If you’re looking for the best threat detection software to protect your computer system from harmful and unwanted intrusions, then you’ve come to the right place. 

I’ve been doing business in the digital space for over 10 years, and one of the best things to keep my peace of mind is installing a system that automatically spots and warns me of any danger so I can keep my data 100% safe.      

So in this post, I’ve rounded up my top picks for you to choose from to narrow down your choices to only the best threat detection software in the field. 

Most in the list are open source, so they are free to use. It just requires a bit of technical knowledge so you can make the most out of each system. 

Now, if you’re ready to find out the best intrusion system you can take advantage of, let’s get right to it. 

What Is The Best Threat Detection Software?

If you’re in a hurry, check out my top 3 picks at a glance: McAfee Intrusion Prevention System, Security Onion, and Cisco NGIPS.

McAfee Logo


Security Onion



Best overall. Continuous long-term software support with constant security updates. Free version available.Best value for money. Open-source security suite for enterprise-level security monitoring. Available for free.Feature-rich. Comprehensive all-around threat detection platform for medium to high-value industries.
Try McAfeeTry Security OnionTry Cisco NGIPS

If you want more information about the other options you have, read on to make an informed decision about which threat detection software suits your needs best.

1. McAfee Intrusion Prevention System – Top Pick

mcafee homepage

Most Up-To-Date Threat Detection Software  [Free | Custom Pricing]

With McAfee Intrusion Prevention System, your device will be able to block more than the usual cyber threats, and get unified virtual and physical security so you can enjoy maximized security and performance – it has one of the best security orchestration on this list.

Using McAfee, your security teams can stop new and identified attacks in real-time whether it’s a signature-based or signature-less intrusion. The signature-less intrusion detection function spots malicious network traffic and stops its penetration into your system. 

Their Enterprise Threat Center continues to research and analyze new threats leading them to detect and prevent the latest cybersecurity threats from Macaw Locker Ransomware down to Threat Profile: FIN12 Group.

latest cybersecurity threats detected by mcafee

McAfee’s threat detection system supports VMware NSX and OpenStack which means they help admins increase the security of virtual workloads in private clouds. 

Its hardware platform could scale to a speed of 100 Gbps for fast all-out protection. 

Along with its threat detection features are its intrusion prevention functionality. 

McAfee has a specialized host intrusion prevention for desktops. It has an excellent threat management system that identifies and blocks known attacks using its stateful farewell that applies policies, controls outbound traffic, and bars uninvited inbound traffic. 

Moreover, it doesn’t leave server intrusion prevention out of the picture. It enforces IPS and protects assets in the application, device, and network.  This also makes endpoint security much stronger.

It’s superb in preventing malicious attacks because it uses powerful signatures and machine learning that utilizes user behavior analytics. 

Lastly, McAfee has a dynamic firewall that’s supported by its global threat intelligence, so attacks can be blocked in real-time. 

Pros And Cons Of McAfee Intrusion Prevention System

Detects and protects from new and unknown threatsCan sometimes case internet and computed speed to slow down
Blocks both signature-based and signature-less attacksStops software downloads and blocks websites even when you don’t feel they are harmful
Encrypts computer data
Supports VMware NSX and OpenStack
Scale speed protection to 100 Gbps

McAfee Intrusion Prevention System Pricing Plan

McAfee has no set pricing packages, you need to get in touch with the sales team to get a quote of the services you want to avail. 

However, there is good news.

McAfee offers free security trials for network security, server security, apps security and also offers security management to keep you protected without paying a dime. 

If you’re interested in picking up McAfee then start by visiting their site.

2. Security Onion – Best For Medium & Large Businesses

security onion homepage

Best Threat Detection Software For Building Multiple Distributed Sensors [Free]

Security Onion is an open-source threat detection tool built for Linux distribution. Other than data breaches and other major intrusion detection, it also offers prioritization of log management and enterprise security monitoring.

The main components of Security Onion are:

Logstash integrates everything in a single log then ElasticSearch indexes it to be accessible and effective. Kibana then assists in incorporating security. 

When combined, these three tools are known as ELK Stack. 

Since it runs on Ubuntu, it integrates elements from analysis tools like NetworkMiner, Xplico, Squil, Snorby, and Kibana.

It also integrates with other threat detection software like:

While it’s mainly categorized as a NIDS or network intrusion detection, it has host intrusion detection functionalities as well –  a packet sniffer to perform network analysis that comes with charts and graphs for easy analysis. 

Security Onion can be used as a learning tool. When in an evaluation mode, it can help configure the network interface. 

It can also be used for PCAP forensics transmitting data across the network. Other than those two, it can also be a distributed or standalone production server.  

Pros And Cons Of Security Onion

Great at keeping online connections secureHas a deep learning curve
Cost-effectiveOnly built for Linux users
Comes with HIDS functionsNo action automation
Integrates with analysis tools like KibanaIncludes many overlapping tools
Also offers security monitoring and log managementNeeds significant customization to get to the target state

Security Onion Pricing Plan

security onion free download

As mentioned in the pros of Security Onion, it’s cost-effective in the sense that it’s free to download

It has a bit of a learning curve, so this will be best for those who have prior knowledge about computer security and operations. 

3. Cisco NGIPS – Best For Protecting Dynamic Workloads

cisco ngips homepage

Best Threat Detection Software For Workloads Traversing Physical & Cloud Application [Custom Pricing]

Cisco NGIPS is best for detecting and comprehensive protection for evolving cyber-attacks like trojans, spear phishing, advanced malware, and many more. 

It’s a consistent security enforcement mechanism for various organization agendas and responsibilities. 

Visibility-wise, Cisco NGIPS offers more contextual data to fine-tune your system security. 

It is committed to efficient threat intelligence shown by providing new policies and rules every two hours to ensure up-to-date and well-secured systems. 

It is also flexible enough to be deployed at the data center core, at the perimeter, or behind the firewall to ensure protection for guest access, WAN connections, and mission-critical assets. 

It can be deployed for passive detection or inline inspection. 

Lastly, Cisco NGIPS allows for a single pane to manage several security applications using its Firewall Management Center. 

Pros And Cons Of Cisco NGIPS

Offers great visibility for application, network, and sandboxingNeeds more documentation functionality
Up-to-date IPSFirePower fine-tuning is time-consuming and complicated 
Easy to configure and manage
Has advanced level features in detecting security threats
Greatly improves network security

Cisco NGIPS Pricing Plan

cisco pricing requires contacting a partner

Cisco has no set pricing plan. To get a quote for the tools you want to avail of; you have to contact a Cisco partner to get started. 

4. Suricata – Best Open Source Cybersecurity Solution

suricata homepage

Best Open Source Threat Detection Software [Free]

When it comes to Suricata, you can expect a flexible and effective intrusion detection system that keeps pace with the sophistication of old and emerging potential threats. 

Suricata doesn’t just handle threat detection; it comes with Network Security Monitoring to ensure top-notch online safety. 

It logs HTTP requests, stores TLS certificates, and extracts files from flows. 

Suricata’s TLS Parser allows you to log key exchanges, which is one way to ensure you aren’t victimized by an unreputable certificate authority. 

Its security tools use signature language to easily and effectively detect unknown threats, malicious behavior, anomalies, and policy violations which efficiently protects sensitive data.

Suricata can use a specialized Emerging Threats Suricata ruleset to detect traffic anomalies in what it inspects. 

Its Flow ID correlates alerts, NSM, and anomaly alerts. 

suricata anomaly alerts

Lastly, it detects protocols automatically and applies appropriate detection and logging logic to discover CnC channels and malware. 

Pros And Cons Of Suricata

Free to downloadHas a complicated installation process
Performs data collection at the application level Processor-heavy
Understands SMB, FTP, and HTTP
Integrates with Anaval, Snorby, Squil, and more

Suricata Pricing Plan

suricata free download

Suricata is free to download. Just choose the specs that correspond with your device.

5. Sagan – Best For Retail Chain Businesses

sagan homepage

All-Inclusive Threat Detection Software [Free | Custom Pricing]

Sagan offers high performance and real-time log analysis powered by a robust correlation engine that runs under *nix operating systems. 

It is written in and uses multi-threaded architecture and is structured almost similar to Cisco Snort and Suricata. 

It easily detects ransomware and other activities by cybercriminals by using industry-best ransomware detection tools and techniques to keep your business safe from data theft and insider attacks. 

It’s an all-inclusive solution to ransomware detection because it includes the elements of an IDS, SIEM, and MSSP one software solution. 

Sagan also implements its services and solutions across all IT stacks to provide protection from spam protection to malware detonations. 

Speaking of malware, it delivers top of the industry real-time malware detection solutions. 

Lastly, it allows easy malware removal using their antivirus software and malware tools deployed by senior-level security analysts. 

Though it has IDS features, it can mainly be categorized as a log analysis system. 

Pros And Cons Of Sagan

Enables script execution right when an event is detectedHas a deep learning curve
Allows for multiple third-party integrationsDifficult installation process
Uses multi-thread architecture
The all-inclusive solution for ransomware and malware

Sagan Pricing Plan

Sagan has no set pricing package available for interested customers.

You have to contact the sales team or fill up a pricing request form to get a quote. Pricing details will then be sent to your inbox. If you want to get started with Sagan, visit their website.

6. Palo Alto Networks –  Comprehensive Insights

palo alto networks homepage

Best Threat Detection Software For Healthcare, Manufacturing, & Financial Services [Custom Pricing]

When it comes to threat intelligence, Palo Alto Networks is one of the best in the industry. Their adversary tracking, threat intelligence, threat hunting, malware analysis, insider threat detection, and triage are among the leading solutions available. 

Palo Alto Networks collects and analyzes real-time threat intelligence through Global Data Feeding and integrates it into its products, and announces it in its community networks and research articles. 

Palo Alto Networks come with cybersecurity risk assessment services that identify critical information assets, uncover vulnerabilities, determine the potential impact of an incident, and evaluate gaps in security controls that can be capitalized by hackers. 

This is made possible by the Unit 42 team, a group they established to focus on in-depth insights on threat tactics, advanced threats, techniques, and procedures so they can keep pace with fast-moving attacks and provide solutions before it causes any kind of harm. 

Pros And Cons Of Palo Alto Networks

Up-to-date threat protection profilesAffords little customization
Quickly blocks harmful and suspicious sitesDoesn’t offer visibility into the signatures used
Has active threat policies
Developers and security experts are constantly finding and providing solutions for new threats

Palo Alto Networks Pricing Plan

Like most of the threat detection software on the list, Palo Alto Networks has no set pricing plan available on their website. 

To know more about what they can offer and how much it costs, you have to schedule a visual appointment with their sales team. 

7. Snort –  Best NIDS Tool

snort homepage

Best Threat Detection Software For Windows OS [Free]

Snort may sound like a funny name, but they’re serious when it comes to security threats. They are excellent providers of security measures and have great user activity monitoring.

It’s a free-to-use open-source intrusion detection system that works on the Windows operating system

Snort uses a series of rules to define a threatening network activity. It then uses those rules to find packets to match against it and generate alerts for users. 

While threat monitoring is its best function, Snort is also a packet logger and a packet sniffer. This will be useful for network traffic debugging and searching for other threat indicators.

It has a rule-based configuration with base rules you can download for free on their website. Best of all, you can customize it according to the needs of your business making your security solutions more flexible. 

Snort detects intrusion using signature-based and anomaly-based methods. 

The basic rules of Snort can detect events like:

Snort also provides real-time updates for security signatures, signature blocking, signature blocking, and in-depth reporting.  

Its ruleset is distributed into two: The Snort Subscriber Ruleset and the Community Ruleset. 

The first one is developed and tested by Cisco Talos, while the second one is developed by the Snort community.

To get started, you just have to find the right package for your device’s operating systems and install it thereafter.

Pros And Cons Of Snort 

Offers deep visibility into network trafficUnstable updates
Can be used on all operating systems
Has a large library of pre-built detection rules

Snort Pricing Plan

snort OS ruleset package

Snort is open source, so it’s free to use. Just download the right package for your operating system, and you’re well on your way. Just make sure to check through the details of which package to download.

8. Zeek – Best Passive Network Traffic Analyzer 

zeek homepage

Fully Customizable Threat Detection Software  [Free]

Zeek is a free open-source threat detection software. It was generally designed to be a network security monitor to support investigations of malicious activity, but it can also be used as a network intrusion detection system. 

Its scripting language caters to a broader spectrum than that of a regular IDS, which includes anomaly detection, semantic misuse detection, and behavioral analysis. 

It has a large set of logs that describe network activities. It’s a comprehensive record of connections and application layer transcripts. 

Zeek writes all the information on well-structured JSON log files that are suited for post-processing with external software. They can choose this or have an external database to store and process the data. 

It also has built-in functionality for analyzing and detecting activity which includes:

Zeek’s best feature is its fully customizable platform for traffic analysis. It provides users with a domain-specific language for expressing optional tasks. 

Lastly, it is scalable. Its cluster features can support both single and multi-system setups.

Pros And Cons Of Zeek 

Is open-sourceHas a steep learning curve
Offers deep visibility into network traffic
Has an integrated traffic logging
Tasks can enable customized automation

Zeek Pricing Plan

Like most threat detection software in the list, Zeek is open source so you can download it for free. Start by visiting their site to grab your own copy of the software.

8. OSSEC –  Best Host-Based Threat Detection

ossec homepage

Multi-Platform HIDS Threat Detection Software [Free]

Like others on the list, OSSEC, which stands for “open source host-based security” (I don’t know where H is in the acronym), is fully open source and is free. 

It is customizable. You can tailor it freely for your security needs and remediation of intrusion.

It has an extensive configuration option where you can write scripts and add custom alerts to take action so it can take action for a larger set of threats. 

It also has a feature for IT security that allows to create a checklist of crucial files and validate them regularly. Doing this alerts and sends notifications to the network administrator more promptly when a suspicious activity comes up making threat prevention swifter.

OSSEC is a multi-platform HIDS that offers comprehensive intrusion detection for operating systems like:

It’s also PCI compliant. It can detect and sound an alert on unauthorized modification or malicious behavior in file systems. 

Lastly, OSSEC puts together information from all the network computers in one console to make it easier to manage intrusion detection. 

An alert is immediately displayed when the IDS something unusual or suspicious. 

Overall, it’s an amazing tool for performing rootkit detection, monitoring file integrity, and providing real-time alerts.  

Pros And Cons Of OSSEC

Is open-sourceHas problems with pre-sharing keys
Is highly customizableOnly allows server-agent mode support for Windows 
Integrates information for easier intrusion detection managementLearning curve in setting up is a bit deep
Can log files in the webserver data and FTP

OSSEC Pricing Plan

As expected of an open-source, OSSEC is free to use. Visit their site to get started with downloading the platform and trying it out yourself.


Among the 7+ top threat detection on the list, McAfee Intrusion Prevention System is your best option. 

They are the most up-to-date when it comes to detecting and analyzing new and unknown threats. 

It even unifies virtual and physical security to get the best security performance for your network. 

But if you’re looking to start with something free, Security Onion offers the best free open source threat detection. 

However, the downside of Security Onion is that it’s only built for Linux users. If you use another operating system, the best options you have are Snort and OSSEC. 

Overall though, when it comes to the best performing threat detection software, McAfee Intrusion Prevention System is an undeniable winner. 

So there you have it, my +7 threat detection software. I hope you found the information you need to make the best choice that will work best for you. 

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