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Top 9 Network Security Monitoring Tools for Identifying Potential Threats


What is Network Security Monitoring?

Network security monitoring is the process of inspecting network traffic and IT infrastructure for signs of security issues. These signs can provide IT teams with valuable information about the organization’s cybersecurity posture.

For example, security teams may notice unusual changes being made to access control policies. This may lead to unexpected traffic flows between on-premises systems and unrecognized web applications. This might provide early warning of an active cyberattack, giving security teams enough time to conduct remediation efforts and prevent data loss.

Detecting this kind of suspicious activity without the visibility that network security monitoring provides would be very difficult. These tools and policies enhance operational security by enabling network intrusion detection, anomaly detection, and signature-based detection.

Full-featured network security monitoring solutions help organizations meet regulatory compliance requirements by maintaining records of network activity and security incidents. This gives analysts valuable data for conducting investigations into security events and connect seemingly unrelated incidents into a coherent timeline.

What To Evaluate in a Network Monitoring Software Provider

Your network monitoring software provider should offer a comprehensive set of features for collecting, analyzing, and responding to suspicious activity anywhere on your network. It should unify management and control of your organization’s IT assets while providing unlimited visibility into how they interact with one another.

Comprehensive alerting and reporting

Your network monitoring solution must notify you of security incidents and provide detailed reports describing those incidents in real-time. It should include multiple toolsets for collecting performance metrics, conducting in-depth analysis, and generating compliance reports.

Future-proof scalability

Consider what kind of network monitoring needs your organization might have several years from now. If your monitoring tool cannot scale to accommodate that growth, you may end up locked into a vendor agreement that doesn’t align with your interests.

This is especially true with vendors that prioritize on-premises implementations since you run the risk of paying for equipment and services that you don’t actually use. Cloud-delivered software solutions often perform better in use cases where flexibility is important.

Integration with your existing IT infrastructure

Your existing security tech stack may include a selection of SIEM platforms, IDS/IPS systems, firewalls, and endpoint security solutions. Your network security monitoring software will need to connect all of these tools and platforms together in order to grant visibility into network traffic flows between them.

Misconfigurations and improper integrations can result in dangerous security vulnerabilities. A high-performance vulnerability scanning solution may be able to detect these misconfigurations so you can fix them proactively.

Intuitive user experience for security teams and IT admins

Complex tools often come with complex management requirements. This can create a production bottleneck when there aren’t enough fully-trained analysts on the IT security team

Monitoring tools designed for ease of use can improve security performance by reducing training costs and allowing team members to access monitoring insights more easily. Highly automated tools can drive even greater performance benefits by reducing the need for manual control altogether.

Excellent support and documentation

Deploying network security monitoring tools is not always a straightforward task. Most organizations will need to rely on expert support to assist with implementation, troubleshooting, and ongoing maintenance. Some vendors provide better technical support to customers than others, and this difference is often reflected in the price. Some organizations work with managed service providers who can offset some of their support and documentation needs by providing on-demand expertise when needed.

Pricing structures that work for you

Different vendors have different pricing structures. When comparing network monitoring tools, consider the total cost of ownership including licensing fees, hardware requirements, and any additional costs for support or updates. Certain usage models will fit your organization’s needs better than others, and you’ll have to document them carefully to avoid overpaying.

Compliance and reporting capabilities

If you plan on meeting compliance requirements for your organization, you will need a network security monitoring tool that can generate the necessary reports and logs to meet these standards. Every set of standards is different, but many reputable vendors offer solutions for meeting specific compliance criteria. Find out if your network security monitoring vendor supports compliance standards like PCI DSS, HIPAA, and NIST.

A good reputation for customer success

Research the reputation and track record of every vendor you could potentially work with. Every vendor will tell you that they are the best – ask for evidence to back up their claims. Vendors with high renewal rates are much more likely to provide you with valuable security technology than lower-priced competitors with a significant amount of customer churn. Pay close attention to reviews and testimonials from independent, trustworthy sources.

Compatibility with network infrastructure

Your network security monitoring tool must be compatible with the entirety of your network infrastructure. At the most basic level, it must integrate with your hardware fleet of routers, switches, and endpoint devices. If you use devices with non-compatible operating systems, you risk introducing blind spots into your security posture. For the best results, you must enjoy in-depth observability for every hardware and software asset in your network, from the physical layer to the application layer.

Regular updates and maintenance

Updates are essential to keep security tools effective against evolving threats. Check the update frequency of any monitoring tool you consider implementing and look for the specific security vulnerabilities addressed in those updates. If there is a significant delay between the public announcement of new vulnerabilities and the corresponding security patch, your monitoring tools may be vulnerable during that period of time.

9 Best Network Security Monitoring Providers for Identifying Cybersecurity Threats


1. AlgoSec

AlgoSec is a network security policy management solution that helps organizations automate and orchestrate network security policies. It keeps firewall rules, routers, and other security devices configured correctly, ensuring network assets are secured properly. AlgoSec protects organizations from misconfigurations that can lead to malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks, and gives security teams the ability to proactively simulate changes to their IT infrastructure.

2. SolarWinds

SolarWinds offers a range of network management and monitoring solutions, including network security monitoring tools that detect changes to security policies and traffic flows. It provides tools for network visibility and helps identify and respond to security incidents. However, SolarWinds can be difficult for some organizations to deploy because customers must purchase additional on-premises hardware.

3. Security Onion

Security Onion is an open-source Linux distribution designed for network security monitoring. It integrates multiple monitoring tools like Snort, Suricata, Bro, and others into a single platform, making it easier to set up and manage a comprehensive network security monitoring solution. As an open-source option, it is one of the most cost-effective solutions available on the market, but may require additional development resources to customize effectively for your organization’s needs.

4. ELK Stack

Elastic ELK Stack is a combination of three open-source tools: Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. It’s commonly used for log data and event analysis. You can use it to centralize logs, perform real-time analysis, and create dashboards for network security monitoring. The toolset provides high-quality correlation through large data sets and provides security teams with significant opportunities to improve security and network performance using automation.

5. Cisco Stealthwatch

Cisco Stealthwatch is a commercial network traffic analysis and monitoring solution. It uses NetFlow and other data sources to detect and respond to security threats, monitor network behavior, and provide visibility into your network traffic. It’s a highly effective solution for conducting network traffic analysis, allowing security analysts to identify threats that have infiltrated network assets before they get a chance to do serious damage.

6. Wireshark

Wireshark is a widely-used open-source packet analyzer that allows you to capture and analyze network traffic in real-time. It can help you identify and troubleshoot network issues and is a valuable tool for security analysts. Unlike other entries on this list, it is not a fully-featured monitoring platform that collects and analyzes data at scale – it focuses on providing deep visibility into specific data flows one at a time.

7. Snort

Snort is an open-source intrusion detection system (IDS) and intrusion prevention system (IPS) that can monitor network traffic for signs of suspicious or malicious activity. It’s highly customizable and has a large community of users and contributors. It supports customized rulesets and is easy to use. Snort is widely compatible with other security technologies, allowing users to feed signature updates and add logging capabilities to its basic functionality very easily. However, it’s an older technology that doesn’t natively support some modern features users will expect it to.

8. Suricata

Suricata is another open-source IDS/IPS tool that can analyze network traffic for threats. It offers high-performance features and supports rules compatible with Snort, making it a good alternative. Suricata was developed more recently than Snort, which means it supports modern workflow features like multithreading and file extraction. Unlike Snort, Suricata supports application-layer detection rules and can identify traffic on non-standard ports based on the traffic protocol.

9. Zeek (formerly Bro)

Zeek is an open-source network analysis framework that focuses on providing detailed insights into network activity. It can help you detect and analyze potential security incidents and is often used alongside other NSM tools. This tool helps security analysts categorize and model network traffic by protocol, making it easier to inspect large volumes of data. Like Suricata, it runs on the application layer and can differentiate between protocols.

Essential Network Monitoring Features 

Traffic Analysis

The ability to capture, analyze, and decode network traffic in real-time is a basic functionality all network security monitoring tools should share. Ideally, it should also include support for various network protocols and allow users to categorize traffic based on those categories.

Alerts and Notifications

Reliable alerts and notifications for suspicious network activity, enabling timely response to security threats. To avoid overwhelming analysts with data and contributing to alert fatigue, these notifications should consolidate data with other tools in your security tech stack.

Log Management

Your network monitoring tool should contribute to centralized log management through network devices, apps, and security sensors for easy correlation and analysis. This is best achieved by integrating a SIEM platform into your tech stack, but you may not wish to store all of your network’s logs on the SIEM, because of the added expense.

Threat Detection

Unlike regular network traffic monitoring, network security monitoring focuses on indicators of compromise in network activity. Your tool should utilize a combination of signature-based detection, anomaly detection, and behavioral analysis to identify potential security threats.

Incident Response Support

Your network monitoring solution should facilitate the investigation of security incidents by providing contextual information, historical data, and forensic capabilities. It may correlate detected security events so that analysts can conduct investigations more rapidly, and improve security outcomes by reducing false positives.

Network Visibility

Best-in-class network security monitoring tools offer insights into network traffic patterns, device interactions, and potential blind spots to enhance network monitoring and troubleshooting. To do this, they must connect with every asset on the network and successfully observe data transfers between assets.


No single security tool can be trusted to do everything on its own. Your network security monitoring platform must integrate with other security solutions, such as firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDS/IPS), and SIEM platforms to create a comprehensive security ecosystem. If one tool fails to detect malicious activity, another may succeed.


No two organizations are the same. The best network monitoring solutions allow users to customize rules, alerts, and policies to align with specific security requirements and network environments. These customizations help security teams reduce alert fatigue and focus their efforts on the most important data traffic flows on the network.

Advanced Features for Identifying Vulnerabilities & Weaknesses

Threat Intelligence Integration

Threat intelligence feeds enhance threat detection and response capabilities by providing in-depth information about the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by threat actors. These feeds update constantly to reflect the latest information on cybercriminal activities so analysts always have the latest data.

Forensic Capabilities

Detailed data and forensic tools provide in-depth analysis of security breaches and related incidents, allowing analysts to attribute attacks to hackers and discover the extent of cyberattacks. With retroactive forensics, investigators can include historical network data and look for evidence of compromise in the past.

Automated Response

Automated responses to security threats can isolate affected devices or modify firewall rules the moment malicious behavior is detected. Automated detection and response workflows must be carefully configured to avoid business disruptions stemming from misconfigured algorithms repeatedly denying legitimate traffic.

Application-level Visibility

Some network security monitoring tools can identify and classify network traffic by applications and services, enabling granular control and monitoring. This makes it easier for analysts to categorize traffic based on its protocol, which can streamline investigations into attacks that take place on the application layer.

Cloud and Virtual Network Support

Cloud-enabled organizations need monitoring capabilities that support cloud environments and virtualized networks. Without visibility into these parts of the hybrid network, security vulnerabilities may go unnoticed. Cloud-native network monitoring tools must include data on public and private cloud instances as well as containerized assets.

Machine Learning and AI

Advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms can improve threat detection accuracy and reduce false positives. These features often work by examining large-scale network traffic data and identifying patterns within the dataset. Different vendors have different AI models and varying levels of competence with emerging AI technology.

User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)

UEBA platforms monitor asset behaviors to detect insider threats and compromised accounts. This advanced feature allows analysts to assign dynamic risk scores to authenticated users and assets, triggering alerts when their activities deviate too far from their established routine.

Threat Hunting Tools

Network monitoring tools can provide extra features and workflows for proactive threat hunting and security analysis. These tools may match observed behaviors with known indicators of compromise, or match observed traffic patterns with the tactics, techniques, and procedures of known threat actors.

AlgoSec: The Preferred Network Security Monitoring Solution

AlgoSec has earned an impressive reputation for its network security policy management capabilities. The platform empowers security analysts and IT administrators to manage and optimize network security policies effectively. It includes comprehensive firewall policy and change management capabilities along with comprehensive solutions for automating application connectivity across the hybrid network.

Here are some reasons why IT leaders choose AlgoSec as their preferred network security policy management solution:

  1. Policy Optimization: AlgoSec can analyze firewall rules and network security policies to identify redundant or conflicting rules, helping organizations optimize their security posture and improve rule efficiency.
  2. Change Management: It offers tools for tracking and managing changes to firewall and network data policies, ensuring that changes are made in a controlled and compliant manner.
  3. Risk Assessment: AlgoSec can assess the potential security risks associated with firewall rule changes before they are implemented, helping organizations make informed decisions.
  4. Compliance Reporting: It provides reports and dashboards to assist with compliance audits, making it easier to demonstrate regulatory compliance to regulators.
  5. Automation: AlgoSec offers automation capabilities to streamline policy management tasks, reducing the risk of human error and improving operational efficiency.
  6. Visibility: It provides visibility into network traffic and policy changes, helping security teams monitor and respond to potential security incidents.


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