7 Best Network Security Tools to Use in 2024

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Network security tools incorporate hardware and software technologies, methods, and policies to preserve network integrity and prevent potential breaches. These tools offer a comprehensive network security strategy by combining various functions for encryption, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, access control, and regular security audits. We’ve reviewed leading network security tools to assist you in selecting the best fit for your business’s security needs.

These are the seven best network security tools: 

  • ESET: Best overall network security tool
  • Palo Alto: Best for zero trust security 
  • Cisco: Best for network access control
  • Nessus: Best for vulnerability detection
  • Fortinet: Best for core and NGFW features
  • Splunk: Best choice for unified security
  • Malwarebytes: Best for malware defense

Featured Partners: Network Monitoring Software

Top Network Security Tools Comparison

We’ve compared the following tools’ capabilities on threat detection, unified platforms monitoring, data loss prevention, multi-OS support, and the availability of free trial.

Threat DetectionUnified Platforms MonitoringData Loss PreventionMulti-OS SupportFree Trial
ESET✔️✔️✔️30 days
Palo Alto✔️✔️✔️✔️30 days
Cisco✔️✔️✔️✔️30 days
Nessus✔️✔️✔️✔️7 days
Fortinet✔️✔️✔️✔️30 days
Splunk✔️✔️✔️✔️14 days
Malwarebytes✔️✔️✔️14 days

✔️=Yes  ❌=No/Unclear  ➕=Add-On

ESET Best Overall Network Security Tool

Overall Rating: 4.4/5

  • Core features: 4.7/5
  • Pricing and transparency: 4.8/5
  • Infrastructure characteristics: 4.7/5
  • Compliance certifications:  4.3/5
  • Ease of use and admin: 4.5/5
  • Customer support: 3.2/5

ESET is a global digital security business that detects and neutralizes zero-day threats, ransomware, and targeted assaults before they’re launched. Their unified cybersecurity platform, the ESET PROTECT plan, completely protects endpoints and other potential threat vectors such as mobiles, email, online, and cloud apps. With its automated, all-in-one defense, ESET leads our choices for network security solutions for cloud and on-premises deployment.

  • Transparent pricing
  • Clean user interface
  • Operates without system interference


  • Mobile device management needs improvement
  • Users report occasional issues with updates
  • Costs higher than other tools in the market
  • Free solutions: Parental Control app and Anti-Theft feature are available
  • ESET PROTECT Complete for Business: $288+ for 5 devices annually
  • Contact for quote: Custom plans available
  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Free demo: Contact to schedule
  • Malware detection: Provides multiple techniques and information sources to notify users of malware occurrences.
  • Firewall protection: Filters out unwanted content and protects the network and devices from harmful incoming or outgoing traffic.
  • Endpoint protection: Allows users to conduct analysis on threat intelligence data particular to their endpoint devices.
  • Compliance: Adheres to major industry standards like ISO 27001/9001, HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, NIST, and more.
  • Supplementary security tools: Offers cloud app protection, file server security, VPN, wifi protection, password manager, and cybersecurity awareness training.

Dive deeper into ESET PROTECT’s features and benefits by reading our independent editorial review of the platform.

ESET dashboard.

While ESET provides satisfactory customer support, Palo Alto has higher user ratings for the quality of their customer service.

Palo Alto Networks Best for Zero Trust Security

Overall Rating: 4.3/5

  • Core features: 4.6/5
  • Pricing and transparency: 2.4/5 
  • Infrastructure characteristics: 5/5
  • Compliance certifications: 5/5
  • Ease of use and admin: 4.5/5
  • Customer support: 4.3/5

Palo Alto Networks provides a suite of technologies that enable enterprises to achieve zero trust security through microsegmentation. They implement zero trust by authenticating identities, requiring least privilege access, and continually monitoring network traffic. Palo Alto Networks continues to innovate with virtual, physical, and containerized firewall deployment choices, network security management, cloud-delivered security services, and more.

  • Stable and reliable
  • Offers centralized control
  • Wide range of options for network solutions


  • Lacks transparent pricing
  • Users find it hard to navigate the UI
  • Uses large system resources
  • Contact for quote: Standard plans and custom pricing available
  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Free demo: Contact to schedule
  • Multi-method prevention: Combines malware and maximizes network protection strategies to combat both known and unknown threats.
  • Single rule base: Reduces workload by using a single rule base for firewall, threat prevention, URL filtering, app awareness, user identification, and data filtering.
  • Cloud security: The Palo Alto VM-Series firewall enables enterprises to prevent data loss and attacks in both private and public cloud environments.
  • Compliance: Adheres to ISO 27001/9001, HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, SOC2, NIST, and other specialized compliance and regulations.
  • Supplementary security tools: Offers SASE, cloud-delivered security services, IOT security, 5G security, and more.

If you want to learn how Palo Alto provides centralized control and network monitoring through its secure access service edge (SASE) solution, read Palo Alto Prisma SASE review.

Palo Alto Networks Panorama interface.

Users generally praise Palo Alto solutions for reliability but note a steep learning curve. Meanwhile, Cisco users appreciate its UI contributing to its ease of use despite its complex features.

Cisco Best for Network Access Control

Overall Rating: 4.2/5

  • Core features: 4.9/5
  • Pricing and transparency: 2.3/5 
  • Infrastructure characteristics: 5/5
  • Compliance certifications: 5/5
  • Ease of use and admin: 5/5
  • Customer support: 3.4/5

Cisco provides network access control (NAC) via Identity Services Engine (ISE). This tool enables network visibility and access management by enforcing policies on devices and users. It uses the data across your stack to enforce policies, manage endpoints, and provide trusted access. Cisco also offers IDPS and breach and attack simulation solutions. You can integrate solutions conveniently into your network management dashboard via Cisco Networking.

  • Centralized management
  • Large feature set
  • Suitable for small to large business types


  • Lacks transparent pricing
  • Users report occasional integration issues
  • Users tend to find its licensing scheme complex
  • Contact for quote: Standard plans and custom pricing available
  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Free demo: Contact to schedule
  • Access management: Simplifies the complex access management process via Cisco Identity Services Engine.
  • Network analytics: Detects risks across your private network, public clouds, and encrypted communications using Stealthwatch. 
  • Endpoint protection: Stops security threats at the point of entry and continuously monitors every file it allows onto your endpoints. 
  • Compliance: Adheres to ISO 27001/9001, HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, SOC2, NIST, and other specialized compliance and regulations.
  • Supplementary security tools: Offers wide area networking, IoT networking, SASE, SD-WAN, and more. 

Through their next-generation intrusion prevention systems (NGIPS), Cisco aims to stop more threats, increase malware detection rates, and provide threat insights. Read more about this solution in our Cisco Firepower NGIPS review.

Cisco dashboard.

Cisco already offers a large range of features, but Fortinet outperforms it with a broader range of fundamental network security functions.

Nessus Best for Vulnerability Detection

Overall Rating: 4/5

  • Core features: 3.6/5
  • Pricing and transparency: 4.3/5
  • Infrastructure characteristics: 5/5
  • Compliance certifications: 3.5/5
  • Ease of use and admin: 4.5/5
  • Customer support: 3/5

Tenable Nessus is a vulnerability scanning tool for network security that originated as an open-source project. It now offers extensive capabilities to skilled security teams via detecting default passwords, accessing denial attempts, opening mail relays, and identifying potential hacker entry points with exceptional accuracy. Nessus discovers software issues, missing updates, malware, and misconfigurations across several operating systems and devices.

  • Very low false positive rates
  • Active user community
  • Detailed scanning capabilities


  • Deep scanning consumes large resources
  • Needs to simplify configuration
  • The interface can be tricky to master at first
  • Free edition: Tenable Nessus Essentials available with limited scanning
  • Expert plan: $5,990+ per year
  • Professional plan: $3,990+ per year
  • Contact for quote: Custom pricing available
  • Free trial: 7 days
  • Free demo: Contact to schedule
  • Automated scans: Executes pre-scripted vulnerability scans without requiring operator intervention.
  • Configuration monitoring: Tracks configuration rule sets and policy enforcement measures, documenting changes to ensure compliance.
  • Gap Analysis: Analyzes data connected with disallowed entry and policy enforcement to provide information for improved authentication and security methods.
  • Compliance: Adheres to ISO 27001/9001, HIPAA, PCI, NIST, and other specialized compliance and regulations.
  • Supplementary security tools: Offers web app scans, scan cloud, change management tools, and more.

Explore further into Nessus’ capabilities with our Nessus pen testing product overview and analysis.

Tenable Nessus dashboard.

Although Nessus is thorough in its vulnerability scanning, it lacks additional network security capabilities for complete protection. ESET outperforms it overall, offering a broader range of network security solutions for more comprehensive protection.

Fortinet Best for Core & NGFW Features

Overall Rating: 3.9/5

  • Core features: 5/5
  • Pricing and transparency: 2.6/5
  • Infrastructure characteristics: 5/5
  • Compliance certifications: 2.8/5
  • Ease of use and admin: 4/5
  • Customer support: 2.7/5

Fortinet has long been a firewall provider for SMBs and enterprises, delivering office hardware, virtual machines, and cloud applications (FWaaS). Fortinet’s FortiGate solutions include SSL inspection, automated threat protection, security fabric integration, and security effectiveness validation. Fortinet offers a comprehensive set of core features that includes powerful threat protection, firewall capabilities, and business-scalable solutions.

  • Well-designed UI
  • Strong NGFW functionality
  • Wide options for network security solutions


  • Users report intermittent system outages
  • Lengthy time for log search
  • Learning curve for command line interface
  • Contact for quote: Standard plans and custom pricing available
  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Free demo: Contact to schedule
  • Modular solution: Combines the capability of multiple Fortinet products offered as standalone solutions.
  • Comprehensive network security: Delivers threat protection and performance while reducing complexity via Fortigate NGFW.
  • Security information and event management: Allows users to quickly detect and fix security issues and manage compliance standards using FortiSIEM.
  • Compliance: Adheres to ISO 27001/9001, HIPAA, NIST, and other specialized compliance and regulations.
  • Supplementary security tools: Offers SASE, SD-WAN, secure web gateway, DDoS protection, email security, Sandboxing, NAC, and more.

If you want to know the differences between Fortinet and Palo Alto firewall products in detail, explore our comparative review.

Fortinet FortiGate dashboard.

Fortinet provides diverse network security solutions, but if you’re focused on unified threat detection, investigation, and response, Splunk offers a dedicated platform for it.

Splunk Best Choice for Unified Security

Overall Rating: 3.8/5

  • Core features: 4.4/5
  • Pricing and transparency: 2.4/5
  • Infrastructure characteristics: 5/5
  • Compliance certifications: 3.5/5
  • Ease of use and admin: 4.3/5
  • Customer support: 3/5

Splunk is an enterprise solution for large organizations that need insight across a wide range of security tools and activities. Splunk stands out for its unified network security, thanks to recent advancements in Splunk Mission Control, and Observability Cloud. Businesses can now streamline workflows and enhance security analytics (Enterprise Security), automation (SOAR), and threat intelligence. This simplifies threat detection and response within a unified platform.

  • Provides centralized dashboard for all logs
  • Good custom ruling capabilities
  • Real-time monitoring


  • Documentation needs updating
  • UI needs improvement and more default features
  • Users report lengthy implementation time
  • Contact for quote: Standard plans and custom pricing available
  • Free trial: 14 days
  • Free demo: Contact to schedule
  • Unified monitoring and observability: Gain insights into IT systems by combining event measurements, logging, traces, and metadata from a variety of IT systems.
  • Threat intelligence: Stores knowledge about prevalent threats and how to deal with them if they occur.
  • Incident management: Alerts people to events and allows them to intervene manually or initiate an automatic response.
  • Compliance: Adheres to ISO 27001/9001, HIPAA, PCI, SOC2, and other specialized compliance and regulations.
  • Supplementary security tools: Offers SIEM, SOAR, app performance monitoring, AIOps, and other additional security solutions.

Want to know more about Splunk’s flagship SIEM technology? Read through our Splunk Enterprise Security (ES) review.

Splunk interface.

Splunk generally performs well in threat detection, but for enhanced malware protection, consider using Malwarebytes, which provides specialized solutions for malware prevention and remediation.

Malwarebytes Best for Malware Defense

Overall Rating: 3.8/5

  • Core features: 3.6/5
  • Pricing and transparency: 3.3/5
  • Infrastructure characteristics: 5/5
  • Compliance certifications: 3/5
  • Ease of use and admin: 5/5
  • Customer support: 3/5

Malwarebytes offers high-level network security along with comprehensive anti-malware protection. Its endpoint security solutions leverage many layers of protection, threat intelligence, and human expertise to protect businesses from ransomware, viruses, and other threats. Malwarebytes’ Identity Theft Protection provides trustworthy security by quickly alerting users to any identified information breaches, enabling swift remediation.

  • Easy monitoring via centralized management
  • Catches and removes malware apps effectively
  • Fast scanning


  • Needs improvement for real-time protection
  • Users report some issues with upgrading installs
  • Cost per endpoint is relatively high
  • Core plan: $69+ per endpoint per year
  • Advanced plan: $79+ per endpoint per year
  • Elite plan: $99+ per endpoint per year
  • Ultimate plan: $119+ per endpoint per year
  • Contact for quote: Custom pricing available
  • Free trial: 14 days
  • Free demo: Contact to schedule
  • Firewall: Monitors data packets and protects endpoint devices from a wide range of attacks and malware threats.
  • Endpoint protection: Allows users to examine threat intelligence data particular to their endpoint devices.
  • Automated remediation: Saves time spent manually resolving issues and handles common network security incidents rapidly.
  • Compliance: Adheres to major compliance regulations like ISO 27001/9001, PCI, SOC2, and NIST.
  • Supplementary security tools: Offers security visualization, app block, DNS filtering, and other additional security tools.

Check our comparative guide to learn more about Malwarebytes’ capabilities for detecting and removing malicious threats.

Malwarebytes interface.

Malwarebytes’ vulnerability and patch management services are relatively new. If you prefer a long-established solution, consider Nessus, which is known for its great support and broad vulnerability detection capabilities.

Top 5 Features of Network Security Tools

Network security relies on a variety of tools for comprehensive protection. Among its most important key features are breach and attack simulation, endpoint detection and response, identity and access management, intrusion detection and prevention, and network access control.

Breach & Attack Simulation (BAS)

Breach and attack simulation mimics real-world cyberattacks, similar to manual pen testing and red teaming. Administrators can quickly respond to developing threats across varied infrastructure environments, including cloud and SD-WAN frameworks, thanks to real-time warnings and visibility, ensuring proactive protection and security posture augmentation.

Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR)

EDR is similar to vulnerability management as it identifies and mitigates threats at user entry points. It provides comprehensive security similar to IAM, NAC, and privileged access management (PAM) tools, but with extra capabilities including data loss prevention (DLP), patching, and application whitelisting for added protection.

Identity & Access Management (IAM)

IAM is a system that manages access policies dynamically. IAM works with all identity protocols and connects smoothly with CASB, EDR, and WAF systems, providing insights into device, session, and identity data to guarantee reliable security and effective access management across various environments.

Intrusion Detection & Prevention Systems (IDPS)

IDPS scan systems for intrusions using signature or anomaly-based detection techniques. IDPS provides threat detection, intelligent alerting, and automated blocking tools to quickly identify and neutralize security threats, ensuring strong protection against malicious activity.

Network Access Control (NAC)

NAC is a policy management solution that ensures proper endpoint setups. NAC, which is integrated with SIEM, NGFW, and other systems, assesses endpoints, allows access, and enforces security policies, hence improving network security by verifying and controlling device network access. NAC’s function includes enforcing compliance rules, improving network visibility, and limiting risks associated with illegal devices.

How We Evaluated the Best Network Security Tools

We assessed the top network monitoring tools using a standardized scoring method that included six fundamental criteria. Under each criterion, we identified subcriteria that were used for our assessment and scoring, contributing to the products’ total score. We picked the seven tools that scored the highest. Through the results, coupled with broader research, we determined each product’s use cases.

Evaluation Criteria

We prioritized six essential criteria to objectively evaluate the top network security tools. Core features weighted the highest due to their fundamental importance. Pricing and network security infrastructure followed, for practicality and extended capabilities. Compliance, ease of use and administration, and customer support quality were also valued for operational efficiency.

  • Core features (25%): We checked each network security tool’s essential functionalities such as breach and attack simulation, Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), EDR, IAM, IDPS, Mobile Threat Defense, and more.
  • Pricing and transparency (20%): This criterion considers factors such as the availability of free trials, the accessibility and clarity of pricing, pricing model flexibility, the provision of free plans, and the availability of free demos.
    • Criterion winner: ESET
  • Network security infrastructure characteristics (20%): We checked each tool’s characteristics based on its system integrations, compatibility across several platforms, unified platform monitoring, zero trust security, scalability, and backup and recovery.
    • Criterion winner: Multiple winners
  • Compliance certifications (15%): We looked at certifications like ISO 27001 and 9001, HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, SOC2, NIST, and the availability of specific compliance frameworks.
    • Criterion winner: Multiple winners
  • Ease of use and admin (10%): This category is measured by the intuitiveness of the user interface, the provision of a centralized admin panel for streamlined operations, and ratings from platforms like G2 and Capterra for simplicity of use and setup.
    • Criterion winner: Multiple winners
  • Customer support (10%): This criterion measures service quality, including the availability of live chat, phone, and email assistance, the adequacy of documentation, demos, and training materials, and user-rated support quality on G2 and Capterra.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is Enterprise Network Security?

Enterprise network security is a broad term covering a range of technologies, devices, and processes. Some experts define it simply as a set of rules and configurations that protects the integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility of data in an enterprise network. It entails deploying software and hardware to minimize vulnerabilities and respond quickly to security threats, with a focus on effective response mechanisms and prevention efforts against cyberattacks.

What Are These Network Security Tools Used For?

Network security products perform several functions by protecting the organization’s network infrastructure, data, and assets from various cyberattacks. These tools work together to form a multi-layered security approach that protects the company network from a wide range of cyberthreats and vulnerabilities. In addition to the top network security tools above, here are some network security tools and their functions:

  • Data loss prevention (DLP): Monitor and manage data movement throughout the network to prevent illegal transfer or leaking of sensitive data.
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs): Encrypt network traffic, ensuring safe communication between remote users and the corporate network while protecting sensitive data from interception.
  • Firewalls: Serve as a barrier between the internal network and external threats, managing incoming and outgoing traffic according to specified security rules.
  • Antivirus and antimalware software: Detects and eliminates dangerous software (malware) from systems, preventing unwanted access and data breaches.
  • Security information and event management (SIEM): Collects, analyzes, and correlates security event data from diverse sources in order to detect and respond to security incidents more efficiently.
  • Cloud access security broker (CASB): Monitors and manages access to cloud services, ensuring data security, compliance, and threat protection.
  • Mobile threat defense: Focuses on protecting mobile devices from threats such as malware, phishing, and network attacks while also ensuring data and user privacy.

What Are the Common Challenges in Using Network Security Tools?

Common challenges when adopting network security solutions include integrating them into your current systems, difficulty in choosing from an extensive range of accessible tools, and managing complexity as your business expands.

  • Integration with other systems: Many businesses already have established IT systems, such as network infrastructure, endpoint devices, and cloud services. It might be difficult to integrate new security tools with current systems. 
  • Tool overload: The cybersecurity market provides a diverse range of tools and solutions, each addressing a distinct area of network security. However, an abundance of options can cause confusion and uncertainty for enterprises.
  • Complexity management: As enterprises expand and evolve, their network security environments might become more complicated. Managing several security tools, configurations, and rules across various network infrastructures adds to the complexity. 

Bottom Line: Enhance Your Defense with Network Security Tools

Maintaining the integrity of network security is a critical consideration for every organization. Organizations must blend various technologies to achieve optimal protection within budget constraints. Access control, threat intelligence, intrusion detection and prevention, data loss prevention, email security, endpoint security, vulnerability scanning, and patch management all play a role in protecting the network and its data.

With almost every aspect of business becoming more digital, network security software minimizes the impact of cyberattacks. Consider your security priorities and utilize the available free trial and free plans to gauge which tool is most suitable for you.

No single tool guarantees complete security, but you may want to start your network security strategy by implementing firewall best practices, as these are often the first line of defense against cyberthreats.

Sam Ingalls contributed to this article.

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