That's the simple explanation regarding to the IDS but still lots left uncover. To start investigating the performance of an IDS we can first look at the structure of and IDS. For example open source IDS Snort consists of (1) network interface card, (2) packet capture, (3) preprocessor of packet filter, protocol analysis, and decoder, (4) detection engine, and (5) alert message or output. (1) determines how much packet it could receive, (2) and (3) are essential to capture and identify the packets, and (4) itself is the heart of the IDS which determines whether the packet is a threat or not, lastly (5) informs the administrators. When packets goes through (1), (2) (3) and (4) process the packets thus a performance can be measured seeing how much packet it could process, how are dropped, in special cases how much slips the inspection. With these IDS structure many have identified factors that determines the performance if IDS.
A good IDS should have wide coverage, high detection capability and processing power, and low false negative and positive. The factors above are still the surfaces, and there's still more deeper such as stability, sustainability, resistance to attacks on IDS itself, ability to correlate event, ability to handle high bandwidth traffic, capacity verification, etc.
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