Maintaining the integrity of network security is a critical consideration for every organization. With almost every aspect of business becoming more digital, enterprise network security software minimizes the impact of cyberattacks — especially as guarding against them protects a company’s operations and safeguards its competitiveness in a fast-moving marketplace.
These are some of the best network security products we’ve identified from our complete top security products series. Below is the breakdown of the leading solutions and runners-up for each enterprise network security segment, followed by guidance on what to consider when purchasing.
Top network security solutions
|Network Security Product||Acronym||Top Product||Runner Up|
|Breach and attack simulation||BAS||XM Cyber||Cymulate|
|Cloud access security broker||CASB||McAfee||Microsoft|
|Endpoint detection and response||EDR||Kaspersky||Trend Micro|
|Identity and access management||IAM||Okta||Microsoft|
|Intrusion detection and prevention system||IDPS||Cisco||Trend Micro|
|Managed detection and response||MDR||SentinelOne||ArticWolf|
|Managed security services||MSS/MSP||Secureworks||Trustwave|
|Microsegmentation solutions||-||Palo Alto Networks||Cisco|
|Network access control||NAC||Cisco||ForeScout|
|Next-generation firewalls||NGFW||Fortinet||Palo Alto Networks|
|Security information and event management||SIEM||Splunk||IBM|
|Web application firewall||WAF||Akamai||Imperva|
Breach and attack simulation (BAS): XM Cyber
Breach and attack simulation is an adversary emulation solution akin to manual pen testing or red teaming. Real-time alerts and visibility allow administrators take action across evolving infrastructure environments, from cloud to SD-WAN frameworks.
XM Cyber Platform
XM Cyber launched in 2016 and is a winner for its innovation in the breach and attack simulation arena. The Tel Aviv-based vendor focuses on cyber risk analytics and cloud security software to give network administrators more robust visibility into threats. Their platform, previously known as HaXM, offers continuous adversary emulation on-premises and in cloud environments. With remediation guidance, network administrators know how best to protect their most critical assets continuously.
Read more about this solution in our XM Cyber Product review.
Runner-up: Cymulate Continuous Security Validation
Cymulate isn’t far behind with its scalable and flexible Continuous Security Validation Platform. Also hailing from Israel, the Cymulate leadership contains several former IDF intelligence officers, using their learnings to bring BAS to the global economy. With integrated threat intelligence and risk assessments, protecting your infrastructure is that much easier. Earlier this month, Cymulate was named #1 in BAS Product Leadership by Frost and Sullivan.
Read more about this solution in our Cymulate BAS Product review.
Also, read our Top Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) Vendors.
Cloud access security broker (CASB): McAfee
Cloud access security brokers (CASB) are secure cloud gateways for monitoring and managing cloud-connected networks. Managing cloud network access and encryption for securing sensitive data, CASBs offer stronger visibility into software and device inventory.
McAfee MVISION Cloud
Three years ago, McAfee acquired Skyhigh Networks and entered the CASB market. Now McAfee is operating under the name Trellix after merging with FireEye, although McAfee’s cloud products will soon become a separate as-yet-unnamed company.
The McAfee MVISION Cloud solution offers agentless data loss prevention (DLP) to large enterprises. McAfee makes our top CASB list, and their progress in the developing space of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) can’t go unmentioned. In 2020, McAfee MVISION Cloud topped the Gartner Magic Quadrant for CASBs, while being named for a fourth straight year.
Read more about this solution in our McAfee MVISION Cloud review.
Runner-up: Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS)
Similar to McAfee, Microsoft joined the CASB market via the acquisition of Adallom in 2015. Fit for organizations of all sizes, the Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS) solution can be purchased as a subscription separately or bundled with Microsoft’s portfolio of security add-ons. MCAS integrates smoothly for organizations leaning on Microsoft software tools. In a case study on MCAS, Forrester found a risk-adjusted ROI of over 150% within a few years of purchase.
Read more about this solution in our Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS) review.
Also, read our Best CASB Security Vendors.
Endpoint detection and response (EDR): Kaspersky
Endpoint detection and response is vulnerability management at user entry points, providing comprehensive security like IAM, NAC, and PAM technology. Other features include data loss prevention (DLP), patching, and application whitelisting.
Kaspersky has been dogged by ties to the Russian government to the point we felt obligated to inform readers of the best alternatives to Kaspersky. That said, no evidence of a connection exists, and the company has taken pains to distance itself from its Russian roots, including the rare step of allowing an independent review of its source code. With comprehensive visibility across endpoints, automatic defensive mechanisms, and built-in firewalls, the Kaspersky EDR is a global leader in making endpoint protection seamless. Larger organizations most targeted by advanced persistent threats (APTs) like enterprises and government agencies, financial services, energy, and telecommunications make up Kaspersky EDR’s clientele.
Read more about the solution in our comparative analysis of Kaspersky and Symantec.
Runner up: Trend Micro Vision One
Trend Micro is also a global leader in cybersecurity. Their EDR platform, Vision One, most recently detected 96% of attack steps in MITRE ATT&CK test results, behind only SentinelOne and Palo Alto Networks. The Trend Micro Vision One solution offers various features from machine learning and behavioral analysis to sandbox integration and phishing protection. As EDR platforms like Trend Micro move towards extended detection and response (XDR), attack vectors are gaining more attention beyond endpoints.
What’s great about both Kaspersky and Trend Micro is they offer great security at bargain prices, hence their presence on this list.
Also read our Top Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) Solutions.
Identity and access management (IAM): Okta
Identity and access management (IAM) is an adaptive and contextual access policy control solution. Supporting all identity protocols, IAM is capable of integrating with CASB, EDR, and WAF solutions, and provides insights into device, session, and identity data.
Since 2009, Okta has been a thought leader in the access, authentication, and authorization space. The vendor makes our top IAM software and best single sign-on solutions, and we applaud their progress in the emerging category of zero trust technology. Whether it’s consumers or staff, Okta specializes in tools and APIs that optimize security while providing access to clients. Okta solidified its dominant position with the acquisition of the develop-centric identity platform Auth0 for $6.5 billion in May 2021.
Read more about this solution in our Okta Identity Cloud Single Sign-On review.
Runner up: Microsoft Azure Active Directory (AD)
For organizations deploying Microsoft’s cloud services, Azure Active Directory (AD) makes much sense. Azure AD offers a secure gateway between cloud and network activity based on identity and authorization with the rapid movement of data to the cloud. Azure AD currently boasts over 30 billion daily authentication requests, totaling 171 terabytes of daily data to inform remediation and risk mitigation. With an open standards portfolio, Azure AD is a solution fit for organizations of any size.
Read more about this solution in our Microsoft Azure Active Directory review.
Also, read our Best IAM Software & Solutions.
Intrusion detection and prevention system (IDPS): Cisco
Intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) monitor systems by signature or anomaly-based intrusion behavior. IDPS has threat detection, smart alerting, and automatic blocking capabilities.
Cisco Next-Gen IPS (NGIPS)
Cisco’s acquisition of Sourcefire in 2013 brought to the networking giant the Firepower Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System (NGIPS). With NGIPS, Cisco promises to stop more threats, increase malware detection rates, and provide threat insights to enable security automation. The ability to configure over 4,000 commercial applications and vendor support for configuring custom applications points to the granular control network administrators can have over traffic between segments. Cisco sits in our top IDPS products as well as our top BAS solutions.
Read more about this solution in our Cisco Firepower NGIPS review.
Runner up: Trend Micro TippingPoint TPS
Our second listing of multinational cybersecurity firm Trend Micro is their IDPS line of solutions, the TippingPoint Threat Protection System (TPS) family. Trend Micro boasts that TippingPoint goes beyond next-gen IPS in offering threat protection, dynamic scalability, deep inspection, and flexible deployment. TippingPoint features that stand out include on-box SSL inspection, enterprise vulnerability remediation (eVR), and asymmetric traffic inspection. Trend Micro currently offers TippingPoint TPS in four models fit for organizations of varying sizes.
Read more about this solution in our Trend Micro TippingPoint review.
Managed detection and response (MDR): SentinelOne
Managed detection and response (MDR) is a managed solution for monitoring network segments and endpoints. External cybersecurity teams manage responses, contain threats, implement patches, and offer guidance on remediation.
SentinelOne Vigilance Respond Pro
SentinelOne continues to impress us, earning selections among our top MDR and top EDR solutions, as well as a leading startup for 2021. With $267 million in Series F funding, it’s only a matter of time before SentinelOne breaks its startup label (see our Startup Spotlight: SentinelOne). For MDR, SentinelOne’s Vigilance Respond Pro combines typical MDR features with digital forensic analysis and incident response (DFIR) to offer an industry-leading enterprise solution. In the latest MITRE results for EDR, SentinelOne topped the charts, catching all 174 telemetry and analytic detections.
Read more about this vendor in our SentinelOne Product review.
Runner up: Arctic Wolf MDR
More targeted towards SMBs, Arctic Wolf’s MDR solution seeks to address evolving threats, escalating costs, and talent shortage. As cloud workloads become more dominant, legacy security tools won’t cut it. With the Arctic Wolf Concierge Security Team (CST), organizations have 24×7 dedicated support for hunting and mitigating threats. Arctic Wolf MDR helps detect (network visibility, 24×7 monitoring), respond (managed investigations, log retention, incident response), and recover (guided remediation, root cause analysis).
Managed security services providers (MSSP): Secureworks
Managed security services (MSS) providers or SECaaS vendors offer DDoS protection, threat intelligence, cloud-based secure web gateways (SWG), web application firewalls, IAM, vulnerability management, and more.
Coming out of Atlanta, Secureworks is a leading managed security service provider (MSSP) and makes our top MDR services. Since 1998, Secureworks has offered organizations advanced technology and threat intelligence network protection. In 2016, Secureworks told eSecurityPlanet about its use of honey tokens to trick malicious actors into exposing their attack attempts. From managed firewalls and IDPS, advanced endpoint threat protection, and web application scanning, Secureworks can fill cybersecurity software gaps.
Read more about the solution in our Secureworks Security Services MSSP review.
Runner up: Trustwave MSS
Like Secureworks and most MSSPs, Trustwave offers a list of managed services that can maximize a network’s defensive posture. Services provided by Trustwave include managed threat detection and response, threat hunting, asset monitoring, and application security. A crucial selling point for Trustwave is their world-renowned SpiderLabs team. Trustwave’s industry knowledge includes 250 experts conducting 2,500 pen tests per year, 9 million web application attacks, and more recently contributing to SolarWinds vulnerability research.
Read more about this solution in our Trustwave Managed Security Services review.
Also, read our Best Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs).
Microsegmentation services: Palo Alto Networks
At the heart of zero trust, microsegmentation is about separating network segments to prevent unauthorized access of any kind. By defining an organization’s protect surfaces, traffic flows, and workloads, microsegmentation solutions can help mitigate lateral movement.
Palo Alto Networks
Zero trust has gone from a buzzword concept to a real-world solution for protecting the network thanks to its engine: microsegmentation. At the forefront of this developing technology is Palo Alto Networks, with a portfolio of solutions to help organizations attain zero trust security.
- Firewalls: PA-Series (physical), NGFWs, VM-Series (virtual)
- Prisma Access (SASE)
- Prisma Cloud (CASB)
- Prisma SD-WAN
The Santa Clara-based vendor is a leader in helping enterprise organizations upgrade their hybrid infrastructure security posture. Palo Alto Networks’ award-winning firewall solutions across environments make it our top pick.
Read more about the solution in our Cisco vs. Palo Alto Networks: Top NGFWs Compared.
Runner up: Cisco
The multinational networking giant continues to add innovative solutions to its portfolio as they’re developed. Acquisitions in the last decade like SourceFire, OpenDNS, CloudLock, and Duo contribute to a suite that can bring your organization closer to the zero trust finish line. Two products specifically–Cisco Secure Workload and the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), formerly known as Tetration–offer direct solutions for zero trust.
Offered as a SaaS or on-premises solution, Cisco Secure Workload can automate microsegmentation based on application behavior and telemetry. With plenty to bundle, Cisco can support SMBs up to enterprises across environments and form factors.
Read more about this solution in our Cisco Firepower Services review.
Also, read our Top Zero Trust Security Solutions.
Network access control (NAC): Cisco
Network access control (NAC) is a dedicated policy management solution for configuring legitimate endpoints. Capable of integration with SIEM, NGFW, and more, NAC solutions can evaluate endpoints and validate access.
Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE)
After a bundle of cybersecurity acquisitions in the 2010s, multinational networking vendor Cisco makes our list for a second time with its Identity Services Engine (ISE) solution. The Cisco ISE offers policy lifecycle management, identity profiling, guest access, network security health, and incident response. As the industry moves towards zero-trust frameworks, Cisco claims ISE can automate policy enforcement for sensitive network access control and segment IT and IT environments.
Read more about this solution in our Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) review.
Runner-up: ForeScout Modern NAC
Like Cisco, ForeScout approaches NAC with eyes on what’s in front of us: zero trust. ForeScout’s roots in network access date back to 2000, and the vendor is an industry thought leader in its own right, with recent findings like Project Memoria’s AMNESIA:33 report. Their emphasis on the “enterprise of things” points to ForeScout’s greatest strength – extending protection beyond legacy network points and into visitor devices, work-from-home devices, IoT, OT, smart devices, and more.
Read more about this vendor in our review for its predecessor, ForeScout CounterACT.
Also, read our Top Network Access Control (NAC) Solutions.
Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW): Fortinet
Next-generation firewalls (NGFW) are capable of Layer-7 application and identity awareness. With centralized management and visibility at network traffic points, NGFWs can offer encryption, threat intelligence, dynamic lists, and IDPS.
Available as an office appliance, virtual machine, or cloud application (FWaaS), Fortinet is a longtime firewall provider for SMB and enterprise organizations. Fortinet’s line of FortiGate solutions offers SSL inspection, automated threat protection, security fabric integration, and validated security effectiveness in the age of next-gen firewalls. From a single console, network administrators can orchestrate, automate, and analyze NGFW controls. Fortinet makes our top NGFW list and top cybersecurity companies for 2021.
Read more about this solution in our Fortinet FortiGate Firewall review.
Runner up: Palo Alto Networks
From the mind of Nir Zuk – who developed the first stateful inspection firewall and IPS with Check Point – Palo Alto Networks first introduced the advanced enterprise firewall soon to be dubbed an NGFW in 2007. As an industry leader, PAN is a 9x honoree on the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Palo Alto Networks continues its streak of innovation with firewall deployment options of virtual, physical, containers, network security management, cloud-delivered security services, and more.
Read more about this solution in our Palo Alto Networks PA Series review.
Also, read our Top Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) Vendors.
Security information and event management (SIEM): Splunk
Security information and event management (SIEM) is a solution for advanced behavioral analytics and monitoring of real-time security events. Based on data produced by IDPS, EDR, and more, log data informs administrator’s incident response and future threat hunting.
Splunk Enterprise Security (ES)
Splunk is an enterprise solution for large companies that require visibility into a swath of security tools and activity. Since 2003, Splunk’s machine data analysis capabilities have made the firm an industry staple. The vendor’s SIEM solution, Splunk Enterprise Security (ES), consistently makes Gartner’s and Forrester’s top picks for the industry. Splunk ES features include analytics-driven operations, risk-based alerting, and guided investigation and response tools.
Read more about this solution in our Splunk Enterprise Security (ES) review.
Runner up: IBM QRadar SIEM
Sitting alongside Splunk at the top of the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant is IBM’s QRadar SIEM. With thousands of devices in a network, IBM QRadar consolidates log events and network flow data to deliver the most pertinent alerts for incident response and remediation. Options for deployment include on-premises or cloud software and comes with built-in analytics and 450 integrative solutions. Accustomed to taking on vast amounts of data, IBM QRadar offers a scalable, self-managing database. IBM and Splunk can both get pricey, but as SIEM is a complicated and essential security tool, it’s one place where it can be tough to cut costs.
Read more about this solution in our IBM QRadar SIEM review.
Also, read our Best SIEM Tools & Software.
Web application firewall (WAF): Akamai
Web application firewalls (WAF) offer monitoring, filtering, and blocking of internet communications. Features like virtual patch deployment, honey potting, behavioral risk categorization, and attack detection, bolster application security.
Akamai Kona Site Defender
While network administrators should prioritize NGFWs, web application firewalls can’t be ignored with the proliferation of hybrid infrastructures. Akamai is a global technology company focused on its content delivery network (CDN) platform, cloud services, and cybersecurity. For NGFWs, Akamai’s Kona Site Defender can deflect the most significant DDoS attacks, maintain performance during attacks, and pre-define application-layer controls. The company has built a strong zero trust product portfolio too.
Read our overview and analysis of Akamai’s DDoS Mitigation Solution.
Runner up: Imperva WAF
Focused on crafting a security stack that extends from edge to database, the Imperva WAF offers advanced web application and API protection (WAAP) to control traffic. Imperva boasts a 99.999% uptime SLA, over 600 million daily attacks blocked, and security at the speed of DevOps. Imperva WAF comes with out-of-the-box rules backed by 24×7 threat intelligence to meet constantly changing attack patterns. With a single-stack approach, Imperva aims to ease the provisioning process for organizations.
Read our overview and analysis of Imperva WAF.
Also, read our Top Web Application Firewall (WAF) Vendors.
Your guide to enterprise network security software
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. Achieving this goal involves deploying software and hardware technologies to limit vulnerabilities and quickly respond when confronted by security issues.
The goal of any security system is to stop as many attacks as possible while being alert to and capable of responding quickly to breaches. Because of the inevitability of successful cyberattacks, many users give higher marks to products that allow them to respond promptly and effectively to attacks, even though another product may be better at stopping most attacks from happening.
The importance of robust enterprise network security
Firewalls are often the first line of defense, but network security hardly stops there. Access control, threat intelligence, intrusion detection and prevention, data loss prevention, email security, endpoint security, and patch management all play a role in protecting the network and its data.
Because advanced persistent threats and insider threats are the most significant danger to corporate secrets, behavioral analytics – studying user behavior for signs of an active intruder – has become a critical component of network security.
Tying all that together are products like security information and event management (SIEM) systems, bringing all security and log data into a centralized console for easier detection and response.
Complete and total IT security isn’t possible. Hence, organizations need to mix and match those security technologies and provide the optimal security level for their organization within cost constraints. With the average cost of a data breach approaching $4 million according to IBM, any security solution will pay for itself and avert trouble.
Managing Personnel Fatigue
The complexity of both corporate systems and the attacks against them can make it hard to sort legitimate security events from ordinary activities. IT security personnel can get overwhelmed if they lack the necessary tools to make sense of the data. Solutions that can identify and prioritize the most critical threats while reducing false positives are essential for reducing stress on security staff.
Scaling To Network Size
Unlike the monolithic corporate computer systems of the past, most enterprise IT environments today consist of large, interconnected systems, servers, and mainframes supporting thousands of individual devices often connected via multiple wired and wireless networks.
From the mainframes to the individual devices, every single node presents a potential point of attack. As a result, the larger your system, the more surface area it exposes to hackers who can use its complexity to conceal intrusions, exploit potential backdoors, and remain undetected in the infrastructure.