Cyber security tools are software programs or hardware appliances built and sold to organizations and consumers to facilitate, manage, or assist in defending networks, devices, and data from digital threats or human error.
The more private and public organizations rely on digital systems, the greater the need for cyber security tools. As networks and workflows become more complex, various cyber security software, tools, and services can help organizations adapt to an evolving landscape.
Read about the top tools and organizations in digital security with eSecurity Planet’s Guide to the Top Cybersecurity Companies.
Why Are Cyber Security Tools Important?
With the digital transformation of society, cyber security tools are critical to individuals, groups, organizations, and entire nations to protect data at large. As beneficial as cyber technology has been the last few decades, digital systems come with inherent vulnerabilities – including the threat of breach, data loss, and human error.
Sensitive data like personally identifiable information and intellectual property are examples of protected data. Negligent treatment of this data by organizations can result in legal consequences and reputational damage. In the case of a ransomware attack, it can mean the loss of part or all of a network’s data.
Cyber security tools are the digital products, systems, and resources that a CIO down to the security analysts and technicians need to safeguard the network.
Key Features of Cyber Security Tools
- Graphic user interface (GUI) for managing the security tool
- Central dashboard with controls available to administrators for configuration
- Hardware, software, or a cloud-based system for setup, access, and maintenance
- Logs that offer visibility into system transactions and an audit trail
- Compatible with other security or network tools for integration purposes
- Individual tools are just one piece of the puzzle for what enterprise networks require
Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS)
Breach and attack simulation (BAS) is a threat actor emulation tool that applies similar techniques from pen testers and red teams. As a newer security tool, BAS offers visibility across advanced infrastructure environments like cloud and SD-WAN frameworks. Features for BAS software include real-time alerts, threat intelligence, and remediation guidance.
Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)
Cloud access security brokers (CASB) are secure gateways for the monitoring and management of cloud infrastructure. CASB solutions offer data and application security to organizations implementing hybrid cloud infrastructures. The benefits of CASB include credential mapping, device profiling, tokenization, and malware detection for cloud operations.
Read more: Best CASB Security Vendors
Detection and Response Software
From endpoint detection and response (EDR), three offshoots of detection and response tools emerged. Each DR tool specializes in behavioral detection, alerting administrators to existing network threats, and remediation.
Read more about threat-detection platforms with eWeek’s Five Levels of Response Automation for Corporate Cybersecurity.
Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
Endpoint detection and response tools address the vulnerabilities associated with network endpoints, where users connect to client devices. EDR bundles several features of past cyber security tools like anti-virus, threat intelligence, and automated responses.
Managed Detection and Response (MDR)
With the success of EDR tools, managed detection and response (MDR) is available from managed service providers (MSP) with SOC-like resources. For the contracted service, most MDR vendors offer perimeter telemetry and incident management and response.
Read more about managed solutions with Baseline’s Managed SIEM vs. Managed Firewall vs. MDR.
Network Detection and Response (NDR)
Network detection and response (NDR) addresses the well-known insider threat. Using EDR and MDR capabilities like behavioral analysis and security controls for inside the network, NDR can be an aid in achieving a zero trust infrastructure.
Extended Detection and Response (XDR)
Combining EDR, MDR, and NDR capabilities into a single product, extended detection and response (XDR) is one of the most holistic cyber security tools available. XDR goes beyond its predecessors with device controls, disk encryption, orchestration, and machine learning.
Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR)
Digital forensics and incident response (DFIR) tools can help organizations understand the context of security events to inform remediation and next steps. Digital forensics analyzes an array of physical or digital systems like disks, databases, phones, and emails. At the same time, incident response tools attempt to manage the consequences of the attack, breach, or error.
Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC)
Governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) software is a range of tools that offer the systematic logging of network systems to achieve compliance objectives. For standards like GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS, organizations have strict mandates to audit and report designated activities to meet federal and state guidelines.
Read more: Top GRC Tools & Software
Identity and Access Management (IAM)
Identity and access management (IAM) is access policy control software that supports identity protocols and provides insights into device, session, and user data. As networks grow more complex, IAM addresses inside threats with features like SSO, MFA, logging, reporting, and integration with other security products like CASB, EDR, and firewalls.
Also read: Best IAM Tools & Solutions
Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDPS)
Intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) are software that monitors network systems for anomaly or signature-based intrusion behavior. These tools offer threat detection, smart alerts, and automation capabilities for blocking malware. Other features include asymmetric traffic inspection and deep inspection, while a critical metric for IDPS tools is malware detection rates.
Microsegmentation and Zero Trust Solutions
Zero trust and microsegmentation conceptually work together to achieve optimal internal security between network segments. Zero trust network access (ZTNA) is known as a granular approach to NAC, IAM, and PAM, but it goes further with the implementation of microsegmentation. Zero trust establishes micro-perimeters around a network’s most sensitive data to prevent lateral movement.
Also read: Best Zero Trust Security Solutions
Network Access Control (NAC)
Network access control (NAC) is a configuration tool for evaluating endpoints and validating network access. For organizations dealing with a complex network of clients, NAC offers administrators capabilities like specifying compliant endpoints, scanning endpoints for baseline security, and manage guest access.
Read more: Top Network Access Control (NAC) Solutions
Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW)
Next-generation firewalls (NGFW) are the latest firewall technology offering protection up to the application layer and identity awareness. NGFW software or appliances provide central management visibility into network traffic points. Critical features include deep packet inspection, advanced encryption, and intrusion prevention systems. For cloud-based solutions, most NGFWs are also available via FWaaS.
Also read: Top Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) Vendors
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
Security information and event management (SIEM) is a software or appliance-based solution for advanced monitoring, logging, analytics, and real-time security alert. SIEM tools pools cyber security data from systems like firewalls, EDR, and IDPS, to analyze and deliver security administrators the most pertinent alerts.
Read more: Best SIEM Tools & Software
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Virtual private networks (VPN) are tunneling protocols wherein a user or client device can securely communicate over the internet. VPN tools ensure a user can browse anonymously with their true identity obfuscated. With the proliferation of remote work and BYOD policies, organizations increasingly use VPN technology to secure the hybrid network with many devices.
Web Application Firewall (WAF)
Web application firewalls (WAF), like NGFW, bring advanced firewall capabilities to internet communications. Hybrid infrastructures and various organizations utilizing web applications need monitoring, filtering, and blocking capabilities to fend off DDoS attacks. WAF solutions use threat intelligence and API protection to provide crucial uptime.
Also read: Top Web Application Firewall (WAF) Vendors