6 Best Intrusion Detection & Prevention Systems for 2024

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Intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) — often combined as intrusion detection and prevention (IDPS) — play a key role in network security defenses. They help teams detect, track, and block malicious traffic and software, examining system logs for potential threats. In this guide, we cover industry-leading IDPS solutions, along with key features and considerations as you evaluate products for your organization. 

Featured Partners: Intrusion Detection and Prevention (IDP) Software

What Is an Intrusion Detection & Prevention System?

An intrusion detection and prevention system combines features from IDS and IPS to better detect and block malicious traffic, rather than just doing one of the two. IDPS products often have features like log analysis, alerts, and threat remediation to find anomalies and trends and help security teams stop threat actors. IDPS or IPS features often belong to a larger security suite or product offered by a vendor, serving as one module of many. 

Top IDPS Solutions Compared

The following comparison table compares our top IDPS products, including features like threat remediation as well as free trial and managed service availability:

SSL/TLS InspectionThreat RemediationAvailable as Managed ServiceFree Trial
OSSEC❌✔️✔️14 days
Trellix IPS✔️✔️❌❌
Check Point✔️❌❌Contact for length
SolarWinds SEM❌✔️❌30 days
Trend Micro TippingPoint✔️✔️❌❌
Alert Logic MDR✔️✔️✔️❌
Atomicorp icon.

OSSEC

Best Overall for Teams of Multiple Sizes

Overall Rating: 3.6/5

  • Core Features: 3.5/5
  • Advanced Features: 3.3/5
  • Deployment & Usability: 4.4/5
  • Pricing: 4/5
  • Customer Support: 3.2/5

OSSEC is an IDPS product for teams of all sizes, notable for its feature range and transparent sales team. It offers threat remediation and quarantine capabilities, as well as log analysis and file integrity monitoring. OSSEC also offers a free, open-source IDS, which is a good choice for SMBs; consider that product if your team is smaller. But here we’ve focused on Atomic OSSEC, the enterprise offering — it’s a strong option for medium and large businesses.

Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Available as managed serviceSome Windows and Mac OS not supported
Free trial availableNo SSL or TLS inspection
Relatively transparent pricing info and teamNo custom rules

Pricing

  • Contact for quote: Custom pricing available; approximately $55 per endpoint or system in a year-long license but may vary depending on numbers and environment
  • Free trial: 14 days

Key Features

  • File integrity monitoring: Examine the integrity of application files and operating systems.
  • Log management: Centralize log data from different sources and send it to SIEMs for further analysis.
  • Agent management: Perform agent and server configurations in a central management console.
  • Threat intelligence: OSSEC gathers threat data from global nodes for broader security information.
Atomicorp OSSEC interface.
Trellix icon.

Trellix IPS

Best Option for Core & Advanced Features

Overall Rating: 3.4/5

  • Core Features: 3.9/5
  • Advanced Features: 3.7/5
  • Deployment & Usability: 3.2/5
  • Pricing: 2.8/5
  • Customer Support: 3.2/5

Trellix Network Security is a security platform that includes IPS and offers threat blocking, integrations, and policy management to handle sophisticated threats. Trellix IPS is designed for enterprise-level security, offering features like DDoS prevention, heuristic bot detection, and host quarantining. If you’re a large enterprise or have an experienced security team, consider Trellix — its range of basic and advanced IDPS features will give teams plenty of functionality.

Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Automated event prioritization based on severityNo free trial
Offers signature-less malware analysisLimited availability of phone support 
Plenty of documentation available Supported operating systems unclear 

Pricing

  • Contact for quote: Custom pricing available; some pricing info available from resellers like AWS

Key Features

  • DDoS prevention: Rate limiting, DNS protection, and connection limiting help prevent DDoS attacks.
  • Threat intelligence: IPS integrates with Trellix Global Threat Intelligence for comprehensive threat info.
  • Advanced callback detection: Trellix IPS identifies attack data that could come from botnets.
  • Sandboxing: Integration with Trellix Intelligent Sandbox enables deep traffic inspection.
Trellix IPS interface.
Check Point icon.

Check Point Quantum

Best for NGFW Environments

Overall Rating: 3.3/5

  • Core Features: 3.2/5
  • Advanced Features: 2.4/5
  • Deployment & Usability: 3.2/5
  • Pricing: 3.8/5
  • Customer Support: 4.7/5

Check Point Quantum, the product family that includes Check Point’s next-gen firewalls and security gateways, also offers IPS that integrates with other members of the platform. Check Point IPS can detect and block DNS tunneling attempts, signature-less attacks, protocol misuse, and known CVEs. If you’re already a Check Point customer, the IPS fits particularly well; if you’re thinking about investing in an NGFW with built-in IPS, Quantum is also a strong option. 

Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Free trial availableThreat remediation features unclear 
Integration with Quantum NGFWs and GatewaysLacks quarantine features
Sandboxing available via SandBlast integrationOS support unclear 

Pricing

  • Contact for quote: Custom pricing available
  • Free trial: Contact for length 

Key Features

  • Customizable reports: View critical security events and needed remediation in a single interface. 
  • Vulnerability detection: Network and mail protocols supported include HTTP, POP, IMAP, and SMTP.
  • Policy configuration: Develop policies based on tags for vendor, protocol, file type, and threat year.
  • Virtual patching: Security updates happen automatically every 2 hours via the Check Point security gateway.
Check Point Quantum interface.
SolarWinds icon.

SolarWinds Security Event Manager

Best for Log Management & Reporting

Overall Rating: 3.2/5

  • Core Features: 3.7/5
  • Advanced Features: 0.7/5
  • Deployment & Usability: 2.8/5
  • Pricing: 4.8/5
  • Customer Support: 4.7/5

SolarWinds Security Event Manager combines multiple security technologies, serving as a hub for insider threat management, incident response software, and log analytics, just to name a few. Consequently, it has plenty of IDPS capabilities to offer, but where SolarWinds SEM really shines is its log management and reporting capabilities: features include compliance reporting software and log analytics, making SEM a great choice for compliance-focused teams.

Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Central security hub with range of use cases Lacks a few core and advanced capabilities 
Month-long free trial available Not available as managed service
Custom rules and threat remediation features No MITRE framework mapping 

Pricing

  • Subscription-based plan: Starts at $2,992
  • Perpetual plan: Starts at $6,168
  • Free trial: 30 days

Key Features

  • Network-based IDS: Network visibility integrates with logs from other areas of the business infrastructure.
  • Compliance reporting: Supported regulatory standards include HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, and ISO.
  • Log analytics: SEM analyzes logs from multiple products, including Juniper devices and Microsoft Exchange. 
  • SIEM capabilities: SEM collects information about all network activity and inspects it for threats.
SolarWinds SEM interface.
Trend Micro icon.

Trend Micro TippingPoint

Best for Threat Intelligence

Overall Rating: 3.1/5

  • Core Features: 3.3/5
  • Advanced Features: 1.4/5
  • Deployment & Usability: 3.4/5
  • Pricing: 2.8/5
  • Customer Support: 5/5

Trend Micro TippingPoint is a network security solution that helps guard against zero-day and known vulnerabilities with features like traffic scanning and threat blocking. Tipping Point integrates threat intelligence from its Digital Vaccine® Labs so your business has a clearer picture of threats across your infrastructure. We recommend Trend Micro if you’re looking for deep threat intelligence and cybersecurity capabilities.

Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Integration with Digital Vaccine® LabsNo free trial 
Quarantine functionality availableUnclear whether TippingPoint offers reporting 
High availability for mission-critical environmentsNot available as managed service

Pricing

  • Contact for quote: Custom pricing available; some pricing info available from resellers

Key Features

  • Vulnerability remediation: Integration with vulnerability tools and CVE mapping helps remediation.
  • High availability: Fault tolerance features include watchdog timers, built-in inspection bypass, and hot swaps.
  • Configuration recommendations: Out-of-the-box settings help develop threat protection policies.
  • Traffic inspection: Deep packet inspection and reputational analysis of URLs improve visibility regarding traffic.
Trend Micro TippingPoint interface.
Fortra icon.

Alert Logic MDR

Best for Managed Enterprise Services

Overall Rating: 3.1/5

  • Core Features: 3.3/5
  • Advanced Features: 1.8/5
  • Deployment & Usability: 3.6/5
  • Pricing: 2.8/5
  • Customer Support: 4.2/5

Alert Logic is a managed detection and response platform that includes managed network IDS, as well as container security, threat detection, and vulnerability management. Alert Logic’s MDR platform can be deployed on-premises or as a cloud service. The managed security service has industry-leading dashboards and analytics to provide insights about organizations’ network activity, threats, users, and configurations to improve proactive detection and response.

Pros & Cons

ProsCons
On-prem and cloud deployment Limited OS support 
More than 17,000 active signaturesNo free trial
Can be deployed on-premises and in cloud No threat quarantine or sandboxing 

Pricing

  • Contact for quote: Custom pricing available

Key Features

  • Dedicated agent: Alert Logic’s agent monitors Windows and Mac endpoints using ML and behavioral analytics.
  • Compliance reporting: Users can access reporting and integrated controls for PCI DSS and HIPAA.
  • Log review: Machine learning identifies overall trends and anomalies that result from those trends.
  • Vulnerability scanning: Alert Logic connects data from cloud, on-premises, and hybrid systems.
Alert Logic MDR interface.

Top 5 Features of IDPS Software

Our picks for top IDPS features include policy management, event alerts, reports, traffic analytics, and threat or incident remediation. Use this list of IDPS features as a benchmark as your team shops for potential products, and keep in mind a few specific features that your business most needs.

Policy Management

IDPS solutions should allow teams to manage security policies, configuring and overseeing them in a central management console. Policy management capabilities that are easy and straightforward to use will help your teams learn the product faster and configure it more successfully.

Alerts

If you’re using a security product like IDPS, you’ll want to know immediately when a security event occurs. An IDPS solution should provide timely and clear alerts. Alerts should also be prioritized so your security team knows what to address or mitigate first.

Reporting Functionality

It’s helpful for teams to share clear, understandable security data not only with each other but also with other employees, particularly leaders and executives. IDPS solutions should offer reporting so security personnel can make more informed, logical decisions from clearly presented data. Some products will offer both templates and customizable reports.

Traffic Analysis

IDPS solutions should carefully analyze network traffic, detecting anomalies and determining when traffic doesn’t meet security policies. Traffic analysis can include packet inspection, which looks closely at the details of network packets and accepts or rejects them. This improves network security by filtering traffic based on your organization’s predefined policies.

Threat Remediation

Because IDPS includes prevention capabilities, not just threat detection, products should be capable of fixing or mitigating threats instead of just locating them. While products’ remediation abilities will vary, they should assist teams in preventing and mitigating threats as quickly as possible once they’re found. 

How We Evaluated IDPS Solutions

We evaluated multiple IDPS products with a product scoring rubric, which had five weighted categories composed of subcriteria with their own weighting. Each product we reviewed received an overall score out of five, which was based on all the final subcriteria scores and weights. The six products that scored highest in the rubric made our final list, and the scores plus the products’ overall capabilities helped us decide on their use cases.

Evaluation Criteria

Our most significant product criteria included major IDPS features and advanced features like threat quarantine. We also considered usability, which measured the availability of managed services and deployment options. Finally, we looked at pricing information and customer support details, including demos and phone support availability.

  • Core features (30%): We scored products based on availability of core IDPS capabilities like policy management, alerts, and reporting.
  • Advanced features (20%): Advanced IDPS features included threat quarantine, sandboxing, and MITRE framework mapping.
  • Deployment & usability (20%): We reviewed products based on usability features like managed services, documentation, and multiple deployment options.
    • Criterion winner: OSSEC
  • Pricing (15%): We evaluated the transparency of vendor pricing, any available licensing information, and free trials.
  • Customer support (15%): We looked at availability of phone support, as well as support review scores and availability of demos.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Can IDPS Protect Against?

Intrusion detection and prevention systems ​​protect IT systems from unauthorized access by monitoring the activities of users and looking for patterns that could indicate malicious behavior. IDPS can help protect teams from data theft, social engineering attacks, distributed denial-of-service attacks, and modification of sensitive data. 

What Are the Benefits of Intrusion Detection & Prevention Systems?

IDPS helps reduce technical downtime, mitigate breaches, and improve productivity by streamlining alerts and giving security teams more context about threats. While they need appropriate policy management and reporting to be effective and logical, they’re powerful tools once teams sufficiently configure and learn them.

Read more about the importance of IDS and IPS in the current security market.

What’s the Difference Between Intrusion Detection (IDS) & Intrusion Prevention (IPS)?

IDS tools were built to detect malicious activity and log and send alerts. They’re not capable of preventing an attack, and the warnings they raise always require human intervention or an additional security system. IPS solutions respond based on predetermined criteria for types of attacks by blocking traffic and dropping malicious processes.

IPS tools may also lead to more false positives because they have inferior detection capabilities than IDS. However, IDPS solutions incorporate the strengths of both systems into one product or suite of products. 

What Are the Types of IDPS?

IDPS generally falls under two different types: host-based and network-based. Host-based IDPS is software deployed on the host that solely monitors traffic connecting to and from that host. It typically only protects a single, specific endpoint. In some cases, it may also scan system files stored on the host for unauthorized changes and processes running on the system.

Network-based IDPS is deployed in a location where it can monitor traffic for an entire network segment or subnet. Their functionality somewhat resembles firewalls, which can only prevent intrusions coming from outside the network and enforce access control lists (ACLs) between networks. NIDS was built to detect and alert potential malicious internal traffic moving laterally throughout a network; this makes it an excellent tool for a zero trust security framework.

Bottom Line: Use IDPS in Conjunction with Other Solutions

IDPS can help improve compliance and policy enforcement by enforcing policies that govern device connections to the network or internet, data transfer and storage for those devices, and data retention within systems.

While IDPS won’t be a sufficient standalone security solution for most enterprises, it’s a good product to have in the toolbox, especially if yours integrates with other tools, like NGFWs and endpoint detection and response. Use IDPS to support your security infrastructure as a whole, detecting intrusions and mitigating them more successfully with features like alerts, reports, and threat remediation.

If your business is considering other cybersecurity products, read more about the top cybersecurity companies next, including Palo Alto, Fortinet, and CrowdStrike.

Sam Ingalls contributed to this article.

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