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Examining the latest trends in malware detection and analysis with Cisco IDS

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Cyber threats are on the rise, and cybersecurity professionals need to stay ahead of the curve in order to mitigate potential risks. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the latest trends in malware detection and analysis with Cisco IDS.

We’ll discuss how Cisco IDS specialists can help detect and block malicious activity before it can cause damage, and we’ll also highlight some of the features that make it one of the most advanced security solutions available.

Malware detection and analysis has been a major focus for network security professionals in recent years. Many different detection and analysis tools are available, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the latest trends in malware detection and analysis with Cisco IDS. We’ll explore how Cisco IDS can help you detect and analyze malware threats, as well as some of the challenges that you may encounter.

Continuing to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals, security experts rely on a variety of detection and analysis tools.

One such tool is Cisco IDS, which helps identify and analyze malicious activity. In this article, we will take a look at some of the latest trends in malware detection and analysis with Cisco IDS. 

We will explore how the platform is able to identify and block threats before they can cause any damage.

Malware detection and analysis has become an increasingly important part of network defense.

Cisco IDS offers a variety of features to help administrators detect and analyze malware threats. 

This article provides an overview of some of the latest trends in malware detection and analysis with Cisco IDS.

Network Analysis and Intrusion Policy Basics 

Network analysis and intrusion policies work together as part of the Firepower System`s intrusion detection and prevention feature.

The term intrusion detection generally refers to the process of passively monitoring and analyzing network traffic for potential intrusions and storing attack data for security analysis. This is sometimes referred to as “IDS.” 

The term intrusion prevention includes the concept of intrusion detection, but adds the ability to block or alter malicious traffic as it travels across your network. This is sometimes referred to as “IPS.” 

 In an intrusion prevention deployment, when the system examines packets: 

A network analysis policy governs how traffic is decoded and preprocessed so it can be further evaluated, especially for anomalous traffic that might signal an intrusion attempt. 

An intrusion policy uses intrusion and preprocessor rules (sometimes referred to collectively as intrusion rules) to examine the decoded packets for attacks based on patterns.

Attack policies are combined with a set of variables that allow you  to accurately reflect your network environment using named values. 

Both network analysis and attack policy are called from the parent access control policy, but at different times.

Because the system analyzes traffic, the network analysis phase (decoding and preprocessing) is separate before  the intrusion prevention phase (additional preprocessing and intrusion rules).

Together, network analysis and intrusion policies provide broad and deep packet inspection. These help  detect, warn, and protect  network traffic that can compromise the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of the host and its data.

The Firepower system comes with multiple network analysis and attack policies of the same name that complement and work together, such as Balanced Security and Connectivity.

You can benefit from the experience of the Cisco Talos Intelligence Group (Talos) by using the policies provided by the system.

For these policies, Talos sets the rule state for intrusions and preprocessors, and provides the initial configuration for preprocessors and other advanced settings. 

You can also create custom network analysis and attack policies. You can customize custom policy settings  to inspect traffic in the  most important way, improving both the performance of  managed devices and their ability to respond effectively to events generated by the device.

Use a similar policy editor in the web interface to create, edit, save, and manage network analysis and attack policies.

When you edit one of the policy types, the navigation pane appears on the left side of the web interface. Various settings pages are displayed on the right side. 

How the policy inspects intruder traffic 

If the system analyzes traffic as part of an access control deployment, the network analysis phase (decoding and preprocessing) is separate before  the intrusion prevention phase (intrusion rules and advanced settings).

The following figure shows a simplified  order of traffic analysis for inline, intrusion prevention, and AMP for Networks deployments.

This shows how an access control policy calls other policies to inspect traffic and the order in which  those policies are called.

The network analysis and intrusion policy selection phases are highlighted.

Decoding, Normalizing, and Preprocessing: Network Analysis Policies

Without decoding and preprocessing, the system could not appropriately evaluate traffic for intrusions because protocol differences would make pattern matching impossible.

Network analysis policies govern these traffic-handling tasks: 

After traffic is filtered by Security Intelligence after encrypted traffic is decrypted by an optional SSL policy before traffic can be inspected by file or intrusion policies 

A network analysis policy governs packet processing in phases. First the system decodes packets through the first three TCP/IP layers, then continues with normalizing, preprocessing, and detecting protocol anomalies: 

The packet decoder converts packet headers and payloads into a format that can be easily used by the preprocessors and later, intrusion rules.

Each layer of the TCP/IP stack is decoded in turn, beginning with the data link layer and continuing through the network and transport layers.

The packet decoder also detects various anomalous behaviors in packet headers. In a 

Inline deployment, the inline normalization preprocessor reformatts (normalizes) the traffic to minimize the chances of an attacker evading detection.

It helps prepare packets for inspection by other preprocessors and intrusion rules to ensure that the packets processed by the system match those received from hosts on the network.

Access Control Rules: Intrusion Policy Selection

After the initial preprocessing, access control rules (if any) evaluate the traffic. In most cases, the first access control rule that a packet matches is the rule that handles that traffic. You can monitor, trust, block, or allow matching traffic.

Allowing traffic using access control rules allows the system to inspect  traffic detection data, malware, prohibited files, and intruders in that order.

Traffic that does not match the access control rule is handled by the default action of the access control policy. This action can also check for detected data and intruders.

Limitations of Custom Policies

Preprocessing and intrusion inspection are so closely related that you need to make sure that  network analysis and intrusion policies are configured to complement each other in processing and inspecting a single packet.

By default, the system uses  network analysis policies to preprocess all traffic processed by managed devices with a single access control policy.

The following figure shows how the newly created access control policy handles traffic first in an inline intrusion prevention deployment. The pretreatment and intrusion prevention phases are highlighted.


In conclusion, malware detection and analysis are constantly evolving, with new and clever techniques being employed by hackers to evade traditional anti-virus solutions. Fortunately, with the help of Cisco IDS, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and protect themselves from malware attacks.

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