Most security professionals agree that we can’t effectively stop malware by blacklisting signatures, an approach used by most anti-malware applications. But what about other legacy anti-malware solutions such as behavior-based host-based intrusion detection systems (HIDS) or host-based intrusion prevention systems (HIPS)?

The promise of the HIDS/HIPS solution was big: By monitoring system behavior and network traffic, these solutions would be able to determine which behavior is normal and which may indicate an attack. However, it turns out that this approach is not so easy. Defining the policies and rules that determine which behavior is “normal” and which indicates an attack is a very difficult and time-consuming task that requires deep understanding and expertise. As a result, most of the HIDS/HIPS rules and policies are not deterministic enough, which results in many false-positive alerts. HIDS/HIPS administrators have problems keeping false-positives to a minimum. In come cases, false-positives have become so annoying that the alerts are ignored because they are triggered far too often. If the alerts are ignored, what’s the point in having them? Of course, this dramatically hinders security efforts, and security administrators should never let it get to this point.

To minimize false-positives, it is necessary to constantly tune HIDS/HIPS rules and policies. Every time a new application is installed, updated or patched, the HIDS/HIPS solution must be retuned. This creates a huge burden on the solution administrators, who need to understand each alteration when it is triggered. It also increases the total cost of solution ownership. The cost of professional resources required for initial setup, ongoing maintenance, tuning and administration of the solution and training and user support drives the solution costs very high.

False-positives are also very annoying to the end user. Most enterprise users are not security experts. They don’t understand — and often don’t care about — the security alerts that pop up on their screens. All they know is that these alerts are preventing them from doing their job. If this happens too often, users will demand that the solution is removed from their desktop, rendering it ineffective. Again, never let it get to this point.


Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since the days of HIDS and HIPS solutions. Trying to determine that an action is malicious only by examining host behavior has proven to be an ineffective method because it lacks the context of the operation. Only by understanding both the application operation and its context is it possible to accurately determine whether the operation is valid.

IBM Security provides a solution that is accurate, effective, transparent to the user and requires a minimal investment of IT resources, so customers really do get the best of both worlds.

Take a proactive response to today’s advanced persistent threats! Read the white paper to learn how

More from Fraud Protection

Kronos Malware Reemerges with Increased Functionality

The Evolution of Kronos Malware The Kronos malware is believed to have originated from the leaked source code of the Zeus malware, which was sold on the Russian underground in 2011. Kronos continued to evolve and a new variant of Kronos emerged in 2014 and was reportedly sold on the darknet for approximately $7,000. Kronos is typically used to download other malware and has historically been used by threat actors to deliver different types of malware to victims. After remaining…

How Security Teams Combat Disinformation and Misinformation

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.” That popular quote is often attributed to Mark Twain. But since we're talking about misinformation and disinformation, you’ll be unsurprised to learn Twain never said that at all. In fact, no one knows who first strung those words together, but the idea that truth spreads slowly while lies spread quickly is at least several hundred years old. The “Twain” quote also serves to…

A View Into Web(View) Attacks in Android

James Kilner contributed to the technical editing of this blog. Nethanella Messer, Segev Fogel, Or Ben Nun and Liran Tiebloom contributed to the blog. Although in the PC realm it is common to see financial malware used in web attacks to commit fraud, in Android-based financial malware this is a new trend. Traditionally, financial malware in Android uses overlay techniques to steal victims’ credentials. In 2022, IBM Security Trusteer researchers discovered a new trend in financial mobile malware that targets…

New DOJ Team Focuses on Ransomware and Cryptocurrency Crime

While no security officer would rely on this alone, it’s good to know the U.S. Department of Justice is increasing efforts to fight cyber crime. According to a recent address in Munich by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, new efforts will focus on ransomware and cryptocurrency incidents. This makes sense since the X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2022 named ransomware as the top attack type in 2021. What exactly is the DOJ doing to improve policing of cryptocurrency and other cyber…