Cyber threats pose significant risks to organizations of all sizes, making robust security measures imperative. An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is one critical component in an organization’s cybersecurity arsenal, acting as a vigilant gatekeeper to actively monitor network traffic and prevent unauthorized access and malicious attacks. Choosing the right IPS can depend on everything from whether it is network-based or hosted to how well it integrates with existing systems and how much it costs.
We’ve rounded up the best intrusion prevention systems to help make the selection process less daunting. Here are our top picks:
- Cisco Secure Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System: Best for Comprehensive Network Security
- Fidelis Network: Best for Advanced Threat Detection Response
- Palo Alto Networks Advanced Threat Prevention: Best for ZeroDay Exploits
- Trellix Intrusion Prevention System: Best for On-Prem and Virtual Networks
Top Intrusion Prevention System Comparison At-a-Glance
Here’s a look at how the top IPSs compared based on key features.
|Real-Time Alerts||Integration with Other Security Systems||Type of Intrusion Detection||Automatic Updates||Pricing|
|Cisco Secure Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System||Yes||Yes||Network-based||Yes||On-contact|
|Fidelis Network||Yes||Yes||Network-based||Yes||15-day free trial|
|Palo Alto Networks Threat Prevention||Yes||Yes||Network-based and host-based||Yes||Free trial|
|Trellix Intrusion Prevention System||Yes||Yes||Network-based and host-based||Yes||On-contact|
Cisco Secure Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System
Best for comprehensive network security
Cisco offers advanced threat protection solutions with Cisco Secure IPS. This cloud-native platform offers robust security with unified visibility and intuitive automation. It gathers and correlates global intelligence in a single view and can handle large traffic volumes without impacting the network performance.
This highly flexible solution can be easily deployed across different network environments as its open architecture supports Amazon Web Services (AWS), VMWare, Azure, and other hypervisors.
- Enhanced visibility with Firepower Management Center
- Constantly updated early-warning system
- Flexible deployment options for inline inspection or passive detection
- Cisco Threat Intelligence Director for third-party data ingestion
- Real-time data inputs optimize data security
- Easy integration without major hardware changes
- High scalability with purpose-built solutions
- Expensive for small-scale organizations
- Initial integration challenges
Cisco offers free trials for most products, including its IPS, but does not make its pricing readily available. For details, contact Sales Support.
Best for Advanced Threat Detection Response
Fidelis Network improves security efficiency by detecting advanced threats and behavioral anomalies, employing a proactive cyber-defense strategy to more quickly detect and respond to threats before they can affect a business. Fidelis Network can bolster data security with rich insights into bi-directional encrypted traffic.
This specific network defense solution helps prevent future breaches with both real-time and retrospective analysis.
- Patented Deep Session Inspection for data exfiltration
- Improved response with the MITRE ATT&CK framework and intelligence feed from Fidelis Cybersecurity
- Unified network detection and response (NDR) solution for simplified network security
- Customizable real-time content analysis rules for proactive network security
- Faster threat analysis and improved security efficiency
- Deeper visibility and threat detection with more than 300 metadata attributes
- Single-view and consolidated network alerts with rich cyber terrain mapping
- Complex configuration and setup
- High-traffic environments cause network latency
- Tighter integration with other tools is required
Fidelis Network offers a 15-day free trial, and will schedule a demo before it to show off the system’s capabilities and features.
Palo Alto Networks Advanced Threat Prevention
Best for Zero-Day Exploits
Palo Alto Networks’ Advanced Threat Prevention is based on purpose-built, inline deep learning models that secure businesses from the most advanced and evasive threats. Powered by multi-pronged detection mechanisms that efficiently take care of unknown injection attacks and zero-day exploits, this infinitely scalable solution blocks command and control (C2) attacks in real time without compromising performance.
- ML-Powered NGFWs for complete visibility
- Customized protection with Snort and Suricata signature support
- Real-time analysis with enhanced DNS Security Cloud Service
- Latest security updates from Advanced WildFire
- Ultra low-latency native cloud service
- Combined App-ID and User-ID identification technologies
- Customized vulnerability signatures
- Complete DNS threat coverage
- Overly complex implementation for simple configurations
- High upfront costs
Palo Alto Networks offers free trials, hands-on demos, and personalized tours for its products and solutions, but does not make its pricing models publicly available. Contact sales for details.
Trellix Intrusion Prevention System
Best for On-Prem and Virtual Networks
Trellix Intrusion Prevention System offers comprehensive and effective security for business networks, offering two variants: Trellix Intrusion Prevention System and Trellix Virtual Intrusion Prevention System. The virtual variant takes care of the private and public cloud requirements, and secures virtualized environments using advanced inspection technologies.
- Botnet intrusion detection across the network
- Enhanced threat correlation with network threat behavior analysis
- Inbound and outbound SSL decryption
- East-west network visibility
- Both signature-based and signature-less intrusion detection
- Unified physical and virtual security
- Maximum security and performance (scalability up to 100 Gbps)
- Shared licensing and throughput model
- Older variants and models still exist
- Confusion pricing options
- High rates of false positives
Schedule a demo to learn whether Trellix meets specific requirements. The vendor does not make pricing models publicly available; contact sales.
Key IPS Features
When deciding on an intrusion prevention system, make sure the features and capabilities match specific needs. Key features include the following:
Proactive threat detection and prompt incident response require real-time visibility. Timely alerts help implement preventive measures before any significant damage to the security posture. Advanced IPSs have real-time monitoring capabilities to identify potential vulnerabilities and minimize the impact of security incidents.
Integration with other security systems
Intrusion prevention systems cannot operate in isolation. For the efficient protection of the entire business security infrastructure, they must integrate with other security solutions and platforms for a coordinated response. This also helps with the centralized management of security incidents.
Type of intrusion detection
There are mainly two types of intrusion detection: network-based and host-based. While network-based intrusion detection examines and analyzes the network traffic for vulnerabilities, host-based intrusion detection checks individual systems like servers, endpoints, or particular assets.
Automatic updates can help ensure an IPS adapt to the continuously evolving threat landscape of new threats and newly discovered vulnerabilities. They can also help keep pace with changing compliance and regulatory requirements and implement the latest security patches.
Threat intelligence helps an IPS enhance detection capabilities and minimize vulnerabilities with efficient mitigation strategies. With threat intelligence capabilities, IPS solutions access timely and actionable information to develop effective response strategies.
How to Choose an IPS
Here are some factors to consider when choosing an IPS:
There are broadly four types of IPS configurations depending on the network environment, security policies, and requirements where they will be implemented: network-based, host-based, wireless, and network behavior analysis system. Multiple configurations can also support complex pathways.
Intrusion prevention systems use different detection techniques to identify malicious activities—primarily signature-based, anomaly-based, and protocol-based. Signature-based detection helps detect consistent cyber threat patterns from a static list of known signatures, while anomaly-based detection can detect abnormalities within normal activity patterns. Protocol-based systems offer the flexibility to set references for benign protocol activities.
Intrusion prevention systems can be integrated using dedicated hardware and software, or incorporated within existing enterprise security controls. Businesses that don’t want to upgrade system architecture or invest in products or resources can rely on managed service providers for security, but an IPS purchased and installed on the network offers more control and authority.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between intrusion detection systems and intrusion prevention systems?
Intrusion detection systems help detect security incidents and threats and send alerts to the Security Operations Center (SOC). Issues are investigated by security personnel and countermeasures executed accordingly. Essentially, they’re monitoring tools. While intrusion prevention systems also detect potential threats and malicious incidents, they automatically take appropriate actions, making them highly proactive, control-based cybersecurity solutions.
How do intrusion prevention systems help businesses?
Intrusion prevention systems are key to enterprise security as they help prevent serious and sophisticated attacks. Some of the key benefits of IPS for businesses are:
- Reduced strain on IT teams through automated response
- Customized security controls as per requirements
- Improved performance by filtering out malicious traffic
Do intrusion prevention systems affect network performance?
Intrusion prevention systems may slow down the network in the case of inadequate bandwidth and capacity, heavy traffic loads, or computational burdens.
In order to provide an objective and comprehensive comparison of the various IPSs available in the market, we followed a structured research methodology. We defined evaluation criteria, conducted market research, collected data on each solution, evaluated and scored them, cross-verified our findings, and documented the results. Additionally, we considered user reviews and feedback to gain valuable insights into the real-world performance and customer satisfaction of each intrusion prevention solution.
Bottom Line: Top Intrusion Prevention Systems
The top intrusion prevention systems all work to protect enterprise networks from the ever-present, always evolving threat of cyberattack, but some stand out for different use cases. Selecting the right one will depend on the organization’s security needs, goals, and budget. Regular evaluation and updates are crucial to staying ahead of evolving threats and ensuring a robust security posture—the right IPS can enhance network security, protect sensitive data, and safeguard a business against potential cyber threats.