in particular are opting for the technology. The report showed that government users account for 25 percent of the IPS market share, and the financial industry accounts for about 23 percent. For Ayoub, industries that run customized programs and applications are the ones that fit best with IPS. Critical infrastructure enterprises, in particular, often use the technology.

“There's been more awareness of these more complex environments, like utilities, manufacturing, and even retailers,” Ayoub said in a Monday interview with SCMagazine.com. These industries are "running more specialized apps that you don't see in a traditional office environment.”

In the past, intrusion prevention systems and NGFWs were seen as separate entities that performed different tasks. But now, Ayoub said, it's harder to distinguish between the technologies as they borrow features from each other. When considering solutions, he explained, IT security professionals should consider manageability and their organization's specific needs.

“Protection will be there across the board,” Ayoub said. “But what do [IT security professionals] need for their organization? That's the differentiator in this market and moving forward.”