Best Intrusion Detection & Prevention Systems

A decade ago, intrusion detection and prevention technology was regarded as a luxury for enterprises with larger budgets. Today, protection against internal and external threats is an absolute necessity.

After all, organizations can’t survive if they lose their data to malicious attacks or leak proprietary information to competitors. And yet even in today’s cybersecurity-conscious world, many businesses either don’t have proper security systems in place or are unaware of which ones are best suited to their needs.

An intrusion detection and prevention system (IDPS) is a key security strategy in the enterprise environment. An IDPS can protect organizations from cyberattacks and provide an audit log for administrators to do post-security operation analysis.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, global cyber crime costs are expected to grow by 15% per year over the next five years, reaching $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015. To avoid devastating data breaches, enterprises should deploy high-quality IDPS solutions early.

What can IDPS Protect Against?

There are many types of intrusions, including:

  • Information Gathering: A hacker may attempt to gather information about your company to plan future attacks against you—perhaps even targeting employees who hold valuable data within their workstations.
  • Data Modification: A hacker may attempt to modify data on your servers or workstations to compromise its integrity and allow for further attacks.
  • Denial of Service: A denial-of-service (DoS) attack is one of the most common forms of cyberattack. It occurs when a hacker attempts to disrupt your server or workstation, so no one can access it.
  • Social Engineering: Bad actors often rely on social engineering tactics to trick unsuspecting users into providing them with login credentials or downloading malware onto their computers.
  • Malware Installation: Once inside your network, hackers may install malicious software programs called malware onto computers within your organization. This malware allows them to monitor all activity on infected machines and steal private data stored there.
  • Keylogging: Keylogging involves installing software onto a target machine that records every keystroke made by anyone using that machine.

Benefits of Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems

There are many benefits to intrusion detection and prevention systems. These range from data safety, financial savings, and more. Below are five benefits of IDPS.

Mitigating data breaches

Data breaches cost businesses millions of dollars each year, but an IDPS can help mitigate data breaches and their costs. By detecting malicious activity, intruders can be stopped before sensitive information is stolen.

Improving productivity

The main purpose of any business is to make money, so it only makes sense that increased productivity would lead to increased profits. In addition, by preventing attacks on your network, you will see improvements in employee efficiency leading to greater overall success for your company.

Reducing downtime

When your system goes down, so does your ability to do business. This means lost revenue and unhappy customers who may not come back once service has been restored. With an IDPS in place, you can prevent these situations by quickly identifying problems before they become too big to handle.

Reducing insurance costs

Having an IDPS also helps reduce insurance costs because it reduces risks associated with liability claims related to cyberattacks and other computer-related crimes.

Increasing compliance

If you run a business that deals with sensitive information such as medical records or credit card numbers, having an IDPS can help ensure compliance with HIPAA and PCI DSS regulations.

Providing alert and monitoring systems

A well-designed IDPS provides both real-time alerts about potential threats and comprehensive reports about what happened during previous attacks, so you can learn from past mistakes and implement new strategies to keep your business safe going forward.

What is an Intrusion Detection System?

An intrusion detection system (IDS) is a technical security control that monitors activity on a computer network and alerts administrators to suspicious activity. An IDS is designed to detect malicious traffic patterns, which may indicate an attempted security breach or attack.

IDS relies on pattern matching techniques to detect violations of predefined security rules. If a rule is triggered, an alert can be sent to notify administrators about potential unauthorized access attempts.

What is an Intrusion Prevention System?

An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is a software-based security tool that actively blocks intrusions by terminating malicious connections and blocking malware before it reaches protected resources.

The main purpose of IPS is to prevent any successful exploits rather than just detecting them after they have occurred. If you’re looking for an extra layer of protection against attacks, an IPS can be valuable to your network defense strategy.

Also read: Top Vulnerability Management Tools & Software 2022

10 Best Network Intrusion Detection & Prevention Systems

Enterprise security is an ever-evolving and complex problem, but network intrusion detection and prevention systems are key to protecting your networks in an increasingly vulnerable digital world. In particular, we’ve seen some exciting technologies emerge over the past few years that are set to revolutionize how organizations approach security moving forward.

Below we’ve outlined our 10 best picks for IDPS.

Cisco Firepower Next-Generation IPS

Cisco Firepower NGIPS

By leveraging big data analytics and machine learning techniques, Cisco Firepower NGIPS can detect advanced attacks and offer granular protection. The platform leverages threat intelligence, in-depth visibility into traffic flows, real-time analysis of global threat information, and a deep understanding of attack patterns to provide high-fidelity detection for known and unknown threats.

It also offers granular policy controls that allow security teams to determine which applications are permitted to access specific network resources at any given time. And it enables security analysts to quickly identify and block even highly complex DDoS attacks with integrated technology from Arbor Networks.

Key Differentiator

  • Cisco secure IPS receives new policy rules and signatures every two hours, keeping your security updated.
  • To secure mission-critical assets, guest access, and WAN connections, Secure IPS can be deployed for in-line or passive inspection and implemented at the perimeter or data center distribution/core.
  • Firepower provides real-time visibility into your network’s users, apps, devices, threats, and vulnerabilities.
  • Cisco Firepower NGIPS allows you to rapidly detect, prevent, contain, and remediate advanced threats integrated with AMP (advanced malware protection) and sandboxing solutions.
  • Cisco Firepower NGIPS provides global threat visibility and analysis that generates over 35,000 IPS rules as well as integrated IP-, URL-, and DNS-based security information for real-time threat protection.

Pricing: Pricing information is not provided on the Cisco website. You can contact the Cisco sales team or a verified partner.

Palo Alto Networks Threat Prevention

screenshot of Palo Alto Networks Threat Prevention

Palo Alto Networks Threat Prevention safeguards your network against traditional attacks and targeted, advanced threats perpetrated by organized cyberattacks. It offers extensive exploit, malware, and command-and-control (C2) security.

Additionally, Palo Alto Networks Threat Prevention provides log management, comprehensive exploit, malware, and C2 protection to protect the enterprise from cyber threats.

Key Differentiator

  • Palo Alto Threat Prevention uses Snort and other advanced IPS technologies with NGFW to create a unified security policy rule base.
  • Inspect all traffic threats regardless of port, protocol, or encryption, and provide visibility into attacks to ensure organization safety.
  • Automatically block known malware, vulnerability exploits, and C2.
  • Automate security to get automatic updates for new threats.

Pricing: Pricing information is not provided on the Palo Alto website. You can book a demo to get a personalized product recommendation for your enterprise.

Check Point IPS 

screen shot of Check Point IPS

Check Point IPS provides a comprehensive, integrated NGFW intrusion prevention system that combines real-time attack detection and blocking with network security policy enforcement. It can be deployed as a physical or virtual appliance.

With its unique ability to stop attacks before impacting your organization, Check Point IPS protects enterprises against cyber threats, including malware and targeted attacks. It uses a combination of signatures, protocol validation, anomaly detection, and behavioral analysis to detect intrusions in real time. You can also use it to enforce security policies across multiple devices on your network from one centralized location.

Key Differentiator

  • With virtual patching, Check Point keeps its management server and security gateways updated every two hours. The administrator is also alerted to any new IPS protections, ensuring they are informed.
  • By activating IPS on your current Check Point NGFW, you can reduce deployment time and save costs by using existing security infrastructure. In addition, the optional detect-only mode configures all of your current defenses to merely detect traffic and not block it, allowing you to assess your profile without danger of interruption.
  • Check Point IPS seamlessly integrates with SmartEvent, enabling SOC (security operations center) staff to respond to the highest priority events first, saving them time.
  • Check Point IPS defenses include scans for protocol and behavioral anomalies; this enables Check Point to identify vulnerabilities in well-known protocols like HTTP, SMTP, PO3, and IMAP before an exploit is discovered.
  • Check Point identifies and blocks DNS tunneling attempts that indicate data leakage or evasion.

Pricing: Pricing information is not provided on the Check Point website. However, you can book a demo with the Check Point team or find an authorized Check Point partner.


Screen shot of OSSEC

OSSEC is an open-source, host-based intrusion detection system that performs log analysis, file integrity checking, policy monitoring, rootkit detection, real-time alerting, and active response. It runs on most operating systems (OSs), including Linux, OpenBSD, and Mac OS X.

The software was originally developed by Daniel Cid and has been under constant development since 2004. And OSSEC can be deployed either stand-alone or as a client/server architecture.

Key Differentiator

  • OSSEC leverages a log-based intrusion detection system to actively monitor and analyze data from multiple log data points in real time.
  • Respond in real time to system threats and changes through firewall rules, third-party integrations like CDNs, and help portals and self-healing measures.
  • OSSEC maintains a forensic copy of data as it changes over time for files and Windows registry settings.
  • OSSEC performs compliance audits at the application and system level for a variety of common standards, such as PCI DSS and CIS standards
  • OSSEC processes file-level analysis to detect malicious applications and rootkits

Pricing: Free


screenshot of Snort

Snort is an open-source network IDPS developed in 1998 by Martin Roesch, founder and former CTO of Sourcefire. It performs real-time traffic analysis and packet logging on IP networks. It can also detect malicious traffic in your networks, such as DoS attacks, worms, or viruses.

Snort uses a flexible rule-based language to describe traffic it should collect or pass as well as a detection engine that uses pattern matching rules to identify suspected malicious traffic.

The software can be run in both in-line blocking and passive monitoring modes. In-line blocking mode inspects packets passing through a router or switch, while passive monitoring mode listens to network traffic but does not block any packets.

Key Differentiator

  • Snort offers real-time network traffic monitoring, giving users real-time alerts when it detects suspicious packets or threats on IP networks.
  • OS fingerprinting is based on the idea that each platform has its TCP/IP stack. Therefore, Snort can be used to identify the OS platform used by a system that connects to a network.
  • Snort can be run on any OS, including Linux and Windows, and any network environment.
  • Snort organizes rules by protocol, such as IP and TCP; then by port; and finally by those with and without content.
  • Snort’s packet logger mode allows it to record packets to disk. It captures all packets and organizes them by IP address in this mode.

Pricing: While Snort is a free, open-source tool, it offers three subscription-based product rule sets. Snort’s personal rule set subscription costs $29.99 each for a one-year subscription, and Snort’s business rule set subscription costs $399 per sensor for a one-year subscription. For the Snort integrator, prospective buyers can contact the Snort team for details.

McAfee’s Network Security Platform (IPS)

screenshot of McAfee’s Network Security Platform

McAfee’s Network Security Platform has advanced threat protection and malware detection. It uses a combination of deep packet inspection (DPI) and threat intelligence to detect unknown attacks, classify threats, and stop attackers in their tracks.

McAfee has DPI capabilities that provide visibility into data packets for more granular control over network traffic, which enables you to block malicious content before it reaches end users. The platform also provides security analytics that helps you identify vulnerabilities across your network infrastructure, so you can quickly patch them before hackers exploit them.

Key Differentiator

  • Inbound SSL decryption supports Diffie-Hellman (DH) and Elliptic-Curve DH ciphers using an agent-based, shared key solution without impacting sensor performance.
  • Allow list/blocklist enhancements to support Structured Threat Information eXpression (STIX).
  • With McAfee, inspection of virtual environments is enabled.
  • HTTP response decompression support is available.
  • McAfee offers IP defragmentation and TCP stream reassembly.
  • Users have access to features for automation and integration into endpoint security.

Pricing: Contact McAfee to learn about pricing.

Alert Logic Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

screenshot of Alert Logic

Alert Logic provides comprehensive managed detection and response (MDR) coverage for public cloud, SaaS, on-premises, and hybrid environments. Alert Logic’s MDR service provides comprehensive protection against both known and zero-day threats and continuous network monitoring.

The managed security solution is designed to help organizations detect and respond to intrusions in real time by continuously monitoring all devices on a company’s network for suspicious activity.

Key Differentiator

  • Internal and external vulnerability scanning
  • Log collection and search with 12-month retention
  • User behavior monitoring
  • Real-time reporting and dashboards
  • Weblog analytics and cloud change monitoring

Pricing: Alert logic offers a pay-as-you-grow model, and pricing starts at 25 nodes. Although pricing information is not available on the vendor’s website, they offer three pricing plans: Alert Logic MDR essentials, Alert Logic MDR professional, and Alert Logic MDR enterprise. For more information on pricing, prospective buyers can request a quote or book a demo.


screenshot of CrowdSec

CrowdSec is designed to run on virtual machines (VMs), bare-metal servers, containers, or be called directly via API.

Key Differentiator

  • CrowdSec is equipped with Metabase and Prometheus to help users better defend their digital assets.
  • CrowdSec doesn’t disrupt data streams or create single points of failure by decoupling detection (agent) and remediation (bouncer). Instead, it can fit any serverless, cloud-based, VM, or bare-metal context in one (agent) to one (bouncer), one to many, many to one, and many to many typologies.
  • CrowdSec can protect your servers against attackers, whether they use IPV4 or IPV6 addresses. Users’ sessions and other business-oriented layers are included in this next-generation HIDS as well as IPs.
  • CrowdSec is GDPR compliant.

Pricing: Free

SolarWinds Security Event Manager

screenshot of Solarwinds Security Event Manager

SolarWinds Security Event Manager ensures transparency in showing compliance with features intended to let users conveniently monitor and manage any security event throughout their network infrastructure, including the ability to produce thorough and easy-to-customize reports.

Key Differentiator

  • Centralized log collection and normalization.
  • Built-in file integrity monitoring.
  • Automated threat detection and response.
  • Integrated compliance reporting tools.

Pricing: SolarWinds offers a 30-day free trial. The vendor subscription starts at  $2,639, and the perpetual licensing starts at $5,144. In addition, prospective buyers can request personalized quotes tailored to their enterprise.

Security Onion

screenshot of security onion

Security Onion is a free and open Ubuntu-based Linux distribution for threat detection, IDPS testing, and security monitoring. Security Onion includes several tools for sniffing packets, logging activity, running vulnerability scans, generating reports, etc. It also contains Snort, Suricata, Bro, OSSEC HIDS, Sguil clients, and more.

The goal of Security Onion is to provide an all-in-one platform for performing network security monitoring and incident response.

Key Differentiator

  • Users can benefit from enterprise security monitoring and intrusion detection.
  • Security Onion includes top free and open tools, including Suricata, Zeek, Wazuh, the Elastic Stack, and more.
  • Security Onion can be used to import PCAP files for quick static analysis and case studies.
  • It supports several host-based event collection agents, including Wazuh, Beats, and osquery. 
  • Gather network events from Zeek, Suricata, and other technologies to ensure comprehensive network coverage.

Pricing: Free

How to Choose an Intrusion Detection and Prevention System?

Many different types of attacks can make their way through an unsecured network, but fortunately, there are many ways to protect against them. For example, IDS and IPS systems may not be able to block every potential security threat, but they monitor activity in real time and detect an attack before any real damage is done.

The type and sophistication of a defense system depend on your company’s resources and goals; what matters most is that you take concrete steps toward protecting your sensitive data.

So when looking for an IDS or IPS system for your organization, you should focus first on how well it addresses specific vulnerabilities identified in research reports, and then, look at its ease of use, so you can set up and maintain a powerful system without sacrificing productivity. The best IDS/IPS system is the one that works best for you.

Read next: Best IAM Tools & Solutions 2022: Identity Access Management Software

Aminu Abdullahi
Aminu Abdullahi
Aminu Abdullahi is an experienced B2B technology and finance writer and award-winning public speaker. He is the co-author of the e-book, The Ultimate Creativity Playbook, and has written for various publications, including eWEEK, Enterprise Networking Planet, Tech Republic, eSecurity Planet, CIO Insight, Enterprise Storage Forum, IT Business Edge, Webopedia, Software Pundit, and Geekflare.
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