An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) is a passive system that scans traffic and reports back on threats.
Intrusion detection is a set of techniques and methods that are used to detect suspicious activity both at the network and host level. Intrusion detection systems fall into two basic categories: signature-based intrusion detection systems and anomaly detection systems. Intruders have signatures, like computer viruses, that can be detected using software. You try to find data packets that contain any known intrusion-related signatures or anomalies related to Internet protocols. Based upon a set of signatures and rules, the detection system is able to find and log suspicious activity and generate alerts. Anomaly-based intrusion detection usually depends on packet anomalies present in protocol header parts. In some cases these methods produce better results
compared to signature-based IDS. Usually an intrusion detection system captures data from the network and applies its rules to that data or detects anomalies in it. Snort is primarily a rule-based IDS, however input plug-ins are present to detect anomalies in protocol headers.
Intrusion Detection Systems do not prevent intrusions, they only alert you to them. An IDS is considered a corrective control because it attempts to reverse the impact of an incident or problem after it has occurred.