7 Best IDS Software 2024 (#1 Intrusion Detection System)

by Chris Von Wilpert, BBusMan • Last updated November 23, 2023

Expert Verified by Leandro Langeani, BBA

Disclosure: We test and review software products based on an independent, multi-step rating methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Read full disclosure and rating methodology.

Today there are 87 different IDS software. We spent 72 hours comparing the top 50 to find the seven best you can use to enhance your network security.

What is the Best IDS Software?

  1. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer — best of the best
  2. ManageEngine Log360 — best for small businesses
  3. SolarWinds Security Event Manager — best for enterprises
  4. Zeek — best open-source IDS 
  5. OSSEC — best for machine learning
  6. Snort — best for solopreneurs
  7. Suricata — best for customer support

Our Verdict — Best Of The Best

Price: Custom

ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer is a top-notch host intrusion detection system (HIDS) for businesses of all sizes. We think it’s the best because of its real-time threat detection, detailed log analysis, and comprehensive reporting features.

The Best Part:

  • Robust data reporting. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer delivers comprehensive reports and analytics in an easy-to-use interface, making decision-making a breeze.

The Worst Part:

  • Resource-intensive. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer can be demanding on system resources, especially for larger organizations.

Get it if you want a comprehensive intrusion detection system that's easy to manage and configure.

I recommend you start with the 30-day free trial, then get in touch with ManageEngine for a custom quote.

(30-day free trial)

Best For

ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer is best for security-conscious organizations that need a customizable IDS solution to record event logs and generate advanced analytics.

Top Features

  • Real-time event correlation. Connect the dots instantly by correlating events in real-time, spotting patterns, and detecting security threats before they wreak havoc.
  • Instant notifications. Stay on top of your security with real-time alerts on suspicious activities detected in your system.
  • Log archiving. Tuck away your logs safely in a secure, centralized archive to easily retrieve them when needed.
  • In-depth forensic analysis. Investigate historical log data to uncover insights that strengthen security and prevent incidents.
  • File integrity monitoring (FIM). Keep a hawk's eye on critical files and track unauthorized changes in your data.

Pricing

ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer offers a single pricing plan:

  • Custom pricing: Custom yearly quote, for organizations of all sizes that want a comprehensive intrusion detection system that can be tailored to their specific needs.

Try ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer today with a free 30-day trial.

Our Verdict — Best For Small Businesses

Price: Starts at $300/year

ManageEngine Log360 is a robust network-based intrusion detection system (NIDS) for small businesses. We think it’s the best for small businesses because of its affordable pricing, extensive log collection capabilities, and in-depth network visibility.

The Best Part:

  • Superb log collection. ManageEngine Log360 casts a wide security net by gathering logs from end-user devices, servers, network devices, firewalls, and antivirus and intrusion prevention systems.

The Worst Part:

  • Complex set up. ManageEngine Log360 can be a bit challenging to set up for those without a technical background.

Get it if you want a comprehensive security solution that covers all bases and can be adapted to the specific security needs of your small business.

I recommend you start with the 15-day free trial, then get the Basic Plan for $300/year.

(15-day free trial)

Best For

ManageEngine Log360 is best for growing small businesses that want to stay compliant with regulations while maintaining a secure and reliable network.

Top Features

  • Complete infrastructure visibility. ManageEngine Log360 detects threats using data collected from Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft 365, on-premises network devices, and other platforms.
  • Streamlined compliance. Stay on the right side of regulatory mandates such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, GLBA, FISMA, SOX, ISO 27001, and many more.
  • Visual analytics dashboard. Turn your logs into digestible graphs and reports to pinpoint attacks, detect suspicious user activities, and stop potential threats in their tracks.
  • Automated incident response. Let Log360 take the reins to handle specific events or incidents with automated responses.
  • Seamless integration. Strengthen your security arsenal by integrating Log360 with DLP and CASB capabilities.

Pricing

ManageEngine Log360 offers three pricing plans:

  • Free Plan: Free forever, for small businesses just starting out and looking for a basic intrusion detection system.
  • Basic Plan: $300/year for small businesses that want more advanced intrusion detection software with a 75 GB log storage capacity, alerting features, and incident management capabilities.
  • Standard Plan: $600/year for small businesses that require comprehensive security coverage with everything in the Basic plan, plus features such as correlation rules, log forwarding, and 100 GB log storage capacity.

Try ManageEngine Log360 today with a free 15-day trial.

Our Verdict — Best For Enterprises

Price: Starts at $2,877/year

SolarWinds Security Event Manager is an enterprise-grade IDS software designed to detect and prevent advanced cyber threats. We think it’s the best for enterprises because of its easy deployment, extensive log management, and automated incident response.

The Best Part:

  • Centralized log management. SolarWinds SEM spots advanced threats by centralizing logs from workstations, servers, systems, IDS/IPS, firewalls, and authentication services within a unified dashboard. 

The Worst Part:

  • Inconvenient dashboards. The lack of drag-and-drop functionality in SolarWinds SEM's dashboards makes customization a bit more challenging.

Get it if you want a top-notch intrusion detection system to protect your enterprise from cyber threats.

I recommend you start with the 30-day free trial, then get the Perpetual plan for $5,607.

(30-day free trial)

Best For

SolarWinds Security Event Manager is best for growing enterprises looking for a scalable IDS solution that can adapt to their ever-evolving security needs.

Top Features

  • Streamlined compliance. Shave off precious time you’d spend preparing and demonstrating compliance with SolardWinds SEM’s audit-ready reports and tools tailored for HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, and more.
  • Botnet protection. Shield your enterprise from botnets and C&C servers with SolarWinds SEM's advanced correlation engine.
  • User activity tracking. Keep an eye on user activity across your IT environment by monitoring logon and logoff events, privileged account abuse, and unauthorized software installations or data transfers.
  • USB protection. Stay in the loop with real-time notifications of USB driver installations, and take control by manually or automatically removing potentially harmful devices.
  • Automated incident response. Move beyond outdated manual research, validation, and remediation processes with SolarWinds SEM's Active Response feature.

Pricing

SolarWinds Security Event Manager offers two pricing plans:

  • Subscription: $2,877/year for enterprises that want a flexible, cost-effective subscription to maintain robust cybersecurity with SolarWinds SEM’s IDS features.
  • Perpetual: $5,607 one-time payment, for enterprises that want to make a long-term investment in a comprehensive intrusion detection system without recurring fees.

Try SolarWinds Security Event Manager today with a free 30-day trial.

Our Top Three Picks

Here’s a quick summary of our top three picks:

  1. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer — best of the best
  2. ManageEngine Log360 — best for small businesses 
  3. SolarWinds Security Event Manager — best for enterprises

Here’s a quick comparison of our top seven picks:

Tool

Entry Offer

Pricing

ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer

30-day free trial

Custom

ManageEngine Log360

15-day free trial

Starts at $300/yr

SolarWinds Security Event Manager

30-day free trial

Starts at $2,877/yr

Zeek

None

Free forever

OSSEC

None

Free forever

Snort

Free plan

Starts at $29/yr

Suricata

None

Free forever

Here are the top 50 IDS software we considered in this review:

  1. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer
  2. ManageEngine Log360
  3. SolarWinds Security Event Manager
  4. Zeek
  5. OSSEC
  6. Snort
  7. Suricata
  8. Security Onion
  9. OpenWIPS-NG
  10. Sagan
  11. McAfee Network Security Platform
  12. Palo Alto Networks
  13. Smoothwall Express
  14. COMODO Internet Security
  15. Sophos UTM
  16. COMODO Firewall Pro
  17. Untangle NG Firewall
  18. pfSense
  19. IPCop Firewall
  20. Clear Foundation ClearOS
  21. AlienVault OSSIM
  22. Endian Firewall Community
  23. Check Point ZoneAlarm
  24. Kismet
  25. Open DLP
  26. PT Telecom Attack Discovery
  27. Aramis
  28. Crystal Eye
  29. Huawei Network Intelligent Protection (NIP) System
  30. SecurityBridge Platform
  31. Venusense Intrusion Prevention and Management System (IPS)
  32. NSFOCUS IPS
  33. Corelight Sensors
  34. Virtual Next-Generation IPS (NGIPSv) for VMware
  35. SecBlade IPS
  36. Secureworks Managed iSensor Network Intrusion Prevention System
  37. Fidelis Network
  38. Trellix Intrusion Prevention System
  39. Hillstone S-Series Intrusion Prevention System
  40. Alert Logic Managed Detection and Response (MDR)
  41. Trellix Network Security
  42.  Trend Micro TippingPoint
  43. Cisco Secure Firewall
  44. Darktrace
  45. Vectra AI
  46. Check Point IPS
  47. Fortinet FortiGate IPS
  48. Cisco NGIPS
  49. Polaroid DDS
  50. KerioControl

What are the three types of intrusion detection systems?

There are three main types of intrusion detection systems (IDS): signature-based IDS, anomaly-based intrusion detection, and stateful protocol analysis.

  1. Signature-based IDS: This type of IDS uses a database of known attack patterns, malicious behavior, and suspicious files to detect malicious activity in network traffic. By comparing the traffic to known signatures, this system can detect various types of attacks, including stealth port scans and buffer overflow attacks. However, it may struggle to detect zero-day threats and advanced attacks not covered by existing signatures.
  2. Anomaly-based intrusion detection: These systems leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to establish a baseline of normal network traffic. They detect unusual activity or anomalous behavior that deviates from the baseline, making them more effective in identifying advanced threats and zero-day attacks. However, they may produce false positives if legitimate traffic is misclassified as suspicious.
  3. Stateful protocol analysis: This approach combines the strengths of signature-based and anomaly-based detection, examining network traffic in the context of established protocols and the state of the connection. By monitoring traffic for policy script violations and analyzing it against known attack vectors, stateful protocol analysis can effectively detect both known and unknown threats with fewer false positives.

Can IDS prevent malware?

Intrusion detection systems (IDS) can help identify malware, cyber attacks, and other malicious activities in network traffic. However, they are not specifically designed to prevent infections. Instead, IDS solutions work alongside third-party tools like antivirus systems and intrusion prevention tools (IPS) to provide comprehensive protection. IDS monitors network traffic, detects suspicious activity, and generates alerts for network administrators to take remediation actions, while IPS and antivirus systems actively block or quarantine malware before it causes damage.

Is IDS better than firewall?

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and firewalls serve different purposes in network security monitoring and should not be viewed as a direct comparison. Firewalls control access to the network by enforcing security policies and filtering network traffic based on predefined rules. In contrast, IDS monitors network traffic for signs of unauthorized access, malicious activity, and policy script violations, generating alerts when such activities are detected. For a comprehensive network security solution, organizations should use both firewalls and IDS, as they complement each other in providing robust protection.

What is the difference between IDS and EDR?

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) are both essential components of enterprise security monitoring but serve different functions. IDS focuses on monitoring network traffic for malicious activity, unauthorized access, and policy violations, generating alerts when threats are detected. It can identify various types of attacks, such as stealth port scans, buffer overflow attacks, and CGI attacks.

On the other hand, EDR solutions concentrate on endpoint protection, monitoring individual devices within the network for signs of malicious software, hidden processes, and suspicious files. EDR tools provide real-time visibility and control over endpoints, enabling network administrators to respond quickly to threats and perform remediation activities. Both IDS and EDR are crucial for maintaining a strong security posture, but they address different aspects of network security.

What is the difference between IDS and IPS?

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) are both crucial components of network security monitoring, but they serve different functions and have distinct capabilities:

  1. Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS): IDS solutions monitor network traffic for signs of malicious activities, unauthorized access, and policy violations. When such activities are detected, the IDS generates alerts for network administrators to investigate and take appropriate action. IDS can identify various types of attacks, including stealth port scans, buffer overflow attacks, and CGI attacks. However, IDS is a passive system, focusing on detection and alerting rather than actively blocking or preventing threats.
  2. Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS): IPS solutions, on the other hand, actively analyze network traffic and take real-time actions to prevent malicious activities or policy violations. They operate inline within the network, inspecting traffic and making decisions based on predefined security policies or rules. If a potential threat is detected, the IPS can block the traffic, reset the connection, or perform other actions to mitigate the threat. Like IDS, IPS can detect a wide variety of attacks, but they provide an additional layer of protection by actively preventing threats from causing harm.

The Bottom Line

To recap, here are the best IDS software to try this year:

  1. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer — best of the best
  2. ManageEngine Log360 — best for small businesses 
  3. SolarWinds Security Event Manager — best for enterprises
  4. Zeek — best open-source IDS 
  5. OSSEC — best for machine learning
  6. Snort — best for solopreneurs
  7. Suricata — best for customer support

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