Best Intrusion Detection And Prevention Systems

Best Intrusion Detection and Prevention SystemsBest Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems

Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS) monitor, detect, alert, and block cyber threats and protect your assets and networks from unauthorized access, malware, and data theft.

While there are other security checks in place, such as antivirus software and firewalls, IDS and IPS are becoming increasingly necessary, in addition to other security checks, for a robust security framework.

There are different types of IDS and IPS and are categorized by both their scope and threat detection and prevention mechanisms. In this article, we discuss the different host-based Intrusion Detection Systems and Intrusion Prevention Systems that you can use in your organization as well as home systems to protect your assets, data, network, and any sensitive information.

Here is our dedicated guide to learn more about what types of Intrusion Detection And Prevention Systems are there.

There are both host-based and network-based IDS and IPS available in today’s market. However, network-based devices are usually hardware-based, that are available as both standalone devices and often integrated into firewalls. Therefore, the IDS and IPS that we have discussed in this post are purely host-based, which means that they are software.

Here is a list of our top picks for both organizational and small-business IDS and IPS that you can use.

Note: Most of these software are licensed-based, which means that you need to purchase a one-time, or annual license to use them. However, most of them allow a trial period during which you can use the software free of charge to check it out before making the purchase decision.

1- SolarWinds Security Event Manager (SEM)

TypeIPS
Starting price$2,877
Trial period30 days
Ideal forLarge organizations
SolarWinds Security Event Manager details

Although identified as an IDS, the SolarWinds SEM provides automated threat remediation tools. this is why it is often considered an IPS, and not just an IDS.

The SolarWinds SEM is an IPS designed for the Windows operating system. However, it can also log messages generated by other operating systems as well, including Linux, macOS, and Unix.

Moreover, although the Security Event Manager is a host-based IPS/IDS, but is also considered a network-based tool. This is because it is capable of gathering data through Snort – a packet sniffer that monitors network traffic.

SolarWinds SEM provides customizable alerts. This means that you are not disturbed by every minor inconvenience. Instead, you can tailor when an alert is generated as per your needs and requirements. Moreover, it comes with built-in log management features.

That said, the highlight of this tool is its ability to monitor, forward, archive, and backup log files. Moreover, configured using Snort, it can also monitor and present real-time network traffic analysis.

Additionally, SEM can automatically run audit reports based on a plethora of security frameworks and give you the results.

Note that deploying this host-based IPS is no piece of cake. Since it is designed for large organizations (and priced such too), the deployment and configuration process might not be as straightforward, but not that complicated either.

2- Open Source Security (OSSEC)

TypeIDS
Starting priceFree
Trial period
Ideal forMedium to large organizations
OSSEC details

OSSEC, short for “Open Source Security,” is a free host-based Intrusion Detection System. It has a client-server logging architecture, which means that it is installed on one server and monitored through another client computer.

Since it is an IDS, it cannot prevent or block attacks – only alert the security team in case of a cyber incident.

OSSEC is capable of sorting and organizing log files and uses anomaly-based detection algorithms and strategies to scan for any abnormal behavior. If detected, it sends out an alert to the selected security parameters.

Since it is an open-source IDS, you can download and deploy preconfigured policy and rule sets of other OSSEC users to your environment. This capability is a deal-breaker for a free IDS, which is why OSSEC made it to the 2nd number on our list.

That said, one caveat of using OSSEC is that it does not have a native User Interface (UI). Instead, you need to use a third-party interface, like Graylog or Kibana, to view the data sent by OSSEC.

3- ManageEngine Log360

TypeIDS
Starting priceGet quotation
Trial period30 days
Ideal forSmall to large organizations
ManageEngine Log360 details

Log360 is an advanced IDS that protects your network in real time. It is a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tool, which means that this tool is capable of detecting threats before they can affect the network.

This is done through the integrated intelligent threat database that collects data from global threat feeds and keeps your systems safe from threats with a similar signature or pattern. Therefore, a user is intimated of an incoming threat before it even penetrates your network.

Moreover, this IDS is capable of performing privileged user monitoring as well as forensic analysis of data logs, which saves you the time of going through hundreds of log files. It also has a powerful correlation engine, which means that it can validate the existence of threats in real time.

That said, the UI for the tool can be overcomplicated for a few, and therefore, Log360 may not be ideal for non-tech-savvy people.

4- SolarWinds Papertrail

TypeIDS
Starting price$7/month
Trial period30 days
Ideal forSmall to medium organizations
SolarWinds Papertrail details

Papertrail is another SolarWinds product but offers slightly different solutions than the SEM.

Papertrail is a cloud-based Intrusion Detection System that stores all of your log files on the cloud. Since the logs are centralized, it becomes a database, which is easier to manage and scan through when needed.

Papertrail uses both signature-based and anomaly-based threat detection mechanisms. Moreover, the tool sends out updated threat intelligence policies to other devices with Papertrail installed so they can be protected from similar attacks. This means that your device is also protected through remote updates.

Another security feature of Papertrails is that it encrypts the logs, whether they are being sent or stored on the cloud. It then requires authentication to prevent unauthorized access to the encrypted log files. If any attempts are made to access the data, you will be alerted of that as well, with the credentials used to attempt.

Note that SolarWinds Papertrail is a subscription-based IDS, which means you need to pay every month. However, it is seemingly easy to integrate with your existing systems. Since it is cloud-based, you also do not need to worry about the storage space for the log files.

5- Snort

TypeIPS
Starting priceFree + different subscription packages
Trial periodNot available for subscriptions either
Ideal forSmall to medium organizations
Snort IPS details

Although identified as an IDS, Snort can also be classified as an IPS due to its signature-blocking capabilities. It is an open-source network-based intrusion detection and prevention software that can be installed on Windows, amongst other operating systems. It also has packet logging and sniffing capabilities; hence the name “Snort.”

As OSSEC discussed above, Snort can also update its threat intelligence database through sharing with other devices that have Snort installed. However, this is in the case you have opted to use the “Community ruleset” for updating the databases. This is the free edition of Snort.

Another edition of Snort is subscription-based. The subscription cost is not for the toolset itself but for the updating of the Snort rules. In the “Snort Subscriber Ruleset,” the subscribers will receive the rulesets in real time just as they are released to the Cisco customers. Additionally, Snort offers 2 subscription plans – one for personal use and the other for business/professional use.

That said, this tool also does basic tasks, such as detailed threat reporting and threat detection, like CGI attacks, SMB probes, stealth port scans, etc.

6- Sagan

TypeIDS
Starting priceFree
Trial period
Ideal forAny size organizations
Sagan details

Sagan is another open-source IDS with its main focus on log analysis. It also has some other features, like script execution, resembling an IPS.

It uses both anomaly-based and signature-based threat detection mechanisms. Moreover, it allows for automated responses that are customizable when a threat to the network is detected. However, the highlight of Sagan is IP geolocation features. If two or more IPs are generating traffic from the same geographical location, Sagan is more than capable of highlighting their details and sending out an alert.

Sagan is also compatible with Snort, and all other utilities that are compatible with Snort. It can also be installed on Linux, Unix, and macOS devices. However, Sagan is not available for Windows OS. Nonetheless, you can still feed it Windows logs for analysis.

7- Security Onion 2

TypeIDS
Starting priceFree
Trial period
Ideal forMedium to large organizations
Security Onion 2 details

The “2” in the “Security Onion 2” simply signifies the second version of the original Security Onion IDS.

Security Onion is not just an open-source IDS, but it is an operating system in itself. It is a standalone Linux distribution that you deploy and integrate with your network, thus making it a network-based IDS. However, it also includes functions, like log analysis, which identifies as a host-based IDS as well.

Security Onion 2 focuses on log management, intrusion detection, and enterprise-level network monitoring. It can be combined with a bunch of tools, which include NetworkMiner, Snorby, Xplico, Sguil, ELSA, and Kibana.

Security Onion 2 includes packet sniffers and can provide detailed charts and graphs to provide accurate information to the client.

Which IDS/IPS to use?

After having considered the IDPS tools discussed above, it is now up to you which one you need for your organization and needs. Although we only discussed software IDS and IPS, there are also hardware-based technologies that you may want to consider.

The first thing to consider is whether you want an IDS or an IPS. If you only want alerts, then go for an IDS. However, if you also want automated security management, then opt for an IPS.

With that decision made, consider the features that you want with the tool. Consider whether you want a packet sniffer, a customizable rules database, etc. Also, consider the costs by the size of your organization. While some security tools may be free, others charge a heft amount on individual nodes/devices.

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Subhan Zafar is an established IT professional with interests in Windows and Server infrastructure testing and research, and is currently working with Itechtics as a research consultant. He has studied Electrical Engineering and is also certified by Huawei (HCNA & HCNP Routing and Switching).

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