Standalone cybersecurity tools are not enough to maintain the security posture of an entire organization. Between malware, phishing attacks, zero-day threats, advanced persistent threats, reconnaissance, and brute force attacks, hackers are looking for any and every avenue into a network.
A number of solutions may be needed to protect against all of these threats if organizations don’t opt for full security suites. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most important tools to have in your security arsenal and some of the best vendors in each category.
- Top Cybersecurity Software
- What are Benefits of Cybersecurity Software?
- Building Comprehensive Security
- How do you Choose a Cybersecurity Tool?
Top Cybersecurity Software
We’ve narrowed this list down to four categories of software that are essential to modern cybersecurity: Extended detection and response (XDR), next-generation firewalls (NGFW), cloud access security brokers (CASB), and security information and event management (SIEM).
If you’re here looking for antivirus software, see our list of the best antivirus software for 2021.
Best XDR Tools
Extended detection and response (XDR) software combines multiple cybersecurity tools, including endpoint detection and response (EDR), threat intelligence, and network traffic analysis. Rather than monitoring endpoints alone, like EDR, XDR takes a multi-layered security approach, covering email, endpoints, cloud environments, and on-premises networks. XDR typically pairs well with secure access service edge (SASE) platforms to include coverage for internet of things (IoT) devices and the network edge.
Trend Micro Vision One
Trend Micro Vision One breaks down the security silos that exist between endpoints, email, and networks to identify and remediate threats faster. It combines EDR, threat intelligence, and SIEM to improve investigation and detection capabilities. Additionally, the centralized management console allows users to visualize and respond to threats across the environment.
Trend Micro’s XDR platform also reduces the number of low-confidence alerts, preventing alert fatigue for cybersecurity experts. It can automatically correlate events to determine the reach of a threat and the path through the network it might have taken.
Security teams can also use Trend Micro to run a root cause analysis to determine the scope of the attack across the organization.
Key differentiator: Users can create custom detection criteria to identify complex, multi-step attacks across the environment.
CrowdStrike Falcon XDR provides a unified command console for identifying and remediating threats. It quickly identifies cross-platform attack indicators and provides insights and alerts to help the cybersecurity team respond faster.
Users can also automate multi-stage, multi-platform response workflows to remediate threats faster without increasing the burden security teams already face. Plus, advanced analytics can automatically detect threats, removing the need to manually fine-tune detection rules.
CrowdStrike’s integrations allow cybersecurity experts to connect all of their cybersecurity tools to a single management console where they can connect and correlate disparate threat data from across the organization.
Key differentiator: Detailed detection information is mapped to the MITRE ATT&CK framework to improve detection speed.
Cynet 360 AutoXDR™ Platform
Cynet 360 AutoXDR™ Platform provides EDR, threat intelligence, and cloud security tools with 24/7 managed detection and response (MDR) services. This is perfect for smaller businesses without in-house security teams or organizations whose security teams are overburdened. It also comes with next-generation antivirus (NGAV) and device control.
The system collects and correlates alerts to give suspicious activity more context and help security experts determine how they should respond. Users can also enable end-to-end automation of detection and response protocols.
Cynet also reduces third-party vulnerabilities from SaaS applications by monitoring and correcting configuration errors to eliminate backdoors into the system.
Key differentiator: The platform comes with 24/7 MDR for constant monitoring and remediation.
For a complete list, check out our recommendations for the Top XDR Security Solutions.
Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) extend traditional firewall protection from the network layer out to the application layer to prevent breaches and add threat intelligence from outside the network. They still validate traffic via packet filtering and VPN support, but they can also use whitelists or a signature-based IPS to determine whether applications are safe or not.
Palo Alto Networks
Palo Alto Networks has proven to be a powerhouse in multiple areas of security, including EDR and CASB. Its NGFW offerings topped the list of both the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave and came out on top in our analysis too.
Palo Alto’s NGFWs offer the ability to create comprehensive, precise security policies for authorized access across all network traffic. Policies can be assigned to applications, application functions, users, and types of content. The goal is to manage applications, users, and content by classifying and determining the business use case and assigning policies to protect access to relevant applications and block threats.
Palo Alto is one of the more expensive options in the NGFW market. However, it’s a good choice for companies who need advanced features and protection and have the budget for it.
Key differentiator: Precise security policies can monitor and assign policies to all network traffic.
Fortinet FortiGate NGFWs are a strong solution at a reasonable price. They’re also some of the most popular. Fortinet ranked among other top contenders, Plato Alto Networks and Check Point, in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and has proven its performance in extensive independent testing.
Purpose-built security processor units (SPUs) deliver scalable performance and low latency. The NGFWs receive regular threat intelligence updates from FortiGuard Labs to ensure they can stand up against new and evolving attacks.
Fortinet FortiGuard may not have some of the more advanced features of its competitors, but at its price point, it should be on your shortlist of NGFW vendors.
Key differentiator: Best-in-class for its price point.
Part of what makes Cisco’s Firepower NGFW offerings so valuable is that they integrate with Cisco’s robust suite of other products, such as its CASB and Intrusion and Prevention offerings, not to mention its extensive networking offerings. As a whole, the Cisco suite is a powerful zero trust security solution.
Firepower NGFWs provide advanced malware protection, security intelligence, sandboxing, DDoS mitigation, and a next-generation intrusion prevention system. As with Cisco’s other solutions, it is highly scalable to meet the needs of growing organizations. Cisco also offers Firepower NGFWv, a virtualized version of the firewall solution.
If you already use other Cisco security and networking solutions, Firepower is one of the best options for you.
Key differentiator: Part of a powerful suite that implements a zero-trust security approach.
Get the full list of our recommendations for the Best Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) Vendors.
Cloud access security brokers (CASBs) are security policy enforcement tools that sit between cloud consumers and providers to protect businesses from third-party vulnerabilities. Organizations can use CASB to enforce their own security policies and regulatory requirements on a cloud environment, even one they don’t control. It also provides visibility into cloud services and security.
Netskope CASB takes a data-centric approach to deliver comprehensive 360-degree visibility and threat protection to manage cloud access. It’s proven effective in detection, response, management, support, and value for its money.
This CASB solution can target and control user activity across all cloud services and websites. It is also reliable for maintaining regulatory compliance. Many users praise Netskope’s comprehensive and quick-to-respond support.
Netskope CASB is not cheap, but it’s also not as expensive as some of its competitors. Overall, it delivers value to match the price tag.
Key differentiator: Offers great support and value.
Skyhigh Security, formerly McAfee MVISION, is another data-centric CASB platform that uses nearly a billion sensors around the world and advanced analytics to deliver best-in-class threat intelligence. It combines automation and artificial intelligence to ensure reliable cloud security of sensitive data and intellectual property. The CASB product is part of Skyhigh’s broader SASE offering.
It offers excellent malware and antivirus protection, as well as phishing detection. However, the phishing feature requires a browser plug-in. Its comprehensive threat intelligence also bolsters robust reporting capabilities.
One of its major advantages is that it can fit virtually any deployment model. It can be used in solely cloud-based environments, on-premises, or hybrid-cloud systems.
Key differentiator: Best-in-class threat intelligence and deployment in virtually all environments.
Bitglass, owned by Forcepoint, is an agentless CASB solution that combines forward and reverse proxies with APIs to identify threats. It offers real-time threat protection and searchable cloud encryption to protect data at rest. It’s also effective for maintaining compliance, making it a popular choice in the financial and healthcare sectors.
One of its strongest features is the Zero-Day Shadow IT Discovery. This feature automatically analyzes applications on the fly to detect potential threats as they arise. Bitglass can support both mobile and unmanaged devices.
One of the few issues reported by users is some difficulties during deployment.
Key differentiator: The ability to detect and block zero-day threats.
Best SIEM Solutions
Security information and event management (SIEM) solutions help organizations monitor their networks for threats and vulnerabilities by providing a single management console. Businesses get real-time analysis, better visibility into the network, and contextual alerts, so they can track threats through their environment. However, SIEM requires cybersecurity experts to monitor and manage it, so it may not be the best option for small businesses without in-house security teams.
Securonix is a cloud-based, highly customizable SIEM platform. Its multi-tiered, best-in-class analytical capabilities make it a powerful tool for threat hunting and detection. It also comes with built-in frameworks for maintaining compliance.
Securonix offers MITRE-based detection to analyze malicious behavior and build comprehensive threat intelligence. Customized correlation rules can be created to cross-reference threat intelligence to identify patterns that indicate suspicious behavior.
Unlike many security vendors, Securonix offers a transparent straightforward pricing model based on an organization’s number of employees.
Key differentiator: Best-in-class analytics and threat intelligence.
IBM QRadar is built for large enterprise organizations to offer company-wide threat detection and response capabilities. It comes with a variety of pre-built frameworks to expedite setup and can be deployed as an appliance, in virtual and cloud environments, or in hybrid systems.
QRadar offers valuable integrations with other IBM security solutions to bolster its capabilities, such as User Behavior Analytics (UBA), Incident Forensics and Advisor with Watson to provide automated root cause research.
Possibly the biggest downside to IBM QRadar is not in the product itself, but that IBM does not offer its own EDR product. However, it does support third-party EDR solutions.
Key differentiator: Integration with a number of other valuable IBM security tools.
LogRhythm NextGen tops the list of SIEM platforms as far as comprehensive features go. It doesn’t come with user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) and network monitoring out-of-the-box but they can be added at an additional cost.
Some of its most valuable features include UEBA, network detection and response (NDR) and security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR). The platform is often praised for its detection, response, compliance and log management capabilities.
LogRhythm can be deployed in cloud, on-premises and in hybrid-cloud systems.
Key differentiator: Includes virtually all features needed for a best-in-class SIEM platform.
See all of our recommendations for the Best SIEM Tools & Software.
What are Benefits of Cybersecurity Software?
Each type of software on this list offers multiple benefits as part of comprehensive cybersecurity defenses.
XDR adds to the capabilities of EDR by extending protection from endpoints to email, cloud, and on-premises networks. Because of this, it lowers the operational costs of cybersecurity because security professionals aren’t having to integrate and examine multiple tools to get a full picture of a threat. Additionally, XDR allows security teams to identify threats faster, so the threats have a smaller window to collect data and cause problems.
It also improves the productivity of security teams because they have a single management console for the organization’s entire environment. Additionally, the reports provide actionable insights on threats and security operations to secure the network against vulnerabilities.
NGFWs are the third generation of firewalls. This new era introduced multiple new features alongside traditional firewall capabilities. Some of the most beneficial include:
- Intrusion prevention systems (IPS): This allows NGFWs to inspect, alert, and actively remove malware and intruders.
- Deep packet inspection (DPI): DPI offers targeted inspection and can locate, categorize, block or reroute packets that contain problematic code or data payloads.
- Layer 7 application control: NGFWs can protect data in layer 7 of the OSI model, which presents data in a form that user-facing applications can use. This is commonly where distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks take place, making it a critical layer to protect.
CASB products are cloud-based or on-premises software solutions that enforce security policies, regulatory compliance, and governance requirements when accessing cloud services. These tools are able to manage single sign-on, log data, authentication and authorization, device profiling and encryption, and tokenization.
CASB solutions can also block access to cloud services if they detect attempts to access resources from unauthorized users or applications. They also alert teams of malware and other possible attacks when they are detected.
SIEM products serve two primary purposes. The first is to collect, store, analyze, investigate and report on logs and other data. The second is to alert security staff to the most important threats.
Insights pulled from this analysis help with the early detection of attacks, facilitate improved incident response and assist in maintaining regulatory compliance. SIEM systems also typically incorporate threat intelligence feeds that offer data on correlated events to help identify attacks.
Building Comprehensive Security
Many vendors offer comprehensive security suites that offer all the products you will need under one umbrella, sometimes packaged as XDR platforms or SASE solutions. However, it is possible to pick and choose products to create a custom security suite. There are pros and cons to taking this approach.
Customizing your cyber defenses can be a good way to save money and avoid vendor lock-in. This allows you to choose some products that are on the cheaper side if they can fulfill your needs or possibly bypass them completely. Or you may want to piece together “best of breed” solutions rather than going with a suite of solutions from a single vendor. There may be certain standalone products that are more tailored to your specific industry or use case to better serve your needs.
Researching all of the different standalone products and whether or not they are able to integrate well and be deployed on the same system can consume substantial time and effort on your part. And the more products you add from different vendors, the more complex it becomes to manage them all. Security platforms from a single vendor, on the other hand, can all be managed from a single, centralized dashboard.
How do You Choose a Cybersecurity Tool?
There are a few key factors you should consider when choosing the right cybersecurity software for your organization.
Types Of Threats
You should determine whether there are specific threats you’re most concerned about. For example, are you particularly wary of phishing, malware, or advanced persistent threats (APT)? If so, look for a suite that specializes in these areas.
How Much Can You Manage?
You should also determine how much you can realistically manage internally. Some security products are built to be intuitive or to provide substantial automation to take much of the management load off of security teams so they can focus on remediation efforts and other valuable aspects of the business. Other suites may require a more hands-on approach.
If you overestimate how much you can handle in-house, not only could this lead to gaps in your security but also other aspects of your business falling to the wayside. Choosing to customize your own security defenses is a good indication that you will require more internal management.
Ensure that any tools you’re researching will integrate well with your existing security infrastructure. Do you already have some security solutions in place? Then make sure they can operate harmoniously with a new security suite or other standalone products.
If you foresee substantial organizational growth in the near future, ensure that your security solutions can scale in tandem. This often depends on how the pricing plans are set up. Some vendors may price their tools according to a per-device basis. In these cases, make sure you can also afford the higher-priced plans to accommodate your growth. And some security solutions can’t scale to the same capacity as others so buy with your future growth in mind.
The reality is, there are tons of cybersecurity solutions available, and many businesses may not have the security personnel they need to manage them. In these cases, consider outsourcing cybersecurity to managed security services providers (MSSPs) who will bring the security solutions with them, as well as expertise and round-the-clock management.