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12 Best Intrusion Detection Software Shortlist

After extensive evaluation, I've handpicked the 12 best intrusion detection software, tailored to address your specific challenges.

  1. Snort - Best for open-source enthusiasts
  2. Zeek - Best for network traffic analysis
  3. OSSEC - Best for log management and analysis
  4. Cisco IDS - Best for large enterprise environments
  5. Intrusion Detection System(IDS) by McAfee - Best for integrated threat intelligence
  6. Juniper IDP - Best for versatility in threat detection
  7. RSA NetWitness - Best for real-time incident response
  8. Tripwire - Best for system integrity monitoring
  9. Check Point IDS - Best for multi-layered security strategies
  10. SolarWinds Security Event Manager - Best for centralized event management (ids/ips)
  11. FireEye Network Security - Best for advanced threat intelligence
  12. Trend Micro Deep Discovery - Best for targeted attack identification

Navigating IT security, host intrusion detection software (HIDS) acts as a fortified firewall, complemented by an inline intrusion prevention system to safeguard IP addresses from cyberattacks and anomaly-based detection. Ideal for diverse operating systems, these tools detect malware and anomalies, fortify the application layer, fend off DDoS attacks, and utilize packet sniffers to scrutinize network traffic. Combining automation and compliance reporting, this software offers indispensable threat protection in the current digital landscape.

What Is an Intrusion Detection Software?

Intrusion detection software is a specialized tool designed to monitor networks and systems for malicious activities or policy violations for the next generation. It acts as a digital sentinel, alerting system administrators and security professionals to any suspicious behavior. Organizations employ this software to safeguard digital assets, ensuring data integrity, confidentiality, and availability.

Whether combatting unauthorized access, detecting network traffic anomalies, or addressing potential vulnerabilities, this software is essential in a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. It is designed to work on various operating systems, including Unix and different Linux distributions, and can monitor different types of network traffic, including TCP and DNS.

The software typically includes features for log analysis, using tools like Kibana to analyze log files, and can detect a range of threats, from rootkits to SSL attacks. It also includes features for remediation of detected threats and usually integrates with a Security Operations Center (SOC) for coordinated response to security incidents.

Overviews of the 12 Best Intrusion Detection Software

1. Snort - Best for open-source enthusiasts

Snort Intrusion Detection Software IDS Console
Screenshot of the Snort IDS console dashboard.

Snort stands as one of the pioneers in intrusion detection, with its robust and open-source nature allowing for in-depth network protection. Catering to those who value transparency and customization, Snort's open-source model offers users a direct line of sight into its inner workings, making it a prime choice for enthusiasts.

Why I Picked Snort:

I chose Snort because, in my journey of comparing various intrusion detection tools, its open-source nature stood out. This tool has garnered respect and loyalty in the cybersecurity community for its adaptability and transparency. Given its commitment to providing a platform that enthusiasts can both trust and tinker with, I determined that Snort is best for those who deeply value open-source paradigms.

Standout features & integrations:

Snort's rule-driven language allows users to fine-tune detection protocols, while its capabilities in real-time traffic analysis ensure timely insights into network activity. Beyond its core features, Snort integrates well with other security platforms and databases, enhancing its usability and scope within larger cybersecurity frameworks.


Pricing upon request


  • The open-source nature ensures transparency
  • Rule-driven language for tailored detection
  • Real-time traffic analysis captures anomalies swiftly


  • Initial setup can be complex for novices
  • Regular updates might demand frequent configuration tweaks
  • Lacks a graphical user interface out of the box.

2. Zeek - Best for network traffic analysis

Zeek Intrusion Detection Software
A close-up look at the interface of Zeek's critical path security platform.

Zeek, formerly known as Bro, has established itself as a heavyweight in the realm of network security monitoring. It delves deep into network traffic, extracting valuable data that aids in understanding and securing your environment. For those prioritizing comprehensive traffic analysis, Zeek is a natural choice.

Why I Picked Zeek:

I selected Zeek after an intensive review of network analysis tools. Its unique ability to transform raw network traffic into high-fidelity logs caught my attention. I believe that for those who prioritize detailed network traffic insights, Zeek is unmatched in its depth and clarity.

Standout features & integrations:

Zeek excels in its script-based approach, enabling customizable analysis and logging of network traffic. This offers the flexibility to adapt to diverse and evolving threat landscapes. Integration-wise, Zeek complements a variety of SIEM systems and threat intelligence platforms, reinforcing its utility in complex security architectures.


Pricing upon request


  • Script-based approach for tailored traffic analysis
  • High-fidelity logs provide detailed insights
  • Robust compatibility with multiple SIEM systems


  • Scripting may pose challenges for beginners
  • Resource-intensive for larger network environments
  • Lacks out-of-the-box dashboards for visual analysis

3. OSSEC - Best for log management and analysis

OSSEC Intrusion Detection Software
A glance at OSSEC's intrusion detection dashboard interface.

As a powerful open-source host-based intrusion detection system, OSSEC specializes in dissecting logs to unveil security incidents. It stands as a guardian for your systems, analyzing logs with precision, making it indispensable for log management aficionados.

Why I Picked OSSEC:

In determining the best tools for log analysis, OSSEC's proficiency became evident. Its capabilities in correlating and analyzing diverse log sources set it apart. For those who want to dive deep into log management and analysis, my judgment leans heavily toward OSSEC's meticulous approach.

Standout features & integrations:

OSSEC provides granular log analysis with alerting mechanisms for potential security breaches. Its active response feature automates reactions to specific threats, streamlining security workflows. OSSEC boasts integration capabilities with popular SIEM tools and visualization platforms, ensuring coherent data representation and actionable insights.


Pricing upon request


  • Granular log analysis for precise insights
  • Active response automates threat countermeasures
  • Integrates with popular visualization tools


  • Configuration can be intricate
  • May require additional tools for comprehensive visualization
  • Lacks a user-friendly interface for non-tech individuals.

4. Cisco IDS - Best for large enterprise environments

Cisco IDS Intrusion Detection Software
A snapshot of Cisco's intrusion policy and signature settings within the Firepower module dashboard.

Cisco IDS, stemming from a legacy of robust security solutions, specializes in safeguarding expansive enterprise networks. Its capabilities to handle high traffic volumes without compromise make it an optimal choice for large-scale operations.

Why I Picked Cisco IDS:

When I embarked on selecting a tool adept for extensive enterprise frameworks, Cisco IDS's reputation and performance benchmarks became undeniable. Its prowess in managing intricate and vast network architectures made it stand out in my assessment. For businesses operating on a grand scale seeking unwavering intrusion detection, Cisco IDS is, in my opinion, a compelling choice.

Standout features & integrations:

Cisco IDS boasts of its advanced threat detection algorithms, enabling swift identification of suspicious activities. It incorporates threat intelligence updates to stay ahead of evolving risks. Integration capabilities span across Cisco's suite of security products, fostering a holistic security approach.


Pricing upon request


  • Tailored for handling high network traffic volumes
  • Continual threat intelligence updates
  • Robust integration within Cisco's security ecosystem


  • Initial setup can be complex for newcomers
  • Pricier than some alternative solutions
  • Requires dedicated personnel for optimal management

5. Intrusion Detection System (IDS) by McAfee - Best for integrated threat intelligence

Intrusion Detection System (IDS) by McAfee Intrusion Detection Software
A peek into McAfee's intrusion detection system dashboard.

McAfee's IDS rises above by not just detecting intrusions but by providing integrated threat intelligence to inform timely countermeasures. This integration results in an enriched understanding of threats, placing it high on the list for businesses prioritizing intelligence-driven defense.

Why I Picked IDS by McAfee:

Upon comparing various tools, the intelligence fusion within McAfee's IDS caught my attention. This integration, a differentiator in its league, led me to judge it superior for those keen on coupling detection with actionable intelligence. If integrated threat insights are the goal, IDS by McAfee aligns perfectly with such demands.

Standout features & integrations:

McAfee's IDS takes pride in its adaptive threat detection mechanisms, refining its processes with real-time intelligence feeds. Its cloud-based analytics further elevate its detection accuracy. For integrations, it pairs effectively with other McAfee security products and a range of third-party SIEM systems.


Pricing upon request


  • Real-time threat intelligence integration
  • Cloud-enhanced analytics for precise detection
  • Wide-ranging compatibility with SIEM solutions


  • Some learning curve for full feature utilization
  • Reliance on the cloud may not suit all organizations
  • Licensing complexities for expansive deployments.

6. Juniper IDP - Best for versatility in threat detection

Juniper IDP Intrusion Detection Software
A view of the Juniper IDP dashboard interface.

Juniper IDP is known for its extensive threat detection methodologies, making it a preferred choice for organizations that require varied approaches to safeguard their digital infrastructure. Its ability to adapt to different threat landscapes proves it's truly built for versatile detection.

Why I Picked Juniper IDP:

In the process of selecting a tool that offers a broad spectrum of threat detection techniques, Juniper IDP emerged as a prominent security software contender. The versatility it exhibited in its detection methods compared favorably against its peers. For organizations that face multifaceted threat vectors and need a flexible solution, I believe Juniper IDP fits the bill.

Standout features & integrations:

Juniper IDP boasts signature-based, anomaly-based, and behavior-based detection techniques, offering a layered defense strategy. It integrates effectively with Juniper's broader security portfolio, ensuring a more cohesive approach to threat management.


Pricing upon request


  • Comprehensive threat detection methodologies
  • Integration within Juniper's ecosystem
  • Customizable detection rules for specialized environments


  • Requires a steep learning curve for maximum efficiency
  • Potential for false positives with aggressive settings
  • Software updates may occasionally disrupt configurations

7. RSA NetWitness - Best for real-time incident response

RSA NetWitness Intrusion Detection Software
A look into RSA NetWitness's platform showcasing incident rules display.

RSA NetWitness stands out for its prowess in facilitating prompt reactions to security breaches. Its design focuses on accelerating the response time from the moment an incident is detected, aligning it well with real-time incident management demands.

Why I Picked RSA NetWitness:

The need for rapid incident response led me to evaluate several solutions, and RSA NetWitness presented a superior capability in this regard. Its emphasis on real-time monitoring and swift response mechanisms was a determining factor in my selection. For teams that prioritize instantaneous action upon breach detection, RSA NetWitness appears to be the prime choice.

Standout features & integrations:

At the heart of RSA NetWitness lies its real-time analytics engine, geared towards immediate incident insights. Moreover, its integration capabilities encompass a vast array of third-party tools, enhancing its situational awareness and response speed.


Pricing upon request


  • Focused real-time analytics for swift incident insights
  • Broad integration capabilities with third-party tools
  • User-friendly interface for streamlined incident management


  • Pricing might be on the higher side for smaller entities
  • Advanced features require dedicated training sessions
  • Network traffic-heavy operations might demand robust hardware configurations.

8. Tripwire - Best for system integrity monitoring

Tripwire Intrusion Detection Software Reporting Dashboard
A glimpse of Tripwire's reporting dashboard, designed to streamline compliance evidence and provide audit-ready reports for efficient time and budget management.

Tripwire is a renowned security solution, primarily recognized for its system integrity monitoring capabilities. It helps organizations maintain their system's integrity by continuously monitoring and detecting changes that could indicate potential breaches.

Why I Picked Tripwire:

In the process of selecting a tool for reliable system integrity monitoring, Tripwire immediately stood out. I determined its prowess in this area by comparing its features and reviews against other competitors. Given the increasing importance of system integrity in today's dynamic cyber landscapes, Tripwire is best suited for organizations prioritizing this aspect.

Standout features & integrations:

Tripwire's key strength lies in its file integrity monitoring, which is adept at detecting unauthorized changes in real-time. Furthermore, its integration with popular SIEM tools enhances its monitoring capabilities, allowing for a more holistic security overview.


Pricing upon request


  • Efficient real-time change detection
  • Supports regulatory compliance needs
  • Integrates well with many SIEM tools


  • Configuration can be complex for beginners
  • Might generate false positives if not tuned properly
  • The licensing model may be confusing for some users

9. Check Point IDS - Best for multi-layered security strategies

Check Point IDS Intrusion Detection Software
Here is a screen capture from Check Point IDS' general policy dashboard.

Check Point IDS operates as an integral component of Check Point's comprehensive security suite, emphasizing a multi-layered approach to threat mitigation. This approach ensures that threats, regardless of their origin or nature, are tackled at various levels, providing robust protection.

Why I Picked Check Point IDS:

My judgment was steered towards Check Point IDS after observing its holistic, multi-layered defense mechanism. After determining its performance and comparing it with other tools, I concluded that for organizations seeking a multi-tiered security strategy, Check Point IDS would be a commendable choice.

Standout features & integrations:

Check Point IDS excels in its threat prevention technologies, which encompass intrusion prevention, antivirus, and anti-bot modules. Additionally, its integration with Check Point's security gateway broadens the scope of protection.


Pricing upon request


  • Comprehensive multi-layered threat prevention
  • Part of the broader Check Point security ecosystem
  • Regularly updated with the latest threat intelligence


  • Requires dedicated hardware for optimal performance
  • The user interface might be overwhelming for newcomers
  • Licensing can be complex with various modules and features.

10. SolarWinds Security Event Manager - Best for centralized event management

SolarWinds Security Event Manager Intrusion Detection Software overview dashboard
A snapshot of the SolarWinds Security Event Manager's main dashboard.

SolarWinds Security Event Manager (SEM) is designed to simplify the process of identifying and responding to security threats, failed audits, and operational issues. The tool stands out for its ability to centralize and interpret high volumes of log data from multiple sources.

Why I Picked SolarWinds Security Event Manager:

During my evaluation, SolarWinds SEM's approach to centralizing events caught my attention. In my judgment, and after comparing it with several other platforms, I determined that it offers a differentiated and efficient solution for organizations that grapple with data sprawl. Its prowess in centralized event management makes it an invaluable tool for many security professionals.

Standout features & integrations:

The core strength of SolarWinds SEM lies in its log correlation technology, which quickly pinpoints potential issues by analyzing patterns. Additionally, its integrations with other SolarWinds products allow organizations to have a broader, more holistic view of their IT environments.


Pricing upon request


  • Efficient log correlation capabilities
  • Streamlined event visualization tools
  • Supports numerous device and application logs


  • The learning curve for new users
  • Reporting capabilities may need enhancements
  • Some users report performance lags with high data volumes

11. FireEye Network Security - Best for advanced threat intelligence

FireEye Network Security Intrusion Detection Software dashboard
A view of the main dashboard for FireEye Network Security.

FireEye Network Security serves as a comprehensive platform that focuses on advanced threat detection, prevention, and investigation. What differentiates this tool is its rich threat intelligence, offering insights that many other platforms might miss.

Why I Picked FireEye Network Security:

After deliberating on various security platforms and their offerings, I gravitated towards FireEye due to its renowned advanced threat intelligence capabilities. I believe that in the evolving threat landscape, FireEye's approach to detecting and tackling sophisticated threats places it ahead of many competitors.

Standout features & integrations:

FireEye's strength is its MVX architecture which identifies and blocks complex threats in real-time. Furthermore, its integration capabilities with third-party solutions make it versatile in diverse IT environments.


Pricing upon request


  • Strong emphasis on zero-day and new threat vectors
  • Comprehensive threat analytics and reporting
  • Ability to sandbox suspicious content for analysis


  • Can be resource-intensive
  • May generate false positives if not tuned properly
  • Requires careful configuration for optimal results

12. Trend Micro Deep Discovery - Best for targeted attack identification

Trend Micro Deep Discovery Intrusion Detection Software
Users can customize their own dashboard at Trend Micro Deep Discovery dashboard.

Trend Micro Deep Discovery is a dedicated solution designed to detect, analyze, and respond to today's stealthy ransomware, its variants, and targeted attacks. The tool's specialization in uncovering targeted and sophisticated threats sets it apart in the security landscape.

Why I Picked Trend Micro Deep Discovery:

My decision to highlight Trend Micro Deep Discovery was influenced by its focused approach to targeted threat detection. After comparing and assessing several solutions, I was convinced that its ability to identify concealed attacks gives organizations a significant upper hand.

Standout features & integrations:

Deep Discovery excels in its specialized detection engines and custom sandbox analysis. Its integrations with other Trend Micro solutions provide layered security and enhanced visibility across the digital environment.


Pricing upon request


  • Specialized in detecting hidden threats
  • Offers in-depth threat insights and intelligence
  • Supports a wide range of virtual and physical network appliances


  • Can be complex to set up initially
  • Licensing model may be complicated for some users
  • May require additional resources for larger networks.

Other Notable Intrusion Detection Software

Below is a list of additional intrusion detection software that I shortlisted, but did not make it to the top 12. Definitely worth checking them out.

  1. Fidelis Network - Good for deep session inspection
  2. Darktrace - Good for AI-driven threat detection
  3. LogRhythm - Good for comprehensive log management
  4. Vectra Cognito - Good for automating threat detection
  5. Kismet - Good for wireless network detection
  6. Fortinet FortiGate - Good for broad security integrations
  7. Nagios Core - Good for infrastructure monitoring
  8. Hillstone Network-Based IDS - Good for layered threat prevention
  9. BluVector - Good for machine learning threat detection
  10. WatchGuard Network Security - Good for modular security solutions
  11. Flowmon - Good for network behavior analysis
  12. Ntopng - Good for network traffic insights
  13. Suricata - Good for high-performance network IDS, IPS, and network security monitoring
  14. Security Onion - Good for intrusion detection, enterprise security monitoring, and log management

Selection Criteria For Choosing Intrusion Detection Software

I've evaluated dozens of network security and intrusion detection system (IDS) tools over the years. While many of these tools possess great features, it's crucial to understand what's truly important based on specific needs and the unique challenges that come with network security. For this list, I particularly sought tools with high detection accuracy, scalability, and easy-to-use interfaces.

Core Functionality

  • Threat Detection: Accurate identification of both known and zero-day threats in real-time.
  • Intrusion Prevention: Not just detection, but the ability to prevent identified threats.
  • Data Analysis: Analyze network traffic for abnormal patterns, which could indicate a potential threat.
  • Alerting and Reporting: Real-time alerts for threats and comprehensive reporting for analysis.

Key Features

  • Machine Learning and AI Capabilities: Enables the tool to evolve with emerging threats and recognize patterns in the data.
  • Integration with other Security Tools: It's important for IDS tools to work cohesively with other security solutions in an organization's ecosystem.
  • Customizable Alert Settings: Adjust sensitivity based on the network environment to minimize false positives.
  • Encrypted Traffic Inspection: Analyze encrypted data packets without compromising security.
  • Threat Intelligence Feed: Updated information about emerging threats, providing the tool with current data.


  • Intuitive Dashboard: The main console should provide a clear overview of the network's security status, including threats detected, traffic patterns, and system health.
  • Drag-and-drop Rule Configuration: Rather than complex coding, a user-friendly interface for rule setting helps in quicker configuration and deployment.
  • Role-Based Access Control: Essential for larger teams, this allows specific permissions to be set for different users, ensuring that only authorized personnel can make changes or access sensitive information.
  • Learning Resources and Support: Given the complexity of some of these tools, having accessible training resources, documentation, and responsive customer support is paramount.

Most Common Questions Regarding Intrusion Detection Software (FAQs)

What are the benefits of using intrusion detection software?

Intrusion detection software offers a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Enhanced Security: These tools constantly monitor network traffic for any signs of malicious activity, ensuring that potential threats are identified swiftly.
  • Real-time Alerting: Immediate alerts help organizations act quickly, minimizing potential damage.
  • Compliance: Many industries have regulations requiring organizations to monitor and protect their networks. IDS tools can help meet these regulatory requirements.
  • Detailed Reporting: Organizations can analyze and learn from security incidents, refining their security posture over time.
  • Integration with Other Systems: Most IDS solutions can integrate with other security tools, creating a comprehensive security environment.

How much do intrusion detection software tools typically cost?

The pricing for intrusion detection software can vary significantly based on features, scalability, and brand reputation. Most solutions operate on a subscription model, charging monthly or annually.

What are the common pricing models for these tools?

There are several pricing models:

  • Per User/Device: Pricing is based on the number of users or devices connected to the network.
  • Data Volume: Some tools charge based on the amount of data they analyze.
  • Flat Rate: A standard fee that covers all features and capabilities.
  • Freemium: A basic version is available for free, with more advanced features available at a cost.

What's the typical range of pricing for these tools?

Prices can range from as low as $10/user/month for smaller solutions to upwards of $1,000/month for enterprise-grade systems. It's essential to consider both the immediate needs and the scalability when determining which solution offers the best value.

Which are some of the cheapest software options available?

Kismet and Nagios Core are among the more affordable options in the intrusion detection space, especially suitable for small to medium-sized businesses.

Is there any high-end, premium-priced software?

Yes, tools like Darktrace and FireEye Network Security are on the higher end of the spectrum, catering primarily to larger enterprises with complex requirements.

Are there any free IDS software options?

Indeed, there are free options available, such as Kismet and Nagios Core. However, while these tools offer essential IDS features, they might lack some of the more advanced functionalities found in paid versions.

Is it worth investing in a premium tool?

For organizations with sensitive data or those in highly regulated industries, a premium IDS tool might be a worthy investment. These tools often come with superior detection capabilities, better integration options, and top-notch support, which can be crucial in a high-stakes security scenario.


Choosing the right network intrusion detection system (NIDS) is paramount for organizations to effectively monitor and safeguard their network infrastructure. Throughout this guide, we've highlighted the significance of such tools, detailing their core functionalities, key features, usability, and varying pricing models. As cyber threats continue to evolve, having a robust intrusion detection system becomes an indispensable part of an organization's defense strategy.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Prioritize Core Functionality: Always ensure that the software you choose aligns with your primary security objectives and can effectively monitor and detect threats in real-time.
  2. Consider Usability and Support: Beyond features, the tool's design, ease of onboarding, and the quality of customer support can significantly impact its efficacy. An intuitive interface and prompt support can enhance the software's overall effectiveness.
  3. Understand Pricing Models: With a wide range of pricing models available, from per user/device to data volume and flat rates, it's essential to select a model that offers value while fitting into your budget.

What Do You Think?

While I've endeavored to provide a comprehensive list of top-notch intrusion detection software, the world of cybersecurity is vast and ever-evolving. If there's a tool you believe should be on this list or if you've had positive experiences with a product not mentioned, I'd love to hear from you. Your insights not only benefit me but also help our reader community make more informed decisions. Please share your recommendations and together, let's create a more secure digital landscape.

By Paulo Gardini Miguel

Paulo is the Director of Technology at the rapidly growing media tech company BWZ. Prior to that, he worked as a Software Engineering Manager and then Head Of Technology at Navegg, Latin America’s largest data marketplace, and as Full Stack Engineer at MapLink, which provides geolocation APIs as a service. Paulo draws insight from years of experience serving as an infrastructure architect, team leader, and product developer in rapidly scaling web environments. He’s driven to share his expertise with other technology leaders to help them build great teams, improve performance, optimize resources, and create foundations for scalability.